Waterfalls that rage into the depths of plunge pools; steaming billabongs that teem with pink lilies and saltwater crocs; and rock art, that continues to speak of the Indigenous connection to the land, tens of thousands of years after they were painted. Welcome to Darwin.
When it comes to a tropical adventure up in Darwin, you won’t have to hunt for something to do. Instead, you’ll be manoeuvring your itinerary to the minute to experience as much of its quintessentially Australian beauty as possible.
Whether you’re wanting to immerse yourself in the Northern Territory rainforests, the unique culinary culture or see its unique wildlife, we’ve listed the Darwin tour for you to do so.
1. Darwin Big Bus Tour
Just arrived in the city and not sure where to start? Get on a hop-on hop-off Big Bus Tour at any of their designated stop-off points to get a lay of the land and check out all the top spots around town to get your bearings.
Hop on and off the Darwin bus for a quick tour around the city. (Image: Tourism NT/ Big Bus Darwin)
2. Darwin History and Wartime Experience
Widely considered a must-do for any Darwin visitor, the Darwin History and Wartime Experience gives you a taste of the city before and during World War II.
Get a glimpse of what life in Darwin was like during World War II. (Image: Tourism NT/ Darwin Wartime Experience)
You will take a ride in an open-air war-era army vehicle while learning about the Darwin bombings by the Japanese Forces and the impact of the devastating 1974 Cyclone Tracey. Visitors can also end their trip at the Defence of Darwin Experience military museum.
3. Darwin Audio Tour
If you’re tight on money (or simply want to do a city tour at your own pace), download the app, Darwin: A Tale of Four Cities, put on your headphones and wander through the streets of Darwin soaking in the history on this completely immersive, self-guided tour.
Explore the colourful streets of Darwin with the aid of Darwin: A Tale of Four Cities. (Image: Tourism NT)
Start outside the Tourist Information Centre and virtual host Charlie King will guide you from there.
4. The Tiwi by Design Tour
A hop and a skip across the water from Darwin lies a veritable hub of NT Aboriginal society and culture, the Tiwi Islands.)
The incredible Tiwi Islands from above.(Image: Tourism NT/ Elise Cook)
They are particularly famous for the art produced there (and a die-hard love of footy, but you can find out more about that here in our Tiwi Island Guide). It can all be discovered as part of a Tiwi Island art tour.
Immerse yourself in the local Aboriginal art offering on Tiwi Island. (Image: Tourism NT/ Shaana McNaught)
Take part in workshops with local Aboriginal artists as well as perusing the works for one to take home.
5. AAT Kings Litchfield National Park Waterfalls
Pack your swimmers for a day exploring the monsoonal rainforests and tumbling waterfalls of Litchfield National Park, 90 minutes outside Darwin.
Plunge yourself into the waterhole at Florence Falls. (Image: Tourism NT/ @helloemilie)
AAT Kings offers a day trip from town, which takes in all the main sights and swimming holes, such as the Florence Falls plunge hole and Wangi Falls, as well as a chance for bushwalking, a visit to giant termite mounds and taking part in barramundi feeding.
Behold the enchanting Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park. (Image: Tourism NT/ Jackson Grove)
6. NT Indigenous Tours Litchfield
Explore the traditional lands of the Indigenous owners with an NT Indigenous Tours Litchfield small group tour.
Led by an Aboriginal guide into adventurous territory, you will jump into freshwater pools, fish for barra and learn about areas of spiritual and cultural importance to the Indigenous groups of the region.
Dive into freshwater waterholes, like Buley Rockholes in Litchfield National Park. (Image: Tourism NT/ Charles Hill)
The immersion doesn’t end there: come lunchtime you’ll be feasting on wild-caught barramundi, kangaroo and crocodile.
A spectacular view awaits you above Wangi Falls. (Image: NT Indigenous Tours Litchfield)
7. Lords Kakadu tour
The family-owned, eco-certified and award-winning Lords Kakadu and Arnhem Land Safaris operate a small group day tour to Kakadu: the traditional lands of the Bininj people and World Heritage-listed national park.
Explore the ancient lands of the Bininj people and World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. (Image: Tourism NT/ Salty Wings)
While each private group can work with the guides to create their own itinerary, suggested stops include Nourlangie/ Burrungkuy Rock where visitors can see Aboriginal rock art, a cruise through the Yellow Water/ Ngurrungurrudjba Billabong and a visit to the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre.
Prioritise a trip to serene Yellow Water Billabong in Kakadu. (Image: Tourism NT)
Multi-day luxury safari trips that visit Arnhem Land are also available through Lords.
8. AAT Kings in Kakadu
AAT Kings also operates in the area, with day and multi-day tours for groups.
If you’re short on time, an air-conditioned coach can pick you up in Darwin for a day trip, which also stops at Yellow Water/ Ngurrungurrudjba Billabong, the Warradjan Cultural Centre and a guided tour past the rock art of Nourlangie/ Burrungkuy. You can even add on a flight over the escarpments of the park.
Join a guided tour past the rock art of Nourlangie/ Burrungkuy. (Image: Tourism NT/Sean Scott)
9. Top End Cycling Adventures
As well as offering short guided tours around Darwin (such as to the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, or an arts and culture tour), Top End Cycling Adventures also run multi-day cycling trips in and around Kakadu, as well as Litchfield, Katherine, Nitmiluk Gorge and more, paired with cultural activities.
Jet Ski tours
10. 00Seven Jet ski Tours
Channel your inner-Bond with an activity that definitely has a licence to thrill.
Join a Jet Ski Adventures tour with 00Seven. (Image: Tourism NT)
Jump on a jet ski (tux, alas, not recommended) to stop by sunken warships, ride the waves in the light of golden hour, speed through the mangroves, or simply enjoy the purr of the engine as you race through the waters.
Explore Darwin waters on a jet ski. (Image: 00Seven Jet ski Tours)
If you’re a little nervous about being the driver, no problem. You can hop on the back of a 00Seven guide’s ride instead.
11. Top End Safari
For a luxury multi-day tour, look no further than a Top End Safari, created by Matt Wright, the star of the TV series, Outback Wrangler.
You will be picked up in Darwin, before embarking on an overnight adventure that includes a helicopter ride over floodplains, an airboat cruise through the river systems and meet some monster salties.
Meet some monster salties on a Matt Wright Top End tour. (Image: Tourism NT/ Mark Fitzpatrick)
Finish with an overnight glamping stay under the starry outback sky. Day trips are also available.
Your helicopter chariot awaits outside your glamping tent. (Image: Top End Safari)
12. Jumping Croc Tours
There’s a high chance you’ll naturally see Darwin’s famous scaly residents while you’re up in the Top End. But if you want to see them in their full muscled magnificence, say yes to a jumping croc tour.
Prepare to be on the edge of your seat during a jumping croc tour.
Your guide will take you out on the water, where the crocs (lured by a morsel of meat), will jump right out in the air in front of you. Jeepers. Read our review of the Adelaide River Cruises jumping crocodile tour here for more information.
Katherine / Nitmiluk
13. Nitmiluk Tours
Listen to and learn the Dreaming stories of Nitmiluk Gorge when you book with the 100% Indigenous-owned and operated Nitmiluk Tours.
Learn the Dreaming stories of Nitmiluk Gorge on a tour with Nitmiluk Tours. (Image: Tourism NT/ Let’s Escape Together)
Also known as ‘Katherine’ Gorge, Nitmiluk is the Jawoyn name, on whose land you will hear stories of Bula, the creator, and Bolung, the Rainbow Serpent, who lies undisturbed in a pool in the Second Gorge.
The group offers a variety of tours, including helicopter rides, cruises on the river, canoeing, basket-weaving and other cultural experiences. You can read more on our Nitmiluk Tour review here.
There are a variety of tours to choose from when deciding how to experience Nitmikuk Gorge. (Image: Tourism NY/ Helen Orr)
14. Corroboree Billabong Wetland Experience
Pack your binoculars for a day cruising in a stunning waterscape of pink lilies and lotuses, saltwater crocs and an abundant array of birdlife that includes kingfishers, jabiru and rainbow bee-eaters, right on the outskirts of Mary River National Park with Corroboree Billabong Wetland Experience.
Explore the beauty of the wetlands inside Mary River National Park. (Image: Tourism NT/ Corroboree Billabong Wetland Cruises)
The tour is 90 minutes from Darwin and a picnic lunch is included in some cruises.
Soak up the stunning waterscape of pink lilies and lotuses. (Image: Tourism NT/ Corroboree Billabong Wetland Cruises)
15. Wildfoto photography tour
See the Mary River wetlands in a different light when you go on a Wildfoto nature photography tour with Paul Thomsen, an award-winning wildlife photographer, documentary maker and Indigenous man.
Small group and private tours are available in the wetlands, as well as around Darwin on this Top-End tour.
A freshwater crocodile captured through the lens of Paul Thomsen. (Image: Wildfoto)
16. The Indigenous/wetlands tour: Wetland Discovery Tour
Run by the owner of Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours, this trip combines a trip out to Corroboree Billabong with a two-hour demonstration of local history and culture at Pudakul, including a bush tucker walk and talk, playing the didgeridoo, spear throwing and a pot of billy tea brew. Pick up and drop off included.
Join a Wetland Discovery Tour for a unique Indigenous cultural experience of the wetlands.
Darwin Airboat tours
17. Wildlands Wetlands Safari Cruises
Cruise by airboat through the Mary River wetlands and Corroboree Billabong with Wildlands Wetlands Safari Cruises.
Over 45 minutes, you will access private areas by airboat on the hunt for saltwater crocodiles and the many bird species that call this beautiful area home.
Wildlands Wetlands also run safari cruises as well as their Mary River airboat experience.
Cruise along the wilderness of Mary River wetlands. (Image: Wildlands Wetlands Safari Cruises)
18. Darwin Airboat Tours by Matt Wright
Operating out of the city centre, Darwin Airboat Tours is another offering from Outback Wrangler’s Matt Wright.
Set off on a custom-built V8 airboat – which uses giant fans to glide across the harbour surface – and spend a thrilling hour looking for local wildlife and birds at top speeds.
An exhilarating jet boat experience. (Image: Darwin Airboat Tours)
19. Darwin Gourmet Tours
Sample around a dozen degustation plates from three of Darwin’s most award-winning restaurants in this three-hour walking tour.
Expect to try tropical delicacies, such as buffalo carpaccio, paperbark-smoked barramundi, salt and pepper crocodile and bush spices like pepperberry loaf with saltbush dukkah: all unique tastes of the Top End.
As you walk, you’ll also watch street art come to life in hyper-cool augmented reality.
Drop by the PepperBerry Restaurant in case you get hungry. (Image: Darwin Gourmet Tours)
20. Aboriginal Bush Tucker
This not-for-profit venture that sells ethically sourced and sustainable products has recently launched a Bush Food Tasting Platter and Gallery Tour.
If you time your trip right, you can dive into a menu curated with traditional bush flavours, including native finger lime and bush tomato. Keep an eye out for future events on their Facebook page.
21. Offshore Boats Fishing Charters
Surrounded by the Timor Sea, rivers and estuaries, the warm waters of Darwin are quite the catch when it comes to a fishing holiday.
Place your trust in a local to show you where the best fishing areas can be found with Offshore Boats Fishing Charters. They will take you out on a private charter boat where your guide will show you where to snag the best barramundi, sailfish, mackerel, golden snapper, tuna and more.
There is a plentiful supply of fishing to be had near Darwin. (Image: Tourism NT/ Aquascene)
22. Buffalo Boat Hire
If you’d rather choose your own adventure, the Darwin-based Buffalo Boat Hire is an Aboriginal-owned and operated business that has quality boats, accessories and fishing equipment for hire.
They can also give you a pointer on the best fishing and crabbing spots around the area.
23. HeliFish Tour
Reach remote fishing spots beyond your wildest dreams with a tour with HeliFish.
Travelling by helicopter, not only will you get six hours casting lines in far-off regions (with options including Cape Hotham, coastal creeks, Daly River and Anson Bay – all dependent on season, weather and where the best catch is that day).
Start and finish with a magnificent flight across the Top End.
Discover remote fishing locations on a HeliFish Tour. (Image: Tourism NT/ Tom Laurence)
Heli Pub Crawl
24. HeliFish: Heli Pub Crawl
From securing a mega-catch in the rivers to stopping at another kind of watering hole: HeliFish also runs a Heli Pub crawl of some of the region’s most iconic pubs.
Enjoy (responsibly) the incredible views as you are flown between beach resort bars, river taverns and pubs overlooking a moat of saltwater crocodiles.
25. Heli-pub crawl with Airborne Solutions
Head out on Darwin’s original heli-pub tour with Airborne Solutions, which stops at five pubs on its full-day tour (with optional half days with three).
You can also combine a half day fishing with the rest of the day stopping off at the pubs, for the ultimate day spent in troppo relaxation.
Combine a heli-pub crawl with a half-day of fishing on an Airborne Solutions Tour. (Image: Tourism NT/ Airborne Solutions)