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Published April 4th 2017
Update February 21st 2021
Update on the cafes in this article: Number 1: Little Brother is now called Coffee N Beans Red Hill. Number 3 - the cafe is now located on the ground floor. Number 4 - Southern X Stromlo and Number 9 The Deck has closed down.
Update January 26th 2018
Number 4 on this list, Southern X Stromlo Café, has closed down.
Hilltop cafes, lookouts & water views
Many visitors to Australia's Capital City are often surprised by how many hills there are surrounding the city. In the south, the Brindabella Ranges are an impressive sight in the distance and there are also smaller hills around the city itself, many with Lookouts and cafes perched on the top. All the cafes provide a different perspective of the city and there are others, lower down, who have the sweeping views of the iconic Lake Burley Griffin. The following are ten popular cafes with views around the Canberra region, to simply just sit back, relax and enjoy the view....and what a view!
1/ Little Brother Cafe is located at the top of Red Hill, less than 10 minutes south of the city. At the top is a Lookout and also a large, circular building which has Onred scenic restauarant at the top, as well as Little Brother Cafe located down the bottom. This cafe has inside seating with large windows to look out of, as well as outside tables with some of the best views in Canberra. This hilltop restaurant, cafe and Lookout is a popular area to drive up to for any firework spectacular over the city. See here for details. For a full article on Little Brother Cafe, see here. Need some directions? See here for a Google map.
2/ Sprout Cafe is located at the National Arboretum, just a 10 minute drive from the city. The Arboretum is a 250 hectare property of rare and endangered trees, which were planted after the devastating 2003 Canberra bushfires swept through the area. Located at the top of a hill on the property is the Visitors Centre which has the scenic Sprout Cafe, as well as the Pod Playground, the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection, The Canberra Discovery Garden and more. The cafe is extensive, with dozens of tables positioned along floor-to-ceiling windows to get the best views of the city and beyond. If you are looking for something more formal, the Conservatory Restauarant is also located next to the cafe. See here for details and Google map here.
3/ Telstra Tower is located less than 15 minutes from the city, however it can be seen from almost everywhere in Canberra. Up the top of the tower are viewing platforms - both inside and outside - so visitors can get 360 degree views of the city and region. Inside there is a small cafe/ kiosk that sells coffees, sandwiches, ice creams and light snacks to keep you going during your visit. Although not large, it is a pleasant place to sit for a coffee with the highest views in Canberra. See here for details. For a full article on Telstra Tower see here, with Google map here.
4/ Southern X Stromlo Cafe is located up Mount Stromlo, 20 minutes south-west of the city. This small cafe is part of the Stromlo Visitors Centre which explains the role of the Observatory up on the top of the hill, run by the Australian National University. There is also a burnt out Observatory next to the cafe, as a visible memorial to the 2003 bushfires which also swept over this hill (as well as the National Arboretum and surrounding suburbs). This cafe is run by the Canberra Southern Cross Club and has spectacular views out on the rural region of Canberra, with cocktaoos flying by and kangaroos grazing down below. See here for details. For a full article on Southern X Stromlo Cafe see here, with Google map here.
Rural views from the scenic Southern X Stromlo Cafe
5/ Cafe Lerida is located inside the Lerida Winery, 40 minutes north of the city on the Federal Highway to Sydney. This cafe and winery is perched halfway up a hill, with scenic views of the plateau of Lake George. This ancient lake spends most of the year dry, with grass growing over it and animals grazing on the land. Occasionally, after weeks of rain, it will fill up and become a tourist attraction in its own right. Cafe Lerida has a 180 degree view of the "lake" and over the grapes in their winery. It is a popular rest stop for cyclists on the highway and for wine tasters, travelling the Canberra Wine Region. See here for details. For a full article on Cafe Lerida see here, as well as Google map here.
6/ Museum Cafe is found inside the National Museum of Australia, overlooking Lake Burley Griffin. This large cafe has plenty of seating inside, as well as outside tables overlooking the lake at the front and side of the building. This cafe is licenced, so you can sit and enjoy a glass of wine with lunch if you choose to. If you sit outside between 11am - 2pm ( at the time of writing), you will also see the spray from the Captain Cook Memorial Jet. See here for details. For a full article on the Museum Cafe see here, with Google map here.
7/ Bookplate Cafe is located to the side of the National Library of Australia, overlooking Lake Burley Griffin. Inside the cafe there is seating with views to the stunning, floor-to-ceiling stain glass windows designed by artist Leonard French. This spacious cafe sells a range of creative cakes, as well as breakfast and lunch every day. The outside seating is also popular, sitting under large umbrellas on the terrace looking out to Lake Burley Griffin. See here for details. For a full article on the Bookplate Cafe see here, with Google map here.
Bookplate Cafe at the National Library of Australia
8/ Elixer is a coffee outlet located on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, a short distance from the Bookplate Cafe above. It is literally just steps from the lake, so it has views across the water to the Australian War Memorial and all along the busy Queen Elizabeth Terrace. Cyclists enjoy stopping here at the end of a bike ride, as well as people who have been walking their dogs along the lake. It sells coffee, sandwiches, cakes, yoghurts and snacks to enjoy with a view. It is open every day between 8am to 3pm (approximately, depending on weather). No website provided, however see Google map here.
Elixer cafe, located on Queen Elizabeth Terrace under the International Flag Display
9/ The Deck Cafe at Regatta Point is located on the opposite side of the lake to Elixer, above. This cafe is perched on the edge of a small hill overlooking the lake, with 180 degree views along the length of Lake Burley Griffin. As the name suggests, it has a large deck to sit outside and enjoy the view across to the Parliamentary Triangle. They sell light meals, coffee, breakfast, lunch and cakes. It is often booked for weddings and private functions, due to its spectacular view. See here for details. For a full article on The Deck Cafe see here, with Google map here.
10/ The Cafes on the Kingston Foreshore all have views out to the eastern end of Lake Burley Griffin. Along the foreshore there are over a dozen cafes, gastropubs and restaurants with views. This area has multi-million dollar apartment buildings around the inlet, with ducks, swans and kayakers gliding through the centre. The foreshore is particularly popular on weekends for breakfast, lunch and dinner by the water - and particularly popular on Sundays with the Old Bus Depot Markets held nearby. For a full article on the Kingston Foreshore see here, with Google map here. Cafes include Local Press, 38 Espresso, 7th & Bake Patisserie, Remedy and Betti Bravo's Bar.