Discover more than you expect in Canberra with this guide to the 10 must-do activities in the nation's capital.
Celebrate the seasons with events and festivals
Canberra’s calendar of events and festivals celebrate the city’s four distinct seasons. In a typical year see one million blooms at Floriade in spring, indulge in delicious delicacies at The Truffle Festival each winter, marvel as iconic buildings are turned into artwork and hot air balloons take to the sky during Enlighten Festival in autumn, and celebrate car culture at Summernats each summer. Search Canberra’s event calendar to find what’s on during your next trip to the capital.
Explore the capital's famous lake
At the heart of Canberra is Lake Burley Griffin, surrounded by galleries, museums, cafes and parks, as well as walking and cycling paths. Do as the locals do and spend an hour walking the ‘bridge to bridge’ path around the lake, stopping for a coffee along the way.
Peddle your way across the lake in a classic paddle boat or enjoy a floating picnic on a GoBoat. Don a captain’s hat and navigate this eco-friendly electric boat around Lake Burley Griffin to find the perfect vista for your scenic lunch.
Reconnect with nature and see Aussie animals
Canberra is renowned for being a 100% renewable energy city with approximately 70% of the ACT dedicated to nature parks.
Set yourself the challenge on a visit to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to spot five famous native Australian animals that call the area home: the koala, platypus, kangaroo, emu and wombat. Or walk up Mount Ainslie, Mount Painter, or Black Mountain to enjoy scenic views over the city.
This green city transforms with each season. Visit in autumn to see the cityscape marked with hues of red, gold and crimson or lined with delicate cherry blossoms each spring.
Discover the Australian story at museums and national icons
From our ancient Indigenous past and colonial history to the modern multicultural country of today, unearth the treasures of our nation at the national attractions in Canberra. Explore one of the world’s most architecturally acclaimed buildings, Parliament House, and see the nation’s most popular and important objects – from the Holden Prototype No.1 to bark paintings and ochre used by Aboriginal artists more than 50,000 years ago - at the National Museum of Australia.
Uncover new knowledge from over 10 million items at the National Library of Australia or place a poppy on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial. Discover more history and heritage at Canberra's other iconic museums and attractions.
Wander through wineries and breweries
Canberra’s three cool-climate wine regions offer a spectacular range of experiences, from wine-tasting and fine dining to truffle hunting. Traditionally, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Shiraz varieties have thrived here at the 140 vineyards and 40 wineries, within 35 minutes’ drive of the capital.
Beer lovers can’t go past a cold brew from Braddon brewpub BentSpoke Brewing Co, who took out top spot in the GABS hottest 100 craft beers of 2020. Or cheers your mates with a speciality brew in the spacious beer garden after a tour of Capital Brewing Co in Fyshwick.
Choose your favourite artwork from more than 30 galleries
Canberra is home to an extensive number of gallery and exhibition spaces, showcasing everything from international masterpieces to talented local artists. Head to the National Gallery of Australia to marvel at the largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in the world. Then celebrate love in all its forms at the National Portrait Gallery - from the enduring to the forbidden, romantic to platonic, the unrequited to the scandalous – at Australian Love Stories (20 March – 1 August).
Uncover boutique galleries across the city, including the smallest gallery in Australia and world-class glassblowers, with our definitive gallery guide.
Shop at the best weekend markets and specialty stores
Spend your Saturday morning shopping up a storm at the Capital Region Farmers Markets, where you can buy fresh produce direct from the growers and enjoy a delicious local breakfast or brunch. Pick up some tasty treats, a bunch of flowers, and locally crafted goodies each Sunday at the Haig Park Village Market.
The capital is overflowing with speciality stores to satisfy every shopping list. Take your little wizards to the Harry Potter themed Quizzic Alley shop, enjoy a glass of wine at Muse bookstore, or select bespoke jewellery at KIN gallery.
Indulge your inner foodie in Braddon
Just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre is Braddon, Canberra’s ever-evolving shopping and foodie precinct where you’ll find a mingled assortment of boutiques, cafes, bakeries, restaurants and bars. At the heart of this hipster haven is Lonsdale Street, which flaunts an exciting variety of independent stores showcasing local makers and creatives.
Taste unusual flavours of ice cream at the popular Frugii Dessert Laboratory, pick up locally crafted ceramics and glassware at Bisonhome or go on a café crawl to find your new favourite coffee. Canberra’s foodie scene is always growing – plan your culinary adventure with our guide to 50 mouth-watering eateries you simply must try.
Enjoy activities designed for young families
Kids will clamour to visit Questacon — The National Science and Technology Centre. This interactive wonderland will have kids learning about the power of the elements, feeling the force of an earthquake, watching lightning strike twice and meeting the friendly mechanical humanoid, Robo Q.
See animals big and small from red pandas to rhinos at the National Zoo & Aquarium, brush up on Muttaburrasaurus facts during a tour of the National Dinosaur Museum, and have a toboggan race with the whole family at Corin Forest. The kids’ Canberra wishlist will be filled with fun with our top ten must do family activities in the ACT.
Enjoy more than just five-star stays
From pillow menus to dining next to a lion, hotels in Canberran offer more than just a place to lay your head. Sleep under five million stars with Naked Cubby Co’s glamping tents at Mount Majura Vineyard or enjoy a luxury wildlife experience at A Wild Night Out. Rest your head in a treehouse neighbouring some friendly giraffes at Jamala Wildlife Lodge or enjoy a cocktail in a rooftop bar atop your hotel. For more unique stays, including tiny houses and eco-friendly hotels, check out where the locals recommend you stay.
This is just a taste of what you can try to pack into your trip to Canberra. For more suggestions, check out our autumn and winter guide to Canberra, available here.