The Top 10 Things to Do and See in Canberra

The Top 10 Things to Do and See in Canberra
Australia’s arty and innovative capital, Canberra, boasts a wealth of cultural attractions to enthral and entertain guests. Spend the day touring museums and perusing galleries, or find some serenity and revel in nature at the stunning Lake Burley Griffin. Traverse the botanical gardens here or enjoy a thrilling hot-air balloon ride; whatever your preference, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Here’s our definitive guide to the best things to do and see whilst visiting cool and creative Canberra.
Canberra sunset over Black Mountain tower I © Prescott Pym/Flikr

Australian War Memorial

With many amazing exhibits and displays, it’s easy to spend an entire day at the Australian War Memorial, a venue dedicated to commemorating the sacrifice of Australians who have died in war. It is a stunning shrine, a world-class archive documenting the Australian experience of war, and aims to illustrate the enduring impact warfare has on national society. From Indigenous conflicts, to the Vietnam war, to present-day peacekeeping, take a guided tour here and explore a fascinating array of artefacts and photographs. Entrance here is free, and provides an educational and engaging day out whilst in the capital.

Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 10am-5pm

Address & telephone number: Treloar Cres, Campbell, ACT, Australia, +61 2 6243 4211

Balloon Aloft Canberra

A leader in commercial hot-air ballooning, Balloon Aloft Canberra is a must-try when visiting Canberra, with over 27 years of experience in conducting balloon flights throughout the country. Offering unparalleled views of the city, a morning exploring the Australian skies in a majestic hot-air balloon allows for a breathtaking experience above the clouds. Sunrise balloon flights are scheduled here daily, and customers can get involved in both the launching and landing of the aircraft, a chance to get hands-on and help yourself to fly. Spectacular balloon events are often held in conjunction with the company, aircraft extravaganzas which see hundreds of colorful and imaginative balloon creations floating through the Canberra skies. This is an unusual and beautiful way to experience the charm of the city.

Address & telephone number: Pialligo ACT, Australia, +61 2 6249 8660

Australian Parliament House

The magnificent focal point of the city, the Australian Parliament House has to be visited when in Canberra. The operating hub of Australian government, the building boasts beautiful architecture and is home to picturesque gardens in which visitors can enjoy a tasty high tea. Arresting artwork adorns the walls here, and guests can gain access to the Chambers and Question Time, as well as view important historic documents, such as the Magna Carta, a royal charter dating back to 1297. This is a top spot to learn all about Australia’s parliament, and to explore the venue from which the country dispenses democracy and justice.

Address & telephone number: Parliament Drive, Canberra, ACT, Australia, +61 2 6277 7111

Booroomba Rocks

Located in Namadgi National Park, nestled into the side of Mount Tennent, a walk at Booroomba Rocks offers a great half-day trek, provides some extraordinary views of Canberra, and gives visitors a taste of true bushwalking. The trail itself is short but very steep, 190 meters in total, with the temperatures usually remaining cool and the atmosphere dense. Damp foliage, sleeper plants and rocks are dotted about the walk, and halfway up the trail there is a wooden seat offering a some respite for weary hikers. The thick covering of trees here effectively shades walkers from the scorching sun, however, don’t forget to apply a thick layer of sunblock before heading out. The walk culminates in a majestic cliff opening, offering expansive views travelling well over the tops of the clouds; don’t forget to bring your camera!

Address & telephone number: Unnamed Road, ACT, Australia


A huge hit with kids, Questacon is Canberra’s celebrated national science and technology center. It offers a wealth of hands-on, interesting activities with the aim of illustrating the exciting elements of science. Opened in 1988, spectacular science shows are often performed here by the venue’s own in-house theater troupe, the Questacon Excited Particles. Their acts cover a variety of topics, including dinosaurs, spiders, rockets, balloons and liquid nitrogen, and give the process of learning here an exciting interactive element. Questacon also hosts a plethora of educating exhibits, from ‘perception deception’, a presentation featuring perceptual tests and illusions, to ‘wonderworks’, a dynamic exploration of color, movement, light and sound. A consistent favorite even for adults, Questacon is a top spot in which to boost science knowledge in a lively, inquisitive environment.

Address & telephone number: King Edward Terrace, Parkes, ACT, Australia, +61 2 6270 2800

National Gallery of Australia

Striving to enhance and deepen the public’s understanding of art, the National Gallery of Australia exhibits over 100,000 pieces of innovative and astounding paintings, drawings and sculptures. Through exceptional displays, presentations and programs, the gallery provides an enriching experience in which visitors are encouraged to wholeheartedly enjoy the visual arts. Art originating from all parts of the world can be seen here, with a renowned Asian exhibition, a first-class collection of Aboriginal artwork, and one of the best collections of Australian art in the world. Jackson Pollock’s “Blue Poles”, an abstract impressionist painting and one of the artist’s most famous, finds it home here at the National Gallery of Australia, along with many other beautiful pieces.

Address & telephone number: Parkes Place, Canberra, ACT, Australia, +61 2 6240 6411

Lake Burley Griffin

For a relaxing adventure in Canberra, take a walk or ride your bike around the beautiful Lake Burley Griffin. Boasting stunning lakeside scenery, lush green trees and a peaceful atmosphere, this is the ideal setting in which to stroll leisurely or enjoy a picnic. The lake is named after Walter Burley Griffin, an American architect who won the competition to design the city, and is located in the approximate geographic center of the capital, intended to be the city centerpiece in accordance with Griffin’s original designs. The aforementioned Parliament House and National gallery are just a short walk away from this site, providing a relaxing piece of peace and quiet for visitors wanting a break from the bustle of the city.

Address: Canberra, ACT, Australia

Namadgi National Park

The majestic mountains situated in the south-west of Canberra, Namadgi National Park is full of fantastic views and wonderful wildlife, and is part of a wild area of 106,095 hectares making up 46 per cent of the Australian Capital Territory. Amazingly, evidence suggests that Aboriginal people were living in this region during the last ice-age, over 21,000 years ago. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to spot kangaroos, wombats, wallabies, and many different types of birds during a hike here. Spend the day immersed in nature, trekking through Namadgi National Park on foot, or why not hire a horse and explore the surroundings the authentic way. Camping, rock climbing and fishing are popular here, and there is a quaint little town nearby named Tharwa, a spot which provides an informative visitors center for the park, as well as a theater and a shop supplying outdoor goods.

Address & telephone number: Naas Road, Tharwa, ACT, Australia, +61 2 6207 2900

National Museum of Australia

An architectural landmark designed in the shape of a jigsaw puzzle, a creation reflecting the idea of stories fitting together to make history, the National Museum of Australia is a top spot to visit when in Canberra, for its eye-catching exterior as well as its impressive list of exhibits and programs. A social history museum with the aim of exploring the land, nation and people of Australia, the establishment focuses on Indigenous histories and cultures, histories of European settlement, and the interaction of humans with the environment. Among many others, a popular exhibit here is one showcasing the heart of Phar Lap, a legendary champion Australian racehorse who enjoyed phenomenal success during the early years of the Great Depression.
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Australian National Botanic Gardens

Home to a large collection of native plants from all around Australia, the Australian National Botanic Gardens is the perfect place to spend a calming day surrounded by nature. The venue supports a living collection of around 74,000 individual plants arranged in 40 hectares of themed sections, and is a collection featuring over 6,200 species, an amount which represents around a third of Australia’s native plants. Beautiful orchids, dense eucalyptus trees and an array of ferns and funghi charmingly adorn the area here, among many other varieties. These plants are used for the enjoyment of visitors, and for extensive biology and plant classification research by local scientists. The Australian National Botanic Gardens also actively protects plants which are threatened in the wild. This garden is a great place for a relaxing walk, and a break from the hustle and bustle of Canberra.

Address & telephone number: Clunies Ross Street, Acton, ACT, Australia, +61 2 6250 9540by

By Karmi Chan