A travel guide to Canberra

Canberra was the first city I lived in after migrating to Australia. I stayed in this city for around 10 months. Since it was very new to me, I explored the city like a tourist rather than a resident or a traveler. I wish I had explored more when I stayed in the city. But since I did not explore it much, I have gone back time and time again over the weekends from Sydney to see the places.

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About Canberra

Canberra is the capital city of Australia and is located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Known for its tulip flower festival Floriade, Canberra is a planned city. The territory is an enclave within the state of New South Wales (NSW). The city is not as happening as Sydney or Melbourne and you need just around 3 to 4 days to see the city.

The best time to visit Canberra is during the Spring (September to November) and Autumn (March to May) seasons. The weather is pleasant during these months and Canberra is extremely pretty during the autumn season with so many colourful trees.

Canberra is cold during winters with an average temperature between 1 and 12 degrees centigrade.

How to get there?

  • Domestic flights – There are flights between Sydney/Melbourne and Canberra. Qantas and Virgin Australia are the flight providers.
  • Driving – The fastest and easiest way to get to Canberra is by driving. The distance between Canberra and Sydney is just 280 kilometres and it takes about 3 hours to drive.
  • Public transportation – There are trains that run between Central station in Sydney and Canberra. The train journey is about 4 hours and can be booked on Transport for NSW website. The Canberra railway station is 7 kilometres from Canberra Central Business District (CBD).

Stay in Canberra

The best place to stay is in the CBD. The bus network is great in the city and all buses stop by at the interchange. The stay ranges between budgeted and luxury accommodation. For a budgeted stay, I definitely recommend Youth Hostels Association (YHA) Canberra.

Things to see and do

Even though Canberra is not as big and happening as Sydney and Melbourne, the city still has plenty of things to do and caters for all kinds of travelers. There are many things that can be done for free or for almost free and hence the city of Canberra can easily be done on a budget.

Parliament House

The Parliament house in Canberra hosts meetings for the Parliament of Australia. The building contains 4700 rooms and many areas are open to public for viewing. The building was opened in the year 1988 by Queen Elizabeth II.

  • There is no entrance fee but bookings have to be made on their website.
Canberra
The Parliament House

Australian War Memorial

Opened in the year 1941, the Australian War Memorial is the nation’s national memorial to commemorate the members of its armed forces and supporting organisations.

  • There is no entry ticket for the war memorial but one needs to register and have a valid ticket to enter. The registration can be done on their official website.

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC)

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) is a very cool place to visit. It is a satellite communication station part of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

  • The CDSCC is around 35 kilometres from Canberra CBD and is in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
  • There is no entrance fee to get into the space centre.

Do not forget to see the moon rock in the exhibit.

Canberra
Canberra Space Centre

Telstra tower

The Telstra tower is a telecommunication tower in Canberra with a height of 195.2 metres. The tower was built in the year 1973 and is situated above the summit of the Black Mountain. It provides 360 degrees view of the city and has both indoor and outdoor viewing platforms.

  • There is an entry ticket of AUD 7.50 per adult and can be purchased at the entrance of the tower or by sending an email to them.
Canberra
View from Telstra Tower

National Zoo and Aquarium

Opened in 1990, the National Zoo and Aquarium is a privately owned zoo in the city of Canberra. The zoo is home to many animals, reptiles and birds and one needs at least 3 to 4 hours to see all the exhibits in the zoo. One can pat a cheetah at the zoo.

  • The general entry ticket is AUD 49 and can be purchased online on their official website.
Canberra Zoo
National Zoo & Aquarium

Floriade

Floriade is a flower festival celebrated in Canberra. It is a celebration of the Spring season and the festival is usually held between mid of September and mid of October.

  • There is no entry ticket to see the flowers. Ticket is required only to watch the musical concerts and any events.
Floriade Canberra
Floriade

Tidbinbilla & Namadgi National Parks

Tidbinbilla and Namadgi national parks are absolutely beautiful and offer a wide range of one and multi day hikes. Both these national parks are just about 40 kilometres from Canberra CBD. I have done a few hikes when I stayed at Canberra, one of them is the Square rock in Namadgi national park.

Tidbinbilla Canberra
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

National Dinosaur museum

The National dinosaur museum is one of World’s best dinosaur museums and Australia’s largest permanent museum displaying the pre-historic specimens. It is situated in the Gold Creek village.

  • There is an entry fee of AUD 18 per adult and the ticket can be purchased on their website.
The National Dinosaur Museum Canberra
National Dinosaur museum

Safety for solo female travelers

Canberra is a safe city. When I lived there, I did not have any issues whatsoever. But the city becomes very quiet and isolated by 5 PM. So be cautious and know your surroundings, especially when it gets dark.

Floriade Canberra

Closing Notes

Even though Canberra is not my favourite city in Australia, I would still suggest visiting the nation’s capital. The city has its own vibes and one can easily spend a few days exploring the federal government buildings and the surrounds in the city.

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PIN for later reference - Travel guide to Canberra
PIN for later reference – Travel guide to Canberra

13 thoughts on “A travel guide to Canberra”

  1. Sounds like Canberra has lots of things to do! Would love to visit the Dinosaur Museum and the Telstra Tower. So cool that after 10 months you still experienced it like a tourist!

    Reply
  2. So many places to add to our travel plans when we finally get Australia back on the travel planning board. Canberra sounds like a great spot to visit if we are there in the spring or fall. Hard to choose between tulips and fall colours! We would definitely start with that panoramic view from the Telstra Tower. A great way to plan what we want to see.

    Reply
  3. Canberra is generally overshadowed by Sydney, but there is so much to see and experience here. I really like the unique design of the Parliament House and another fascinating place seems to be the Dinosaur museum.

    Reply
  4. As I visited Sydney and I really enjoyed my days there I know how beautiful would be Canberra? I will visit Australia to visit all these lovely places for sure.

    Reply
  5. This city definitely holds a lot for all kind of travelers. Although my favorite would be visiting CDSCC, zoos and national parks. Australia is well known for its natural resources and also for its natural diversity.

    Reply
  6. I would go for the tulip festival alone! I actually know very little of this capital city sadly, but I think I would start by going to the National Park, it looks like it offers some pretty amazing views.

    Reply
  7. I have never been to Canberra thus I am so excited to read your post. Happy to know that there are plenty of things to do and would love to visit the Telstra Tower as the view is amazing. Bookmarking this post for future reference.

    Reply
  8. Canberra seems to be an exciting city. It’s great that you had the opportunity to get to know it so thoroughly after living there for 10 months. I had no idea that it is famous for the tulip festival. I love these flowers. A great guide with lots of interesting tips. I hope to see this city when I go to Australia one day.

    Reply
  9. You are right. I rarely heard people visiting Canberra, but I saw a few interesting places here. I would like to visit the Telstra Tower and Deep Space Communication Complex. And a day trip to the National Parks would be nice as well.

    Reply

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