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A family looking out over Lake Burley Griffin and the National Arboretum.

Your Guide to an affordable weekend getaway in Canberra

Updated 21 May 2022

Canberra is the ultimate destination for a great weekend getaway without the exorbitant price tag. No matter your interest, Canberra has you covered. Bursting at the seams with unexpected attractions, scrumptious cuisines, and an immaculate balance between nature and bustling cosmopolitan life, find more than you expect in Canberra.

Two cyclists overlook the beautiful panoramic views of the National Arboretum.

Where to see the great outdoors

As locals will attest to, part of Canberra’s charm is the city’s clear appreciation of and connection to nature. The National Arboretum Canberra, home to 94 forests of rare and significant trees, is known for its scenic lookouts and locally crafted sculptures. There are numerous ways you can explore the Arboretum from taking a guided walking tour through to sitting back and taking in the impressive views or coasting along the cycling trails. 

If you’d rather rendezvous with Aussie animals in the great outdoors a hike through Namadgi National Park comes highly recommended. Just a 45-minute drive from the city, Namadgi National Park is home to an abundance of native wildlife, 160km worth of hiking trails, and First Nations and European cultural sites.

A couple looking at First Nations art at the National Gallery of Australia.

What to do in the great indoors

Dotted around Lake Burley Griffin are a number of national attractions that are essential to include on any weekend getaway to Canberra. If you’re after an opportunity to immerse yourself in Australian and internationally renowned art pieces, the National Gallery of Australia is a must-do. If you want to refresh your knowledge on Australia’s most defining moments, head on over to the National Museum of Australia. Both experiences can be concluded with a frothy cup of coffee at the on-site cafes and a stroll through their beautifully curated gift stores.

For an experience you’ll be sure to tweet about just an easy 15-minute drive from the city, you’ll find the family-owned Canberra Walk-in Aviary. Meet over 60 different types of birds. The budget-friendly entry fee includes a bowl of bird feed to encourage your new feathered friends to come say hello. Whilst you’re there, have a wander through Gold Creek Village where you’re sure to stumble across some local favourites, including the gorgeous Adore Tea cafe, or the Wonka-esque Lolly Shop. 

The bustling CBD Dumpling House.

Chow down

Just because your weekend away is being run on a budget, doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice flavour, especially when there are so many dining options that offer phenomenal value for money. Exhibition Park in Canberra, aptly referred to as EPIC by locals, is the place to be on a Saturday morning as it hosts the iconic Capital Region Farmers Market. Characterised by passionate stall holders, fresh produce and brekkie cooking nearby, the market sells everything from artisanal jams and sauces, to fresh cut flowers and pastries. 

No affordable weekend trip to Canberra is complete without popping into the CBD Dumpling House for a pork bun or two. Located at the heart of Canberra’s city centre, this Asian eatery is easily recognizable for its open kitchen, where you can watch the chefs at work. With an extensive menu plus vegan and gluten free options, there’s plenty of enticing dishes for everyone. 

Burgers and beer come together to work in glorious tandem at Fyshwick’s Capital Brewing Co. The beer is brewed in-house by an expert team who are revolutionizing the brewing process by their mission to go waste-free. On the opposite side of the premises sits BrodBurger. Hailing from food-truck beginnings, BrodBurger has undergone quite the evolution over the past few years and in doing so has cemented itself as one of Canberra’s greatest culinary prides. One quick search on Instagram will have you drooling in anticipation over these loaded burgers. 

A birds-eye view into the contemporary Vibe Airport Hotel.

Where to sleep

Canberra’s YHA is a fantastic choice for saving money during a weekend away. Centrally located and easy walking distance from the Canberra Centre plus several of the city’s most popular cafes and eateries, the YHA proves that securing a great location doesn’t need to come with an exorbitant price tag. With room options to suit all budgets, including gendered communal rooms, mixed co-living rooms, and private rooms that can be upgraded to include an ensuite and TV, your stay at the YHA will be comfortable, accommodating, and clean. 

With the convenience of being located on the doorstep of Canberra Airport only 15 minutes from the city, the groovy Vibe Hotel offers guests fantastic deals. All the rooms are decked out in contemporary luxury and include a flat-screen TV and walk-in shower, as well as access to the fitness centre, the in-house restaurant Helix, and room service.

For those looking for a relaxing retreat, Forrest Hotel and Apartments is surrounded by grandiose trees, gardens and is a mere stone’s throw from the National Gallery and Parliament House. There are a range of room types to choose between, and amenities on site including a communal barbecue area, free parking and a restaurant and bar that overlooks leafy parklands. 

For more advice on how to enjoy Canberra on a budget chat to the team at the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre. Overlooking picturesque Lake Burley Griffin, the friendly team at the centre can help with last-minute accommodation deals, local tips and offer free Wi-Fi to visitors.