old Australian Parliament house and parliament Canberra

The Top Things to Do in Canberra: A Capital Adventure

Welcome to the heart of Australia – Canberra! Nestled between Sydney and Melbourne, this capital city often gets overshadowed by its more prominent siblings. However, Canberra has a unique charm all its own, with a rich history, stunning architecture, and a thriving cultural scene. Whether you’re a history buff, an art aficionado, or just looking for a relaxing getaway, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. In this guide, we’ll explore the top things to do in Canberra, ensuring you make the most of your visit to the nation’s capital.

Now, let’s dive into each of these attractions and discover what makes them a must-visit when in Canberra.

1. Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial is not just a museum; it’s a place of profound reflection and gratitude. Here, you’ll find a vast collection of artifacts, stories, and exhibitions that honour the sacrifices of Australian servicemen and women throughout history. The centrepiece of the memorial is the Hall of Memory, a beautifully solemn space where the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier rests. Take your time to explore the extensive galleries, attend the Last Post Ceremony, and pay your respects to those who’ve served their country.

2. Parliament House

An architectural marvel and the epicentre of Australian politics, Parliament House is a must-visit for anyone interested in the country’s governance. Guided tours will take you through the heart of the building, showcasing impressive design features like the 81-meter flagpole and the iconic marble foyer. Don’t miss the opportunity to sit in the public galleries of the House of Representatives or the Senate to witness Australian democracy in action.

3. National Gallery of Australia

Art enthusiasts, get ready to be captivated by the National Gallery of Australia. Home to an extensive collection of Australian and international art, this gallery boasts masterpieces by renowned artists like Jackson Pollock and Sidney Nolan. The striking architecture of the building itself is a work of art. Wander through the galleries, from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art to contemporary exhibitions, and let your creativity soar.

4. National Museum of Australia

Delve into the nation’s history and culture at the National Museum of Australia. This modern museum offers a comprehensive journey through Australia’s past, from Indigenous history to colonial settlement and beyond. The interactive displays and immersive exhibitions make learning fun for all ages. Be sure to check out the Garden of Australian Dreams and the stunning First Australians gallery.

5. Lake Burley Griffin

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the tranquillity of Lake Burley Griffin. This man-made lake is the perfect spot for a leisurely walk, bike ride, or picnic. You can even hire a kayak or paddleboard to get out on the water. Don’t forget your camera because the lake offers breathtaking views of many of Canberra’s iconic landmarks, including the National Library and the Captain Cook Memorial Water Jet.

6. Mount Ainslie

For panoramic views of Canberra and its surroundings, a trip to Mount Ainslie is a must. Whether you hike to the summit or drive to the lookout point, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping vistas of the city, the Australian War Memorial, and the Brindabella Ranges. It’s particularly stunning at sunrise or sunset when the city’s lights come to life.

7. Royal Australian Mint

Ever wondered how coins are made? Find out at the Royal Australian Mint. Take a guided tour to witness the coin production process, from blank discs to the finished product. You can even mint your own coin as a unique souvenir. The Mint also features fascinating exhibits about Australia’s currency history and the role of money in our society.

8. National Arboretum Canberra

For a dose of nature and serenity, head to the National Arboretum Canberra. This living museum houses over 44,000 trees from around the world, each with a unique story. Stroll through the beautiful grounds, visit the Bonsai Collection, or enjoy a meal with a view at the Arboretum’s cafe. The forests of Himalayan cedars and cork oaks are particularly enchanting.

9. National Zoo & Aquarium

Animal lovers, rejoice! The National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra offers a chance to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most exotic creatures. From majestic lions to playful meerkats, you’ll have the opportunity to observe and learn about animals from all corners of the globe. Don’t forget to check out the aquarium’s underwater viewing areas for a different perspective on marine life.

10. Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre

Prepare for an interactive adventure at Questacon, where science comes to life. This hands-on science museum is perfect for kids and adults alike. Explore more than 200 exhibits that cover a wide range of scientific topics, from physics to biology. The highlight is the Excite@Q arcade, filled with thrilling experiments and challenges that will leave you in awe of the wonders of science.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Canberra, often overlooked in favour of its more famous counterparts, has plenty to offer visitors. From its rich history and world-class museums to its natural beauty and family-friendly attractions, the nation’s capital has something for everyone. So, whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a longer stay, make sure to include these top things to do in Canberra on your itinerary. You won’t be disappointed by the unique experiences and lasting memories you’ll create in this remarkable city. Have you done any of them? Tell us your favourite.

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