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Crammed with cultural treasures, Canberra, in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory), is the carefully crafted capital of Australia. It's no accident that the city lies between Sydney and Melbourne. The site of the capital was chosen as a compromise between these two rival cities in 1908. American architects, Walter Burley Griffin and his wife, Marion Mahony Griffin, won an international competition for the city's design, which incorporates vast greenbelts and geometric shapes.

Lake Burley Griffin, at the city's center, is its sparkling jewel and many of the city's top tourist attractions lie on its shores, including the National Gallery of Australia, Questacon, and the National Library. The parliament buildings as well as some of the city's other main attractions lie within the Parliamentary Triangle formed by Kings Avenue, Commonwealth Avenue, and Lake Burley Griffin. The city's streets are laid out on a generous scale, with many flanked by gardens.

Australians love to hate their capital, dismissing it as lacking in soul and being filled with self-serving politicians and petty bureaucrats. Don't let them put you off. Canberra is a wonderfully green little city, with a lively and sophisticated dining and bar scene, interesting architecture and a smorgasbord of major institutions to keep even the most avid culture vulture engrossed for days on end.

Canberra features expansive open spaces, broad boulevards, aesthetics influenced by the 19th-century Arts and Crafts Movement, and a seamless alignment of built and natural elements.

During parliamentary sitting weeks the city hums with the buzz of national politics, but it can be a tad sleepy during university holidays, especially around Christmas and New Year.

  1. Australian War Memorial -Inaugurated in the middle of WWII, the massive Byzantine-style monument commemorating Australia's war fatalities is Canberra's most poignant attraction. More than just a War Memorial, the site combines an excellent museum, archives, art gallery, and library. The Commemorative Courtyard at the entrance to the memorial is a haunting introduction. Inscribed in bronze on the walls of the colonnades are the names of every Australian who has died in war since 1885, and the length of the list is spine chilling.The exhibits are constantly evolving, but highlights include the collection of old aircraft and the child-friendly Discovery Zone packed with interactive displays
  2. New Parliament House - The final fulfillment of architect Walter Burley Griffin's vision for Canberra in 1912, New Parliament House is a marvel of modern architecture. The boomerang-shaped structure nestles comfortably into Capital Hill and was designed to replace the Provisional Parliament House at the base of the hill, now known as Old Parliament House. From the expansive grassed walkway, which forms the roof, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Canberra and see how Parliament forms the central focus of the city's street layout. From the gallery running round the first floor, visitors can gain admission to the public galleries of the green-hued House of Representatives and the Senate, traditionally dressed in red. A visit during sitting times is a great way to view first-hand how parliament functions, and the free guided tours offer fascinating details about the building.
  3. Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House - Old Parliament House is now home to the Museum of Australian Democracy. Opened by the Duke of York (later King George VI) in 1927, the building is designed in the "stripped classical" style and was occupied by the Australian Parliament until 1988 when New Parliament House was officially opened. In the museum, visitors can learn about past Australian Prime Ministers; sit in the old Prime Minister's Office, a relatively humble affair; visit the Press Room; and read important historic documents.
  4. Lake Burley Griffin - Beautiful Lake Burley Griffin is the centerpiece of Canberra. Named for the city's architect, this artificial lake was included in his original plan of 1912, but didn't come to fruition until 1958. Tourists and locals alike come here to bike and stroll along the waterfront paths, picnic along its park-fringed shores, and fish, sail, or paddle the glistening waters. Six islands lie at its center, the largest of which is Aspen Island, home to the National Carillon, a gift from the British government with 55 bronze bells.
  5. National Gallery of Australia - On the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, the National Gallery of Australia contains Australia's largest collection of art. The cubic concrete structure was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in October 1982 and consists of 11 main galleries on three levels as well as a large sculpture garden laid out according to the four seasons. The purchase of the extensive collection began in 1968 and includes works from Australia, Asia, Europe, America, and the Pacific, as well as the largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in the world.
  6. National Portrait Gallery of Australia - displays some 400 portraits of the nation's most influential people. Visitors can easily spend an hour or two coming face to face with Australia's movers and shakers, brought to life through paintings, photography, and sculpture. Multimedia presentations divulge fascinating details about the lives of the people who helped shape the nation.
  7. National Library of Australia - is a treasure trove of Australian books, manuscripts, newspapers, historic documents, oral history, music, and pictures. Its most valuable possessions are Captain Cook's journal (1768-71) and Wills' diary of his expedition with Burke in 1860-61. Architecturally, the building is a dramatic contrast from the National Gallery and High Court. Built in the style of a Greek temple, its classical effect is underscored by the lavish use of marble and travertine on the columns and walls, and marble from Greece, Italy, and Australia used in the decoration of the interior.
  8. Questacon, National Science and Technology Centre - Questacon is an interactive National Science and Technology Centre opened in 1988. Parents and children alike will enjoy the interactive science displays and do-it-yourself experiments designed to delight and inspire. The exhibits seek to promote understanding of the importance of science and technology in everyday life. Science shows, special events, and guest lectures complement the 200 hands-on exhibits.
  9. Mount Ainslie Lookout - To really appreciate the layout of this carefully planned capital, head to the lookout of 843 m Mount Ainslie, one of the city's most popular vantage points. A well-paved walking/biking trail winds for just over 2 km from the rear of the Australian War Memorial. Along the way, visitors can pause at the commemorative plaques to learn about historic Australian battles. The less energetic can drive up to the lookout. Thanks to Walter Burley Griffin's vision, the lookout aligns perfectly with Anzac Parade, Lake Burley Griffin, Old Parliament House, and, in the background, the sleek lines of New Parliament House.
  10. Australian National Botanic Gardens- About a kilometer west of the city center, the 50-hectare National Botanic Gardens are spread across the slopes of Black Mountain. In the carefully tended collections, visitors can admire representatives of all the important species of Australian flora. The Rain Forest Gully is particularly impressive. Look for water dragons among the lush foliage.
  11. National Zoo and Aquarium - Australia's only combined zoo and aquarium, this privately owned venture is a hit with families and anyone who loves animals. The National Aquarium displays a wide range of marine life, from the tiny denizens of the reefs to huge sharks. In the neighboring zoo, visitors can view all the important species of Australian fauna as well as exotic species as such as lions, tigers, cheetahs, bears, and more. The animal encounters are extremely popular and allow visitors to go behind the scenes and interact with cheetah, giraffes, sun bears, and red pandas, among other creatures.
  12. National Museum of Australia - On a peninsular jutting into Lake Burley Griffin, the National Museum of Australia spotlights the nation's social history in a contemporary space with beautiful lake views. The building itself is a work of art. Inspired by a jigsaw it was intended to underscore the interconnected stories that helped shape the nation. A major theme of the exhibits is the cultural history of the Aborigines.
  13. National Carillon- On Aspen Island in Lake Burley Griffin, the white Carillon Tower was a gift from the British government on Canberra's 50th birthday in 1963. The 50 m tower incorporates three sleek columns clad in opal chip and quartz. Within the towers are 55 bronze bells ranging from 7 kg to 6 metric tons. Visitors can bring a picnic and relax on the surrounding lawns. Better still, visit during a recital when the music of the bells wafts across the lake. The tower looks especially beautiful when it's lit at night.
  14. Black Mountain Nature Park - Black Mountain Nature Park, to the west of the city center, is a great wilderness experience to combine with a visit to the adjacent Australian National Botanic Gardens. Walking trails wind through the bushland where hikers can see many species of native birds and other wildlife. Black Mountain Tower (formerly the Telstra Tower) provides panoramic views of the city.
  1. TemporadaRestaurant - Smart, modern eatery eatery with wood-panelled decor, making produce-driven tapas and share plates.

Address: 15 Moore St, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. Phone:+61 2 6249 6683

  1. Akiba - Pan-Asian Restaurant

Creative dishes with pan-Asian flavours in a modern venue with steel and recycled wood finishes.

Address: 40 Bunda St, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. Phone:+61 2 6162 0602

  1. Lanterne Rooms - Asian Restaurant

Airy restaurant with dark wood tones and slatted partitions, for inventive Southeast Asian dishes.

Address: 3 Blamey Pl, Campbell ACT 2612, Australia. Phone:+61 2 6249 6889

  1. Courgette Restaurant- Modern Australian Restaurant

Contemporary space overlooking a walled garden, for Modern European dining and fine wines.

Address: 54 Marcus Clarke St, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. Phone:+61 2 6247 4042

  1. Les Bistronomes–Bistro

French cuisine served in a relaxed, exposed-brick bistro with plush striped chairs and a courtyard.

Address: Braddon ACT, Australia. Phone:+61 2 6248 8119

  1. BAKER – Restaurant

Seasonal dishes, plus homemade bread, in an edgy setting with distressed walls and an open kitchen.

Address: 15 Edinburgh Ave, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. Phone:+61 2 6287 6150

  1. Hippo Co - Cocktail Bar
    Lodge-style joint with exposed brick, wood and taxidermy decor, for cocktails, whisky and live jazz.

Address: 1/17 Garema Pl, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. Phone:+61 2 6247 7555

  1. Honkytonks – Bar

Tex-Mex mains and snacks in a funky, laid-back bar with outdoor seats and craft beers on tap.

Address: 17 Garema Pl, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. Phone:+61 2 6262 6968

  1. White Rabbit Cocktail Room - Cocktail Bar

Glamorous cocktail and tapas venue with polished floors and patterned wallpaper, hosting DJ nights.

Address: 65 Northbourne Ave, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. Phone:+61 2 6257 7779

  1. Wig & Pen – Brewery

Address: Llewellyn Hall, William Herbert Pl, Canberra ACT 2601. Phone:+61 2 6248 0171

The bus system in Canberra is one of the best in Australia. With minimal traffic on the road buses are almost always on time. During the week buses are very frequent to most locations and even on weekends enough buses run to make getting to anywhere in Canberra easy.

The bus services are based around four town centre bus interchanges - City, Woden, Tuggeranong and Belconnen. The 300 series runs every 10 or so minutes from Belconnen to Tuggeranong.

Almost all attractions in Canberra are serviced by a bus route. While buses are not the quickest method of travel unless you have a car the only other public transport option will be taxis.

The bus is also a cheap option of travel. At only $3 (adult) for any single trip (with a 90 minutes tansfer option at no extra charge) travelling from one end of the ACT to the other is very economical. For very short trips it can be more economical to just walk.

  1. Australian War Memorial

Address: Treloar Crescent (top of ANZAC Parade), Campbell . Phone: +61 2 6243 4211

  1. New Parliament House

Address: Parliament House, Canberra Phone: +61 2 6277 7111

  1. Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House

Address: 18 King George Terrace, Parkes Phone: +61 2 6270 8222

  1. Lake Burley Griffin. Address: Canberra,Australia
  2. National Gallery of Australia. Address: Parkes Place, Parkes Phone: +61 2 6240 6411
  3. National Portrait Gallery of Australia.

Address: King Edward Terrace, Parkes Phone: +61 2 6102 7000

  1. National Library of Australia. Address: Parkes Place, Parkes Phone: +61 2 6262 1111
  2. Questacon, National Science and Technology Centre

Address: King Edward Terrace, Parkes Phone: +61 2 6270 2800

  1. Mount Ainslie Lookout - Address: Mount Ainslie Drive, Canberra Phone: +61 13 22 81
  2. Australian National Botanic Gardens

Address: Clunies Ross Street, Acton Phone: +61 2 6250 9588

  1. National Zoo and Aquarium

Address: 999 Lady Denman Drive, Western Creek, Yarralumla. Phone: +61 2 6287 8400   

  1. National Museum of Australia

Address: Lawson Crescent, Acton Peninsula Phone: +61 2 6208 5000       

  1. National Carillon - Address: Wendouree Dr, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia Phone:+61 2 6257 1068

14 Black Mountain Nature Park - Address: Black Mountain Drive, Acton

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