Canberra Sights & Attractions

Chosen as Australia’s capital in 1908, and designed by Chicago landscape architect Walter Burley Griffin, the city of Canberra (Aboriginal for ‘meeting place’) saw the first Australian Parliament sit in 1927.

The pre-planned symmetrical city, framed by wooded hills and dry grasslands, evokes an almost serene atmosphere with its combination of straight and curving streets and few buildings more than 12 stories high.

What to do and see in Canberra

Explore Canberra’s open spaces: with its wide tree-shaded streets, parklands and more than 120km of bike paths, the city is ideal for jogging or cycling; or paddle a kayak around Lake Burley Griffin, located just a short distance from Parliament House.

Catch up on history with heart-warming stories of Australia settlement at the insightful National Museum of Australia, admire the works of Claude Monet and Jackson Pollock at the National Gallery of Australia or pay your respects at the evocative Australian War Memorial.

Then explore a range of exciting weekend getaways just a short drive from Canberra. Discover spectacular mountain scenery, hike to the summit of Australia’s highest mountain and party hard at the country’s most popular ski resorts – great fun at any time of the year.

Must-see attractions in Canberra include the following…

National Gallery of Australia – Examine more than 100,000 artworks featuring international artists including Claude Monet, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, and Australian’s Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton.

National Museum of Australia – Australia’s history and cultural heritage is revealed in unique stories, photographs and nearly 200,000 objects depicting European settlement since 1788 as well as 50,000 years of indigenous legacy.

Australian War Memorial – Discover artefacts and exhibits that tell the stories of Australian soldiers who gave their lives for their country.

Don’t miss The Hall of Memory, where the body of the Unknown Soldier lies entombed. Questacon Enjoy 200 interactive exhibits displayed in six galleries, each representing a different aspect of science.

Black Mountain Tower – Enjoy 360-degree views over Canberra from an open-air gallery on the 195m-high tower.

Must-see attractions near Canberra

Take control from the driver’s seat and discover a range of exciting getaways just a short drive from Canberra.

The Snowy Mountains

Explore Australia's favourite winter playground in the high country of the Snowy Mountains, just a couple of hours drive from Canberra.

While internationally renowned for its ski slopes, the Snowy Mountain area also offers year-round activities such as hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, white water rafting and fly-fishing.

With a variety of accommodation to suit every budget, you can choose your style of holiday: from a romantic getaway in a mountain chalet with an open fire to a family break in a luxury resort tucked away in a river valley.

Read more about the Snowy Mountains

The Kings Highway to Batemans Bay

Follow the scenic Kings Highway past grazing sheep, across the stark and dramatic Monaro Plains and through the tablelands of Clyde Mountain to the coastal town of Batemans Bay.

Once there, discover an unspoiled coastline of beaches, river estuaries and craggy headlands offering a variety of activities to keep you busy.

Hike to the peak of Mount Dromedary (Gulaga) – a sacred site for the local Yuin people, enjoy reef fishing at Batemans Bay and meeting grey kangaroos at Pebbly Beach, cruise the pristine Clyde River and explore the region’s many historic villages.

Read more about The Kings Highway to Batemans Bay

Where to stay in Canberra

Canberra offers newlyweds an excellent choice of accommodation options to suit most honeymoon budgets, including the following 4- and 5-star hotels…

Hotel Hotel
Location: 25 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra
Rating: 5-star
Ave nightly price: AUD317 per room
Description: Offering a 24/7 front desk, a fitness centre and a bar, Hotel Hotel is located 5 minutes' drive from Parliament House and the site of the beautiful Floriade display. All accommodation offers a flat-screen TV. Some accommodation offers a fully equipped kitchen. All accommodation features a collection of art works and unique vintage furnishings. Each room and apartment includes a bathroom with heated floors, a hairdryer and bathrobes. Facilities include a concierge service and luggage storage facility. The lobby has a large, open fireplace. Hotel Hotel Canberra is 2 minutes' drive from The Canberra Museum and National Gallery of Australia.

Hotel Realm
Location: 18 National Circuit, Barton, Canberra
Rating: 5-star
Ave nightly price: AUD249 per room
Description: A 3-minute drive from the Parliament House, the luxurious Hotel Realm features a spa, a health club and 5 restaurants on site. It provides a 25-meter (82-ft) lap pool, sauna facilities and rooms with a Nespresso coffee machine. Guests can enjoy 100 MB of free Wi-Fi access. The air-conditioned rooms feature modern interiors and stylish furnishings. Each includes a work desk, an iPod dock and a flat-screen TV with cable channels. The private bathroom has free toiletries and a hairdryer. Evo Health Club features a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art gym and a hydrotherapy hot tub. Guests can make an appointment to visit Mudd the Spa for massage treatments. There is also a hair salon on site. The award-winning Konoba Restaurant features both traditional and modern Mediterranean delights. Mavi Turkish Restaurant serves a fusion of Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisine. Traditional pizza and tapas cooked over wood fire can be enjoyed at Ostani Lounge Bar and Restaurant. Realm Hotel is a 6-minute drive from Questacon and a 10-minute drive from the National Museum. It is just over half a mile from Kingston Train Station and 6 miles from Canberra Airport.

Hyatt Hotel Canberra - A Park Hyatt Hotel
Location: Canberra
Rating: 5-star
Ave nightly price: AUD248 per room
Description: Offering a state-of-the-art fitness centre with indoor swimming pool and sauna, this luxury hotel is only 5 minutes' drive from Parliament House. Guests can enjoy a decadent afternoon tea in the guest lounge. Free WiFi is available. Each room features luxurious interiors with a sitting area, large work desk and a marble bathroom with deep bathtub and separate shower. Flat-screen cable TV, air conditioning and heating are also provided. The Clubhouse at Hyatt Hotel Canberra offers a fully equipped fitness centre with personal trainers, massage services, spa pool, bike hire and a floodlit tennis court. The Promenade Café offers a stylish and relaxed dining experience. Guests have access to 24-hour in-room dining, concierge services and a 24-hour business centre. Restored to its former 1920s glory and featuring Art Deco design elements, Park Hyatt Canberra is a 10-minute walk from the National Library and a 15-minute walk from the National Gallery of Australia.

Peppers Gallery Hotel
Location: 15 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra
Rating: 4-star
Ave nightly price: AUD277 per room
Description: Peppers Gallery Hotel is a luxurious boutique hotel on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Each room is equipped with a Bang and Olufsen plasma-screen TV, iPod docking station and plunger coffee maker. The hotel offers a fitness centre, a spa and free Wi-Fi access in the lobby. These beautifully appointed rooms feature luxury bathrooms with rain showers and marble vanity tops. Fitted with free broadband access, each room is unique in design and displays an original work of art. Relax in one of the designer chairs in the lobby or visit the day spa for a pampering treatment. Guests can enjoy free wireless internet in the lounge bar. Bicicletta Restaurant serves Italian Cuisine specialising in homemade pasta and produce. You can enjoy a drink at Library Bar. Housed in a historical heritage building, surrounded by landscaped gardens and specialist retailers, Peppers Gallery Hotel is located close to Canberra’s main cultural, entertainment, sports and commercial facilities.

Avenue Hotel Canberra
Location: 80 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra
Rating: 4.5-star
Ave nightly price: AUD168 per room
Description: Located in the heart of Canberra, this stylish hotel offers a restaurant, fitness centre and a free airport shuttle. All luxury accommodation features a private balcony with outdoor furniture. After a day of exploring, guests can take a shower in their private bathroom and then wrap themselves in a gown provided. You can watch a show on the flat-screen TV or listen to music using the iPod dock. Most rooms have a fully equipped kitchen. Avenue Hotel Canberra is just a 10-minute walk from both Canberra Museum & Gallery. It is a 4-minute drive from National Convention Centre Canberra and an 11-minute drive from Canberra International Airport.

Best time to visit Canberra

For the best weather, visit Canberra between December and March.

Canberra experiences a dry continental climate with warm to hot summers and very cold winters with year-round sunshine interspersed by rain showers.

Summer, from December to February, averages a high of 27°C (80°F) and an average low of 12°C (53°F). However, summer temperatures can soar to around 40°C (104°F).

More information about Canberra weather

How to get to Canberra

Canberra – the capital city of Australia – is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), 280km (170mi) south-west of Sydney and 660km (410mi) north-east of Melbourne.

The city is situated near the Brindabella Ranges, approximately 150km (93mi) inland from Australia's east coast.

The most convenient route to Canberra is by air to Canberra Airport (CBR), located about 8km (5mi) from the city centre.

From some international destinations this may require first flying to Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney, followed by a connecting flight to Canberra Airport.

More information about getting to Canberra

Latest update: Canberra Sights & Attractions: 27 September, 2022