When people visit Canberra from other states or countries, they are often surprised that Canberra has so many hills dotted around the city. Although the city was built on the flat Limestone Plains, the surrounding countryside is punctuated by green hills all the way to the Brindabella Mountain ranges in the west. Some of the hills are close to the city, so locals and visitors can walk up or drive up to the tops for birds-eye views of the region. As Canberra is known as the "Bush Capital", the view you see is a stunning contrast between modern architecture and a green, rural landscape.
So where are the best views in Canberra? Take a scroll through this list below. Whichever hill you visit, the views are guaranteed to be as colourful and spectacular as this one...
View of Lake Burley Griffin from the outdoor platform at Telstra Tower, Black Mountain
One of the most popular ways to view the city is from the top of Telstra Tower, which sits on top of Black Mountain. The tower can be seen from most areas in Canberra and is primarily used as a telecommunications tower, however it also has a stunning viewing area for tourists. There is an admission fee to catch the lift up to the middle of the tower to take in the views from the inside and outside viewing platforms. If it is a windy day, you will need to hang onto your hat! If you have some energy for an uphill walk, you can also walk up to the top of Black Mountain from the Australian Botanical Gardens, below.
Catch a lift up to the indoor and outdoor viewing platforms, Telstra Tower
Another popular way to view Canberra is from the Mount Ainslie Lookout. This lookout also has a road all the way up to the top, so there are often busloads of tourists and school children enjoying the views - although at other times you may have the whole place to yourself. Mount Ainslie is positioned behind the Australian War Memorial, so the view looks right down the axis of this designed city. You can also walk to the top on The Mount Ainslie Summit Track - Kokoda Memorial Trail.
Drive or walk up to the top of Mount Ainslie and look right down the centre of Canberra
As well as Mount Ainslie, there are other lookouts that you can drive up to, to experience different aspects of the city. Mount Pleasant Lookout is located above the Royal Military College, Duntroon and the public are allowed to drive up the lookout through their grounds. In the south of the city is Red Hill Lookout, which has a café at the top so you can drive up and enjoy a coffee with the view. There is also a walk from the bottom. Lastly, Dairy Farmers Hill Lookout can be accessed from the National Arboretum, less than 10 minutes from the city.
All of these lookouts provide a different view of the city - why don't you drive around and experience them all?
Relax and enjoy the view from Dairy Farmers Hill, National Arboretum
All around Canberra there are green hills in each suburb, which are part of the Canberra Nature Park series of reserves. There are 33 reserves in the park, with many that have walks up to the tops of the hills to take in the views of the surrounding region. Some walks may only take 15 minutes to walk up (such as Mount Painter in the north), however others may take longer (such as Mount Taylor in the south). All of them have well-marked paths, plenty of parking and a number of different paths to take, if you feel like walking off the beaten track. You will find many Canberra locals on these paths, running up the hills or walking as part of their daily routine. For a list of hilltop walks in Canberra, see here.
If you are looking for a café which has views over Lake Burley Griffin, there are a number of popular choices around the 11 kilometre lake. Some of the most popular include Bookplate Café at the National Library of Australia, Museum Café at the National Museum of Australia and The Deck at Regatta Point, which sits perched on a hill overlooking the lake. This last café is conveniently located next to the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre and National Capital Exhibition, so you can look around both, take in the views and learn about Canberra at the same time.
Views of Lake Burley from The Deck at Regatta Point
If you are looking for the ultimate view of Canberra, then you can't go past getting up into a hot air balloon and experiencing the beauty of the region from the air. Each morning over Canberra you see the ghostly silhouettes of hot air balloons silently drifting over the landscape. There are two companies to choose from - Balloon Aloft Canberra and Dawn Drifters, which both offer an experience you will never forget. For more ideas on how to get a birds-eye view of Canberra, see here.
Canberra has many different and interesting options to take in the views of the Capital city - whether you want to walk, ride, drive or skydive. Which option(s) will you be choosing this weekend?
A once-in-a-lifetime experience with Balloon Aloft. Image: Balloon Aloft Facebook