How to Spend 3 Days in Darwin
Three days in Darwin gives you ample time to tick off major city sights, explore the Northern Territory’s famous national parks, and learn more about the region’s rich Aboriginal heritage. Here’s the ultimate 3-day Darwin itinerary.
Day 1: Hop between the sights
A hop-on hop-off bus tour is a great way to orient yourself if you’re visiting Darwin for the first time, and allows you to create your own sightseeing itinerary. Disembark to admire the views at Doctors Gully and Cullen Bay Marina, or stroll around Darwin Botanic Gardens. Alternatively, stay aboard for the entire loop and enjoy unobstructed views from the top deck.
At lunchtime, hop off at Darwin Waterfront Precinct to enjoy a seafood lunch at one of the ocean-view restaurants. Don’t forget to visit the beach, where you can cool off with a swim in the lagoons—Darwin’s coast is plagued with stingers, so don’t try to swim elsewhere.
In the evening, head to the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, held on Thursday and Sunday evenings between May and October. Here, you’ll find stalls selling art and handicrafts, a huge variety of street food, and live entertainment.
Day 2: Explore Kakadu National Park
The wild landscapes and ancient wonders of Kakadu National Park, Australia’s largest national park, are a 3-hour drive from Darwin, which makes it possible to tick off the highlights on a day trip. For the best value, choose a tour that includes hotel pickup and lunch, or maximize your time by splashing out on a scenic flight or helicopter tour—the quickest and most memorable way to reach the park.
Most tours include a cruise along the Yellow Water Billabong or the East Alligator River (Guluyambi), where you’ll have chance to spot crocodiles in their natural habitat. Other must-sees include waterfalls such as Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls, where you can dive in for a swim; the ancient Aboriginal rock art sites at Nourlangie Rock or Ubirr; and the Warradjan Aboriginal Centre.
Litchfield National Park and Katherine Gorge National Park are also do-able on a long day trip from Darwin.
Day 3: History and Heritage
As the gateway to Australia’s Top End, Darwin is an important historic city; its Aboriginal heritage dates back thousands of years. For those who want to immerse themselves in Aboriginal culture, a full-day cruise to the Tiwi Islands is an obvious choice; you’ll visit local communities, sample traditional foods, and take part in handicrafts workshops.
Alternatively, dedicate your last day to visiting Darwin’s museums—the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the Darwin Military Museum, the Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitor Centre, and the Darwin Aviation Museum are some of the best.
Spend your final evening admiring the city from the water. Opt for a romantic sunset cruise around Darwin Harbour, during which you’ll cruise past Stokes Hill Wharf, the Esplanade, and Fannie Bay, and enjoy a buffet dinner with a backdrop of Darwin’s illuminated city skyline.