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Best things to do in Canberra

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Where in the world: South Pacific  /  Australia  /  Australian Capital Territory  /  Canberra
There are plenty of things to do in Canberra, Australia's largest inland city and capital. Take a stroll past the buildings that make up Parliament of Australia, explore the many wonders of Australian National Botanic Gardens, or visit the exhibits housed inside National Museum of Australia, filled with artifacts from the country's history. Australian War Memorial honors soldiers lost in global conflicts and remains a must for those interested in military history. Visitors looking for something more adventurous will find skydiving and horseback riding tours easily available.

Canberra is best known for its History Museums, Government Buildings, and Art Museums.

Top 15 things to do in Canberra

1. Australian War Memorial

Australian War Memorial pays tribute to Australians who fought in global conflicts. A large white building with a green dome serves as the site's focal point. It houses the commemorative area, including the Hall of Memory where the Tomb of the Australian Unknown Soldier lies. Inside, three walls of stained glass and four walls of mosaics depict Australian servicemen and women. In an outside courtyard, a memorial pool surrounds an eternal flame. A museum and archive details Australia's military involvement around the world.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $121 › Learn more about Australian War Memorial

2. Questacon

Australia might be best known for its exotic wildlife and beautiful landscapes, but you can explore its more scientific and technological side at Questacon. More than 200 interactive exhibits show you physics, chemistry, and engineering in action. Discover how a whirlwind of air and mist make things move at the Jellyfish Vortex. Test your response to visual stimuli and your hand-eye coordination at Batak. Although the museum aims most of its exhibits at kids, it entertains and educates visitors of all ages.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
Learn more about Questacon

3. National Gallery of Australia

Explore Australia's largest collection of art at the National Gallery of Australia. This sleek glass-and-concrete building holds more than 160,000 works from all over the world. Learn about Australian art from colonialism to the present and discover Aboriginal pieces from the oldest living culture in the world. Visit the sculpture garden where 26 pieces by international and Australian artists reside among local plants that thrive throughout the year. Check the schedule for current exhibits while you're in town.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Tours from $128 › Learn more about National Gallery of Australia

4. Highlights of Canberra Full Day Tour

FROM $121
Witness the wonderful views of Canberra and the region from the top of Mount Ainslie. Visit NCA Exhibition Centre. Be guided through the corridors of power at Australia’s Parliament House. Survey the Parliamentary Triangle & its National Institutions. Explore the Australian War Memorial and experience the moving Last Post Ceremony. All fees included. Personally guided throughout.
Suggested duration: 8h
Tours from $121 › More about this tour at viator.com ›
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5. Parliament of Australia

Watch Australian government at work and receive a lesson in impressive modern architecture at Parliament of Australia. The immaculately landscaped, 32 hectare (79 acre) site features a long, low building resembling a boomerang from the front with four diagonal legs supporting a massive Australian flag on the roof. Inside, you'll find about 4,700 rooms and many publicly accessible areas. Join a guided tour. Lasting 45 minutes when government isn't sitting and 30 minutes when it is, a guided tour will bring you to the Chambers to watch Question Time and into viewing areas for important documents like the Magna Carta. You can't miss the tapestry in the Great Hall: It's one of the world's largest. Head to the rooftop for expansive views of Canberra, and grab refreshments in the Queens Terrace cafe.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Tours from $121 › Learn more about Parliament of Australia

6. Mount Ainslie Lookout

Mount Ainslie Lookout offers a panoramic view of the central business district of Canberra, set against the background of Lake Burley Griffin and Mount Stromlo. Located near the War Memorial, you access this lookout via a twisty road offering more scenic views. The site is a popular stop for visitors participating in guided city tours, as well as locals. Bring your camera to take photographs with the iconic city backdrop in the distance. There are few tourist facilities here, but you can purchase cold drinks, ice cream, and coffee from portable kiosks usually located at the top.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $121 › Learn more about Mount Ainslie Lookout

7. Royal Australian Mint

At the observation gallery of Royal Australian Mint, look into the coin production factory and marvel at Titan, one of the strongest robots in the world. Watch a video that takes you behind the scenes of the coin-making process. See all the different coins that Australia used over the years, and mint your own $1 coin.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $608 › Learn more about Royal Australian Mint

8. Women's History Walking Tour with Local Guide in Canberra

FROM $44
Ready to learn about the REAL history of Canberra – the one excluded from history books and your standard tour of Canberra? Snag your place on this entertaining and educational walking tour of Canberra and discover the true movers and shakers behind our city. Join our young and passionate local guides to uncover the stories of Australia's most misunderstood city. Learn about Australia’s hidden women's history as you walk among some of our nation’s most iconic cultural institutions and monuments. Hidden between the National Archives, the National Library and the National Gallery are the stories of women who designed cities, changed Australia’s constitution and dismissed governments. You'll see it all, from the longest-running protest in the world to hidden spy bunkers and secret moats to the buildings where decisions about the future of our country are made. This tour will change the way you see Australia's capital city forever.
Suggested duration: 2h
Tours from $44 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

9. National Portrait Gallery

Opened in 2008 and conveniently located on King Edward Terrace, National Portrait Gallery displays nearly 400 portraits of prominent Australians who have helped shaped their nation. Portraits exhibited here represent a variety of media and are displayed in several galleries, each symbolizing a different era of the country's history. The venue often hosts temporary exhibitions from around the world, as well as lectures and seminars by well-known art scholars and historians. Visitors have access to several public areas inside or next to this building, including a small cafe, an events room, a theater, a well-stocked bookstore, and secure parking.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
Tours from $44 › Learn more about National Portrait Gallery

10. Lake Burley Griffin

The centerpiece of the nation's capital, Lake Burley Griffin is an artificial body of water created in 1963. You can spend days exploring this lake, on or off the water. Options include renting a paddleboat, canoe, or kayak or joining a scenic cruise, stopping at city landmarks located on the shores of the lake. You can also walk, cycle, or skate all the way around the lake, a distance of around 25 km (15.5 mi). Bicycles can be rented at several locations along the shore, where you can also join a guided tour around the city's extensive network of bike paths and off-road trails. Nearby you can find plenty of parking, as well as shops selling ice cream and refreshing drinks.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $44 › Learn more about Lake Burley Griffin

11. National Arboretum Canberra, Molonglo Valley

National Arboretum Canberra is home to Himalayan Cedars, Radiata Pines, and other threatened and rare trees from around the world. Meander through the forest where more than 48,000 trees grow. Navigate through 250 hectares (620 acres) of landscaped gardens including picnic spots, playgrounds, and public art. Be sure to stop at the bonsai garden. From National Arboretum Canberra, you can enjoy stunning views of Canberra and Lake Burley Griffin.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about National Arboretum Canberra

12. Canberra Day Trip from Sydney

FROM $128
Take a day trip from Sydney to Canberra, the capital of Australia, to explore the city's attractions, cultural institutions and beautiful natural surroundings. We drive through Australia’s cool climate wool growing region and learn about the futuristic planning that makes Canberra one of the world's most modern and liveable cities. Visit Parliament House, an architectural masterpiece home to Australian democracy. Take time to explore The Australian War Memorial dedicated to telling stories of what our nation has done to prevent war and contribute to peace. Enjoy lunch besides the lake at the National Museum of Australia. From mid-September to mid-October visit the Floriade Flower Festival, the largest flower festival in the Southern Highlands. A day in our capital is enriching, surprising and thoroughly rewarding!
Suggested duration: 12h 30min
Tours from $128 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

13. Old Parliament House

Built in the 1920s, Old Parliament House is a beautiful national heritage-listed building and a treasured icon. Every part of the building tells a story. Today, it is home to the Museum of Australian Democracy unpacking the secret of our greatest national success story. The story of Australia’s democracy, what it is now, how it got to be this way and what it might become in the future is told in bold and arresting fashion through a range of engaging exhibitions, family activities, tours and events. Inside Old Parliament House is also the Terrace Café and Hoi Polloi restaurant.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
Tours from $44 › Learn more about Old Parliament House

14. National Museum of Australia

National Museum of Australia features interactive exhibits and groups of items divided by concept rather than era. The museum profiles 50,000 years of indigenous heritage, early European settlements, and modern events, such as the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The world's largest collection of aboriginal bark paintings and stone tools is on display. Other popular displays include the heart of champion racehorse Phar Lap and the Holden Prototype Number 1 car. Spend a rainy day here learning about the country's history, recent developments, and subjects unique to Australia, such as surf lifesaving and bushrangers.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
Tours from $14 › Learn more about National Museum of Australia

15. Best of Wildlife and Birds Tour

FROM $91
Time and time again the Best of Wildlife tour impresses those who choose to take part. A half day, afternoon tour, we travel at the best time of the day to see some of Australia’s unique animals in the wild. The tour begins with pickup at your accommodation before a half hour to 40-minute journey through the rural surrounds of Canberra to the Deep Space Tracking Station at Tidbinbilla. Here you’ll learn about the significant role played by our telescopes in the Apollo missions and first moon landing as well as current day deep space tracking. From the Deep Space Tracking Station, we’ll travel the short distance to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve where some of Australia’s most iconic native animals living in the wild. Through the reserve we’ll hopefully witness and get close to: Kangaroos Wallabies Koalas Platypus Colourful parrots and other birds Emus After hopefully spotting platypus towards the end of the tour, you’ll enjoy the 30-40 minute tour back into your accommodation.
Suggested duration: 4h
Tours from $91 › More about this tour at viator.com ›