No hustle or bustle, not full of cars and tall buildings, Canberra is surprisingly peaceful and charming. Visitors can take a yacht on the lake, walk in the woods or take a horseback riding in a poetic valley. In addition, you can also explore Canberra’s most famous tourist attractions such as the War Memorial, National Carillon Bell Tower or immerse yourself in the Floriade Flower Festival. So, what to do and how to plan a perfect trip to Canberra for the first-time? Let’s check out our Canberra travel blog (Canberra blog) with the fullest Canberra travel guide (Canberra guide, Canberra tourist guide) from how to get, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit and top things to do to find out the answer!
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Canberra is the capital of Australia, this is a new city, built through an architectural design competition and it is also referred to as the “Australia’s Bush Capital”. This is also the only Australian city located deep in inland, and is completely new planning in the style of a garden city. Canberra does not owns skyscrapers (the highest is 15-storey), instead houses are surrounded by natural trees. The dense green areas in the city so that Canberra is always the first choice for those who love nature, airy and fresh environment.
Canberra travel guide: Overview of Canberra
Canberra is located in the Southeast of New South Wales, 280km to the southwest of Sydney and 660km to the northeast of Melbourne with an area of 2,358 km2 and population of 460,000 (2020). Canberra does not belong to any state. The city architecture style is garden house combined with nature. Therefore, Canberra is known as “the bush capital”.
Evidence suggests that the Canberra area was inhabited by 21,000 years ago. In the past, the indigenous Australians settled here seasonally. Then Europeans began to settle down in Australia. Canberra became the capital in 1908. This is an agreement between the two largest cities in Australia, Sydney and Melbourne. The name Canberra means “meeting place” in the old Ngunnawal aboriginal language, which is the native Australian language.
In the early 20th century, when the Australian federal government intended to choose a site as the capital, the cities of Sydney and Melbourne were considered the two brightest candidates because at that time, Sydney was a densely populated city and the most developed while Melbourne is considered the oldest city. To resolve this conflict, the federal government decided to build an entirely new city, located between Sydney and Melbourne as the capital of Australia.
Canberra travel blog: When to visit?
Canberra is characterized by a relatively dry continental climate with four distinct seasons.
Summer (December – February). The average temperature ranges from 12-27 degrees Celsius. In this season, it is warm during the day, sometimes quite hot and more pleasant during the night. In this season, Canberra holds the largest Floriade flower festival in Australia. And is the good season for you to visit other places in Canberra. Besides, there are many outdoor activities. Especially water sports are very popular. Such operations took place mainly on Lake Burley Griffin.
Canberra’s fall is from March to May. At this time trees will begin to change their colors. Nature’s greens will begin to gradually change into red, yellow and orange. The average temperature ranging from 7 to 20 degrees Celsius. During the day it will be warm and at night it will be colder.
In April there is a ceremony to honor those who have served Australia during the war. Or the Canberra Balloon Spectacular. An iconic Australian event. And this season is also the harvest season for the vineyards, so you can visit the wineries to have great experiences.
From June to August is winter. The weather is cold, with occasional sunshine, mild breezes and early mornings often foggy. In July’s winter nights, the temperature usually falls below 0 degrees Celsius, but it rarely snows. Canberra Region Truffle Festival is held in this season. Or the Fireside Festival, which is the capital’s annual celebration to welcoming winter. Or you can go to the Alps to watch the snow fall. Or experience another interesting skiing activities.
According to the Canberra travel experience of many visitors, you should come to Canberra in the spring or late summer and early autumn.
Canberra tourist guide: How to get?
Currently, the most popular means of transport to get to Canberra is still an airplane which saves you both time and money. There are many domestic and international airlines operating flights to Canberra from Vietnam such as Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin Australia, … Airfares, in particular, popular routes like Hanoi – Canberra ranging from about $863 or more for round-trip tickets, Saigon – Canberra from $650 or more.
How to get from Sydney to Canberra?
You can get to Canberra from Sydney by train in about 4 hours 10 minutes. There are 3 trips a day with fares near AU$ 46 / person.
How to buy a train ticket?
- Buy at the station: You can come about 45 minutes earlier than the train runs, buy tickets and check-in to get on the train.
- Buy at the NSW ticket office right at the central station.
- Buy tickets online at https://transportnsw.info/regional to avoid running out of tickets.
We traveled on weekdays so it was very deserted, the train had less than 30 passengers and they went down to different stations. Canberra is the last station so you don’t have to worry if you don’t know which station to get off. When checking in on the train, you can choose to check-in baggage or bring it to the carriage with a separate luggage area (but in my opinion, you should bring your luggage to avoid getting lost and when you get off, you do not have to wait for your luggage).
Canberra guide: Public transportation in Canberra
In Canberra you can travel by bus to getting around the city which is very convenient, economical, most of the buses run until midnight, so you don’t worry about time if you want to go out late in the center. Every 10 minutes there will be a bus with a fare of AU$ 9.4 / ticket, which can be used all day from the time of purchase until 11.59pm. This ticket can be used for either light rail train or tram. At the bus center in Woden, there will always be staff to help find the right bus: the bus route, schedule… Also, the drivers here are extremely friendly every time we get in and out of the bus, they are all greeted and thankful.
Besides bus, you can also choose other means to get around Canberra such as taxis, subway, especially hot air balloon if you want a panoramic view of Canberra from above.
Canberra travel blog: What to do and where to go?
We went to the Australian National Botanic Gardens by bus number 23, go straight from Woden, and get off at the stop near The Australian National University or ask the driver before you getting on the bus, then walk another 2km to come. There are a lot of bus trips here from the CBD so those stay in the CBD will have more convenience in getting to the attractions. This place is free to enter, but if you self-driving here, the parking fee is about AU$ 4 / hour. This botanical garden is very interesting because there are thousands of strange plants that we have never seen before, it took us nearly a day to visit.
Address: Clunies Ross St, Acton ACT 2601, Australia
Gungahlin, Australian Capital Territory
On the return, we took bus number 6 to get back to the CBD and took the light rail to Gungahlin (this is because while sitting for rest in the botanical garden and being recommended by the Australian couple). Except for the beautiful scenery on the way, Gungahlin is nothing special. It’s like a miniature town and quite as quiet as the towns in New Zealand.
We came in Canberra a bit early, so the cherry blossoms didn’t bloom in time. But on this trip to Australia, this is one of the places where we want to come back to visit and rest when we have a chance, and unfortunately I only stayed in Canberra for a day before leaving for Melbourne.
Lake Burley Griffin
As one of the famous sights in the capital Canberra that tourists cannot ignore when traveling to Australia, Burley Griffin artificial lake is famous for its modern beauty. This is a place to relax for many people in the capital after a busy working day. The lake water is very clear and clean, the air is fresh, creating a very comfortable feeling. Tourists and city dwellers can walk and cycle along the riverside road; picnic at the waterfront, fishing, sailing or river rowing.
Length: 11 km
Area: 6.64 km²
Average depth: 4 m (13 ft)
Max. depth: 18 m (59 ft)
Possessing a huge knowledge base with more than 10 million books, the National Library of Australia is known as the knowledge symbol of the Kangaroo country. The library’s collection includes Asian literary works and materials, rare books and manuscripts, and numerous photographs, maps, paintings, music and videos. If you are a book lover, do not miss this famous tourist place. Take a walk through the archives, choose for yourself an attractive work and sit back in the reading room to enjoy.
Address: Parkes Pl W, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia
Founded: March 23, 1961
Images are tools to keep the most realistic memories. At the National Portrait Gallery, traditional and modern paintings, collage statues, portraits of famous people, have influences such as reviving a glorious historical period of Australia. Hidden behind each picture are interesting stories that cannot be discovered all in one day or two. The National Portrait Gallery has more than 450 permanent exhibits housed in a modern wooden and stone building that is always filled with warm sunlight. The architecture of the building is an interesting blend of the surrounding natural environment and the interior exhibition area.
Address: King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
Founded: May 1998
Creativity and inspiration, that’s what visitors feel when coming to the National Gallery of Australia. Possessing a collection of more than 160,000 rich artworks from ancient to modern, collected from all over the world, this is definitely an interesting destination for those who love culture and art. National Gallery of Australia is located on the Acton Peninsula, about two kilometers (1.5 miles) to the southwest of Canberra’s central business district. The museum is open every day, except Christmas Day.
Address: Parkes Pl E, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
This is a must-visit place and the most famous bell tower in Canberra. When you come here, you will admire 55 bronze bells on the tower, next to the place to enjoy music, moreover you can see the whole poetic capital of Canberra. Especially when the night falls and the city lights up, seeing the city from above is really interesting, isn’t it?
Address: Aspen Island, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
Opened: April 26, 1970
Height: 50 m
Mount Ainslie Lookout
To get all the magnificent capital Canberra in sight, the best way is to reach the top of Mount Ainslie. Here, you can see the panorama of famous attractions in Canberra such as Lake Burley Griffin, the Parliament House, … in the distance. You can drive directly to the Lookout point or more interestingly, using the walk / bike path behind the Australian War Memorial which is more than 2km long.
Address: 20 Mount Ainslie Dr, Australian Capital Territory 2609, Australia
Hours: Open 24 hours
Just a 5-minute drive from the city center, the National Zoo and Aquarium is a favorite spot for many families and animal lovers alike when coming to Canberra. If the aquatic park is home to a wide range of marine life, from tiny reef inhabitants to giant sharks; At the national zoo, visitors can witness first-hand species of typical Australian animals as well as exotic species such as lions, tigers, leopards, bears …
Address: 999 Lady Denman Dr, Yarralumla ACT 2611, Australia
Because it is the political center of the country, coming to Canberra you will live in the atmosphere with the true political color, the space is not too hustle and bustle. Parliamentary Triangle area helps you understand more about the capital’s famous artworks and other works such as the Parliament House on Capital Hill, not only that, you also have the opportunity to study the birth of the Australian political system. Aren’t these so useful for you?
About 3 km from the center of Canberra, opened in 1988, the Australian Parliament House is one of the world’s famous modern architectures, built on a wide hill. The main building has a towering four-sided white steel tower, bunched together to lift a flag pole up to 81 meters high with the Australian flag fluttering.
Unlike political works in countries around the world, which show the power of politicians, the Australian Parliament building is designed in the spirit of openness, connecting the community to work together to solve problems, issues of the country, so the architecture of the building is quite liberal, demonstrating high democracy, becoming a symbol of Australia. This work of art is quite large, located below the top of a hillside, made from marble and many kinds of precious woods. Visiting the Australian Parliament building, visitors have the opportunity to admire many other works of art and see the rooms where heads of state work.
The parliament building is open to visitors on weekends and public holidays.
Address: Parliament Dr, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia
Opened: May 9, 1988
Construction started: November 12, 1981
Opened in 2001, the National Museum of Australia is a typical work of Australia. Built with unique architecture and rich collections, the building has won many awards in architectural design as well as tourism, and is one of the most popular attractions of Australia with millions of visitors each year.
Inside the museum is a showcase for collections of Aboriginal heritage, settlement from 1788 and the formation of the Australia, and more specifically the world’s largest collection of bark paintings along with Aboriginal stone tools … there are also numerous collections of culture, history as well as the development process of Australian history and people.
Address: Lawson Cres, Acton ACT 2601, Australia
Architectural style: Deconstructivism
Not only is a place to pay homage to the contributions made by Australian soldiers during the war, the Australian War Memorial is also a museum that holds many artifacts showing military history. The monument is built on a wide, cake-shaped lawn in the north of Anzac Parade and the memorial is located in the center of the memorial building, surrounded by domes. The focal point of the memorial is the Hall of Memory, a towering chapel with a small stilt structure in the form of an octagon. Along the walls of the hallway were bronze cards engraved with the names of soldiers who died on duty. And the tradition of the people when visiting this place is to bring poppies and place them in the crevices to commemorate.
Address: Treloar Cres, Campbell ACT 2612, Australia
Construction started: 1928
Questacon is Australia’s Science and Technology Center, established to showcase technology products in a wide range of fields, from water to electricity and lighting. Most of the exhibitions are directed to children, but not so the center does not lack of activities to attract adults. Here, visitors will surely have extremely interesting experiences when participating in interactive exhibitions such as launching hydrogen rockets, using a microscope and watching the staff illustrate some scientific principles, or experiment that describe the formation of a hurricane or experience a false earthquake.
Address: King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
Opened: November 23, 1988
A famous park, which is chosen to hold the annual spring flower festival in Canberra from mid-September to mid-October every year with the aim of welcoming spring. The Floriade Flower Festival was first held in 1988 on the 75th anniversary of the founding of Canberra and it has become the largest flower festival in the southern hemisphere.
With an area of over 34 hectares, the park has many lakes and streams, walking paths, cycling paths, and beautiful sculptures. The Commonwealth Park is a great area to organize important events, camping areas, well-equipped playgrounds …
Address: Commonwealth Ave, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
Hours: Open 24 hours
Canberra travel guide: Where to stay?
We arrived in Canberra around 11.30am, then got our luggage and went to the ticket counter to buy tickets for the trip to Melbourne for the next few days. After that, I was led by the ticket salesman to the taxi pick up place to get to the hotel, because I booked the hotel in Woden area more than 10km from CBD, with 2 large luggage so I took a taxi for convenience, of course, if you plan to stay in CBD, you can take public bus, or if stay in Woden, change bus to continue going, however going like that will have to spend much time. Taxi prices from Canberra station to Woden cost AU$ 28, which is the same as bus prices.
We stayed at Hotel Abode Woden (Agoda.com, Booking.com), although it was a bit far from the center, but when we arrived, I was lucky to choose stay here because next to there was a huge shopping mall and also a bus stop. Especially in the Woden area, the two sides of the road are planted with a lot of cherry blossoms and moreover, the national administrative areas are concentrated nearby, so it can be said that this area is very safe, quiet at night, suitable for resting after a long day out. This hotel has the advantage of clean, beautiful view, comfortable, and has a full range of cooking and laundry facilities in the room.
Below we recommend more best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Avenue Hotel Canberra, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $99/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Hyatt Hotel Canberra, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $173/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- East Hotel, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $103/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Hotel Kurrajong Canberra, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $120/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Canberra travel blog: What to eat?
Canberra’s cuisine always has a strange attraction for those who have come here. The fusion of unique tastes creates the indisputable charm of this Australian capital cuisine. Some unique dishes you can enjoy while traveling to Canberra are Pavlova cake, beetroot hamburger, seabass, and mashed bean soup…
Canberra has a peaceful countryside known for its wine. The countryside has up to 140 vineyards and 33 wineries. You will walk in rubber boots and learn about valuable grapes here. A meal on the farm allows you to sample folk delicacies such as cheese, bacon, homemade wine, pizza baked in a wood oven, … This countryside is located along Poachers Trail.
Canberra guide: Shopping
As for shopping, you can go to Bunda Street in Civic. It has the busiest shopping mall in Canberra.
In Canberra, large stores and international brands are second only to the bustling shopping areas of domestically produced goods. The city is characterized by the traditional markets, boutiques and boutiques of handicraft, food and wine from the surrounding countrysides. You can visit Canberra Centre (Address: 148 Bunda St, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia/Hours: 9AM–5:30PM), where there are many things to choose from, from the cheapest things to the top brands in the world at expensive prices, serving to all class in social.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Canberra you can refer to
- Canberra Capital City Day Tour
- Canberra Day Tour from Sydney with Korean Guide
- Canberra Half Day Brewery Tour
- Canberra Brewery, Winery, and Distillery Half Day Tour
- Canberra City Full Day Private Sightseeing Car Charter from Sydney Hotels
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