Canberra is often named as one of the most "liveable cities in the world"
and it isn't hard to see why. It has all the features of a bustling city - but without the towering skyscrapers, traffic congestion, pollution and over-crowding issues that other cities have. It is also a city of contrasts - so life never gets boring. On one hand it has the political heart that is seen on the nightly news, but on the other hand it also has art, culture and theatre coursing through its veins. Another contrast is that Canberra is known as the "Bush Capital"
- so it has the benefits of city living as well as national parks and serene bushland, right on its doorstep.
Due to Canberra's elevation at 557 metres above sea level, there are also very distinct, contrasting seasons. There is the intense heat of summer, the falling leaves of autumn, the occasional flurry of snow in winter and the colourful blossoms in spring. The city is constantly evolving and adapting - which keeps it interesting for residents and visitors. Although it is very easy to get around, there are a few small tips that may make your holiday a little bit easier.
1/ Hire a car from the airport
Canberra - the Bush Capital and so much more
is one of the best tips to offer, as you will want to have a car to explore the city and surrounding region. It is an easy to hire a car from the airport
- just book online in advance and the car hire companies are located inside the airport terminal. After getting to your hotel (ensure it includes parking), you may want explore the city by foot, however when you want to visit all the landmarks in the Parliamentary Triangle
, the Royal Australian Mint
, Telstra Tower
, The Australian National Botanical Gardens
, The National Arboretum
, Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex
and perhaps take a day trip
to the Canberra Wine District
, it will all involve hopping into your car and hitting the road. Thankfully as Canberra is a designed city, all the streets are all wide, there aren't many traffic lights and Canberra's iconic roundabouts keep the traffic flowing.
Alternatively, if you don't have much time, check out the Red Explorer Hop On Hop Off Bus
to show you the highlights.
2/ Hire a GPS
Take a 30 minute drive to the Canberra Wine District - with 33 wineries and one chocolatier!
with your hire car, as when you hit the road it can get challenging driving in a city that you don't know. Canberra has many off-ramps and roundabouts, so take the hassle out of your holiday and let the GPS give you directions to your next exciting destination.
in the city and tourist areas is paid parking during the week and free on weekends. Although many parking machines take a swipe of a credit card, it is handy to have some loose change in your pocket for machines that only accept cash.
4/ Choosing when to visit Canberra
will play an important role in what you will do when you get here. The most popular time of the year to visit Canberra is between September and October, when the Floriade
spring festival is on at Commonwealth Park
. Over 480,000 people visit the month-long event to experience the beauty of the tulip gardens and free activities on offer. If you visit in winter, there is outdoor ice skating in the city with Skate in the City
and also snow play for the kids at Corin Forest Mountain Retreat
. Summertime brings the hugely popular Summernats
and Multicultural Festival
and Autumn hosts the Canberra Balloon Spectacular
and the Enlighten
festival. There is something to enjoy in every season!
5/ Take note of all of the free public tour times
Floriade - a highlight of the Canberra events calendar
at the national museums, galleries and landmarks that you wish to visit and organise your day around them. A public tour is a great way to learn more about the history and importance of each attraction, as well as enjoy some humour and feel a connection with the people of the city. See the tour times for Parliament House
, Museum of Australian Democracy
, Australian War Memorial
, National Gallery of Australia
, National Museum of Australia
and Royal Australian Mint
, to name a few. With free entry and free tours, it is the ideal way to learn more about Canberra and hear stories that you don't pick up when just exploring on your own. You never know what you might learn!
Take a free tour to get more out of your Canberra experience
Another way to get to know a city is by talking to the locals. They will know the best places to go for coffee, the cheapest place for lunch, how long it takes to get to the next destination and where you can buy a cold wine or beer at the end of the day. As many people who work in the city have moved to the Capital to work in government departments, they may also be new to the city and feel like a tourist, just like you. So swap some tips, connect with the locals and see how the people of Canberra make the most of this creative, exciting and evolving city.
We look forward to seeing you here!
Last tip - don't forget to schedule in some relaxation time and stop to smell the coffee! Popular cafe and restaurant areas are the Kingston Foreshore, Lonsdale Street in Braddon and Bunda Street in the CBD.