Thinking of traveling to Canberra ? Would you like to know what to see in Canberra, what to do and what to visit ? Well, in this article we have prepared a complete guide for you to spend 24 hours discovering Canberra, the capital of Australia.

Canberra is the capital of Australia, a city that began to be built in 1913 with the important purpose of becoming the capital of Australia.

Canberra history

After the Australian Federation Process, the Commonwealth of Australia was established on January 1, 1901, but the enclave of the country's capital was not decided until 1908, when it was agreed to transform the rural area of ​​Canberra into the capital of Australia.

In 1911 the state of the Australian Capital Territory was born, and that same year the marriage of American architects Walter Burly Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin rose as the winner of the international competition in which more than 130 professionals participated to design Canberra.

The city was officially named Canberra in 1913 . The name of the capital comes from the word ¨Canberry¨, the name of a station built by the first European settlements in the area. It is thought that this name comes from the aboriginal word ¨Kanberra ¨ or ¨Kanberry¨ which could mean ¨Gathering place¨, but there is no evidence to support this theory, even so it seemed interesting to mention it.

What to see in Canberra Australia

The city is in a state called the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Located between Sydney and Melbourne, the two most important cities in Australia and at the end of the 19th century vying to become its capital.

guide to visit canberra in one day

In this map we have marked the places that we mentioned in the article to make it easier for you to locate the best places to visit in the capital of Australia .

It is interesting to travel to Canberra to see another face of Australia, the most solemn and institutional, and to investigate the history of democracy in the country, yet we do not believe that the city deserves more than one or two days.

Parliament what to visit in canberra australia

These are, in our opinion, the 7 must-see places in Canberra:

1.- The Cupping Room

Because not everything is going to be museums and institutions. To start the day well and get the strength to visit Canberra nothing better than a good breakfast, and The Cupping Room is undoubtedly one of the best places to have Brunch (It is an English word to describe a meal that combines breakfast and lunch).

The Cupping Room has a special coffee menu, if in Australia the coffees are great in this cafeteria they are even better, it also has a very varied menu for brunch and all the dishes looked great, the ones we tried were delicious.

brunch what to do in Canberra Australia

2.- Guided visit to the Parliament

Although we know that not everyone likes this type of visit, we loved getting to know the Australian parliament from the hand of a guide who explained to us in a quite summarized and entertaining way how the building was built and how the parliamentary system works in Australia, in addition to other curiosities that are worth noting, such as Why is the Senate chamber pink?

There are free 40-minute guided tours every day, you can see their schedules on the parliament's website. If you want to know more about the Parliament, paid tours are also offered, but we believe that the free guided tour is enough to get to know the cameras.

Senate hall in Canberra capital of Australia

3.- Burley Griffin Lake

The artificial lake is located in the center of the city and is surrounded by the main galleries and institutional buildings of the capital.

It is 40km around the lake, too much for a single day, unless you want to rent a bike, but it is a very pleasant walk, with good views of the city.

4.- National Gallery of Australia

It is open daily from 10am to 5pm and has permanent exhibitions of Aboriginal, Pacific, Australian, European, American and Asian art. We loved Von Guérard's paintings, in the Australian art room, for the beautiful Australian colonial-era landscapes featured in the paintings. It also has some very interesting temporary exhibitions.

National Gallery of Australia. Canberra Tourism

Outside the gallery you can visit the Sculpture Garden, with 26 sculptures made by Australian and international artists, and the work of James Turrell: Skyspace

travel to Canberra. Skyspace, art in Canberra

5.- The viewpoint of Mount Ainslie

This viewpoint has the best views of the city. To get to the top of the mountain it is possible to do it on foot, by bicycle or by car, it all depends on the time and the desire to do a little exercise. It is possible to park at the War Memorial and walk from there to the viewpoint, it takes between 60 and 90 minutes.

Mount Ainslie. Canberra tourism what to do in Canberra

6.- Australian War Memorial

The monument commemorates the sacrifice of Australians who died in some war, it is also a museum and an archive. The entrance to the building is free and there are organized tours of 30, 60 and 90 minutes guided by volunteers.

We did not have time to visit it, we had to continue our route to the Snowy Mountains earlier than expected to avoid problems in our next accommodation, but we left it pending for our next visit to Canberra.

7.- BentSpoke Brewing Co

As we already told you at the beginning, not everything is going to be visiting monuments in Canberra, so to end the day nothing better than going to the BentSpoke brewery where you can enjoy a fresh homemade beer.

This pub is like a beer museum with the plus that the food is also very tasty and is more original than what we are used to in typical Aussie pubs .

Other Canberra attractions include Cockington Green Gardens , Black Mountains Telstra Tower or the National Portrait Gallery . But as we have already said in some of our posts, time is scarce. We decided to visit our 7 essentials in Canberra.

Parliament of Canberra, Capital of Australia what to visit in Canberra

Another good idea if you have decided to spend a few days getting to know the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is to get to know Namadgi National Park.

Namadgi National Park is located just 40 km southwest of Canberra and you can find more than 160 km of trails there.

The national park is full of kangaroos and wallabies and it is also possible to see dingoes (Australian wild dogs).

We found it beautiful, with a landscape very different from what we are used to on the NSW coast and a spectacular blue sky.

Being the capital of the country, Canberra is very well connected from the main Australian cities .

Flights to Canberra

Canberra has just opened a new terminal with international flights to Asia and Pacific destinations (Currently Doha and Singapore).

Within Australia it is possible to fly to Canberra from Sydney , Newcastle, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Adelaide with airlines such as Virgin Australia, Qantas or Tigerair among others.

Bus

There are regular services from Sydney (3.5 hours), Melbourne, Adelaide, Snowy Mountains and the south coast of NSW (There are also from other cities, but the journey from so far by bus is too uncomfortable and boring, in our opinion).

Car

Canberra is only 3 1/2 hours driving from Sydney ( Distance from Sydney to Canberra is approximately 287 km) and about 7 hours from Melbourne (Distance is approximately 662 km).

We drove from Sydney to Canberra and the trip was very enjoyable, the road is great.

Where is Canberra, Australia located. Distance from Sydney

  • If you are going to rent a car for your trip, you can book it from the Airport Rental Cars website . This is the comparison of car rental companies that we use to find the best price when we rent a car to travel around Australia.

Train

Canberra can be reached by train from Sydney, or from Melbourne on a combined train and bus trip.

The city is characterized by hot, dry summers and cold winters. The average temperature in Canberra in summer is around 27ºC and 12ºC in winter.

Car

Getting around Canberra by car is very comfortable, touring the whole city takes about 30 minutes and if you plan your visit to do it on a Sunday like us, all the car parks of the main places of interest in the city are free.

Bus

The only public transport in Canberra are the ACTION buses, which, as in the rest of the main cities in Australia, use a prepaid card, in this case called MyWay, although it is also possible to pay in cash.

The last time we visited Canberra the city was under construction because they are preparing everything to start using trams.

If you are looking for accommodation for your Canberra getaway, we recommend these hotels based on your budget :

What to see in the city of Canberra Photos

Although we have already heard some people say that Canberra is a boring city or not worth visiting, it all depends on your expectations.

Canberra is a city created to be a capital , very institutional and with a university. At night you will find a youthful atmosphere and during the day you can take the opportunity to see the moments of Canberra and visit the Australian Parliament, a more cultural visit than we are used to when we travel through Australia .

As you already know, we live in Sydney, so we have already visited Canberra on several occasions, and if you are living in Australia or are going to spend a long time in the country, we recommend you visit Canberra, the capital of Australia, and get to know a little more of the country's history.

If you want to see more photos of Canberra you can visit our Instagram account where we have published some of the best we have taken.

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what to see in Canberra time to explore

Article published in October 2016 and updated in June 2018.