27 Best Things To Do In Canberra, Australia - Updated 2023

things to do in canberra australia

Canberra is the capital of Austalia, but in terms of tourism, it tends to be ignored in favor of other cities such as Sydney and Melbourne because visitors tend to think of it as the center of politics of the country and nothing more. While it may indeed be the seat of political power there, it also offers a number of attractions that would delight travelers looking to learn more about the city’s history, explore its beautiful natural attractions, and check out the urban sprawl and its associated offerings. Take a look at this list for the top things to do in Canberra, Australia.

1. Picnic along the park-fringed shores of Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin
Source: Pixabay

Lake Burley Griffin, arguably the heart of Canberra, is so picturesque that it is no wonder that there are various parks surrounding it to give visitors great views of the waters. Many of these have picnic spots so you and your group can enjoy your outdoor meal surrounded by beauty. While you’re in the area, why not try out one of the many activities offered in the Lake Burley Griffin area, which include swimming, fishing, kayaking, sailing, rowing, windsurfing, and even yachting.

Lake Burley Griffin

Address: Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Website: Lake Burley Griffin

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free entry

2. Read historic documents at the National Library of Australia

National Library of Australia, ACT - perspective controlled
Source: Photo by user Thennicke used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Don’t let its facade intimidate you into stopping from entering the building. Inside the library are a variety of materials that serve to record the heritage and history of Australia. It’s the largest reference library in the country for a good reason - it does not just contain printed publications such as books, magazines, and newspapers, it also features collections of posters, maps, photographs, and even music. If you’re a bookworm or a history enthusiast, you can easily while away several hours browsing through the materials here.

National Library of Australia

Address: Parkes Pl W, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia

Website: National Library of Australia

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 10am - 8pm; Fri - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 1:30pm - 5pm

3. Relax and rejuvenate in the Australian National Botanic Gardens

Australian National Botanic Garden Red Centre Garden 2
Source: Photo by user Adigautam5 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Australian National Botanic Gardens is a good destination to head to if you’re looking for a place where you can relax with a group or with your own self as company. This venue features a collection of the different plant varieties across Australia. There are plenty of walking trails in the gardens that you can take to explore the different parts of the garden. All the plants are labeled accordingly, which makes a visit here a great learning experience for children and adults alike. There are picnic spots if you want to bring a packed meal here. Alternatively, you can grab some food from the on-site cafe. There’s also a spa in the gardens if you need a little help relaxing.

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Address: Clunies Ross St, Acton ACT 2601, Australia

Website: Australian National Botanic Gardens

Opening hours: 8:30am - 5pm (daily, except Christmas)

Price: Free entry

4. Do a spot of market-hopping at Capital Region Farmers Market

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

If you’re a fan of healthy eating, make sure to drop by Capital Region Farmers Market while you’re in Canberra, because this is the place to go if you want to buy the freshest produce in the city, as well as meats, seafood, eggs, jams, and other products. There are also food and drinks that you can enjoy on the spot, such as bread, pies, and coffee. While there, feel free to chat with the sellers to get tips and recipes on how to prepare the food you bought.

Capital Region Farmers Market

Address: Exhibition Park in Canberra, Flemington Road, Mitchell ACT 2911, Australia

Website: Capital Region Farmers Market

Opening hours: Sat: 7:30am - 11:30am (closed from Sun - Fri)

5. Enjoy the panoramic views from Mount Ainslie

Mount Ainslie
Source: Photo by user Bidgee used under CC BY 3.0

The traditional home of the Ngunnawal Aboriginal people, Mount Ainslie provides visitors with fantastic views overlooking the city. The best part about it is that you can simply drive to the top, so even those who are not physically ready can still enjoy the panoramic views. Hiking, of course, is also an option, and there’s already a paved walkway from the back of the Australian War Memorial. The path is called the Kokoda Memorial Trail, named after the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, is marked with plaques that commemorate battles during World War II.

Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve

Address: 20 Mount Ainslie Dr, Australian Capital Territory 2609, Australia

Website: Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free entry

6. Stroll through the beautiful Jerrabomberra Wetlands

Jerrabomberra Wetlands is considered as one of the most valuable wetland habitat areas in the Australian Capital Territory. You can also go walking and biking on the designated paths. While you’re exploring the area, be sure to keep your eyes and ears open, because the wetlands is what a number of species of migratory birds seek refuge at. This makes this place a must-visit, especially for birders. If you’re one of them, make sure to pack your binoculars for your trip! Do note that pets are not allowed here.

Jerrabomberra Wetlands

Address: 2 Dairy Road, Fyshwick, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Website: Jerrabomberra Wetlands

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free entry

7. Look for special souvenirs at the Canberra Glassworks

Canberra Glassworks
Source: Photo by Flickr user Steve Bittinger used under CC BY 2.0

Canberra Glassworks is definitely not your typical glassworks factory. Artisans and their students craft their pieces here, and you can witness for yourself how they produce their works of art. If you have the time and the inclination, you can attend one of the workshops here and get the chance to make your own glasswork, making for a truly special souvenir. There’s an on-site cafe if you want to get some snacks or drinks after your tour.

Canberra Glassworks

Address: 11 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston ACT

Website: Canberra Glassworks

Opening hours: Wed - Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed from Sun - Tue)

8. Take your children to the National Zoo & Aquarium

National Zoo & Aquarium
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bidgee used under CC BY 3.0

Bring your kids to the National Zoo & Aquarium, which serves as the home of a number of exotic animals, including but not limited to lions, tigers, bears, penguins, giraffes, and monkeys. Make sure to check the schedule to let your kids have up close and personal encounters with some of the creatures housed here. For those who prefer aquatic creatures, this facility houses the largest inland saltwater tank in Australia.

National Zoo & Aquarium

Address: 999 Lady Denman Dr, Yarralumla ACT 2611, Australia

Website: National Zoo & Aquarium

Opening hours: 9:30am - 5pm (daily, except Christmas)

Price: 33 USD for adults, 18 USD for children, 28 USD for students (16 years and up) with student card and senior citizens

9. Admire the sweeping views from Telstra Tower

Sunset at Telstra Tower
Source: Pixabay

The Telstra Tower is one of the most iconic structures in Canberra. The structure is an active telecommunications facility that also welcomes visitors who want to enjoy panoramic views overlooking the city from its observation deck and its cafe. Make sure to dress warmly if you’re planning to enjoy the view from the open-air viewing floor because the air can get chilly up there.

Telstra Tower

Address: 100 Black Mountain Dr, Acton ACT 2601, Australia

Website: Telstra Tower

Opening hours: 9am - 10pm (daily)

Price: 5 USD for adults, 2 USD for children (4 - 16 years old) and for senior citizens, free entry for children under 4

10. Catch a live football game at Manuka Oval

Manuka Oval is practically an institution in Canberra, having hosted not just football games since the 1920s, but also other sporting events such as rugby and cricket. The venue has a seating capacity of 13,550 people. There are plenty of food and drinks stands if you need to get a snack while watching the game. Manuka Oval is a smoke-free facility.

Manuka Oval

Address: Manuka Cir, Griffith ACT 2603, Australia

Website: Manuka Oval

11. Try your luck at Casino Canberra

Want to try your luck while in Canberra? If so, head on over to Casino Canberra, the only place in the Australian Capital Territory to have been issued a license to operate gambling tables. Here, you can test your skills at the cards tables, where you can play games such as Texas Hold ‘Em, Baccarat, Blackjack, and Poker. You can also watch sports here. The casino comes with an in-house restaurant.

Casino Canberra

Address: 21 Binara St, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia

Website: Casino Canberra

Opening hours: 12pm - 4am (daily)

12. Enjoy the waterslides at Big Splash Waterpark

The heat in Canberra can get pretty intense, especially during summers. Cool off by diving into one of the pools at the Big Splash Waterpark. If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll get a kick out of the waterslides (there are different rates for swimming in the pool and use of the slides). Guests are not allowed to bring their own food, but there’s also an on-site cafe if you and your group want to enjoy some snacks.

Big Splash Waterpark

Address: 1 Catchpole Street, Canberra 2004, Australia

Website: Big Splash Waterpark

Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 8.50 USD onwards

13. Drink like a fish at Bar Rochford

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Whoever said that Canberra has no nightlife has definitely not visited Bar Rochford, a wine and cocktail bar located in the Melbourne Building. Besides the two kinds of alcoholic beverages, beers are also available here. It’s not just drinks that are amazing here, the items on the food menu are not to be sneered at, either. If you’re unsure what to order, the staff are ready and able to make recommendations based on what you want to eat or drink. Dinner reservations can be arranged for up to six people. The fireplace in the venue only helps add to the ambiance.

Bar Rochford

Address: 65 London Circuit, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia

Website: Bar Rochford

Opening hours: Tue - Wed: 5pm - 12am; Thu: 5pm - 1am; Fri: 3pm - 1am; Sat: 5pm - 1am (closed on Sun & Mon)

14. Watch a movie at Dendy Cinemas Canberra Centre

Dendy Cinemas is the premier movie theater in Canberra. Not only does it let guests enjoy watching the latest movies in comfort, but it also features a number of amenities that welcome just about everyone. Accessibility features, including designated wheelchair car spaces, bathroom stalls, and spaces in the actual theaters, are available here. Similarly, there is available equipment for hearing and vision-impaired guests so they can also enjoy watching the movie.

Dendy Cinemas Canberra Centre

Address: Canberra Centre, 148 Bunda St, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia

Website: Dendy Cinemas Canberra Centre

Opening hours: 9:30am - 12am (daily)

15. Dance to the music at Cube

If you’re a partygoer who can’t resist the call of the dance floor, this is the place for you. Cube is a nightclub that features some of the best dance music in Canberra. It labels itself as a gay bar but welcomes anyone, so long as you are accepting, unprejudiced, and just there to have fun. Cube follows a Zero Violence policy to make sure that their guests are safe within their space. Drag talents help liven up the night, and a DJ spins tunes to keep you dancing.


Address: 33 Petrie Plaza, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia

Website: Cube

Opening hours: Thu - Sat: 10pm - 5am; Sun: 10pm - 12am (closed from Mon - Wed)

16. Check out the National Science and Technology Centre

Questacon and balloon
Source: Photo by user laRuth used under CC BY 2.0

Want to take your kids somewhere in Canberra where they can have a good time, and learn in the process? If so, head on over to Questacon - National Science and Technology Centre. This interactive museum features eight different exhibits, each of which is designed to teach children, and even adults, something new in the world of science and technology while they’re having fun. If you and your family get hungry after you are done exploring the different features on display here, head over to the cafe to grab a bite to eat.

Questacon - National Science and Technology Centre

Address: King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia

Website: Questacon - National Science and Technology Centre

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily, except Christmas)

Price: 16 USD for adults, 12 USD for children, free entry for children below 4

17. Get some great shots of the National Carillon

National Carillon
Source: Pixabay

Here’s another iconic architectural landmark that you need to visit while in Canberra. The National Carillon, which is perched on Aspen Island, may not look it, but it’s actually a gigantic musical instrument, holding 55 bronze bells. Their chimes can be heard not just around Lake Burley Griffin, but also all the way to the Kings and Commonwealth Parks. This structure is actually a gift from the British government to Australia in 1970 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Canberra.

National Carillon

Address: Aspen Island, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia

Website: National Carillon

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free entry

18. Tour the Old Parliament House

Old Parliament House Canberra NS
Source: Photo by user JJ Harrison used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Formerly known as the Provisional Parliament House, the Old Parliament House - now known as the Museum of Australian Democracy - served as the seat of the Parliament of Australia from 1927 to 1988. It now serves as a museum that shows the history of the system of government in the country. Exhibits are interactive and make it easier for children and adults alike to learn about the years before. Rooms have even been redesigned to reflect specific eras in Australia’s political past, which will make you feel as though you have traveled back to these historically significant periods.

Old Parliament House

Address: 18 King George Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia

Website: Old Parliament House

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily, except Christmas)

Price: 1.50 USD for adults, 1 USD for children, free admmission for children below 5

19. Enjoy flying kites at the National Arboretum Canberra

Canberra National Arboretum with Telstra Tower 2, Canberra ACT
Source: Photo by user Thennicke used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The National Arboretum Canberra is a 250-hectare (618-acre) property that is covered by 94 forests housing trees - including rare and endangered species - from Australia and around the world. This area was established to serve as a symbol of the healing and resilience of Canberra, which is prone to bushfires. In fact, the area where the arboretum now stands was once pine plantations that burned down. Today, this area does not just host a wide variety of trees, it also serves as an events venue. One of the activities you can organize here is a kite party, which is intended to teach kids to make and fly kites.

National Arboretum Canberra

Address: Forest Dr, Molonglo Valley ACT 2611, Australia

Website: National Arboretum Canberra

Opening hours: Village center: 9am - 4pm (daily, except Christmas); grounds: 6am - 8:30pm (daily, except Christmas)

Price: Free entry

20. Tour the Royal Australian Mint

Proof coin hall, Royal Australian Mint
Source: Photo by user Mitch Ames used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Ever wondered what it’s like to make money? At the Royal Australian Mint, you can go on a tour to find out how coins are made. Thirty-minute guided tours are held daily at 10 am, 11 am, and 2 pm on weekdays and at 11 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm on weekdays and holidays. You can even try making your own coin here! Besides seeing how the money is made, you can also take a look at the old and rare Australian coins, and some are available for sale if you wish to purchase a souvenir. There’s an in-house cafe here if you need to get some refreshments.

Royal Australian Mint

Address: Denison St, Deakin ACT 2600, Australia

Website: Royal Australian Mint

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 4pm

Price: Free entry

21. Rejuvenate at Siam Senses Thai Massage & Day Spa

Holidays are a time for self-indulgence, so take this opportunity to treat yourself to a trip to the spa in Canberra. Siam Senses Thai Massage & Day Spa offers relaxing massages, body scrubs, and beauty treatments to help soothe your body, mind, and senses and help get rid of any tension, aches, or pains you do not even know you have. The place is beautifully decorated and helps create a relaxing ambiance to help lull your senses to let go and relax.

Siam Senses Thai Massage & Day Spa

Address: Shop 5 Jolimont Centre Corner Northbourne Ave &, Rudd St, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia

Website: Siam Senses Thai Massage & Day Spa

Opening hours: 10am - 10pm (daily)

22. Plan a picnic with family at Weston Park

Weston Park Yarralumla
Source: Photo by user Cfitzart used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Sometimes, the one thing that you need to help you get a breather is to spend time outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature. At Weston Park, you can do exactly that. For a relaxing day, you can have a picnic with your family here. There’s plenty of shade so you don’t have to worry about overexposure to the sun. If, however, you want to do something a little more active, you can take some bikes and explore the designated bike trails, go swimming in the lake, or take your kids to the playground. There are also kangaroos hopping around the area if you want to catch sight of these creatures.

Weston Park

Address: Weston Park Rd, Yarralumla ACT 2600, Australia

Website: Weston Park

Opening hours: 7am - 10pm (daily)

Price: Free entry

23. Shop your heart out at Canberra Centre

Canberra Centre
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bidgee used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re like most people, you know that a trip is not complete without going on a shopping spree. If you believe this, make sure to take the time to drop by Canberra Centre, which houses four department stores, two supermarkets, and a number of specialty outlets. The size is such that you can easily get lost exploring the various stores there, but you’ll have fun finding your way out (with probably shopping bags in both hands). There are also a number of restaurants there in case you get hungry while you’re shopping.

Canberra Centre

Address: 148 Bunda St, Canberra ACT 2608, Australia

Website: Canberra Centre

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 9am - 5:30pm; Fri: 9am - 9pm; Sat: 9am - 5pm; Sun: 10am - 4pm

24. Solve the mysteries of Expedition Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are always a fun option for groups looking to have a good time. If you and your family or friends want to challenge your problem-solving skills and your ability to work together, head over to Expedition Escape Rooms and try to break out before time runs out. There are currently three adventures to choose from: “Da Vinci’s Secrets”, “Mission: Identity”, and “Lost in Paradise”. Choose the challenge, - and your groupmates, wisely.

Expedition Escape Rooms

Address: u11/108 Bunda St, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia

Website: Expedition Escape Rooms

Opening hours: 9am - 10pm (daily)

Price: 22 USD onwards

25. Relax and unwind at Commonwealth Park

Commonwealth Park
Source: Photo by Flickr user Orion Kahza used under CC0

Commonwealth Park is a beautifully landscaped park, complete with sculptures and ponds to make for a picture-perfect green haven in Canberra. You can do just about whatever you need to rejuvenate your senses here, whether it means strolling, going on a run, or simply absorbing the beauty of your surroundings. Your kids, meanwhile, will enjoy playing at the playground on site. There are picnic spots if you want to enjoy a meal outdoors.

Commonwealth Park

Address: Parkes, Canberra City, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Website: Commonwealth Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free entry

26. Visit the Australian War Memorial (from USD 122.0)

The Australian War Memorial, as the name suggests, is intended to honor members of the armed forces of Australia who have served and/or fallen in the line of service. The memorial is actually broken into three segments: the commemorative area, which houses the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier; the museum; and the records section. While you’re in the area, do visit the Remembrance Nature Park, which commemorates the Australian troops who served during World War II.

Sydney to Canberra Small-Group Day Trip with Parliament House

Duration: 12 hours 30 minutes

17 reviews

27. Walk into the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) (from USD 13.0)

Aussies take their sports seriously, and there’s no better proof of this than the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), a world-class sports training institution that has produced some of the top athletes in the country. This tour package takes you on a 90-minute tour of the facilities so you can see for yourself the level of dedication of Australian athletes in their chosen craft to remain at the top of their game. You can even test your own skills at Sportex, an interactive sports zone that allows you to challenge yourself on your level of athleticism.

Australian Institute of Sport: The AIS Tour

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

16 reviews

Beyond politics

As this list shows, there’s more to Canberra than being the seat of power of Australia. The best part of it is that these are only a few of the things you can see and do in the city. Being the center of the country, there are always events and activities held here to keep people, whether residents or visitors, busy all year round. Head on over to the capital of the Land Down Under and see all of these for yourself.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Melanie is a freelance travel writer. She considers freelancing for Trip 101 to be a combination of two of the things she loves: writing and traveling.

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