If you live in Sydney or are visiting Sydney from overseas, Canberra is a weekend destination that is very close, often overlooked, but surprising. Canberra, the capital city of Australia only 2.5 hours drive from Sydney by motorway, is a pretty, elegant, purpose-built city that contains a wealth of live shows, museums, libraries, interesting tours, and surprising weekend destination nightlife. We went to see the Inca Gold exhibition at the National Gallery but found a city that we could return to again and again any time we wanted to get away from Sydney for a weekend.
As it was, the Inca exhibition was the only thing we had time to see in the National Gallery but would love to return to see the regular art exhibitions there, as well as the many other interesting attractions.
A few other things to do in Canberra include:
– National Museum
– War Museum (Australian War Memorial)
– Canberra Museum and Gallery
– Questacon science museum
– Tour of old parliament house
– New parliament house
– National Portrait Gallery
– Australian Botanic Gardens
– National Film and Sound Archive
– Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
– National Library
– Black Mountain Tower
– National Dinosaur Museum
– Commonwealth Park
– National Arboretum
– Big Splash Water Park
– Canberra Casino
– Canberra Glassworks
– Mount Stromlo Observatory
– Mount Ainslie Lookout
– Australian Museum of Democracy
– Namadgi National Park
– Deep Space Communications Complex, Tidbinbilla (remember Apollo 11?)
– National Zoo and Aquarium (privately owned)
– National Archives
Weather in Canberra
The weather in Canberra is searingly hot in Summer and below zero in Winter. My preference is to go in Autumn, Winter, and Spring because if it’s cold, you can always just put on a warm coat. If it’s a seriously hot day with hot nights, you won’t want to be outside at all and are better off going to one of the millions of beaches in and around Sydney, Kiama, or the Central Coast. We went on a weekend that was neither warm nor cold, but a bit rainy. A light coat and an umbrella were all we needed.
Canberra is compact and well designed for getting around. Most of the galleries and museums are congregated around Parliament House, which is only 1 kilometer from the city centre, where all the nightlife is. It’s preferable to have a car, but on a nice day, you can hire a bike and cycle around Lake Burley Griffin and visit the various attractions. Most hotels will be only 1 or 2 km from the city centre, so when going out at night you can walk or catch a bus or taxi. Hotels in Canberra are not expensive and are of very high quality.
Adina Serviced Apartments Canberra Dickson
The Adina Serviced Apartments is new and amazingly up-market, stylish, and comfortable. We had a stunning 1-bedroom apartment that was enormous, roomy, and comfortable, with a full-size lounge room, plus dining room with table and seating for 6, a full-sized, well-equipped kitchen, large, attractive, en-suite bathroom. The styling is ultra-modern, with clean lines, lots of white, very attractive and comfortable furniture, and a fabulously comfortable king-size bed. The reception staff was very courteous and helpful. They also will provide a free shuttle service to the city during the day and night.
Unfortunately, we didn’t find out about that until the day after we walked 30 minutes to the city centre. They also have a great rainforest bar under a towering canopy. Nice spot to have a quiet drink in any weather. The only minus I would give the hotel is the lack of breakfast options and lack of coffee. On Saturday morning we slept in and found that the coffee shop was closed at 10:00 am and there was no way to get a cup of coffee until we got into the city centre, by which time I was dying for bacon and eggs and coffee (and eventually found it after walking around the area).
Also, the breakfast options are extremely limited at the hotel, which is just a small breakfast counter where you can buy toasted focaccia or bacon and egg roll. Quite strangely limited and primitive compared to the rest of this wonderful hotel. Apart from the limited breakfast and coffee options, I would highly recommend the Aria Hotel and will definitely stay there again.
What can you do if you are a nightlife lover
Friday night we went to the Monkey Bar near Petrie Plaza for their regular Latin music night. If you are into Latin music and dance, I highly recommend it, but don’t bother getting there before 10:00 pm because you be the only person there besides a couple of bored bar staff. There are many nice restaurants and bars a short walk from the Monkey Bar, so have dinner first. There is even a Guzman y Gomez across the road for a substantial Mexican meal.
You can visit a Bar
Saturday night we checked out an interesting bar called “Cube “, at 33 Petrie Plaza, that is promoted as being a gay bar, but the gays there were very much in a minority. The music is a regular raunchy night club style, and the passing parade of unusual characters is interesting. If you like something funky, off-beat, unusual and totally “out there”, then The Cube nightclub is definitely somewhere to go on a Saturday night. Check out the cage and the cave in the corner.
So, if you are based in Sydney, there is always something to do for a weekend, just a couple of hours drive away in Canberra – especially in cooler weather.