Although the mercury in the Capital has a nasty habit of hovering below zero over winter, Canberra has a big, warm beating heart that beckons you out into the fog (and occasional sleet and snow). As the frosts and fogs start to set in around Canberra and the days get shorter as winter takes hold, that's no reason to hibernate. Here are some insider's tips on where to get cosy in Canberra as the cold sets in.
Turn up the hygge with a hot chocolate
Whether it's the nostalgia that goes with it or just the sweet, creamy and sometimes spicy deliciousness, the humble hot chocolate is a proven winner over winter. Canberra has plenty of places to get a hot choccie but they aren't all created equal. For the most decadent of the lot, Koko Black's cream-laden Belgian version is hard to pass up. For a pure cocoa option, Enigma in Braddon makes them laced with spices and the drink de jour is dairy free although you can add a whiz of whipped cream if you choose. If you want to pair your hot chocolate with bucolic views and a side of handcrafted chocolates, Robyn Rowe Chocolates is a must visit. Just make sure you save room for some chocolates too! And for the quintessential winter experience of a hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows beside a raging wood fire, then the drive to Corin Forest is well worth it.
The best thing in such a cold climate is a crackling fire and if you know where to look, they're out there and waiting to warm you this winter. The most famous might be the little fireplace in the Speaker's Corner Bar at the Hyatt. This is where many of Canberra's political movers and shakers have huddled to plan, plot and scheme and the added bonus is that as well as the fire, the cocktail list here is pretty hot as well. For some old fashioned comfort, the Old Canberra Inn (built in 1857) is a cosy pub with not one but two fantastic fireplaces in a setting reminiscent of an English pub. And for a more modern setting, check out Monster in Acton where there is a round gas fireplace which is both functional and a work of art. If you want fantastic food to go with your fire, Poacher's Pantry has you covered and as an added (and delicious) bonus, you'll find a seasonal truffle menu over winter. And for something fabulously cosy, Yarrh Winery burns a huge bonfire on the winter solstice which also involves canapes and wine – a match made in heaven.
Find a fire to snuggle up next to for the ultimate winter warmer
Canberra is blessed with world class art galleries and winter is the perfect time to head inside and enjoy them. Notable mentions go to the National Gallery of Australia and the Portrait Gallery and the Canberra Museum and Gallery for their extensive collections but there are plenty of smaller galleries scattered across the city too, just perfect for exploring throughout the winter months. For something a little quirky, check out Canberra's tiniest gallery, the Gallery of Small Things. If you want to make a day of gallery hopping, head to Acton and visit the Nishi Gallery, Drill Hall Gallery and ANU School of Art and Design Gallery (and maybe tie this in with a fireside lunch at Monster). Or have a hands on art experience at the Canberra Glassworks. And if you want to get an art fix all winter, there are loads more galleries in Canberra - for a full list, click here. Once you choose a gallery, you can bunker down inside for a whole day and get lost in the wonder while winter does its thing outside.
Hit the slopes (sort of)
Winter will come regardless so why not make the most of it and hit the ski slopes? Of course there's plenty of on-snow action across the NSW resorts if you're so inclined. But if your heart prefers the warm and cosy to the wild and cold, fear not! The accommodation and restaurants in the mountains are set up to make the most of the climate so you can just sit back, eat, drink and be merry as the snow swirls outside. For a cosy mountain meal, some top picks are the Eagle's Nest in Thredbo if you like your food with a view or Aldo's in Perisher for top class Italian on the snow. Cuisine at Lake Crackenback and Wild Brumby near Jindabyne are a foodie's delight and there is plenty of on-snow accommodation offering the perfect winter escape. The mountains are full of amazing places just waiting to be discovered - no skis or snowboards required.
The mountains are full of restaurants serving hearty food
As Jack Frost begins to creep out and dust Canberra with ice and cold, take it as an excuse to heat things up rather than a reason to feel miserable. All you need to do is rug up, get out and have fun uncovering the city's hottest little secrets!