Canberra, the unassuming capital of Australia, packs a punch. While you might think of Canberra as a synonym for the Federal Government, the truth is, it's a vibrant and progressive city. Despite its size, it's simply bursting with award-winning restaurants, world-class art museums, and has an abundance of natural beauty right at its doorstep. Canberra might not be at the top of your list of places to visit, but it should be! There's something in the city for everyone, from gourmands to art lovers, history buffs, and families travelling with kids. Last year Lonely Planet even ranked this city in third place on its "Top 10 Cities to Visit" list. That's of all the cities in the world, by the way.
You can fly directly to Canberra from every capital city in Australia, excluding Darwin, with Qantas, Virgin, and Tiger airlines. Flights departing from Darwin and other regional hubs generally fly via Sydney or Melbourne. Tiger Air offers the most competitive airfares, followed by Virgin Australia. Fly directly to Canberra with the following Airlines:-
Canberra Airport is located only 7km from the city centre. There are a couple of transfer options available:
Taxi: Taxis are readily available at the airport. Fares into the city are about $25, and it's about a 15-minute trip.
Rideshare: Uber, Ola, SHEBAH, Glide taxi, and GoCatch all service the airport and city. Fares are about $19-25, and the journey should take about 15-minutes.
Bus: The ACTION bus services the airport from 6 am to 6 pm. Fares are $5 for adults, and it takes about 20 minutes to reach downtown Canberra.
Rental Car: Canberra airport has several car rental companies operating from the arrivals terminal. While it's always best to book ahead, same-day rentals are also available.
Car: Getting around Canberra by car couldn't be easier. There's plenty of parking, and very little congestion, making renting a car a great option, even if it's just for the day. Having your own means of transport allows flexibility that public transport can't offer.
Free Shuttle: The Culture Loop Bus is a free bus that operates between Canberra's main attractions, including Parliament House, Questacon, and the National Museum of Australia. Take advantage of this free service when you visit these attractions.
Public Transport: Transport Canberra has an extensive network of buses and light rail, that can get you where you need to go. You can buy a daily pass ticket for $9.60 that will give you unlimited use of public transport for the day.
Parliament House: It wouldn't be a trip to Australia's Captial without seeing democracy in action at Australia's Parliament House. Visitors are welcome whether parliament is sitting that day or not. There's plenty to see in this iconic building, from the massive tapestry in the Great Hall, to the 1297 edition of the Magna Carta, to the portraits of former prime ministers in the Members Hall. Make sure you check out the panoramic view of the perfectly planned city from the rooftop. While you're up there, you can also see an Australian flag the size of a double-decker bus!
National Gallery of Australia: This world-class art gallery features artworks from some of the most iconic artists, past and present. From Australian icon, Sidney Nolan's 'Ned Kelly' series, to Monet's 'Water Lilies', you could easily spend hours here perusing the vast exhibitions. Don't miss James Turrell's immersive 'Skyspace' in the outdoor sculpture garden, best experienced at dusk or dawn.
Questacon: This fun science museum is a must for anyone travelling with kids. Questacon makes learning about science fun, with heaps of interactive exhibits, such as an earthquake simulation and a giant life-like model of the moon. Don't miss the thrilling 6-metre free-fall slide, in the 'Excite @ Q' exhibition, where you can safely experience a moment of weightlessness, followed by a rush of adrenaline.
The Cupping Room: Start your day off right, with Canberra's best coffee. With an award-winning barista behind the counter, you'd be pressed to find a better brew in Canberra. To go with your coffee, there's a mouthwatering selection of food. You'll find the breakfast menu classics along with innovative seasonal dishes, such as cheese and corn fritters topped with a fried egg.
Aubergine: This award-winning restaurant is a must for Michelan star-style fine dining. It's an intimate space, with elegant, yet simple decor that allows the food to be the main feature. The menu, which changes daily, focuses on fresh and seasonal produce. The wine list is also impressive; you can choose from over 500 labels. Better yet, allow the restaurant to pair the wine with the food. A four-course meal with wine pairings will set you back $165 per person, but it's worth every bite.