30 Best Things To Do In Canberra You’ll Love 2024 Guide

Trying to find the best things to do in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory? If you’re not sure what are the best places to visit in Canberra, fear not! In my experience, we visited recently and we were actually so surprised that there’s much more to this capital city than we ever imagined!

If you’re looking for a weekend away from Sydney, you’ll be pleased to know Canberra should be on your list! In my experience, you could spend a weekend in Canberra and have an action packed time without spending much money at all.

Expect tourist attractions such as the Australian War Memorial, National Science Museum, Parliament House, the awesome National Gallery of Australia, Lake Burley Griffin, some fantastic National Parks and so much more!

Do A Day Trip To Canberra From Sydney

If the idea of having to sort out your own Canberra sightseeing trip sounds like too much of a mission, I recommend pre-booking this Sydney To Canberra tour which has had great reviews. Instead of planning your own trip, let someone else do it for you so you can sit back while being chauffeured around for the day. Sounds perfect!

Expect to visit the following places:

  • Hear about the secrets of Parliament House on a guided tour
  • Explore the National Museum of Australia at your own pace
  • Learn about the ANZACs at the Australian War Memorial
  • Drive through the NSW Southern Highlands
  • See views over the city from Mount Ainslie
Check availability for Canberra tour from Sydney>

1. Hire your own boat for the day


Enjoy a day on Lake Burley Griffin by checking out this eco-friendly electric boat hire! No experience or boat licence is required for you to enjoy being the Captain for the day! Bring some beers and a picnic and have fun with your family, friends or partner.

2. Tick off all the sights with a highlights tour


Staying in Canberra of visiting for the day and would prefer to have a local show you around? Check out this Canberra Highlights Tour where you’ll be taken to the main Canberra attractions such as the Australian Parliament house, Australian war memorial, National Arboretum national zoo and more!

3. Book a unique mystery picnic lunch


Book this fun mystery picnic and you’ll start off with an empty basket before solving clues to pick up each gourmet food item to fill your basket before your mystery picnic location is revealed. This would make a fantastic date idea in Canberra or perfect for friends or families to enjoy!

4. Go on a brewery and beer tour in Canberra


Have a love for craft beer and breweries? Book this brewery full day tour and spend the day touring some of the best breweries in Canberra. Enjoy getting to know the locals and how their beer compares to back home!

If you don’t have time for a day trip when visiting Canberra, you can book this 3 hour brewery tour instead.

5. Check out Ovolo Nishi – the most unique hotel in Canberra

Whether or not you decide to stay at Ovolo Nishi, you should 100% go and check it out anyway because the entrance itself is incredible. We stayed there and we absolutely loved it which you can read about in Our Review Of Ovolo Nishi. Based in New Acton, there’s some great reasons to visit this area including the stylish Mocan & Green Grout restauran!

6. Canberra Hot Air Balloon At Sunrise


If you really want to make your weekend a memorable one, we recommend going on a Canberra hot air balloon experience at sunrise. Rated as one of the best things to do in Canberra, it’s the best way to see how beautiful the city truely is.

7. Visit National Gallery of Australia

One of our favourite free things to do in Canberra is to visit the National Gallery of Australia. Honestly the National Gallery of Australia is mind blowing and is easily one of the best art galleries in Australia. We couldn’t believe how few people were walking around (however, it was during Floriade at the time). Most of all there’s some absolutely brilliant global artists housed in this gallery, we couldn’t quite believe it – art lovers will love it!

We absolutely loved seeing the famous Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room and couldn’t believe that we didn’t even need to line up for it. We also loved James Turrell’s Skyspace – an amazing piece of art you can take some epic photos of.

We also couldn’t believe the amount of other artists in this gallery – from the Chapman Brothers, to Warhol to the infamous Pollack which was bought back in the 1970. Make sure you check out the sculpture garden to see work by Anthony Gormley and more.

Honestly, I’d make the effort to visit Canberra if it meant all we could see is the National Gallery of Australia. It’s brilliant and full of some fantastic Australian art as well, including the largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in the world! And that’s just the beginning of our chat about Canberra’s museums – they are all amazing!

8. Visit Floriade Festival

Floriade is the flower festival which brings in the crowds to visit Canberra. We were lucky to visit during the season and it’s especially good for the October long weekend as they have loads of bands and comedians lined up to perform. There’s also Night Fest which you need to know about.

9. Visit The Pink Lake In Canberra


Who knew there’s a pink lake in Canberra? Yep, the pink pond in Canberra is located at Eardley Street in Bruce, which is about a 10 minute drive from the city centre. It equally makes a good Instagram photo too!

Make sure you check out our top 10 pink lakes in Australia guide to find out more mind-blowing hidden gems located all around Australia!

10. Enjoy A Fun Winery, Distillery & Tasting Tour

Did you know Canberra has a thriving winery scene? Let the locals show you around by pre-booking this fun Canberra Winery Tour with Dave’s Travel Group. You’ll visit three wineries, a distillery, a chocolatier and you’ll have lunch thrown in too! This is a fun day out to meet other like minded people, and support local tourism which is needed right now.

11. Visit The Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial is one of the best Canberra attractions and it’s free just off the Anzac Parade. Make sure you go upstairs at the memorial to pay your respects to the soldiers who are no longer with us and learn about Australian history while here.

The memorial is very beautiful and somewhere you just need to visit on your trip to Canberra to learn about Australian military history.

12. Visit Cockington Green Gardens

Don’t you just love a miniature garden? We saw one back in the Cotswolds years ago and what do you know? Canberra’s got its very own miniature English gardens at Cockington Green Gardens. Located just 15 minutes north of Canberra, it’s a must visit for the whole family. I’m sure kids will love the miniature steam train too!

13. Visit Parliament House

Parliament House is the first place you should probably visit on your Canberra trip. The iconic building is something to see for yourself! It’s quite fascinating to see the chambers of the Australian parliament, something we’ve all seen on TV. It’s really interesting to be able to walk around and learn about the political history of Australia’s government in a free tour. Look out for the random dude outside with his alpaca (or is it a lama?), you can have a very candid photo with!

The good news is, it’s free to go into Parliament of Australia and parking is free outside as well. Again Parliament House is somewhere you really should visit on your first trip Australia the nation’s capital and city. You can also jump on guided tours of Parliament House as well to learn more about Australian democracy.

14. The National Museum of Australia


The National Museum of Australia is one of the best things to do in Canberra with young kids around. The rooms are full of information, maybe a little too much for us to take everything in, but it’s a great meeting place for school trips, younger kids or school holidays activities.

15. Questacon – National Science And Technology Centre

Although we didn’t have time to visit Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra, it would be at the top of our list to visit next time. The science museum is located right near to a lot of the other museums in Canberra and would be a great visit for the whole family.

16. Explore The Street Art In Canberra


Move over Melbourne, because the Canberra street art is hidden away in some awesome spots around the central Canberra. We loved the Canberra street art on Tocumwal Lane a lot which is worth exploring to see a more artsy side of the capital city for art lovers.

17. Visit National Portrait Gallery in Canberra


Continue your art gallery adventure and stop by the National Portrait Gallery which is a gallery full of prominent Australian portraits. The National Portrait Gallery is a fantastic place to learn more about Aussie culture and famous Australians from the ‘notorious, remarkable and glorious’.

18. Old Bus Depot Markets


Weston Park is located just a 10 minute drive out of Canberra and has lots of playgrounds, dog parks and cycling tracks. When we visited it was very dry but if you pick the right time of the year, you’ll be able to see the trees filled with so much colour, especially in Autumn and in Spring. It makes the perfect weekend activity for a few hours to kill.

19. Weston Park

Weston Park is located just a 10 minute drive out of Canberra and has lots of playgrounds, dog parks and cycling tracks. When we visited it was very dry but if you pick the right time of the year, you’ll be able to see the trees filled with so much colour, especially in Autumn and in Spring. It makes the perfect weekend activity for a few hours to kill.

20. Mount Ainslie


If you’re looking to get the perfect Canberra photo, prepare yourself to climb up to Mount Ainslie. The 4km walk takes about 1.5hours return. Fear not, you can always drive up to it as well to see the natural beauty of the city and Lake Burley Griffin, making it one of the top Canberra attractions!

21. Visit The Bonsai At National Arboretum


Just 12 minutes west of Canberra is the National Arboretum. We loved the National arboretum Bonsai Collection which holds some of the best Bonsai trees we’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. There’s loads of walking tracks in the arboretum and a big canteen to grab some food at. Also, there’s a big playground there to entertain the kids and we noticed they seem to love rolling down the hill in the amphitheatre too.

22. Admire Lake Burley Griffin


One of the first tourist attractions you’ll see in Canberra is Lake Burley Griffin. This man-made lake is located in the middle of the city and is a central point for Canberrans and tourists alike. The 5km walking path is popular for runners and cyclists.

If you’re looking to visit some of the best Canberra museums, you’ll find them around Lake burley griffin. Work your way around Questacon, National Museum of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia with ease.

23. Where To Eat In Canberra


If you’re looking for Canberra restaurants, we found Braddon to be the suburb with the most variety of restaurants, especially on Lonsdale Street.

We went to Lazy Su for dinner which is excellent. The cocktails are amazing (make sure you order the Sumo Bowls) and we had the Miso Banquet – a five course tasting menu. Honestly it was awesome. Make sure you have enough room for the Nutella Gaytime Bao – it will blow your mind!


Other options for food include Mocan and Green Grout which is a great option if you want to have dinner nearby Ovolo Nishi Hotel. Eighty Six is the go to place for brunch and Molly is a super cool underground jazz bar in central Canberra. 

We went to Bar Rochford for a glass of wine before dinner and it’s a great little place, perfect for a spot of fine dining too.

Places to visit near Canberra

There are so many fun things and many places to visit just outside of Canberra so here’s out extended list so you can make a great plan for the weekend.

24. Tulip Tops Gardens


Whilst we were in Canberra one of our follower on Instagram told us about Tulip Tops Gardens and so we visited on our way back to Sydney (just 20 minute drive out of Canberra). Although Tulip Tops Gardens is located just off the highway, it’s absolutely beautiful.

Although it’s only during Spring, make sure you make the effort to visit because it’s stunning. Read our Floriade Guide to find out more about our visit to Tulip Top Gardens too.

25. Mount Stromlo Observatory

A 20 minute drive South West out of Canberra will bring you to Mount Stromlo Observatory. They also hold FREE public night tours which you should check out.

If you’ve got a particular interest in space, make sure you also go and check out the Deep Space Communication Complex as well when you visit Canberra, which has interactive displays so you can learn all about space.

26. Swim At Gibraltar Falls


A 45 minute drive South of Canberra will lead you to Gibraltar Falls in Namadgi National Park. It’s a lovely 2km hike. It’s suggested it takes around 1hour return but as always, if you’re going to swim here, just be very, very careful.

27. Climb Mount Kosciuszko

Image via nationalparksnswgovau

We have wanted to climb Australia’s highest mountain for years now and when we visited Canberra recently, we couldn’t do it because it was still snowing there. It supposedly takes 6-8 hours to hike 18.6km to hike to the top of Mount Kosciuszko, and is usually completed in one day.

If walking for 6-8 hours doesn’t sound like fun, catch the chair lift up most of the way to the top. It takes just 15 minutes and to be honest, with that in mind, it makes me wonder if I would be happy to walk 6-8 hours. But, it doesn’t go directly to the top – you’ll still need to walk around 4 hours return from the chair lift to the summit. Think about ticking off this bucket list activity when you’re planning your next long weekend from Sydney!

28. Go Skiing At Thredbo or Perisher


If you weren’t aware, you can in fact go skiing near to Canberra at some of the biggest ski resorts in Australia called Thredbo and Perisher! Unsure whether it’s worth going?

Our writer Nina grew up in the French Alps and has written a huge guide for you: 13 Tips For First Time Skiing in Thredbo NSW. Learn about the difference between Thredbo and Perisher, what makes Thredbo great and everything you need to know about hiring ski equipment, where to stay, eat and drink and the legendary DJ nights on weekends you have to go to!

29. Yarrangobilly Thermal Pools

Yarrangobilly Thermal Pools

I have wanted to visit the Yarrangobilly Thermal Pools for such a long time now! Located nearly a three hour drive from Canberra, it surely is worth it if you’re heading down to Kosciuszko National Park or to Thredbo to go skiing. Imagine taking a swim in the 27C all year round pool? Pure bliss, especially if there’s snow around!

30. Head down to Batemans Bay


If you’re in need of some of the best beaches in NSW, head down to Batemans Bay, which is a 2 hour drive from Canberra. Head into the incredibly stunning Murramarang National Park and head straight to the stunning Depot Beach! You can read more about Batemans Bay in our current travel guides:

Where To Stay In Canberra

Hopefully we’ve convinced you there’s so much more to Australia’s capital city than you may have thought. Spend a weekend from Sydney here exploring all of the amazing things to do in Canberra! If you’re looking for the best Canberra accommodation, here are our top picks!

Ovolo Nishi Hotel in Canberra

Click here to read our review of Ovolo Nishi

Our number one pick for accommodation is Ovolo Nishi, which we mentioned earlier in this post. It’s an amazing hotel and is really good value for money. Plus! The fantastic reviews on above speak for itself. Find the best deal here to stay at Ovolo Nishi.

More Accommodation Options


With plenty of accommodation options to choose from, here are some of the best rated hotels and apartments we would personally stay in.

  1. Luxury: Hyatt Hotel Canberra – state of the art gym, indoor swimming pool and 5 minutes drive to Parliament House.
  2. Luxury: Hotel Realm – Super cool hotel with two day spas, two health clubs, swimming pool and five on-site restaurants.
  3. Mid-Range: Avenue Hotel Canberra – Stylish luxury hotel with a mid-range price tag.
  4. Budget: The Village Hostels – basic but it used to be a YHA which in our opinion are always a fantastic option for anyone on a tight budget.
  5. Budget: Mercure Canberra Belconnen – amazing location, with restaurant, gym and bar.

More Canberra guides


Have you checked out our other Canberra guides yet? Check out our other guides to help inspire your trip to the ACT.

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