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Australia’s capital hums with life and is one of the Pacific region’s most enigmatic destinations. Tailored for business and leisure travellers alike, Canberra is Australia at its most charming – a quirky yet cosmopolitan hub, full of surprises. And tourist attractions are concentrated within a relatively small area, making it easy to pack a lot into even a short visit.
So book a flight to Canberra with Qatar Airways, for a captivating trip Down Under.
Lake Burley Griffin’s shores are home to galleries, museums and Parliament House; Gold Creek Village boasts more museums and a font of shopping; and Black Mountain Tower is perfect for a panoramic overview; welcome to Canberra.
Canberra is a prolific custodian of national history, both aboriginal and European. Officials designed the layout of the city to cluster monuments, museums and galleries around Lake Burley Griffin, an artificial body of water in the city’s heart.
You can find out more about how the city was planned at the National Capital Exhibition, on Barrine Drive which adjoins the Canberra Region Visitors Centre. The location also offers great views across the lake. The nearby Canberra Museum and Gallery includes exclusive exhibitions and a permanent display of work by Sir Sydney Nolan, one of Australia’s most famous artists.
On the southern side of Lake Burley Griffin, you will find the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery and Questacon - the National Science and Technology Centre. Also not far from the shore, is the city’s iconic Parliament House, where Australia’s politicians meet.
Head to the suburbs for some quirkier museums and collections. About 20km north of the city is the National Dinosaur Museum, in Gold Creek Village. This is a particular favourite among children, and a fun and in-depth history of palaeontology in Australia.
For a bird’s-eye view of the city (and a useful landmark if you get lost), Telstra Tower stands 195m above the summit of Black Mountain, offering exceptional panoramic views from its visitors’ platform.
Popular annual events include the spring festival, Floriade (mid-September to mid-October), the Canberra Balloon Spectacular (10 days each March) and the Enlighten after dark festival featuring light projections on many iconic buildings, night noodle markets and quirky entertainment (also in March).
In Australia, much of life is lived outdoors and Canberra takes that to heart. Sightseeing trips to Lake Burley Griffin both on and around the water are popular among visitors. Hire kayaks and stand up paddle boards. Or, if you prefer to stay on dry land, rent a bike and explore the lake’s cycling route. It is approximately 25km long and a flat, easy ride for all ages.
Canberra is a year-round destination, and if you are travelling there in winter (June to August) you can take to the ski-slopes of Corin Forest in the Tidbinbilla Ranges (a 40 minute drive from the city centre) – it’s ideal for those wanting to try skiing. For younger visitors, tobogganing in Corin Forest is special treat.
Australia’s skies are ideal for stargazing. If you want to explore the wonders of the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky, Mount Stromlo Observatory runs a Saturday-night observing event for the public.
Canberra is a cosmopolitan centre and its cuisine varies from hatted fine dining restaurants to food trucks selling everything from burgers to bao. The city offers the best of Pacific Asian food, from Singapore noodles to Burmese curries. Alternatively, you can choose New York-style sandwiches for a grab-and-go snack, or sit down to an Asian fusion or Turkish meal in an exclusive restaurant. Popular dining precincts include Braddon, NewActon, Dickson, Manuka and Kingston.
Be aware that all many restaurants in Canberra are closed on Sundays, and all have a strict no smoking policy.
While Canberra is home to the inevitable collection of high-street brands and exclusive designer outlets, it is also well known for its markets. Get a taste of fresh, regional Australian produce at the Capital Region Farmers Market in Mitchell every Saturday morning. The Sunday-only Old Bus Depot Markets are good for crafts, clothing and jewellery.
Gold Creek Village is a gathering of boutiques, independent traders and vintage shops, mixed in with small art galleries, and even a native reptile museum and butterfly enclosure.
Boutique shopping can be found in Braddon (Lonsdale Street), Manuka or Kingston, while the city’s largest shopping mall, Canberra Centre, is found in the city centre suburb called Civic. For outlet shopping, don’t miss the Canberra Outlet Centre in Fyshwick.
Essential facts about Canberra
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip