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Things to do in Canberra: Where to Eat, Drink, Stay & Play

The capital is having a moment. Planning a weekend in the city? These are our top picks for what to do in Canberra.

The aerial view of Canberra at sunset, showing Parliament House.

Surrounded by rugged mountains and bushland, Canberra is a cool city-meets-country destination. And if you haven’t road-tripped down to Canberra since school excursion days, it’s time to hop in the car. The national capital is more than just politics and power players, boasting the perfect mix of foodie delights, arts, culture, history and natural wonders.

If you're on the hunt for the perfect plan to make your Canberra trip worth it, you're in the right spot! Whether you're travelling with your mates or looking for fun things to do in Canberra with your kids, here's your ultimate guide for an action-packed weekend.

Things To Do in Canberra: Eat

a bowl of prawn salad from Mocan And Green Grout
Mocan & Green Grout

Mocan & Green Grout

Lush green pot plants welcome you to Mocan & Green Grout, a corner café in Canberra City that oozes so much personality with its stylish, yet down-to-earth, retro-chic look. The menu changes all the time, but you’ll always be treated to inventive, ethically-minded dishes. And all day, locals are kept well-fuelled with fairtrade coffee.

1/19 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra City

Interior shot of the The Cupping Room
The Cupping Room

The Cupping Room

A concept café in Canberra City boasting stylish interiors and brewing incredible boutique coffee, The Cupping Room is kind of a big deal. Run by Australia’s first World Barista Champion, it’s safe to say this specialty coffee house knows its stuff. Serving ONA coffee, house-made soda and delectable brunch classics, it is a must-try for any Canberra visitor.

1/1-13 University Avenue, Canberra City

Interior of Monster Kitchen and Bar Canberra featuring mosaic tiles and leather booths
Monster Kitchen and Bar

Monster Kitchen and Bar

Tucked inside the Ovolo Nishi Hotel, Monster is the place to go if you want top-notch vegetarian cuisine. This refined dining experience at Monster Kitchen and Bar is not your average veggie haunt. The executive chef's commitment to locally sourced, seasonal ingredients brings a fresh perspective to conscious consumption. While the menu boasts complexity, it's the layers of flavour that steal the spotlight. For locals and travellers seeking fun things to do in Canberra, don't miss the chance to experience Monster's pizzazz when it comes to serving up delicious veg.

Ground/25 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra City

Interior of Local Press Cafe Canberra featuring exposed bricks, wooden tables and chairs
Local Press Cafe

Local Press Café

A café and wholefoods store in one, Local Press’s rustic interiors go hand-in-hand with their ethos of crafting dishes made with meat and proteins that are free-range, pasture-fed, and chemical and hormone-free. Using locally sourced produce wherever possible, they make everything in-house. The food is healthy, seriously flavoursome and packed with wholesome goodness.

35 Eastlake Parade, Kingston

Chicken and salad Dishes from Pilot Canberra on a black table with red wine
Pilot

Pilot

Pilot isn’t just a place to grab dinner; it’s an entire experience from start to finish. Tucked away in Ainslie’s shopping village in Canberra’s north, the venue is the place to go if you want stellar service, unique and utterly delicious dishes, and a vibrant atmosphere. The menu changes daily, but you can always guarantee it’ll be really, really good.

1 Wakefield Gardens, Ainslie

Well-lit Interior Rebel Rebel Canberra featuring tables and chairs and panel windows
Rebel Rebel

Rebel Rebel

This day-to-night venue in Acton is a great place to stop in if you’re exploring the central city (known by locals as Civic). Order a few share plates and a glass of vino, and soak up the buzzing atmosphere inside Rebel Rebel’s industrial chic interior. Alternatively, let the team do the hard work for you and order the Chef’s Selection menu – you won’t regret it.

23 Marcus Clarke Street, Acton

Things To Do in Canberra: Drink

Two Cocktails on a Marble Table from Parlour Bar Canberra
Parlour

Parlour

A Canberra fixture for over a decade, Parlour is a local icon housed in the historic former Hotel Acton—a replica of the Hotel Kurrajong in Barton, designed by Commonwealth Architect John Smith Murdoch. Originally hosting guests celebrating the opening of Parliament House in 1927, the building has seen diverse roles from the Patent Office to the Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. Today, Parlour adds to this rich history, combining moreish tapas and an impressive cocktail list. Parlour is the perfect spot for an intimate dinner or late-night drink.

16 Kendall Lane, Acton

Cosy Interior of High Jinks Bar with a liquor-lined bar in Canberra
High Jinks Canberra

High Jinks

Tucked away in a basement through a hidden doorway, this chic den raises the bar scene stakes. With its classic yet modern style, everything about High Jinks oozes cool – from the mini Chesterfields to the crisp cocktails. Keep an eye out for their interactive cocktail classes, where you'll learn to make your favourite gin cocktail or take their recommendation of a signature Ambleside serve.

Basement 2/15 Edinburgh Ave, Canberra City

Warmly-lit bar counter with exposed bricks and ambient lighting at Hippo Co. Bar Canberra
Hippo Co.

Hippo Co.

A dimly lit lounge bar with taxidermy décor, Hippo Co’s love affair with whiskey and cocktails is what makes it a popular nightlife destination. Hosting masterclasses, tastings and live music throughout the week, this Garema Place watering hole comes alive on the weekends – so much so that you need to get in early to avoid the queues.

1/17 Garema Place, Canberra City

Window seating at Bar Rochford Canberra with a singular customer at the right side
Bar Rochford

Bar Rochford

Bar Rochford is hidden away at the top of the Melbourne Building, an architectural icon in Canberra’s city centre. It’s a great spot to watch the world go by below – and to enjoy some truly excellent food and drink. The wine menu is absolutely huge and includes lots of unique drops, making it a fine place to go if you consider yourself a wine aficionado. Everything available to eat here is awesome, too.

1st/65 London Circuit, Canberra City 

Interior of Paranormal Wines Canberra with racks and chilled shelves of wine; a long wooden table in the middle of the room
Paranormal Wines

Paranormal Wines

If you find yourself in the inner north suburb of Campbell and are looking for a place to drink, head to local favourite Paranormal Wines. Here, you can try some incredibly special wines that you may not find anywhere else. If you’ve got room in your luggage for a few boozy souvenirs, make sure to grab some bottles to take away.

G27/6 Provan Street, Campbell

Things To Do in Canberra: Stay

Ovolo Nishi

Arty, funky and sustainable, Ovolo Nishi marries beautiful design and functionality to create the ultimate home away from home. Bringing the outside in, the stunning wooden atrium is a sight to behold. Above are the lush rooms, while downstairs you will find popular eatery Monster Bar & Kitchen and upscale cinema Palace Electric, meaning you will never have to leave the hotel.

New Acton Precinct, 25 Edinburgh Ave, Canberra City

East Hotel

With a bunch of cool, contemporary rooms and suites, East Hotel is a good place to lay your hat. One of Kingston’s top spots to stay, you will truly feel like you are living like a local. If you decide to stay in, you won’t be disappointed. From Italian restaurant Agostini’s and Joe’s Bar, to book and wine bar, Muse, you are guaranteed an awesome night in.

69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston

Jamala Wildlife Lodge

You don’t need to travel too far for a safari experience. In Canberra, the Jamala Wildlife Lodge is connected to the National Zoo & Aquarium. You’ll meet some of the most incredible and endangered species on earth and find out how you can help their survival. Back at your treehouse, the resort’s resident giraffe, Humbekhali, might pop his head in for a visit!

National Zoo & Aquarium, 999 Lady Denman Drive, Canberra City

Hotel Lobby with Panoramic View of Canberr Little National Hotel
Little National Hotel

Little National Hotel

The Little National Hotel certainly doesn’t skimp on deluxe features: think super king beds, high-end toiletries and very comfortable rooms with stunning views over the city and mountains. But the best part? Prices aren’t overly exorbitant, making it a great place to stay if you’re on a fairly modest budget. The hotel is located in Barton on Canberra’s southside, so if you’re in the city to explore the national institutions, museums and galleries, it’s an ideal spot.

21 National Circuit, Barton

Hotel Realm

Hotel Realm of the Doma Hotel Group, has become a local favorite for those seeking a five-star stay in the heart of Canberra's Parliamentary Triangle. With 158 rooms featuring a houndstooth patterned carpet and minimalist design, it strikes a balance between sophistication and comfort.

Hotel Realm's contemporary yet warm ambience extends to Louis Dining, where Ben Willis crafts South of France-inspired dishes. You'll also find yourself within walking distance of Capital Hill, the National Gallery of Australia, and the lakefront.

18 National Circuit, Barton, Canberra

Hotel Kurrajong Canberra

Hotel Kurrajong is Canberra's very own time capsule; since its doors swung open in 1926, this place has witnessed it all. Formerly a residence of public servants, today, its art deco elegance and inviting ambience, designed by John Smith Murdoch, offer a unique experience for travellers. As you wander through corridors steeped in history, a visual feast of wooden screens, elegant azure details decorated with grandiose artworks and historical memorabilia unfolds. The rooms, named after former prime ministers, have been updated well to seamlessly blend historic charm with contemporary comfort. Centrally located, it's a mere 10-minute stroll to both the National Gallery of Australia and Parliament Houses.

8 National Circuit, Barton, Canberra

Things To Do in Canberra: Play

Closeup view of grapes on a vine in a winery things to do in canberra

Winery Hopping

Swill, sip and repeat at some of Canberra’s premier wineries. At Pialligo Estate, you can visit the cellar door, or make a day of it by signing up for a wine or cooking class or lingering over lunch at the restaurant.

Just a 15-minute drive from the city centre, Mount Majura Vineyard has made a name for itself for its boutique wines and beautiful views. To learn more about viticulture, sign up for the gumboot tour.

Visitors shopping at for flowers at the capital region farmers market canberra things to do

Take the Market Trail

Foodies and thrifty shoppers will have a fun time in Canberra with the city’s plethora of weekend local markets. On Saturday mornings, Capital Region Farmers Market in Mitchell is the place to go for everything from fruit and veg to meat, seafood, condiments and baked goods – almost all of which comes from less than 300km away.

On Sundays, Kingston’s Old Bus Depot Market offers arts, crafts, clothing and fresh produce.

Friends toasting champagne flute glasses aboard Goboat Things to Do Canberra
Goboat Canberra

Picnic on the Lake

Thanks to Go Boat Canberra, you can skipper your own boat and enjoy a picturesque picnic (and maybe a cheeky glass of wine) on Lake Burley Griffin. No boat license required.

Aerial view National Museum of Australia Museum Acton Canberra Things to do
National Museum of Australia

Check Out the Sights

It goes without saying that a trip to Canberra must involve some sightseeing and landmark-hopping.

From the science-laden Questacon to the poignant Australian War Memorial, your weekend getaway will turn into a learning expedition.

For a bit of local history and nature exploring, head to the National Arboretum to see the 250 hectares of beautiful rare, endangered and native trees standing in commemoration of the Christmas 2001 and 2003 bushfires.

3 lions lounging on grass at the National Zoo and Aquarium Canberra Things to do
National Zoo and Aquarium

Get Amongst Nature

From bushland to dense wetlands, you can spend a whole day exploring Canberra’s natural wonders. The Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve wetlands are amazing for wildlife watching. As you move along the marked walking trails, you might spot a platypus, possum, wombat, echidna, emu or kangaroo. There’s also a koala sanctuary.

To enjoy a picnic lunch on a rainforest boardwalk, make your way to the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

Make sure to check out the National Zoo & Aquarium while you are in town. Small in size, you can conquer it in half a day. It’s home to exotic animals like lions, tigers, giraffes and penguins, and offers hands-on experiences for animal lovers.

For an incredible safari experience close to home, book the Jamala Wildlife Lodge. Part of the National Zoo, you will learn all about the zoo’s animals.

Main Gallery with big artworks on white and teal walls and scultures in the middle at National Gallery Of Australia Canberra
National Gallery of Australia

Explore the Arts and Culture Scene

No trip to Canberra would be complete without a visit to some of the national and local galleries and museums.

For big-name artists and artworks (including the famed Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock) and a great Indigenous collection, head to the National Gallery of Australia. For stellar portraits of well-known Australians and international folk, visit the National Portrait Gallery. To learn about Australia’s cultural history, the National Film and Sound Archive and the National Library of Australia are your best bet.

There are also lots of smaller galleries to check out including Canberra Glassworks (for amazing glass creations), Canberra Museum & Gallery (which has a few Sidney Nolan works), and Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre.

Go on a Snowy Adventure

For a year-round alpine escapade just 45 minutes from Canberra's heart, Corin Forest in the Tidbinbilla Mountain Ranges easily tops our list of things to do in Canberra with kids. Winter ushers in Canberra's sole snow experience, inviting beginners to carve the slopes with friendly instructors. The snow play area promises tobogganing and frosty frolics, followed by fireside hot chocolates in the rustic lodge. As summer unfolds, soak in panoramic views of the Capital and relish the thrilling 1.2km Alpine Slide. Top off the day with wood-fired pizzas in the picturesque picnic area. Book ahead for this family adventure that's equal parts chill and thrill.

1268 Corin Road, Paddys River, Australian Capital Territory

Savoured this guide of all the best things to do in Canberra and looking for more travel inspo? Here are our guides to Canberra’s best restaurants, Canberra’s favourite bars and Canberra’s top accommodation spots.

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