5 must-sees in Canberra, Australia

There is so much to see and do in Canberra; let travel and foodie Rupali Dean help you get started

No rush or hubbub, no real traffic or tall buildings, Canberra is incredibly serene. Visitors can go sailing on the lake, walk through the woods, or go horseback riding through a beautiful valley. Walter Burley Griffin’s design for Australia’s capital created a wheel-and-spoke (rather than a lattice) design, with the Australian Parliament and War Memorial set in a line amidst the peaks of the tallest city ​​mountains. You can also discover Canberra’s most famous tourist attractions such as the National Museum and Houses of Parliament or immerse yourself in the many vineyards. There’s so much to see and do in Canberra that you might not know where to start. We’ve got you covered: here are five must-sees for first-timers in Canberra. Keep in mind it’s winter right now and get ready for some fun!

Take a hot air balloon ride (main picture)

Canberra is one of the few places in the world where you can fly over both a cityscape and a natural landscape in a single flight! The experience begins at dawn when you float above the picturesque town in a hot air balloon. As you climb, the Australian War Memorial comes into view, and it is from this height that you begin to admire Canberra and its sophistication. Canberra is not just about symmetrical shapes and a central layout. In fact, each country’s embassy in this capital reflects that nation’s architecture – the Chinese embassy has gardens and ponds, while the American one has towering red bricks and tall columns, for example. The interesting design of the National Museum is a highlight, as is the Black Mountain Tower in the distance. Seeing the Australian Parliament from above is also a sight not to be missed.


Take a wine tour
The region’s stellar Rieslings and incredibly complex Shiraz will help you enjoy Canberra’s wine district, home to over 140 vineyards and over 40 wineries within a 35-minute drive of the city centre.
Taste cool climate wine on a private half-day tour of a luxury winery with Van Du Vin. A stop at the Vignoble des Quatre Vents (above) is a must for a lunch of wood-fired pizzas and a glass of Sangiovese. If you love your Riesling, don’t miss Capital Wines.


Try GoBoat

Climb aboard an electric GoBoat to explore the glittering jewel in Canberra’s crown, Lake Burley Griffin. Don a captain’s hat and prepare some snacks to feast on while admiring the views from the water. The GoBoat is easy to steer; you don’t even need a driver’s license, but ‘captains’ must be over 18.


Pre-packaged boat picnics and a reasonable amount of BYO alcohol are recommended, but GoBoat can also provide snacks from the local Bean & Table restaurant (above). All in all a unique way to experience pretty Lake Burley Griffin and Canberra lake life.


Walk through the National Arboretum

Take time to wander among the 44,000 rare and culturally significant trees at the National Arboretum in Canberra, just four miles from the city centre. Join a guided walk and stroll through the Arboretum’s Bush Tucker Garden where you’ll see native plants being used for medicinal, culinary, and cultural purposes. Get yourself a table and enjoy the remarkable food on offer. Don’t forget to check out the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection while you’re there. Download the augmented reality app and see holograms and listen to soundscapes and interesting tree stories, all designed to help you immerse yourself in this beautiful place.

i Canberra - Braddon - photo credit Martin Ollman for ARC

Image: Martin Ollman for ARC

Explore the Braddon neighborhood

Start your morning in Braddon, a stone’s throw north of the city centre. It’s hipsterville, filled with bustling cafes, restaurants, and coffee roasters. Check out Barrio Collective Coffee, Lonsdale Street Roaster or the Kyo Coffee Project, which is tucked away in a metropolitan lane at the northern end of the Lonsdale Street strip.

i Canberra - Braddon - photo credit The Hive.  Martin Ollman for the RCAF

Image: The Hive. Martin Ollman for the RCAF

You can relax, shop or explore the area – you’ll find everything from a dirty strip of car parks to the trendiest part of town. Braddon Precinct is home to cutting-edge architecture, homewares and local artisans, as well as dining and coffee options galore. Need a place to stay? The Midnight Hotel is perfectly placed as a base to help you explore all that Canberra has to offer.

Main Image: Matt Witcombe

See also: 5 must-sees in Melbourne, Australia

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