Not just the tropical gateway to the outback, Darwin is a youthful, vibrant city, with a rich indigenous culture and a colourful mix of more than 50 nationalities.
The Top End’s capital is a natural stopover for your big ticket outback must-do’s, such as Kakadu and Nitmiluk (formerly Katherine) Gorge, but ever increasing pockets of laid-back urbanity mean the place is no longer just a pit stop on your Territory adventure. Here’s our pick of the best things to see and do in and around Darwin.
Top things to do in Darwin
Essential Darwin – all you need to know
Closer to Bali than it is to Brisbane, Darwin is Australia’s smallest capital and blends 56 nationalities, a perky pulse and a laid-back tropical ai...
Cruises and wildlife encounters
The cult of the croc is alive and well in Darwin, and there are two ways to have a safe encounter with the prehistoric beasts. The Jumping Crocodile Cruise is a must for wildlife lovers, or (if you’re game enough) immerse yourself in the transparent ‘Cage of Death’ at Crocosauras Cove (diving in a clear cylindrical cage).
Darwin’s a natural base for exploring Litchfield National Park, home to some of the territory’s best wild swimming spots – floating in a swimming hole beneath waterfalls in the middle of a monsoon forest is an unforgettable experience. Less than 100km south of the city, it’s an easy day trip, or you can camp at one of the parks campgrounds overnight.
Darwin is also our most vibrant Indigenous city and gives you tremendous access to art touring. From a simple day trip to the Tiwi Islands for dancing, tea and damper, storytelling and sensational art to a more extensive Arnhem Land tour, it’s always worth it.
Darwin is famous for its fishing, and the prized barramundi – as tasty as it is tricky to catch – is the ultimate prize. Our Beginner’s Guide to Bagging a Barramundi has the low down on where and how to end up with a barra in the net.
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Best things to see in Darwin
Darwin might be Australia’s smallest capital city, but there is loads to do. Hot and steamy all year – if you don’t like the rain visit during the dry season between April and November – the swimming lagoon and wave pool at the waterfront precinct is a perfect place to cool off.
Darwin’s markets are some of the best in the country; we rate highly Mindil Beach Thursday evening markets and Saturday’s Parap markets. Darwin might have a reputation as a tropical frontier, but you’ll be surprised by just how sophisticated this city can be if you know here to look. To save you searching, we’ve found the hip in this hood for you.
Darwin is significant in our nation’s history and it’s full of great museums and historical sights – dive into World War II history and relive, through the wonders of modern technology, the bombing of Darwin that that rocked Australia in 1942 and explore forgotten tunnels and experience the fury of Cyclone Tracy at the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT.
Pamela Wright takes a dip with a movie star, Burt the crocodile, in Darwin's Cage of Death.
Check in to SkyCity Darwin, a glamorous casino/hotel with five restaurants, seven bars, infinity pool, swim-up rooms and direct beach access.
Or soak in the harbour views from a Waterfront Precinct hotel – the funky Vibe and an apartment-style Adina are a lively hub for businesspeople, tourists and locals, a pearl adding some extra sparkle to Darwin’s newfound lustre.
Maybe chill out in style in one of the city’s luxury holiday homes surrounded by Asian antiques and tropical gardens full of fuchsia frangipani and a shady pool to escape the heat.
Adina Apartment Hotel Darwin Waterfront: this ambitious development has something to offer both local residents and visiting fans of the Adina brands,...
Where to eat in Darwin
Great places to eat out in Darwin are easy to find in this city where Asian markets, hipster cafes and jovial Greek tavernas meet high-end restaurants, perfect for sampling wild ingredients such as banana prawns, crocodile and kangaroo.
Special spots include Hanuman – try the ‘Meen Moolie’, a creamy curry starring local barramundi – Lola’s, a cabaret and carnival-themed restaurant and bar in the harbour-side precinct of Cullen Bay with a cracker of an outdoor area and more atmosphere than you’ll find at a footy grand final, and The Pearl, where Champagne high teas are held on Saturdays and Sundays with bottomless Champagne. Feel like some fresh barra’? Head down to Darwin Fish Market at Fisherman’s Wharf where you can buy straight off the boat.
The Darwin cafe scene is changing – think croques, not crocs. Rachel Bartholomeusz visits local favourite that wouldn’t look out of place in a Mel...
In the Dry, nothing beats a picture-perfect sunset with a bottle of wine and fantastic stall food at Mindil Beach, except perhaps a sunset sail on the harbour.
If you’re looking for that special sunset spot in the NT capital, head to Darwin ski club – it’s where locals take friends for a breath of fresh sea air and a glass or two as the watch the sun slide into the still, wide waters of Fannie Bay. Or catch a movie under the stars at the al fresco deckchair cinema. Check out our Sunsets, stars, tunes & whisky sours guide to where to go in Darwin after dark.