Our nation’s capital comes alive during summer: find a hidden swim spot, hop around the city’s rooftop bars and spend a night with a giraffe. These are the best things to do in Canberra…
1. Stroll through the National Arboretum Canberra
Tree-huggers unite at Canberra’s incredible National Arboretum. Essentially a living, breathing museum of rare, symbolic and endangered trees from more than 100 countries, there really is no place quite like it. An enormous 250 hectares planted with 94 forests makes it one of the world’s largest living collections. You needn’t be a green thumb to appreciate the beauty and importance of these leafed friends. Come for a stroll, or check out the calendar of events to time your trip with a talk, guided tour or workshop.
Explore the National Arboretum Canberra.
2. Dine outdoors at COOP at Soho
Canberra has a brand-new food truck hub. This outdoor eatery is part of the Art Group development and brings the buzz to Northbourne Avenue. You’ll find much-loved local burger joint Brodburger, Peruvian streetfood Mr Papa, and dumpling eatery MOMOS parking it permanently at COOP, but they’ll be joined by a rotation of Canberra’s favourite eats, too. We’re completely on board with Canberra’s food truck obsession and can’t think of a better way to dine on a warm summer’s eve.
Sample the goods at Canberra’s food truck hub COOP at Soho.
3. Browse through Braddon
In a city of artful enclaves, Braddon is arguably the hippest of them all. On an oppressive summer’s day, this is the spot to escape the heat by way of a little retail therapy. The Ori Building is a good start for well-curated homewares and design stores, such as Rebel Muse, Handsome Pretty and nearby Bisonhome. Once you’ve given the credit card a thorough tapping, make your way to BentSpoke Brewing Co. for a cooling local beverage. If you’re still here as the sun begins to dip, head to Canberra institution eightysix for an excellent dinner and expertly crafted cocktail.
4. Meander out to Murrumbateman for wine tasting
Just half an hour from the city you’ll find the stunning Murrumbateman wine region. This beautiful area is quietly harbouring some of Australia’s most celebrated wineries, such as Shaw Wines, Clonakilla and Gundog Estate. Once here, you could designate a driver, but a better plan maybe to check yourself in at the sleek Abode Murrumbatem, hire a bike and pedal away for a (responsible) DIY tasting tour.
Abode Murrumbatem is located in Canberra’s wine region.
5. Find a hidden swim spot
Being an inland city, Canberra may not benefit from an ocean breeze, but what it does have are some pretty idyllic spots for a bush swim. When it all gets a little too stifling in town, retreat to the shade of a gum-lined swimming hole, such as Cotter Bend, Angle Crossing, Pine Island Reserve on the Murrumbidgee River, or Gibraltar Creek, which also features a pretty waterfall. You’ll be joined by picnicking families and fellow Canberrans in need of a cool reprieve.
6. Get up to get down at Canberra’s best rooftop bar
Atop the Canberra Rex Hotel you’ll find The Howling Moon, which just happens to be the city’s best spot to sip a few cocktails and watch the summer sun fade to orange and then black. With panoramic views towards Black Mountain and the Brindabellas, it’s the perfect watering hole for summer soirees and good times, so make sure you find yourself here at least once for a sun downer.
Head to The Howling Moon for a drink at Canberra’s best rooftop bar.
7. Stand up for Lake Burley Griffin
It’s an iconic Canberra landmark and certainly one of the cooler places to spend a hot summer’s day in the city. If you’re not taking a leisurely stroll around Lake Burley Griffin’s shores, ducking into galleries and museums as you go, then you might consider gliding out onto the water on a stand-up paddleboard. Between October and April, you can hire a SUP from The Paddle Hub and get a surface perspective of this calm beauty and the encircling city.
Hire a SUP on Lake Burley Griffin.
8. Spend the night with a giraffe
How do you fancy waking up to a giraffe popping by your balcony to say G’day? In Canberra, the safari comes to you at Jamala Wildlife Lodge, where you can bed down in a treehouse on the edge of a giraffe enclosure, in a bungalow adjacent to cheetahs, lions, tigers and bears (oh my!), or in a lodge with a resident shark and a couple of casual monkeys. It’s a fantastically wild adventure that will make you feel as though you’re in the middle of Africa.
The safari comes to you at Jamala Wildlife Lodge.
9. Float above the city
Before the heat takes firm hold of the day, ascend above the nation’s capital, marvelling at her parliamentary architecture and sweeping bushlands, in a hot air balloon. Once back on solid ground, enjoy a glass of bubbles to celebrate your aerial accomplishment. With Balloon Aloft you can also add a post-flight breakfast at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra with your fellow basket buddies to debrief on the experience.
Get above it all in a Hot Air Balloon over Canberra.