Canberra, Australia’s capital city! I am going to help you to visit this city full of history, where you can find all the foundations of the country.

ITINERARY - AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND: here is the full itinerary for a tour of these 2 countries.

Canberra - Parliament House

When you’ll arrive in Canberra, you’ll immediately notice the difference of atmosphere with Sydney. Over there, there are less people in the streets, which is quite normal since it is an administrative city. Also, it’s not a very big town, at least in regard to the city centre. So it will make your tour of the city a lot easier, you can visit everything on foot.

According to me, 2 days are entirely sufficient to visit Canberra:

Schedule - Canberra, 2 days

Day 1: museums!

Canberra - War Memorial Canberra - Commonwealth Park - Regatta Point
Click to enlarge images.

If you arrive in town in the late morning, try to eat something quick.

Then I suggest starting with the two furthest but not least interesting things:

  • Australian National Museum (free admission) : it tells the aboriginal and colonial history of Australia. You can especially see the museum with its orange ark, when you are on the bridge that passes over the lake.
  • War Memorial (free admission) : which is the most beautiful museum in the country. You should try to follow a free guided tour that takes place every hour.

Then, if you still have some time left, I suggest visiting the Commonwealth Park, where you can find:

  • The National Capital Exhibition (free admission) : it tells the story of the city.
  • Regatta Point : it is a globe made of steel tracing the great expeditions of Captain Cook.

And to finish the day, I highly recommend going to the mall for dinner. It’s located in the city centre, it’s very big and you’ll be sure to find something good to eat.

Day 2: The Parliamentary Area

For the second day in Canberra, it is time to go on the other side of the lake, to go to visit all the monuments located within the Parliamentary Area.

Tip : you can also click on the link down below from your smartphone, to open the itinerary to follow on google maps:
« Parliamentary Area » walking tour

« Parliamentary Area » walking tour

Canberra - Parliamentary Area - Old Parliament House Canberra - Parliamentary Area - Aboriginal Tent Embassy
Canberra - Parliamentary Area - message from the Aboriginals
Click to enlarge images.

Starting from the city centre, go through the Commonwealth Park and then, cross the bridge that passes over the lake. Then you’ll arrive in the Parliamentary Area. I suggest starting by walking along the « King Edward Terrace » street, where you can find some museums, including the High Court. And then, go up towards the Parliament House located at the end of the area. In addition, all monuments are free admission, except the Questacon. But keep in mind that almost all these sights close at 5 pm.

A- National Library : is the largest reference library in Australia.
B- Questacon (admission: AU$23/adult and AU$17.5/child) : it’s a large centre with over 200 interactive exhibits on science and technology, which can be quite interesting to visit especially if you are traveling with kids and if you have a bit more time to spend in Canberra.
C- National Portrait Gallery : it tells the story of Australia through portraits.
D- High Court of Australia : it’s a pretty impressive building, especially due to its height. During your visit, you can also take the opportunity to ask questions about how justice is working in Australia.
E- National Gallery of Australia : it’s a museum of fine arts.
F- Aboriginal Tent Embassy : it’s a permanent protest occupation where residing activists claim to represent the political rights of Aboriginal Australians. But it’s not considered an official embassy by the Australian Government.
G- Old Parliament House : located just opposite to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, it houses the Museum of Australian Democracy. It’s really interesting and over there, you will be able to see some crowns of the Queen of England, to visit former workrooms of the parliament … If you look carefully, you will be able to find a place where parliamentary clothes are lent for free. You will also be able to take pictures sitting on a parliamentary chair!
H- National Archives : over there you can learn a bit of the history of the foundation of the country, and see some documents that contributed to the writing of the Australian constitution. If you are lucky to go there on « Canberra Day », the second Monday of March, you will be able to visit a special room that contains three documents, including the Australian constitution signed by the Queen Victoria herself, which was recently repatriated from the United Kingdom. In normal times, these documents can only be seen by students. In addition, you will also have access to temporary exhibitions, and you can even join a free guided tour.
I- Parliament House : you can visit it by yourself, but I highly recommend joining a free guided tour that takes you to see the different rooms (it’s not allowed when visiting by yourself). The tour lasts about 40 minutes and at the end, you will be able to take the lift to go up to the roof. Up there, you will have a great view of the city and you can also particularly see the War Memorial by far.
J- Magna Carta Place : it’s a dome that was placed into the park with a mural describing a part of Australian history. As it has no opening hours and it is accessible 24/7, I suggest getting there after completing all the visits you’ve planned to do.

Tip 1 : I recommend bringing sandwiches for lunch because there are no real places to eat in this part of the city except for restaurants in some museums.

Tip 2 : for travelers who don’t have much time, I suggest going to at least the 6 most interesting attractions in the Parliamentary Area, in terms of Australian parliamentary culture: High Court of Australia, Aboriginal Tent Embassy, National Archives, Old and New Parliament House, Magna Carta Place. These visits are really worth it, especially if you want to learn more about the origins of the country.

For the end of the day, you can go to visit the roundabout located in the city centre. There are some little things to see over there.


Bus station

The Canberra bus station is located in the inner city, which is very convenient. You can either easily reach your hotel on foot or come back to take a bus to go to another town.

Restaurants and shopping

In the city centre, there is a very large shopping mall with everything you need. A food court is located in the basement (opening hours: 9 am-5.30 pm, closes earlier on weekends), you will also find many restaurants, shops, but also a supermarket and an Aldi (opening hours: 8.30 am-8 pm). But don’t get there too late, everything closes pretty early in Canberra.


I suggest booking a hotel in the inner city, close to the shopping centre and also close to the bus station. Because the shopping centre area, is almost the only living place in town, with restaurants open after 6pm.

During my trip, I stayed at the Canberra City YHA. I would clearly recommend this hostel, because even if it’s a hostel, you will feel like you are in a hotel.

Description: rooms are quite big and common bathrooms are extremely clean. However you will be able to choose a room with a private bathroom. In addition, there is a common kitchen on the ground floor, so you can go grocery shopping at the mall and then come back to cook in the kitchen.

Price: it is one of the cheapest hotel downtown (about AU$90).

Location: the hostel is close to the bus station and to the shopping centre. Moreover, it is not that far from all the sightseeing places.

How to get there: going out of the bus station, head to the roundabout. Once you’ve reached it, turn left at the red light (make sure to stay on the big circle of the roundabout and don’t go into the middle of it). Then, keep walking on the roundabout until you reach the « Akuna Street ». Once in the street, you’ll see the hostel on your left.

Pros Cons
the comfort no free Wi-Fi (about AU$4/day)
the price no free left-luggage service (about AU$7/day)
very convenient location having to pay the booking at the hostel and not being able to pay it on the booking website

Thanks for reading :)