Australia’s capital city, Canberra, may not attract visitors in the same way that cities like Sydney or Melbourne do. However, there is actually so much going here that a weekend in Canberra is ideal!
This city is loaded with trendy coffee shops, cocktail bars, fantastic museums, art galleries, and exciting restaurants. There has been a huge rise in the hip, young culture in Canberra, making sure that there is always something fun going on!
Despite all the many activities and attractions that Canberra has to offer, the city still remains calm, laid back and peaceful making it the ideal place for a fun and relaxing getaway. As there are plenty of stunning nature reserves and green spaces surrounding the city, Canberra is a welcome reprieve from the hustle and frenzy of the bigger cities!
Wondering what’s on in Canberra for a weekend away? Here is our ultimate guide to 2 days in Canberra in order to help you enjoy all that is on offer in this awesome city!
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Insider Tips for an AMAZING Weekend in Canberra
There are is a lot of cool stuff happening in Canberra but it can sometimes be hard to find. That is why we have taken the time to craft this awesome insider Canberra itinerary to help you have the perfect weekend in Canberra.
If you will only be spending up to 2 or 3 days in Canberra, then you have limited time to experience all that Australia’s capital has to offer. Due to this, it is so important to stay somewhere central to save you time on commuting about. This will really help you to make the most out of your weekend.
The city center is the best place to base yourself if you are looking to be in the middle of the action! This area is the oldest and busiest part of the city. You will be close to many top attractions, restaurants, bars, and shops.
New Acton Village is a great area to stay in if you want to surround yourself with the trendiest spots in the city. This is the heart of the hip, young culture in Canberra, with the university, plenty of fun coffee shops and the banks of Lake Burley Griffin found here. Our Where To Stay in Canberra guide offers more insights.
Backpacking is entrenches in the Auzzie pscyche and there are some seriously cool hostels in Australia. Here are some of our favorite accommodation options in Canberra:
Our Favorite Hostel – Canberra City YHA
- Perfectly located in the city center
- Has an awesome underground bar
- A fun rooftop area and a pool
Canberra City YHA has got to be the top hostel in this city! With a swimming pool, free Wi-Fi, a cafe, an underground bar, bicycle rental, kitchen, and a fun rooftop area, this hostel is well equipped! With the perfect location and top-quality rooms, you will be sure to have the perfect stay here!Check on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Canberra: Central Loft Apartment
Stay in the heart of the city among shops and restaurants in this homely loft apartment. The large apartment has plenty of room for all of your belongings, including a large double bed, a well-stocked kitchen and cosy lounge area.
Guests also have access to the on-site gym, a rooftop terrace, and free parking. Around the local area, the streets are busy with restaurants and shops, and you’re close to public transport to get around the city easily.Check on Airbnb
Our Favorite Budget Hotel – Mantra MacArthur Hotel
- Convenient central location
- Clean, comfortable and modern rooms
- Features a great restaurant and bar
If you are looking for quality accommodation in Canberra that won’t break the bank, then consider the Mantra MacArthur Hotel. This fantastic hotel has everything that you need for the perfect weekend away in a really convenient location.Check on Booking.com Check on HotelsCombined
Our Favorite Splurge Hotel – Avenue Hotel Canberra
- Super stylish and modern hotel
- Located in the city center
- Full of great amenities and luxuries
For those that want the ultimate base for their weekend in Canberra, the Avenue Hotel has got to be it! This modern and stylish hotel contains all of the comforts and luxuries one could ask for. With really comfortable rooms, a great location, a top-quality restaurant, and a fitness center, one really couldn’t ask for more!Check on Booking.com Check on HotelsCombined
Know How to Get Around in Canberra
Getting around Canberra is easy! There are plenty of transport options available to suit everybody.
One of the most popular and easy ways to travel around Canberra is through using the Culture Loop bus. This bus service operates from 9 am to 5 pm daily, and it runs a hop-on-hop-off circuit between the top cultural attractions in the city. The best part of using the Culture Loop bus? It’s completely free!
If you prefer two wheels, then consider renting a bicycle! This can be a really fun way of getting around Canberra. The city is actually known as the cycling capital of Australia and there are loads of great cycling paths and tracks available.
There is also an efficient public bus service and light rail network available in the city. Using these can get you just about anywhere, and they are also very affordable.
If you want to be in charge of your own transport, then renting a car and driving around is possible. Driving in Canberra is safe and easy, and renting a car will give you all the freedom to go wherever you please! If you are renting a car then check out our guide about Epic Australian Road Trips!
Taxi cabs are also available throughout the city, although these can be a little bit more expensive.
Finally, remember that Canberra is also an awesome city for walking! Between the outdoor trails and inner-city walking tours, using your two feet is one of the greenest, cleanest and healthiest ways to get around here.
While there are plenty of things to do in Canberra, the city is not exactly renowned for its nightlife. However, this doesn’t mean that there is a lack of fun after-dark hangouts in this city! Want to know what’s on in Canberra at night? Here are some of the best options.
Canberra City Center
- The main hub of nightlife activity in the city
- Plenty of cool bars and local favorites
- Lots of quality restaurants
Canberra city center is one of the most popular and busy parts of the city for a great night out! There are plenty of really fun bars and restaurants around here. For a totally unique experience, try to find Molly – a hidden-away speakeasy, and one of the coolest bars in the city! Playground is another really fun spot for cocktails, great food, and a trendy setting.
- A really trendy area of Canberra
- Loads of young people around here
- Quirky bars and fun hangouts
New Acton is the place to go if you want to experience the hip young culture in Canberra! Pay a visit to Monster if you are looking for a really fun cocktail bar experience (you can even have breakfast there the next morning too!). For something a little bit more sophisticated, visit Parlour Wine Room for a modern wine and cocktail bar with amazing food and views!
- Home to some top bars and pubs
- Great for a social night out
- Plenty of good food options around here
Braddon is a fun area for a chilled night out in Canberra. If you are looking for a laid back bar and eatery to hang out for the night, then Hopscotch is the place to go! This large beer garden is open till late and promises a great time!
Canberra is a dream destination for foodies! This exciting city is the home of many amazing restaurants, featuring some really exciting, world-class cuisine. Here are some of the best food options to add to your Canberra itinerary.
The Capital Region Farmers Market
- The city’s largest and most popular farmers market
- Held every Saturday morning
- Over 100 stalls
Farmers markets are huge in Australia, and they are often the best place to go for quality fresh produce and delicious treats! The Capital Region Farmers Market is a heaven for those that love food! Here you will be able to try all kinds of delicious dishes, fresh foods, and tasty treats. This market can get really busy. There is always a wide range of foods on offer.
The Tipsy Bull
- Super fun and trendy restaurant in Canberra
- Amazing cocktails and drinks
- A really fun atmosphere
There are so many cool and quirky restaurants to choose from in Canberra, but the Tipsy Bull has got to be one of the best! This cool spot offers a really fun dining experience. From their fresh and delicious menu to their innovative cocktail bar, you will be sure to have an unforgettable experience here.
Explore the New Acton Coffee Shops
- A cultural hub full of amazing coffee shops
- Lots of trendy spots here
- Some of the best coffee shops in the city
Australia’s capital may be known for its amazing wineries, bars, and hip restaurants, but there are also plenty of top-notch coffee shops here! Take a walk around New Acton to experience some of the best, trendy places for a latte. Some top choices would be A Baker, The Gods Cafe, Purple Pickle, and Coffeelab.
Australians love their sports, and Canberra is one of the best cities for sporty activities! Being surrounded by nature and parks, Canberra is a great place to get outside and active! Whether you want to watch some exciting local sports or take in some nature and fresh air via an outdoors activity, Canberra is as good a place as any to do it!
Catch a Match at the GIO Stadium
- Watch Aussie Rules Football, a fun, brutal and exciting Australian sport
- The largest sports venue in Canberra
- Always exciting on a matchday
If you want to experience the fun and excitement of Australian sport, then watching a game at the GIO Stadium is one of the best options out here! This big stadium in Canberra hosts many rugby union and league matches. You can experience a game of Aussie rules Football here – a delight, unique sport to the country.
Go Mountain Biking
- Cycling is a major sport here
- The city is surrounded by lots of outdoor trails
- A really fun way to explore more of Canberra
If you are looking for some excitement, then consider a mountain biking ride around Canberra. This city is famous for its avid cyclists, and is one of the best places to do some outdoor mountain biking! There are plenty of tour operators and rental shops around the city, with trails to suit all levels of skill and experience.
- A major activity for tourists and locals
- Sail around the large Lake Burley Griffin
- Hire a boat or learn to sail
Canberra has many natural spaces surrounding it, one of the main ones being Lake Burley Griffin. A favorite pastime in the city is sailing around the waters here. You could learn how to sail from the local yacht club, or rent a boat if you want to cruise around yourself. Kayaks and canoes are also on offer here.
Canberra is a city loaded with arts and culture! Whether you are looking for some fun live music or thought-provoking theatre productions, then this city will be sure to have it going on! Here are some of the top entertainment options in Canberra.
- One of the city’s best live music venues
- Operating since 1985
- Hosts over 50 local and international acts each month
If you are after some of the best live music in the city, then the Basement is the place to go! This awesome music venue has two stages, and there is always something going on here. There is always a wide range of music on offer at the Basement, as well as a fun bar to hang out in.
Canberra Theatre Centre
- The city’s premier performing arts venue
- A wide range of performances on offer
- Always has something happening
For any theatre fans visiting Australia’s capital city, The Canberra Theatre Centre is undoubtedly the place to go! This big theatre hosts all kinds of performances, from ballet to musicals, comedy, and plenty more! Check out what’s on here during your stay, as it is always worth a visit!
- An awesome live jazz bar
- A lodge-style bar
- This is a really fun place to hangout
Hippo Co in the city is one of the best places to watch some live jazz in a fun setting. This cool lodge-style bar is open till late, with a great selection of live music on at night. If you are looking for a fun place to hang out and soak up some tunes, then Hippo Co is a great option.
10 Other Awesome Things to do in Canberra This Weekend
Looking for more things to do in Canberra this weekend? Here are some of the absolute best attractions, landmarks, and activities to add to your 2 days in Canberra!
#1 – Parliament House
As this is the capital city of Australia, one of the first things that one thinks of in Canberra is the Parliament House. You can add an interesting tour of the Australian Parliament House to your Canberra itinerary – a must-do in this city!
A tour of this amazing building will take you into the world of Australia’s political history. You will get to learn all about the country’s unique political system, as well as admire all of the fantastic art on show and detail in the impressive building.
This is an important piece of Canberra, and it is a really interesting and unique stop when in the city.
#2 – Wine Tasting
While there is a great deal of art and culture to be enjoyed in Canberra, there is also plenty of wine to be drunk! Some of Australia’s top wine vineyards surround the city, making wine tasting an awesome activity while visiting Canberra!
Amazing vine yards such as Helm Wines, Brindabella Hills Winery, Pialligo Estate, and Shaw Wines are located within an easy distance of the city! Take an organized wine tour or be your own guide when exploring this region. Note that drink driving laws are strictly enforced and penalties for violation are harsh.
#3 – The National Museum of Australia
Australia has a very interesting history. If you want to explore this deeper, then a visit to the National Museum of Australia is a must! Canberra is well known for its fantastic museums, and this has got to be one of the best.
This museum has highly interesting displays on the history, geography, and culture of Australia. You will get to learn all about this country’s past, from pre-Colonial times, all the way into the present. If you are into history, or just want to discover more about Australia, then this is an important stop.
#4 – The National Botanic Gardens
Canberra has many stunning green spaces and national parks, including the impressive National Botanic Gardens. Whether you are looking to find some peace, quiet and fresh air within the city, or are looking to learn more about Australia’s fascinating plantlife, then this is the place to go!
The gardens are well looked after, and they offer visitors a brilliant look into the versatile & unique flora of the country. The gardens are great for a picnic, or just a peaceful walk amongst the many trees, wildflowers, and greenery. Bus tours are available in the garden as well.
- Head to City Walk for a spot of retail therapy and some lunch al fresco
- And for even more shopping, head to the shopping haven of Canberra Centre
- Take yourself to Commonwealth Park for a lovely waterside walk
#5 – Namadgi National Park
For those looking for a true piece of rugged Australian nature, consider visiting the Namadgi National Park. This beautiful park is only 40km outside of Canberra – offering the ideal day trip for nature lovers.
Any visit here will involve an unforgettable look into the areas birdlife, granite mountains, local creatures, and stunning natural landscape. This park sits on the Australian National Heritage List, and it is a real treasure of the Canberra region.
If you love nature and would like to see what the unspoiled Australian landscapes look like, then adding a trip to Namadgi National Park during your weekend in Canberra is a great idea!
#6 – Admire Lake Burley Griffin
Canberra is very proud of its stunning lake. Take a visit to it and you will soon see just why! Lake Burley Griffin is an artificial lake, created in the 1960s, that lies right in the middle of the city. You can visit the lake to take in some fresh air and enjoy magnificent views.
Cycling around the lake is a lot of fun and there are some great cycle paths for doing just this. You could also sail around the lake, or paddle around it in a kayak. If you are not feeling active, simply lounging along the shores. Snapping a picture of the resident swans is a great activity in Canberra!
#7 – The National Gallery of Australia
While there are plenty of interesting historical museums in Canberra, there is also some world-class art here too. The National Gallery of Australia is an art lovers paradise and is a great place to visit in Canberra this weekend.
This gallery has a brilliant collection of Aboriginal art – something that is very unique to this area. There is also plenty of modern art, as well as paintings from different areas of time. If you want to discover some of the best art in Australia and learn about art history, then this is the place to go!
#8 – National Zoo & Aquarium
Canberra is the only city in Australia that houses a combined zoo and aquarium in one. This amazing facility has all kinds of animals – from local wildlife to creatures found right across the globe.
You can even stay in a luxury safari lodge here, where you will be able to take special safari itineraries around the place. This attraction is really worthwhile for any fan of the natural world, and it is fun for the whole family! With an extensive national zoo and aquarium all in one place, you could spend ages exploring this attraction.
#9 – Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial is a special national memorial built to honor the members of Australia’s armed forces who have fought in wars involving the Commonwealth and Australia. This memorial is a symbol of national pride and is an important piece of Australian history and heritage.
The memorial itself is an impressive building, housing a variety of interesting galleries and displays. If you are interested in war history or want to learn more about Australia’s involvement in wars, then this monument is an important place to visit.
#10 – Mount Ainslie
Mount Ainslie is a peak that hovers above the city. From here you will be able to absorb some of the most magnificent panoramic views out across Canberra! Walking up here is not too difficult, and the rewards when you are at the summit are definitely worth the trip!
You can follow the well-marked path from the War Memorial all the way up to the top. This trail is called the Mount Ainslie Kokoda Summit Trail, and it has many informative signs along the way. Walking up here is interesting and beautiful, and the top certainly gives you one of the best perspectives of this stunning city!
Now that you know about all of the attractions and events Canberra has to offer, it’s nearly time to head off! Here are some commonly asked questions to note before you embark on your weekend in Canberra.
#1. What should I pack for a weekend in Canberra?
Wondering what to pack for your weekend in Canberra? Here are some must-bring essentials:
- Comfortable walking shoes: Canberra is a city with loads of activities on offer, and you will definitely be walking a great deal. Whether you plan on doing some of the famous bushwalks, or simply want to explore the museums and landmarks, having comfortable shoes will make a big difference.
- Clothes for different occasions: As there are such varied activities available in Canberra, you may need a variety of different clothes. Activities here could include hiking, cycling, swimming, or eating out at fancy restaurants and high-end cocktail bars. It’s always good to be prepared for different occasions.
- A good guide book: Canberra is a truly historic city with plenty of interesting landmarks, sights, and national treasures. Having an informative guidebook with you can really help to keep you up to date on your surroundings.
Our Australia packing list is also worth a browse.
#2. Can I get an apartment in Canberra for the weekend?
Canberra is a versatile city, with all kinds of accommodation options available. Renting an apartment for the weekend is certainly an option, and it can be a particularly good way of experiencing this city.
You could either use a site like Airbnb to find an apartment anywhere around the city. These can be found in all kinds of neighborhoods, and it can be a fun way to experience Canberra like a local. There are also plenty of great self-catering apartments available around the city center, which are almost like hotels.
If you are traveling in a large group, or just want to avoid staying in a typical hotel, then renting an apartment for your weekend in Canberra is a brilliant idea!
#3. Is Canberra safe for a weekend trip?
Traveling around Australia is extremely safe, and Canberra has got to be one of the safest destinations in this country! In fact, Canberra has actually been named as ‘Australia’s safest city’.
This city is perfectly safe to walk around both in the day and night, with crime levels remaining low. Although safety is no major concern during your weekend in Canberra, it is still important to exercise regular caution.
As with any city, be careful when walking alone or at night. Always be wary of your belongings – especially when in a crowd, and always be cautious of any potential scams or tourist traps. Other than that, traveling in Canberra is safe and secure.
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for travelers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Final Thoughts on a Great Weekend in Canberra
Canberra may not be as well known as other Australian cities, but it is certainly an amazing place for a getaway! This awesome Australian destination perfectly blends nature, peace, and quiet, with a trendy and vibrant city center.
There is plenty of culture and leisure to be enjoyed here. From the trendy bars and restaurants to the fun nights out, live music, and hip places to go. If you like adventure, then the wide range of outdoor activities and proximity to unspoiled nature also makes Canberra a dream destination!
We love traveling to Australia’s capital city, and think it deserves recognition as one of the top destinations in the country! We hope that this guide helps you to enjoy an unforgettable weekend in Canberra!
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.