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Canberra Travel Tips

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Unfairly maligned in the past as a bland political centre, Canberra is shedding its stuffy image and becoming recognised as the gem of a city it truly is. Its cultural credentials are impossible to argue with, as there’s a slew of world-class museums and galleries just begging to be explored. These sit alongside an ever-growing and increasingly diverse array of hip cafés, cutting-edge boutiques, gourmet restaurants, and pumping nightclubs.

 

Best Time to Travel

 

Unlike much of Australia, Canberra enjoys distinct seasons, each of which has its own charm. Summer can get very hot, but there’s usually very little humidity, and hours of glorious sunshine, so it’s a great time to hit the city’s glorious parks and gardens, or to sail across Lake Burley Griffin. Spring and autumn offer milder temperatures, and the chance to see flora and fauna in spectacular transitional states. Winters are cold but often sunny and brisk, so conditions are usually perfect for pottering between cosy bars, and warming yourself up in front of an open fire.

 

Not to Miss

 

Parliament House is widely regarded as a masterpiece of modern architecture. This Canberra icon boasts an amazing landscaped roof garden, which offers sweeping views of the city below. Head inside and you can take a free guided tour, or watch the parliamentary process in action from the public galleries. The Australian War Memorial is a fascinating, and deeply moving, tribute to members of the country’s armed forces. It includes a stunning shrine and commemorative courtyard, as well as enlightening exhibits devoted to both world wars. The National Museum of Australia is a world-class social history museum, which houses interactive displays devoted to indigenous cultures, European settlement, and the environment.

 

Getting around

 

Canberra International Airport is handily located minutes away from the city centre. It’s well served by flights from other major Australian cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Perth. Taxis are readily available once you land, and an Airport Express shuttle bus runs in the daytime. You may want to consider hiring a car for your trip, as Canberra is very much a driving city. That said, there are also frequent and reliable bus services covering most major sights and attractions.

 

Cuisine

 

Canberra is located smack bang in the middle of one of Australia’s most thriving wine regions. There’s a host of gorgeous wineries within easy driving distance of the city, where you can sample award-winning Pinot Noirs and fragrant Rieslings in idyllic rural surroundings. The city also boasts a thrillingly diverse dining scene, with everything from rustic family-run Italian restaurants to hip vegan bakeries scattered across town.

 

Customs and etiquette

 

Canberrans tend to be well-educated, easy-going, and tolerant, so you’re very unlikely to find yourself making any awkward faux pas. It can’t compare with Sydney or Melbourne as a cultural melting pot, but you can be assured a warm welcome, regardless of your nationality, gender, or sexuality. Unlike many Western countries, tipping for services isn’t "officially" standard practice in Australia. It’s certainly very welcome though, so feel free to leave a little extra in restaurants if you receive good service.

Fast Facts

 

Population: 381500

Spoken languages: English

Electrical: Australia runs on 220-240V, 50 Hz current

Phone Calling Code: +61 2000