Canberra Centre Masthead

90 ways to spend summer in Canberra

Amanda Whitley

“Canberra is boring.” Yeah right. 

Here’s our ultimate boredom busting, sightseeing, visually pleasing, foodie appeasing guide to Canberra for your summer and beyond.


Image: Martin Ollman

Get snap happy with this handy guide to some of Canberra’s most stunning locations.


Catch amazing French cinema at the 2018 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival at Palace Electric from 1-28 March.


Hire a SUP (stand up paddle board) and take a tour around the lake. No waves, no worries.


Take a road trip to one of Canberra’s neighbouring towns for some regional deliciousness.


The Turrell Skyspace via

See what makes the National Gallery of Australia so phenomenal.


Take a llama for a walk.


Watch Canberra girl Liv Hewson in Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet.


The Old Bus Depot Markets are something of a Sunday tradition.

Hit the Old Bus Depot Markets for more than 200 stalls offering unique handcrafted items, food and wine. 


Explore one of Canberra’s many places to swim, fish or picnic.


Image: Tim Bean Photography.

Head to Canberra’s newest Italian trattoria, Brick & Basil.


See Australia’s leading glass artists in action or take part in a hands-on class at Canberra Glassworks and learn the secrets to flame working, glass blowing, cold working, kiln forming and casting.


Take a trip to Cuba at The Highball Express. 


Taste the Canberra Wine Region at more than 35 wineries.


Enjoy a Bellini with your blow-dry at Saloon in Braddon.


Catch up on one of Canberra’s 70 new places to eat. 


Discover Canberra’s spirit (literally) with this tour of local distillers and cocktail experts.


Montage photographs by Sarah Kenderdine, Peter Morse and Paul Bourke. Seven Sisters rock art with permission of Walinynga (Cave Hill) custodians. Image supplied.

Take a journey across the Australian desert in the National Museum of Australia’s Aboriginal-led exhibition: Songlines: Tracking The Seven Sisters. Until 25 February.


Check out locally-made goods at Trove, Meet Gather Collect, Gungahlin Collective and The Markets Wanniassa.



Encounter a bettong at Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary! 


View the city from on high at Mount Ainslie Lookout.


See a piece of the Moon that’s over 3.8 billion years old at the Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla. 



Experience sunrise or sunset at Within Without—the National Gallery of Australia’s Skyspace by American artist James Turrell.


Shop til you drop at Canberra Centre’s new beauty and lifestyle precinct, Monaro Mall.


Pop into your local yoga studio. See our ACTIVE directory for more information.


Visit Yarralumla Play Station to ride the miniature train, a game of mini golf or to pat the farm animals.


Head to NewActon and enjoy a tipple on the Parlour terrace or in the A.Baker courtyard.


Image: Andrew Merry. Supplied.

Play tourist and visit one of our national institutions: the Royal Australian Mint, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House or Australian Parliament House.


Visit the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets and delight in the buzzy atmosphere and quality produce.


Relive your childhood by strapping on your roller skates at Skate Nation.


Escape the hustle and bustle at a quiet cabin or campground.


See the world in miniature at Cockington Green Gardens.


Nishi Gallery

Get cultural at one of the small galleries around town.


Immerse yourself in Canberra’s most decadent day spa – HALE. 


Image by Rebecca Doyle Photography.

Have the best (and perhaps the most wacky) ice cream you’ve ever licked at Frugii Dessert Laboratory. 


Cool down on a hot summer’s day at Big Splash Waterpark.


Get up close and personal with some of the world’s most amazing creatures at the National Zoo & Aquarium.


Photo: Corinna and Dylan.

Enjoy fresh fish and chips on the lake’s edge while listening to live music on the weekend at Snapper on The Lake.



Check out Canberra’s newest precinct at Dairy Road in Fyshwick. Taste Capital Brewing’s taphouse and beer garden, while enjoying mouth-watering burgers and hot dogs from Canberra’s famed Brodburger.

Fur babies and kids are all welcome with a specially made (non-alcoholic) beer for pets with paws and a cubby house and outdoor games for the kids.


Image via VisitCanberra

Seek respite from the heat in the Australian National Botanic Gardens’ Rainforest Gully.


Take the family mountain biking at Stromlo Forest Park.


Sam Jinks , Woman and child 2010 (detail)
silicone, pigment, resin, silk, human hair. Collection of the artist. Image courtesy of the NGA.

Marvel at the National Gallery of Australia’s Hyper Real, exploring the works of masters of hyperrealism. Until 18 February.


Take the lift to the top of Telstra Tower for 360° views of Canberra.


Image: Tim Bean Photography.

Spend a day browsing the beautiful independent boutiques of Lonsdale Street in Braddon.


Pick a bunch of seasonal gorgeousness at Canberra’s first floral bar, The Floral Society.


Look beyond Canberra’s 104 years as an established city with Dharwara Indigenous Tours. 


Take a cooking class at Foodish, one of Canberra’s finest cooking schools.


Image: Martin Ollman

Stroll along the Kingston Foreshore, catching drinks at The Dock or dinner at Molto Italian.


Explore The National Arboretum, an endless natural playground.


Chill out at Vertikal Indoor Snow at the funky new Dairy Flat Fyshwick precinct, where you can train for skiing and boarding and get snow fit in a simulated snow terrain (minus the snow!).


Take a ride on the magical carousel in Petrie Plaza—most of the horses and elephants have names; even Phar Lap has his place on the platform.


Image: Martin Ollman

Walk the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in the cool of the morning or evening.


Shop big brands on a budget at Canberra Outlet Centre.


Embrace your inner hoon at Power Kart Raceway.


Enjoy Chinese High Tea at Casino Canberra.


On your bike! Mulga Bicycle Tours lets you explore the city’s historical, political and cultural sites as well as longer tours into the Canberra region.


Image: VisitCanberra

Feed a koala or potoroo at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.


Give croquet a whirl.


Taste the dessert that went viral—Pâtissez’s Freak Shake.


Credit: The Dressmaker – Hugo Weaving as Horatio Farrat by Ben King.

See beloved Australian actors and iconic from 100 years of Australian movies in the new star-studded exhibition, Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits. Until 4 March. 


Escape to the country without leaving town at Pialligo Estate—take a masterclass or enjoy a relaxed lunch in one of the pavilions.


A selection of brunch dishes at Ricardo’s Cafe in Jamison. Image: Tess Godkin.

Explore your local shops and head to the suburbs for brunch.


Pat an alligator and see more than 50 species of reptiles and frogs at Canberra Reptile Zoo.


Retreat from the heat and see a classic film at the National Film and Sound Archive.


Catch some of the world’s finest classical music in Canberra this April for the Canberra International Music Festival.


Delve into Canberra’s Secrets—Marg Wade offers everything from kangaroo spotting tours to walking food tours of the city.


Image via

Cool off at Phillip Ice Skating Centre—lessons and skate hire are all available on site and their pool is ready and waiting.


See the handwritten journals of Burke and Wills, Australia’s first gold medal for women’s swimming, the landmark papers of Edward Koiki Mabo and more at the Treasures Gallery at the National Library of Australia.


Head to Weston Park for family fun—ride your bikes on the cycle track, play Bocce or Pétanque or enjoy the water playground and wading pool.


Bloc Haus. Credit: Lee/Molonglo Group.

Try indoor bouldering at BlocHaus—think rock climbing, but without ropes or a harness, and on shorter walls, protected by padding on the ground to bounce off.


eightysix’s Caramel Popcorn Sundae. Image: supplied.

Eat at one of Canberra’s hatted restaurants. Aubergine or Ottoman Cuisine both scored two hats in the 2018 Good Food Guide, while The Chairman & Yip, Eightysix, Italian & Sons, Lilotang, Monster Kitchen & Bar, Otis Dining Hall, Pulp Kitchen and Temporada all picked up one.


Weather limiting your options? We have you covered (pun intended) with this list of ways to stay entertained (and dry).



Drink in the views (and the wine) at Canberra’s first true rooftop bar, Howling Moon.


Move it! Search the HerCanberra ACTIVE Directory to find a way to move your body.


Inflatable World Kambah

Cool off in one of Canberra’s coolest indoor play areas.


The Hamlet on Lonsdale Street, Braddon.

Enjoy some of Canberra’s best street food and check out some homegrown art and jewellery at The Hamlet on Lonsdale Street in Braddon.


Remember the sacrifice at the Australian War Memorial. Each day at 4.55pm AEST, you can absorb the powerful and sombre Last Post Ceremony which honours one of the 62,000 who gave their lives in service.



Indulge your inner caffeind and take part in one of The Cupping Room’s cupping sessions. The flagship store of 2015 World’s Best Barista, ONA’s Sasa Sestic, these guys are serious about their coffee.



Enjoy a drop of our very own Canberra brews with names such as the Barley Griffin, Mort’s Gold and Braddon Bitter at BentSpoke Brewing Co. in Braddon.


Explore NewActon, making sure to head to Hotel Hotel to dine at Monster Kitchen and Bar. Snap a selfie on the grand staircase in the Nishi building while you are there.


Credit: Martin Ollman

Take a hot air balloon flight and finish with a traditional champagne celebration at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra.


Join a SegGlideRide tour around the Parliamentary Triangle and Lake Burley Griffin and master the art of riding this self-balancing two-wheeled machine.


Bar Rochford. Photography by Martin Ollman.

Enjoy a drink at Australia’s Best—Bar Rochford—according to Australian Gourmet Traveller. While you’re there, stay for the food—it’s every bit as good.


Go for a dip in the historic Manuka Swimming Pool and enjoy the character and Art Deco style of Canberra’s very first public swimming baths.


Stock up on fresh vegetables at the Capital Region Farmers Market.

Sample some of the region’s freshest produce at the Capital Region Farmers Markets at Exhibition Park, where you can buy fresh produce direct from the growers and makers.


Questacon: it’s not just for kids!

Free-fall down a six-metre slide, freeze your own shadow, experience an earthquake or challenge a robot to a game of air hockey at Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre.


Image: Martin Ollman

Celebrate Canberra’s vibrant melting pot at the National Multicultural Festival—one of Australia’s biggest and most diverse celebrations. 16 to 18 February.


Go bush! Strap on the sneakers for one of Canberra’s best walks.


Explore Canberra’s food scene with one of EatCanberra’s food walking tours.


Head to the Actew AGL Royal Canberra Show. 23 to 25 February.


Keep cool at one of Canberra’s aquatic centres or pools—whether you like an indoor heated experience or an outdoor dip.

This article originally appeared in Magazine: Summer for Summer 2017/18, available for free while stocks last. Find out more about Magazine here


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author