Australian drive holidays - Canberra

Driving to Canberra 

Drive to Canberra and the region for a perfect short break or weekend trip. It’s just three and a half hours from Sydney and a comfortable day’s drive from Melbourne. There are plenty of places along the way to stop and discover the south east of Australia.

If you're driving to Canberra from Melbourne or Sydney, visit the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre on Northbourne Avenue. Stop in to book accommodation or day tours, get maps or information from their friendly staff and volunteers.

Driving around Canberra

Canberra is renowned for its roundabouts, which allow traffic to flow smoothly and avoid extensive congestion associated with traffic lights. The city and suburbs are well connected with dual carriageway main roads. Please be aware of cyclists who often share the roads in special bike lines on the left hand side of main roads. There are no toll ways or roads that require E-Toll or electronic tag payment to drive on in the ACT. Speed cameras, average speed cameras, red light cameras and speed zones are enforced, so please do not speed. The default speed limit (unless otherwise signposted in the ACT is 50km/hr.  

Parking in Canberra

Driving around town is so easy. It only takes around 30 minutes to get across the city, even in peak hour traffic. Parking in the city and parliamentary triangle is paid parking and generally equates to between $15-$20 per day (rates are dependent on location and only provided as a broad indicative cost). Many shopping centres have free parking for the first two hours. For a comprehensive guide to ACT Government parking lots including payment options and the Parkmobile app available for Android and Apple devices refer to the guide to pay parking in Canberra web page. 

Petrol stations in Canberra

When you're in the city and suburbs, please be aware that most Canberra petrol (gas) stations are situated away from main roads. Look for signs to petrol and shopping centres to guide you. Your favourite map application on your mobile device or in-car navigation devices should also list the nearest station to refuel. 

Drive route to Canberra from Sydney

Direct driving route: 3.5 hours

Canberra is the closest state capital to Sydney for a city weekend away and a great place to base yourself when exploring the Snowy Mountains and quaint country towns in the Canberra and Capital Region, the Canberra Wine District and nearby national parks.

Depart Sydney via the M5 tollway, connecting to Hume Highway 31. Turn left after Goulburn on to the Federal Highway to Canberra. This route is a dual carriage freeway.

Scenic drive routes from Sydney to Canberra

Follow the coastal Princes Highway to Batemans Bay. Turn onto the Kings Highway and head to Canberra via the historic towns of Braidwood and Bungendore.

Take the Mittagong exit from the F5 Freeway and follow the Old Hume Highway through picturesque Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale and Sutton Forest. Rejoin the F5 to continue to Goulburn and Canberra. This route includes single carriage highway.

Drive to Canberra from Melbourne

Direct driving route: 8 hours

Travelling from Melbourne to Canberra is ideal for a short break or quick vacation with all the pleasure of country driving and city conveniences.

Follow the City Link tollway to the western ring road then join the Hume Highway. Near Yass, take the Barton Highway A25 turn off to Canberra. This route is a dual carriage freeway.

Scenic drive routes from Melbourne to Canberra

Follow the coast road through Genoa, Bairnsdale and Eden to Batemans Bay. Turn onto the Kings Highway and head to Canberra via the historic towns of Braidwood and Bungendore. This route includes single carriage highway.

Take an inland drive through Bendigo, Echuca and Albury-Wodonga. Travel direct to Canberra. Alternately, take a scenic detour through the Snowy Mountains and visit Khancoban, Tumut, Jindabyne, Thredbo and Cooma. This route includes single carriage highway.

Drive to Canberra from Adelaide

Direct driving route: 14 hours

Add the nation's capital to your driving holiday across southern Australia. Home to the Australian story and many national treasures, Canberra is a great learning opportunity while on vacation.

Take the South Eastern freeway towards the Mallee Highway and Sturt Highway. At Yass, take the Barton Highway A25 turn off to Canberra. This route includes single carriage highway.

Scenic drive routes from Adelaide to Canberra

Explore the Murray River area via Mildura, Swan Hill and Echuca to Albury-Wodonga. Travel direct to Canberra or go via the Snowy Mountains.

Take a coastal route to Murray Bridge and Mt Gambier and travel the spectacular Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. Then choose the coastal or inland route to Canberra.

Drive to Canberra from Brisbane

Direct driving route: 18 hours

Get a taste of cooler climates and a great city all year round. With art, culture, cool climate wines and abundant nature, Canberra is worth the diversion on your next driving holiday.

Follow the Pacific Highway south to Sydney then take the Hume Highway to Goulburn. Turn on to the Federal Highway to Canberra. This route is a dual carriage freeway.

Scenic drive routes from Brisbane to Canberra

Travel along the scenic Pacific coast to Sydney. Continue to Canberra by the coastal route to Batemans Bay, or inland via the Southern Highlands and Goulburn. This route includes single carriage highway.

Travel the inland route via Tenterfield, Tamworth, and Muswellbrook. Turn off to Dubbo and head to Canberra through Bathurst, Cowra and Yass. This route includes single carriage highway.

Drive to Canberra from the Snowy Mountains

Direct driving route: 2.5 hours

Perfect for those post alpine getaways, Canberra is a perfect start or end to your short break to the Snowy Mountains also known as the Australian Alps. Come to rest with great accommodation, food and wine and family fun.

Follow the Kosciuszko Road to Cooma, and then follow the Monaro Highway to Canberra. This route includes single carriage highway.

Drive to Canberra from the NSW South Coast

Direct driving route: 2.5 hours

Take the Kings Highway to Queanbeyan and continue on to Canberra. This route includes single carriage highway.

Canberra scenic drives

Take a weekend break and explore the Canberra and capital country region on a drive holiday. Choose from our self-guided driving tours to see a different side of Canberra and the road less travelled.

Canberra Tracks

Choose from six self drive tracks that take you through Ngunnawal Country, The Limestone Plains, Looking at Canberra and the ACT Pioneers Cemeteries, Gungahlin Heritage Track and Belconnen Heritage Track.

Military memorials in the national capital

Uncover background information on many of the military memorials found in Canberra.

Yarralumla diplomatic estate driving tour

Discover the architectural highlights of 33 diplomatic missions in Canberra’s oldest and most prominent diplomatic estate.

To make the most of a drive holiday between Sydney and Melbourne and plan a detour to Canberra. Here’s some suggested drive itineraries for a great Australian motoring holiday or road trip.

Explore Australia’s capital region

Stop, revive and thrive with a break in your nation’s capital. Perfect for a weekend break, Canberra is only three hours drive from Sydney and eight hours from Melbourne. Canberra is the perfect city to visit to base yourself while you explore the surrounding Canberra region.

There’s so much to see and do so linger longer and discover unexpected delights.

Download the Canberra Driving Holidays Map.

Drive holidays in Capital Country, Southern Highlands and South Coast

Midway between Canberra and Sydney, the Capital Country and Southern Highlands offer world-class arts and crafts, historic villages, stunning nature and gourmet delights for a city break. Blending rural charm and urban sophistication, the area is a favourite with Sydneysiders seeking a short vacation or quick visit. The South Coast is close by, boasting spectacular views, dolphin and whale watching, surfing, golfing as well as kayaking. Indulge your tastebuds with the freshest seafood and local produce.

Drive holidays to Wollongong and Southern Highlands (Grand Pacific Drive)

The coastal drive from Sydney to Canberra via Wollongong, Kiama and the Southern Highlands is part of the Grand Pacific Drive and offers spectacular beaches, pristine national parks and historic villages to explore. Enjoy everything from adventure sports and deep sea fishing to great shopping and dining, relaxed fishing villages, views of the Great Dividing Range, world-class arts crafts and gourmet delights.

Drive holidays to the Snowy Mountains

A scenic drive from Canberra or en route from Melbourne takes you to the Snowy Mountains, one of Australia’s most well known ski and outdoor adventure destinations. The high country is home to spectacular peaks, clear mountain streams, beautiful alpine flowers, top ski resorts, fishing, trekking, horse riding and much more.

Drive holidays to the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains region, home to 10 per cent of Australia’s biodiversity and a World Heritage area, offers visitors a wealth of natural attractions and wildlife. Enjoy bush solitude on a walk along one of the mapped trails, experience breathtaking views or shop in uniquely Australian stores and art galleries. The towns of Katoomba, Leura, Blackheath and Springwood offer great dining and a variety of intimate accommodation options.

Drive holidays from Melbourne to Canberra (Coastal route, via Phillip Island)

The dramatic coastline between Melbourne and Canberra is one of Australia’s best kept secrets. It can take three days or two weeks depending on how much time you have. As well as enjoying the great natural beauty of the region, visitors can enjoy local cool climate wines, the freshest seafood and fine local produce from farmers’ markets or restaurants.

Driving holidays from Melbourne to Sydney (Capital and Country Touring Route via Bendigo)

Be surprised by the rich cultural and natural highlights on a Sydney to Melbourne touring route. Drive through stunning countryside, to reveal quality tourist attractions, historic streetscapes and seasonal produce and wine. In Bendigo, learn about Australia’s gold rush history. Then visit the charming riverboat port of Echuca-Moama. Travel via the inland aquatic paradise of Yarrawonga-Mulwala and then onto the gateway of the Murray River, Albury-Wodonga. As you continue towards Sydney, plan a few days to holiday in the thriving city of Canberra, a city designed to reflect the entire nation.

Car and vehicle hire in Canberra

If you're flying to Canberra, check out options for car hire. Most major national car rental companies have offices located in the city and at Canberra Airport making pick up and drop off convenient.