I know many people live in Sydney, whom never set foot in Canberra and they are genuinely surprised if someone else does (specifically me😉) For instance no one has ever suggested I should have visited here.
To put it in other words Canberra is not considered as an interesting destination, compared to other parts of Australia. In some way the city is forgotten capital city.
I have a personal connection to this city, because of my relatives live there. They moved away years ago, but we have been in touch. So far I have visited my family few times since I’ve moved to Australia. This time we went together with Kerem and play the tourist as well.
We spent a total of 30 hours here and got to see quite a lot. Where to go, what to do and eat in the capital? Here are my suggestions!
Canberra as the capital of Australia has several important sights, including the Parliament, the Royal Australian Mint and various museums. Admission to most of them is free. Booking in advance is currently required though!
This is the newest parliament building, which was opened by Queen Elizabeth II herself. The building might seem quite ordinary from the outside, but the inside is decorated with marble. And not just any marble, but from the same quarry used by Michelangelo to create the statue of David. All things considered looks really impressive!
The Parliament is open to the public on a daily basis and you can also listen to the parliamentary sessions. Currently, because of the pandemic situation, only pre-booked, guided tours are possible. Personally I found the guided tours even better because you may learn a lot of interesting facts.
Read about your visit here.
Australian War Memorial
It is a big complex, consists of several buildings. The main part of the museum shows the history from the First World War to contemporary warfare involving the Australian army. The number of exhibits and their descriptions is huge and you could easily spend half a day there.
At the end of each day, a Last Post Ceremony is performed to commemorate the fallen soldiers. The military reads the biography of the combatant and lays wreaths.
Book your visit here.
National Gallery of Australia
My main interest was in the art of the indigenous people of Australia, commonly known as the Aborigines. Unfortunately the gallery doesn’t contain many pieces of their art, in comparison to artists outside Australia. If you haven’t been to any gallery in Australia before, you might want to visit this one. Personally, I would put it on the list only in case of an extra time.
Find here link to the website of National Gallery of Australia.
Canberra is pretty good for cafes and restaurants. One of the best places is the Monster Kitchen and Bar, located right next to the Ovolo Nishi Hotel. The vibe inside is incredible – elegant and beautiful décor, comfy armchairs and a fireplace. This place will make you feel happy and relaxed. As for the food, it is a piece of art on the plate, and the flavors are a heavenly experience! Very compelling dishes. The prices are pretty high, but the food is worth to every penny.
On the way to Canberra, you should certainly consider to stop for a coffee at ONA Coffee House. Unfortunately, it is outside the city, so best way is to drive on your way from/to home. The current owner is Sasa Sestic, who won the title of the world champion barista in 2015. I confirm, the coffee was delicious! We have also tried the pastries, which were very good!
Canberra is a small city. All main attractions are located in the center, therefore it is easy to get from one place to another. The city has buses and trams, but I didn’t have a chance to try the public transport myself. In my opinion, the best way to get around is by car (fast and allow you to squeeze more things into same day).
The capital is incredibly green, situated between two mountains and surrounded by the Australian bush. It is a great opportunity for hiking and meeting wild animals. In Canberra, it’s very easy to see kangaroos, even on a city road. Go for a drive in the afternoon and your date with roo is for granted!
There are many lookouts, from which you can observe the geometric layout of the city (Canberra was fully planned city and design by Walter Griffin).
Some of the lookouts allow you to drive all the way up by car. I like this option when the time is short or too tired make it to the top by foot.
Animal and nature lovers ought to visit the nearby Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. You will be able to spot kangaroos, wallabies and wait for it . . . koalas!
The ones in the photo are in a fenced area, but I was also able to see koala on tree, completely free-living, chilling, eating and sleeping. What a life!