A sprawling urban farm, a covert bar and sunrise with a mob of kangaroos – the unexpected awaits in Australia’s vibrant capital. Discover the most surprising things to do in Canberra that only insiders know about.
Savour riesling at Rizla
The Canberra wine district makes some of the finest riesling in Australia yet many of the best producers don’t have cellar doors. But fret not: CBD wine bar Rizla devotes itself almost exclusively to the clean and crisp varietal. The list changes often but look for top local labels such as Helm, Sholto and Lark Hill. And order the scallop ceviche with micro-herbs – it’s a deliciously rich and smooth counterpart to the bright white.
Power lunch at Pialligo Estate
This 22-hectare working farm on the outskirts of the city has everything – abundant veggie gardens and an orchard, a fully stocked farmgate shop and views of Parliament House from the front tables at its elegant Pavilion Dining restaurant. Plus, if you happen to be there on the right day, you could find yourself lunching alongside politicians and visiting dignitaries who often hire the private marquee by the main dining area. Tip: If duck, ham or bacon from the on-site smokehouse are on the menu, order them.
Hike from flower to tower
Locals love hiking to the top of Black Mountain, one of the best places to see the whole city. Begin the 5.4-kilometre round trip at the visitor’s centre in the Australian National Botanic Gardens to warm up with a 10-minute meander through beds of cultivated wildflowers before you reach the scribbly gums and stringybarks that line the mountain path itself. As you trek to the summit, look out for wallabies, cockatoos and galahs.
Where to stay: Ovolo Nishi
Canberra’s metamorphosis is encapsulated by Ovolo Nishi, a design-driven standout in the capital’s hotel scene. Housed in the acclaimed Japanese-inspired Nishi building, its well-deserved status as a destination in itself is boosted by its acclaimed Monster Kitchen & Bar.
STAY two nights in an Snug Sun Room from $379 for two adults.¹⁵ Includes breakfast daily, minibar, daily sundowner, complimentary bike hire, welcome gift and late check-out.
EARN from 2,274 Qantas Points.² Book now.
Behold Botticelli at the National Gallery of Australia
In possibly the most eagerly anticipated international art exhibition of the year, 60 European masterpieces, spanning more than 500 years, from the National Gallery in London – including Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Rembrandt’s Self Portrait at the Age of 34 – will have a new, temporary home in the capital from 5 March. Tickets will go fast – the works will only be in Australia until June.
Sip cocktails at a secret bar
You’ll polish your orienteering skills discovering the location of Molly, a tiny speakeasy in the CBD, because your only clue is the map coordinates on the bar’s website. The whisky cocktails are among the best in the city and while weekends draw the crowds, a great night to visit is Tuesday for the live jazz.
See the sunrise with a roo
Despite the persistent myth, kangaroos don’t usually bound around Australia’s cities – unless, that is, you’re in Canberra and know where to look. A mob of eastern greys likes to lope to the edge of Lake Burley Griffin for a drink, particularly first thing in the morning. The prime place to spot them is Weston Park at the Yarralumla end of the lake as the sun appears on the horizon.
Find next-level cuisine
A suburban shopping strip isn’t usually where you’d find some of the most exciting cooking in the country but that’s the case at Pilot Restaurant + Bar in Ainslie. The Sunday lunch set menu is one of the most inventive in Canberra, serving up five courses that may include a roast chook sandwich redux or a twist on 1980s dinner party dessert Viennetta.
Where to stay: Hyatt Canberra – A Park Hyatt Hotel
Lovers of heritage luxury will adore the Art Deco-era Hyatt Canberra – A Park Hyatt Hotel, perfectly positioned for a morning walk around Lake Burley Griffin and handy to the National Portrait Gallery.
FLY + STAY two nights in a Courtyard View Room from $1,220 for two adults.¹⁴ Includes complimentary upgrade, breakfast daily, a bottle of wine on arrival, plus late check-out. Price based on return Economy Qantas flights from Sydney to Canberra.
EARN from 3,661 Qantas Points, plus points and Status Credits on flights.¹ Book now.
Book your flights and hotel together in one easy package with Qantas Holidays and earn 3 Qantas Points per A$1 spent on your total booking, plus points and Status Credits on the flights.¹ Search and book now.