Chance encounters

Top 10 must dos for first-time visitors

For your very first Canberra getaway, VisitCanberra has put together a list of the top 10 things everyone has to see, do, taste and try to truly experience Australia’s capital. But really, there are simply too many great things to see and do in Canberra to fit them all into one trip.

1.Visit the icons: Make sure you visit all the world-class national attractions that call Canberra home such as the National Museum of Australia, Australian Parliament House, the National Gallery of Australia and the Australian War Memorial. Entry to most of the city’s major attractions is free.

2. Soar above the capital: For the best view of Canberra, take a scenic hot air balloon flight over the nation’s capital. Take off at sunrise and drift gently with the wind as you experience breathtaking views and see the nation’s capital come to life beneath you.

3. Conquer the Freakshake: Tempt your tastebuds with the Freakshakes creating world-wide intrigue and envy at Patissez Cafe  in Manuka and Civic. These monster milkshakes will make you want to share them with everyone on social media before you indulge.

4. Make it to the markets: Spend your Saturday morning shopping up at storm at the Capital Region Farmers Markets, where you can buy fresh produce direct from the growers and enjoy a delicious local breakfast or brunch. Then take part in a Sunday tradition in Canberra by visiting the Old Bus Depot Markets. Pick up some tasty treats, a bunch of flowers, some fashion gems and local artwork.

5. Explore the lake: At the heart of Canberra is Lake Burley Griffin, surrounded by galleries and museums that house Australia’s art and historical collections interspersed with parks and open spaces as well as walking and cycling paths. Do as the locals do and spend an hour walking the ‘bridge to bridge’ path around the lake, stopping off for a coffee along the way.

6. Wander through wineries. Canberra’s three cool-climate wine regions offer a spectacular range of experiences, from wine-tasting and fine dining to truffle hunting. Traditionally, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Shiraz varieties have thrived here at the 140 vineyards and 33 winery cellar doors, most within 30 minutes’ drive of the capital.

7. Take the ultimate selfie: In the centre of Parliament House’s roof flies an Australian flag roughly the size of a double-decker bus. Visitors can take the lift to the roof, walk beneath the massive flag mast and pose for the perfect holiday selfie.

8. Wine and dine: Indulge at some of the capital’s top-rated restaurants for incredible culinary experiences. Wander through foodie precincts like BraddonNewActon and the Kingston Foreshore for an eclectic mix of cafes, restaurants, bars, pop-up stores, galleries and people watching.

9. Catch up over coffee: Explore the local cafe scene and the city’s coffee spots, perfect for catching up with friends, enjoying a weekend brunch, relaxing over a long lunch or getting your caffeine fix. Canberra is proudly the home of Ona Coffee founder and 2015 World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic as well as the  2017 Australian Barista Champion Hugh Kelly.

10. Discover your wild side: Set yourself the challenge on a visit to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to spot five famous native Australian animals that call the area home: the koala, platypus, kangaroo, emu and wombat. Then embark on the ultimate animal encounter at the National Zoo & Aquarium’s new luxury accommodation, Jamala Wildlife Lodge, where you can take part in behind-the-scenes tours and share a jungle bungalow with lions, tigers and bears for neighbours. Explore the new open-range enclosure at the zoo and say hello to their baby animals.

Find all the information you need to plan your trip at

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