Australia’s capital city packs a lot of high-quality experiences into its relaxed, natural setting. Home to museums and galleries, outdoor pursuits at Lake Burley Griffin and in the bush-clad hills, and delicious dining and drinking, Canberra is more than just the country's political heart. Here are some ideas for what to do in Canberra.
Day 1: Explore the Cultural Attractions
Spend your first day in Canberra getting an overview. Politics buffs might enjoy a guided tour of Parliament House and the chance to see Australian politicians shouting at each other. A lot of culture, history, and architecture of note can be found on the northern side of the lake at the National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia, Questacon National Science and Technology Centre, and—on the lake's other side—the National Museum of Australia and the Australian National University. Touring via a hop-on, hop-off bus is especially convenient, whereas an electric bike tour is a fun way to cover a lot of ground.
Day 2: Check out the Views
Start with a hot air balloon ride over the lake. The colorful balloons, common over Canberra, are a peaceful way to see the city, lake, and mountains. Afterwards, pick a mountain and go exploring. At the foot of Black Mountain is the Australian National Botanic Gardens. After exploring there, walk up Black Mountain, which is 770 feet (235 meters) higher than Canberra’s 1,893-foot (577-meter) altitude, and ascend the Telstra Tower for views. Alternatively, head to the Australian War Memorial at the foot of Mount Ainslie, which is 869 feet (265 meters) higher than Canberra. Walking up Mount Ainslie you can often spot kangaroos.
Day 3: Beer, Wine, and Dine
The area around Canberra is full of wineries. Take a day trip out to the nearby Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales countryside to learn about southeast Australian wines, see the rolling landscape, and sample food. If beer is more your thing, you’re in luck as Canberra is home to many craft brews. Join a brewery or brewpub tour to sample some of the best. For dinner and drinks on this final night in Canberra, head to the central Civic area for the city’s best restaurants and nightlife.