Canberra is the capital of Australia. Because of this great designation, there are a lot of government building and museums worth checking out. While outdoor fun may not be as much of a priority on the coastal cities, the coffee shops and cuisine are the real deal in this big city. Be sure to look for all the locally roasted coffee brands, and check out the eco-friendly restaurants who want to sustain the Earth and your belly. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.

1.Australian War Memorial

Australian War Memorial
© Dan Breckwoldt/

Minutes from the city center of Canberra is the Australian War Memorial. Though free to enter, there are some restrictions for those carrying in bags and other traveling gear. The memory of fallen soldiers is the focus of the War Memorial, which can often be eclipsed by large statues and murals depicting nameless soldiers. The first thing you’ll see entering the memorial is the reflecting pool Commemorative Courtyard. Here, the Roll of Honour names some 102,000 members who lost their lives during service. Only after passing the names, dotted by a field of poppies, will you come to the Hall of Memory with the unknown soldier. Once passed, the visit to the museum begins, where your family learns all about Australia’s military history.

Treloar Cres, Campbell ACT 2612, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-43-42-11

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2.Balloon Aloft Canberra

Balloon Aloft Canberra
© katacarix/

Fly high above Australia’s capital city with a hot air balloon ride. With over 30 years of service, Balloon Aloft Canberra provides flights with CASA approved pilots. When you sign up for a balloon ride, you’ll meet approximately 30 minutes before sunrise, that way you can take in the sunrise and the soft light as it splays across the city. These rides are typically about an hour. Afterward, you’ll celebrate with a champagne toast at the Hyatt Hotel. If you purchase it with your ticket, a buffet breakfast is also available at the Hyatt.

19 Kallaroo Rd, Pialligo ACT 2609, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-49-86-60

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3.Australian Parliament House

Australian Parliament House
© Phillip Minnis/

When visiting another country, it’s always fascinating to see how their government works. Australian Parliament House is where the senators and members meet to pass legislation. Its design is truly Australian, reminiscent of a boomerang and built directly into Capital Hill. Open 364 days of the year, you’ll have an excellent chance at seeing some of the bills currently debated by the House and sit in on Question Time. Besides watching democracy in play, you can also check out the 6,000 pieces of artwork and artifacts on display throughout Parliament House.

Parlaiment Dr, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia

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4.Booroomba Rocks

Booroomba Rocks
© doidam10/

You’d never guess it once you’re out on Booroomba Rocks looking out across a vast openness of cliffs, forests, and Australian bush – you’re only 2.5 kilometers away from the parking lot and civilization. Anyone of nearly all fitness levels can enjoy the steep incline up the mountainside to see the beautiful views looking out over the granite cliffs. For the more adventurous and fit, consider the longer 10.5-kilometer trail that takes you down through the bush. At the Namadgi National Park Visitors Center, you can gear up and prepare for your hike with some drinks and snacks.

Tennent ACT 2620, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-07-29-00

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© Questacon

Questacon National Science and Technology Centre is a great stop for the whole family. Besides a souvenir shop and café for treats, parents and kids will booth adore all Questacon has to teach. Learn how the Earth moves and works with Awesome Earth, where you can experience an earthquake in person. Then head over to the Shed to get inventive. Once you’ve tinkered and possibly built something, your next bet is the Exicte@Q, where both body and mind are tested with an 18-foot free-fall slide, and a balance-bending Rototron, which uses LED lights to make your center of balance feel out of whack.

King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-70-28-00

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6.National Gallery of Australia

National Gallery of Australia
© Rafael Ben-Ari/

The National Gallery of Australia is not kidding when it calls itself National: it houses over 166,000 pieces and is possibly the largest art museum in Australia. Along with work by Australian painter Hugh Ramsay, plenty of famous art is available to view, such as Warhol, Picasso, Lichtenstein, Monet, and Matisse. Outdoors holds as much art as inside with giant sculptures that can only be housed somewhere as large as Mother Nature’s backyard. Perhaps most important to Australia is the Indigenous art of the Aboriginal tribes. Discover textiles, drawings, desert paintings, and tribal objects that all showcase the beauty of the Australian Indigenous peoples.

Parkes PI E, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-40-64-11

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7.Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin
© Phillip Minnis/

The center of Canberra is Lake Burley Griffin, a beautiful cool blue jewel in the center of a bustling city. This lake is used by locals and visitors whenever they want to get some water activities on their agenda. At about 12-feet deep, this 6.64-square km lake is a great place to stop for a swim, a picnic, or some paddleboarding. Three great beaches are tested weekly for safe water conditions: Yarralumla Beach, Weston Park East, and Black Mountain Beach. Visitors also spend time fishing and boating the lake. It’s always a great option to try something new when on vacation, so maybe dragon boating could be your adventure?

Acton, ACT, Australia, Phone: 13-00-55-41-14

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8.Namadgi National Park

Namadgi National Park
© Jonathan/

Taking an adventure out into the Aboriginal homesteads can really boost your vacation’s cultural aspect. Out in the bush, you can camp, picnic, and watch for wildlife. Seriously, watch out for wildlife when camping, and rent a Personal Locator Beacon from the Visitor Centre if you plan on going out on your own. If you just feel like a simpler trek, take a walk through the Bendora Arboretum or take a guided tour through the Bimberi wilderness. Better yet, consider horseback riding through the landscape on the fire trails. Along your adventures, you’ll come across some old huts and homesteads built by settlers over the years.

Paddys River ACT 2620, Australia, Phone: 13-22-81

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9.National Museum of Australia

National Museum of Australia
© Ina van Hateren/

There are over 210,000 objects housed in the National Museum of Australia that showcase Australia’s history and cultures. Though general admission is free, you may find that special visiting exhibits incur a cost. The three permanent exhibits at the National Museum cover the First Australian, Landmarks, and Old New Land. The First Australians look at the Aborigines and the objects that they used throughout time, while Landmarks looks at important pieces of history when the British colonies established Australia for what we see today. Finally, the Old New Land exhibit looks at how people and Australia’s ecology have developed the land and culture over time.

Lawson Crescent, Acton ACT 2601, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-08-50-00

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10.Australia National Botanic Gardens

Australia National Botanic Gardens
© Liz Jakimow/

To check out the largest collection of native plants, visit Australia National Botanic Gardens. There are at least 1.2 million specimens throughout, so plan to spend plenty of time check out all the plants in the gardens and herbarium. Throughout the year, the Botanic Gardens provides guided walks through the community and gardens, such as the Threatened Species Day walk and Wake up with the Birds Birdwatching in the garden. Beyond tours, plant sales, storytime, grandparents’ playtime, and special talks are held. If you’re feeling up to making a day of it, check out the café and bookshop or splurge at the Jindii EcoSpa.

Clunies Ross St, Acton ACT 2601, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-50-95-88

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11.The Sculpture Garden Restaurant

The Sculpture Garden Restaurant
© Fxquadro/

The Sculpture Garden Restaurant can be found at the National Gallery of Australia. This fine-dining restaurant is a great counterpart to the cafes inside the museum. Out behind the museum, overlooking a pond filled with statue heads and plant life is the Sculpture Garden Restaurant. The menu is prix fixe, meaning that a set number of courses are offered. While some restaurants only provide a set menu, the Sculpture Garden does often offer two choices to select from. The restaurant is often used for parties and weddings, but they do offer breakfast and lunch regularly.

Parkes Place, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-40-64-11

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© Boffins

Located at University House at the Australian National University is a unique eatery called Boffins. They are dedicated to minimalizing their eco-footprint while providing delicious food to patrons. Boffins uses only local and seasonal ingredients, working closely with local farmers and fisherman. The menu could change day-to-day depending on the ingredient offerings that come in. If you’re uncertain what would be best to try, consider choosing the “FEED ME” experience, where the chef creates two small dishes, two large dishes, and a dessert for the table. Boffins also offers wine flights, where you can sample several wines for one low price.

1 Balmain Crescent, Acton ACT 2601, Australia, Phone: 61-2-61-25-52-11

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© Eightysix

Anywhere you can get ice cream topped with caramel popcorn is a restaurant worth trying. At Eightysix, caramel popcorn seems to be a trend, as it can be purchased separately, as a sundae, or topped on French toast. There are so many exceptional dishes at Eightysix that you could find something new to try each time you visited. Consider the chicken with tomato confit or the fois gras with mandarin oranges as a fun meal for foodies. The pappardelle with braised oxtail is simply decadent. The desserts at Eightysix are something that customers rave about, so be sure to leave room to try the banoffee pie or chocolate souffle.

Lonsdale St & Eloura St, Braddon ACT 2612, Australia, Phone: 61-2-61-61-86-86

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14.Queen’s Terrace Cafe

Queen’s Terrace Cafe
© nd3000/

Situated at Parliament House, Queen’s Terrace Café is a one-stop-shop for delicious food, drinks, and a la carte options. You never know who you may see at Queen’s Terrace Café while House is in session. While you may not want to bother the politicians that have stopped in for a snack, you still may want to enjoy a tea beside them, looking out at Canberra from Capital Hill. Queen’s Terrace Café often holds events, like an afternoon tea, and caters Parliament House events, so there you know the food is high quality and expertly made.

Parliament Dr, Capital Hill ACT 2600, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-77-52-39

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15.Courgette Restaurant

Courgette Restaurant
© Courgette Restaurant

High-end eating was never so comfortable as it is at Courgette Restaurant. Chef James Mussillon wants his guests to enjoy their eating experience like artwork. Comfortable, cushioned chairs are found throughout the restaurant and meeting rooms. Mussillon then uses local, seasonal ingredients to create his menu. He believes food is an art form, and the tools to create the meal is the sauce, glaze, and foam. Whether you stop for lunch or dinner, you’ll find an extravagant 3- or 4-course meal with offerings in each course. Each dish is so elegantly described on the menu, you’ll have a hard time choosing between them.

54 Marcus Clarke St, Canberra City ACT 2601, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-47-40-42

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16.Sage Dining Rooms

Sage Dining Rooms
© Sage Dining Rooms

Sage Dining Rooms is farm to table dining at its best. In fact, Sage Dining uses the phrase “paddock to plate” since it raises and grows as much of its produce and livestock as possible. Sage Farm, located just a moment away from the restaurant, is home to 100 cattle and Suffolk sheep. While chicken, pigs, and fish will soon be a part of the landscape. Customers are urged to see how urban farming can bring out eco-friendly dining and a small footprint. Similar to many fine dining restaurants in Australia, there is a 3-course fixed prix menu.

Gorman House Arts Centre, Batman St, Braddon ACT 2612, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-49-60-50

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© Tomasz Zajda/

Twinkling lights and white table cloths make Rubicon an elegant, intimate setting for anyone who dines there. A head sommelier has selected local and international wines to complement each menu item. Should you need help deciding which wine you’d like to try, he is there to help. Oysters have a spot on the menu, cooked several ways to your liking. Starters and desserts are always fun to peruse, but the main entrees capture your interest. Consider the ricotta gnocchi with pumpkin, zucchini, basil, tomato confit, and safe butter; or check out the coffee-rubbed lamb rump.

6A Barker St, Griffith ACT 2603, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-95-99-19

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18.Lonsdale Street Roasters 7

Lonsdale Street Roasters 7
© Lonsdale Street Roasters 7

Coffee is typically a staple in every household. When visiting a new country, you’ll often want to try their local coffeehouse to see what their style is like. Londsdale Street Roasters is quite popular in Australia, and it is severed at many restaurants and locations. Lonsdale uses infrared technology to roast the beans, giving roasters complete control over the temperature and airflow needed to provide the best coffee possible. Coffees are often named after pop culture references, like the Johnny Cash or moonshine blends. You’ll want to try all flavors if possible, including their new cold brew coffee offerings.

23 Lonsdale St, Braddon ACT 2612, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-47-98-82

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19.The Cupping Room

The Cupping Room
© The Cupping Room

The Cupping Room is another coffee shop that must be visited when in Canberra. Not only do they serve coffee designed beautifully with steamed milk, but they serve delicious seasonal food as well. The Cupping Room uses coffee from Ona Coffee, one of Australia’s top roasters. Though the food, dishes like fig and hazelnut toast with ricotta and maple, are mouthwatering, it’s the drinks that keep guests coming back. Along with coffee blends, they also serve wines, cider, teas, smoothies, and beer. The milkshake offerings are the most unique, with flavors like salted caramel & popcorn and blueberry, white chocolate, & rose.

1/1-13 University Ave, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-57-64-12

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20.Two Before Ten

Two Before Ten
© Two Before Ten

Coffee is huge in Australia, and this is clear just on the number of roasters in the community. But competition is fierce and keeps roasters working at their hardest to provide excellent beans for those in need of java. At Two Before Ten, they roast coffee beans at the Aranda shops, leaving an intoxicating smell through the air each day. These coffees are roasted with slow drip and enjoyment in mind, though they can be ground for any brewing machine. Try the Atlas Blend, an environmentally sustainable roast with hints of dark chocolate, or the Juggernaut Blend (which is jokingly called the goldilocks blend due to its perfect balance).

68 Banjalong Crescent, Aranda ACT 2614, Australia, Phone: 61-2-61-62-12-60

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21.Silo Bakery

Silo Bakery
© Silo Bakery

Most bakeries offer delightful baked goods for purchase to take home. Silo Bakery is also a café, cooking up delicious food on their baked goods. Breakfast begins serving at seven a.m., and the dishes are local delights with a twist. Hungry for some muesli (rolled oats and barley steeped in milk), porridge two ways (with raspberry, honey, and lavender yogurt or chocolate, coconut, and almonds), or toad in the hole (with chili red wine sausages)? If you prefer to stop in at lunch, check out the in-house pasta dishes, salads, or pizzas. When you’re ready to go, be sure to take home so bread or a tart for a snack later on.

36 Giles St, Kingston ACT 2604, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-60-60-60

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22.Ona Coffee

Ona Coffee
© Ona Coffee

Mentioned before, Ona Coffee is one of the coffee roaster staples in Australia. Ona is dedicated to finding the perfect cup of coffee, all while maintaining an ethical, sustainable coffee roaster. They work with Project Origin to make sure that the beans they get are ethically traded by producers in some of the best coffee countries. Along with popular blends like Black Betty, The Hitman, and The Founder, flavored coffees can be purchased, such as toffee apple or raspberry candy. If you’re feeling educational, book ahead for one of their barista classes to learn how to brew the best coffee possible.

68 Wollongong St, Fyshwick ACT 2603, Australia, Phone: 61-2-61-62-33-20

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23.Harvest Coffee

Harvest Coffee
© Harvest Coffee

Harvest Coffee focuses on coffee as if it were the only menu item in the world. Harvest sells pastries, but these are to complement the coffee you order. The main goal of Harvest is to provide coffee as you’ve never had before. They look for new, innovative ways to bring coffee to your table, whether through forced pressure, pour-over, drip, cold brew, or any new method. Don’t be surprised when you see some strange machinery behind the counter waiting to be used, but don’t be afraid to sample that new creation as well. It may just be what you need.

40 Marcus Clarke St, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia, Phone: 61-4-33-35-80-24

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24.Two Hands Cafe

Two Hands Cafe
© Two Hands Cafe

Two Hands Café offers coffee from two different roasters in their drinks. The food is promised with no pomp and circumstance, just flavor. While the food is all locally grown or made and beautiful in its own right, elegant meals are not what the customers who eat at Two Hands want – it’s the delicious food. Homemade granola or a smoked salmon toast make for a great breakfast, but a lunch of burgers, wraps, and sandwiches will keep you wanting more. A favorite is the BBC Burger (no burger included) with bacon, brie, herb aioli, tomato, and lettuce on a grilled chicken breast. Yum.

3/30 Lyell St, Canberra ACT 2609, Australia, Phone: 61-2-62-80-44-74

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24 Best Things to Do in Canberra, Australia

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