Driving in Canberra? Piece of cake

Driving in Canberra? Piece of cake

It's drive time

Don’t be put off by those famous roundabouts, driving in Canberra is easy. With plenty of parking, no tollways and very little congestion, zipping around Canberra by car is one of the best ways to experience all the city has to offer. Whether you’ve driven to Canberra in your own vehicle or have hired a car, here are some tips to make your drive a dream run, every time.

Getting around town

Canberra is famous for its roundabouts, which allow traffic to flow smoothly and avoid the extensive congestion associated with traffic lights. Coupled with the dual carriageway roads which connect the city with the suburbs, traffic jams in Canberra are few and far between. In fact, it usually only takes around 30 minutes to get from one side of Canberra to the other, even in peak hour traffic.

Other helpful tips for driving in Canberra:  

  • There are no toll ways or roads that require E-Toll or electronic tag payment to drive in the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Please be aware of cyclists who often share the roads in special bike lanes on the left hand side of main roads.
  • Speed zones in Canberra are enforced by speed cameras, average speed cameras and red light cameras. The default speed limit (unless otherwise signposted) in the ACT is 50km/hr.  

Parking in Canberra

No-one likes getting a parking ticket, so be sure to pay attention to parking signs and follow the instructions.

Parking in the city and the 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, refer to this guide to pay parking in Canberra.

Self-drive routes in Canberra

Want to see a different side of Canberra? Check out some of these self-drive routes.

Yarralumla diplomatic estate driving tour

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

Canberra Tracks

Choose from six self drive tracks that take you through Ngunnawal indigenous country, heritage tracks and pioneer routes. 

Military memorials in Australia's capital

Uncover background information on many of the military memorials found in Canberra such as Anzac Parade, with memorials dedicated to Australian and New Zealand service people who've fought and died in war lining the length of the Parade. Download a podcast of the memorials from the website.

Aerial View of central Canberra and Parliament House
A breathtaking view of Parliament House is the way to start the day!

Safe driving around Canberra

A great way to visit the myriad of attractions scattered in and around Canberra is by car. Here’s some helpful advice to keep you safe and legal during your visit to the national capital of Australia, for both interstate and overseas visitors.

Read up on Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Road Rules before you arrive. The ACT Road Rules Handbook is a valuable source of information for all visitors who plan to drive in the ACT.

International visitors may use a foreign driver’s licence in the ACT, provided it is written in English. Alternatively, an international driving permit accompanied by a foreign driver licence; or a foreign driver licence that is not in English accompanied by an official English translation of the licence will be accepted.

Under Australian law, all drivers and passengers must wear seatbelts. Helmets which meet Australian Standards are required to be worn if riding a motorcycle, moped, motor scooter or bicycle.

The ACT default speed limit in a built up areas is 50 km/h, unless a sign shows a higher or lower speed limit on a length of the road. The default speed limit in a rural area in the ACT is 100 km/h. Speed limits are strictly enforced.

It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 per cent or higher, or to drive under the influence of illegal drugs.  

If driving in a remote or country area, carry up-to-date maps and always inform someone of your intended route. In country areas, particularly at dawn and dusk, remain alert to native animals such as kangaroos, wombats and possums which may stray on the road.

Drive on major and sealed roads where possible and avoid driving at night.

Hitchhiking or picking up hitchhikers is strongly discouraged.

Safe driving tips:

  • Always obey the speed limit and adjust your speed to suit the road, weather and traffic conditions
  • When changing lanes or pulling out from the kerb always perform a head check to check the blind spots
  • Always use your indicators to give other drivers sufficient warning when required; for example, changing lanes, moving out from the kerb, turning left or right, diverging to the left or right
  • Never drive if you are tired
  • Always keep a three second safe distance between you and the vehicle in front
  • Always stop completely at stop signs
  • Consider other drivers and drive knowing you share the road with other road users and respect their right to travel safely
  • Practice safe and courteous driving behaviour

If you’re planning on venturing outside the ACT into New South Wales (NSW), read up on their driving safety tips before you do. 

But I don’t have a car!

Not to worry, there are many options for car hire in Canberra. Most major national car rental companies have offices located in the city and at Canberra Airport, making pick up and drop off a breeze.

Driving around Canberra? Make sure to stop into the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre at Regatta Point. Here you can book accommodation or tours, collect maps and get local know-how and hot tips from our friendly staff and volunteers.