Things to do in Canberra

Aerial view of Canberra

Discover the home of the Australian story in Canberra, the nation's capital, where national attractions and hidden gems deliver an array of unexpected delights.

Wander through world class galleries and museums which offer major exhibitions and activities for all ages. Must see places include Parliament House, the National Museum of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the National Library and the National Art Gallery.

Indulge in local fare at the many restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs. Visit boutiques and department stores or meander through the open-air markets. Indulge further by browsing through the many wineries and sample the region's best wines.

Where is it and how do you get there?

Canberra on map of NSWCanberra is the capital of Australia and located in the Australian Capital Territory. It is approximately 280 kilometres from Sydney.

The Canberra XPLORER runs at least twice a day from Sydney to Canberra.

To check times, use the booking form on the left.

Getting around

It's easy to travel around the planned city of Canberra. Take a public bus, a taxi or a tour. Hop on the Canberra Explorer Bus which regularly stops at major attractions throughout the day. Alternatively, hire a car and drive yourself around, or hire a bike and ride along Canberra's great network of cycle paths.

What to do and see

Australian Fossil and Mineral MuseumMost of Canberra's ‘must-see' attractions surround the shores of beautiful Lake Burley Griffin in what is known as the Parliamentary Triangle. This man made lake has a great cycling and walking path around it from where you can take in the beautiful views or stop along the way for coffee. Hire a bike for the day and cycle the whole 38 kilometre circuit or hire a segway and let it do the work. Sailing, canoeing and paddle boating on the lake are also available.

While you are at Lake Burley Griffin, don't miss the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery, the National Archives, new and old Parliament House and the embassies, the National Zoo and Aquarium, Questacon and Australian Institute of Sport.

Entry to the awe inspiring and moving Australian War Memorial is free. Join a guided tour to gain the most from your visit to this amazing shrine and museum. Make sure you see the fascinating war exhibits and The Tomb for the Unknown Australian Soldier which lies in the Hall of Memory with its beautiful dome, stained glass windows and one of the world's largest mosaics.

See more than 100,000 works of art (including the famous Blue Poles) from Australia, (including Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander), Asia, Europe and the Americas at the National Gallery of Australia. In addition, the gallery often hosts significant exhibitions touring from overseas galleries.

National Archives of Australia, CanberraJust up the road you will find the National Archives of Australia.

This surprising gem houses treasures from the Archives' world-class collection. Pop in to the heritage-listed building and discover Australia's history through exhibitions, events and more.

See Australia's 'birth certificates' in the Federation Gallery - open for special viewings, and find out more about Australia’s documentary heritage in the Memory of a Nation exhibition. Other displays range from banned books to artwork, historic photographs to spies' secrets.

Delve into your family history in the Reading Room or browse in the store. You may even find yourself in their incredible collection!

A trip to Parliament House will surprise you. Browse the renowned collection of Australian contemporary art and take a free guided tour to see the impressive architecture. Go to the roof for panoramic Canberra views and lunch at the Queen's Terrace Café which offers sweeping views of Lake Burley Griffin.

Just five minutes from the centre of Canberra, enjoy a touching experience at the National Zoo and Aquarium on seven hectares of land. Hand feed lions, tigers, bears, giraffes and other animals. Enter the den of brown bears and have one of them lick honey from your hands, then pat a cheetah, the fastest land animal in the world and listen to the big cat purr.

Inspired by the idea of a jigsaw puzzle, architecture of the National Museum of Australia reflects the many intertwined stories that make up Australia's history. The Museum outlines the history of Indigenous heritage, settlement since 1788 and key events including Federation and the Sydney 2000 Olympics. It also has wonderful hi-tech interactions. Kids love the interactive Kspace experience where they can design their own 3D spaceship or space station and then see it fly through an artificial space with 3D glasses.

With over 200 educational and interactive exhibits, Questacon, Australia's National Science and Technology Centre, seeks to make science fun for all. The Awesome Earth Gallery at Questacon is a great hit with families as you get to experience lightning, an earthquake and a cyclone, and live to tell the tale. For children under six years of age, the Mini Q exhibition allows kids to role play as astronauts and various other professions, as well as see, hear and feel amazing things. There is a set of tunnels for crawling around and much more.

Cockington Green is a treat for kids and lovers of miniatures. Amongst exquisite landscaped gardens, explore a miniature world with highly detailed miniature buildings and a variety of working miniature trains. Look out for the quirky touches such as the little dog running away with a string of sausages, and be sure to see Waverley, a 34 room dolls house. Enjoy a miniature steam train ride while absorbing the beautiful scenic backdrop of the miniatures and picnic grounds.

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