Canberra is popular for a short trip from Sydney. Many people will tell you that travelling in Canberra is boring since there is nothing much to do here. Yet, I think it is an interesting escape from the busy city.
The more popular time to visit Canberra is in the autumn for beautiful foliage (similar to Arrowtown in New Zealand). But, I believe Canberra is beautiful in every season. The highlight of my trip is Lake Burley Griffin Walk (#5 below).
Ben and I stayed for 3 days for this Canberra trip. Since Ben had been living in Canberra for 4 years, he was a good tour guide for me. Ben took a 1-hour short flight from Sydney to Canberra while I took a long haul express bus which takes about 4 hours (with Murrays).
Below are some Canberra travel ideas – 7 things that you can do in Canberra at any time.
1. Get everything you need at Canberra Centre
Canberra Centre is the largest shopping mall in Canberra. Most of the shops are aggregated here, including Coles supermarket, pubs, cafes and etc. Of course, don’t spend too much time here but it is a good place for food and necessities if you are staying in Canberra.
2. Get around in the city centre by Free Bus 101
The inconvenient transportation system is a big downside of Canberra. It takes a long time to go to everywhere unless you are driving or take a taxi. If you take the public transportation, you may end up waiting a long time for the bus.
I am surprised to know about the free bus in Canberra. The bus number is 101 and operate from Monday to Friday, 7 am to 7 pm. Although the route is limited, I like that it is quick as the frequency is 10 minutes per bus! You don’t have to bring anything, just hop on and hop off the bus. It saves me a lot of time and is a good way to get around in the city centre.
Click here for more information about the Free Bus 101 from the official government website.
3. Pretend to be a student of Australian National University (ANU)
Inside the ANU’s apartment (we stayed here)
Outside our ANU’s apartment
A random area of ANU – remember it is a big university!
Australian Academy of Science – The Shine Dome
The Australian National University (ANU) is huge and beautiful. Some couples take wedding photos at this place. We stayed at ANU’s apartment which was lovely! If you visit Canberra in the holiday season in the university, it is a good idea to walk around here as the area will be very empty. Grab a book and pretend to be a student at ANU! 😂
4. Walking Track from Australian War Memorial to Mt Ainslie
Kokoda Walking Track: the starting point is Remembrance Nature Park facing the back of Australian War Memorial (GPS location: -35.279779,149.151197). It will take you to the top of Mt Ainslie in the end. It was a steep walk but takes only 1 hour for a return journey. To be honest, I am a bit disappointed as the view from the top is not as beautiful as I expected. Still, it is a perfect spot to get a full of Canberra city so is worth a visit if you have extra time.
Alternatively, you can drive to the Mt Ainslie Summit via Mount Ainslie Summit Road.
After the walk, I visited Australian War Memorial which is the finishing/ starting point of the Kokoda Walking Track.
The Australian War Memorial is impressive and if you love history, you will love this place. The best thing is that the entrance fee is free!
5. Lake Burley Griffin Walk 👍🏻⭐️
Lake Burley Griffin in the winter
Rainbow in Lake Burley Griffin
Taking a selfie with the lake
National Capital Exhibition
The Captain Cook Memorial Globe
National Library of Australia – it is surrounded by gardens/parks!
The Lake Burley Griffin Walk is the highlight of my Canberra travel!!
Lake Burley Griffin is beautiful. When you walk along the lake, you can enjoy the stunning view in different gardens/ parks, and then you will also pass by many attractions such as National Capital Exhibition, Blundells Cottage, National Gallery, National Library and Old Parliament House. The best thing is, they are all free to enter!
Interesting fact: Lake Burley Griffin is an artificial lake.
Below is the route (in RED) that I recommend
Click on the image to enlarge
Distance: about 8km (2 hours). I took 6 hours for the walk because I visited the national capital exhibition and gallery as well as had a relaxing lunch.
Grade: Easy to walk. Flat loop walk.
Attractions that you’ll pass by: National Capital Exhibition, the Captain Cook Memorial Globe & Jet, Blundells Cottage, National Carillon (in Aspen Island), National Gallery, Old Parliament House, National Library.
You can’t visit all attractions in one day, so just pick some that you really want to see.
Gardens or parks that you’ll see: Commonwealth Park, King’s Park, Grevillea Park (in BLUE text in the photo above – strongly recommended as it is much quieter than the other parks), National Rose Garden, Patrick White Terrace.
6. Eat hot and spicy food
Having our dinner at Spicy Ginger Restaurant
Since Canberra is always cold (except in the mid summer), it is exciting to eat hot and spicy food here. We had our very spicy dinner at Spicy Ginger Restaurant in the University area, but they are plenty of restaurants at Canberra Centre so you won’t run out of places to eat.
7. Appreciate the peace
Canberra is the capital of Australia and has a small population. The first impression of this city may be depression since it is cold and you can hardly see anyone here. But, it is an ideal place to slow down your pace.
Instead of putting many items in your itinerary, it is best to do only a few things (or not doing anything) but spend more time appreciating them. For example, usually I won’t visit art gallery but I spent some time at National Art Gallery in Canberra, and I quite enjoyed it. Sometimes, I also sat on the bench and listened to music. It was peaceful.
Canberra in a Nutshell ❤️
If you prefer a busy and lively city, then you should skip Canberra. Otherwise, it is a good idea to do a short trip to Canberra (probably 1-2 days).
I like Canberra. It is not a popular travel destination but I think it is a great place to live because (1) it is quiet and peaceful, (2) no traffic on the road, (3) yet you can shop everything you want at Canberra Centre, (4) overall is a nice, safe and clean city to live in.
We arrived here in the late June (winter), still, we can see the foliage, green trees and winter trees. I feel as if I am seeing four seasons at the same time. This city is a bit depressed yet I can feel its passion and faith. So, I have a nickname for Canberra – The Emo City.