So much to see – wallets optional
Many of Canberra’s national attractions offer free or low-cost entry. At these impressive locations, you’ll discover a unique Australian story, told through exquisite pieces of art, sculpture, gardens, film and artefacts.
Visit the Australian War Memorial (and take the time to explore Anzac Parade for a commemorative reflection), the National Portrait Gallery, National Library of Australia, Parliament House, National Museum of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, National Film and Sound Archive, the Royal Australian Mint or the Australian National Botanic Gardens for free. Many of the national attractions also offer free guided tours so you can more fully appreciate the stories behind the works. The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House and National Archives of Australia both have a small entry fee.
Keep in mind, you will need to pay extra for the major exhibitions at attractions such as the National Gallery of Australia and the National Museum of Australia, and there are parking fees at some of the sites.
For families, the great value 3infun ticket offers a 25% discount on the usual price to visit three top attractions: the Australian Institute of Sport, the delightful Cockington Green Gardens and award-winning Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre.
Canberra is home to about 80 embassies and high commissions, representing countries such as Belgium, Egypt and Canada. Admire the distinctive architecture and beautiful gardens. Most are open to the public and are free.
Plus, many local creations are on display in Canberra’s welcoming museums and galleries. Markets on the weekends are great options for spending as little, or as much, as you like. Try the renowned Capital Region Farmers Markets on Saturday mornings in Mitchell or the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston on Sunday mornings.
The economical great outdoors
The nation’s capital is an exceptionally pristine and beautiful city, offering numerous lookouts, walking trails and lakes – with Lake Burley Griffin a highlight for both locals and visitors. Walk or cycle ‘bridge to bridge’ or explore nearby Commonwealth Park, especially during Floriade in spring.
Stromlo Forest Park is simply a must for adventurers with bicycles.
You won’t need to skimp on comfort or quality for your stay in Canberra. For reasonable rates yet minimalist details, check out the rooms at Little National Hotel, Vibe Hotel Canberra, Peppers Gallery Hotel or the Mantra Macarthur Hotel.
For fully equipped serviced apartments with on-site parking and affordable prices, try Adina Serviced Apartments Dickson.
Eat and drink
While there are many award-winning dining options in Canberra, if you’re looking for great value, yet still with a touch of class, try Lemon Grass Thai in the city or Fellows Bar & Café at the Australian National University, which is especially lovely outside in summer. Share delicious Filipino eats at Lolo and Lola, tasty flavours at Abell’s Kopi Tiam in Manuka, or quality pub food at the Duxton.
Talk to the experts
The best way to explore Canberra on a budget is to first have a chat with the friendly bunch at Canberra and Region Visitors Centre. They’ll point you in the right direction, and can also offer last-minute accommodation deals. They have free Wi-Fi too.