Long weekend coming up? If you’re planning to drive down to the bush capital or Australia, or if you’re based in Canberra and are looking for ideas on how to spend the weekend, you might want to keep reading. While it doesn’t get as much hype and talk as some of Australia’s bigger cities, there’s heaps Canberra has to offer. Sitting comfortably between Sydney and Melbourne, Canberra strikes the ideal balance between city vibes and natural beauty. It also makes up for a perfect 2-day time-out when you’re looking to getaway from the hustle and busyness of life. Right from walking trails, to museums, galleries, scenic lake views and a city brimming with delectable bars and restaurants. Canberra is a gem worth visiting.

In case you’re unsure where to begin, we’ve got you covered. Allow us to take you on a journey around Canberra, outlining how to jam-pack your weekend in the best way possible. Furthermore, everything laid out in this 2-day plan has been carefully curated to appeal to everyone: couples, families and friends. Right from breakfast, to the best spots to visit, to the amazing nightlife Canberra has to offer. Follow this itinerary and you’ll find that there’s more than what meets the eye when it comes to Canberra!

Day 1: Explore the Heart of Canberra

7:30am: Breakfast at Penny University Roasters

Inspired by the first coffeehouses originating in London in the 17th century, Penny University brings together a fresh, Urban twist to what a cafe should be like. With punchy menu items and funky graphical artworks, Penny University’s coffee and food hits all the right spots for your morning!

Location: 15 Kennedy Street, Kingston, ACT 2604
Distance from CBD: 8-10 minute drive
What’s popular: Anything from their coffee range. Moreover, for food the French Toast is a favourite amongst locals. Alternatively, you can order any one of the specials on the menu. (Their hotcakes are incredible!)

Other great options:

2. Double shot Deakin

Location: Shop 7, Hopetoun Cct, Deakin, ACT 2600
Distance from CBD: 10-12 minute drive
What’s popular: The DS breakfast burrito, and the chicken & avocado toastie


9:30am: Visit the Australian Parliament House

In the heart of Canberra lies the country’s parliamentary triangle. Head over to Australia’s Parliament House to learn more about the Australian Flag and the various symbolic aspects and vision of the building’s architect.

Secondly, the guided tours run daily as you get to explore the design of the Marble Foyer, Great Hall, Members Hall and the chambers of Parliament in prime fashion.

Entry is free but bookings are essential.

Photo by Aditya Joshi on Unsplash

Location: Parliament Drive, ACT 2600
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm
Distance from CBD: 8-10 minute drive
Website: https://www.aph.gov.au

11:30am: Marvel at art in the National Gallery of Australia

Art lovers rejoice! Sitting at a short 3-5 minute drive from the Parliament House is the National Gallery of Australia. Feast your eyes on a diverse range of stunning paintings, portraits, sculptures and designs by some of the world’s most renowned artists. Here, you’ll find artworks from across the globe, including Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Asian, European and American art. Stay tuned on their website to find out more about special exhibitions, celebrating some of the decorated works by artists from Botticelli to Van Hogh!

Location: Parkes Pl E, Parkes ACT 2600
Opening hours: 10am to 5pm
Distance from CBD: 10-12 minute drive
Website: nga.gov.au


Lunch in Kingston foreshore by the lake or Griffith Shops

Kingston foreshore is one of Canberra’s best locations, residing by lake Burley Griffin. Here you’ll find a range of delectable restaurants to choose from. Moreover, the foreshore is conveniently located close to the parliamentary triangle. Here are some great options to visit for lunch:

  1. Walt & Burley

Located on the edge of Kingston Foreshore, Walt & Burley makes a great option for lunch and drinks for you to refuel. With indoor as well as outdoor seating options, Walt & Burley also occasionally hosts special events such as live music, trivia and activities. As a result, you can expect to be entertained while you wait for your meal.

Location: 70/17 Eastlake Parade, Kingston ACT 2604
Distance from CBD: 10-12 minute drive
What’s popular: Their wide range of beers on tap and cocktails. For food, their Antipasto plate and Chicken Parmagiana are crowd favourites that’ll leave you wanting more!

  1. Patissez

Home of Canberra’s best freakshakes, Patissez BakeHouse is known for their innovative dessert options, drinks and food creations that set taste buds to a path of bliss. If you’re craving comfort food, Patissez will hit all the right spots:

Location: 70/17 Eastlake Parade, Kingston ACT 2604
Distance from CBD: 12-15 minute drive
What’s popular: Their specialty range of house made freakshakes, burgers and desserts


2pm: Visit Yarralumla Play Station for some Mini Golfing!

Brush up on your mini golf skills at Yarralumla Play Station. The YPS offers fun activities such as mini golf, a mini train and a mini farm to pet domestic animals. Give yourself and the kids a break from technology with some mini golfing at the YPS!

Location: 9 Pescott Lane, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Opening hours: 8:30 – 4:30pm (Weekdays); 8am – 5:30pm (Weekends)
Distance from CBD: 10-12 minute drive
Website: yarraps.com.au
Starting at $10


Evening: View Canberra’s Sunset by the Lakeside at Henry Rolland Park

Henry Rolland Park is one of the prime locations to visit by the lakeside to take a moment and breathe in the scenery. The park also includes an outdoor gym with bars and free to use equipment, in case you’re in the mood for a quick workout, a walk or some yoga. The gym can also help with keeping kids busy if they’re feeling energetic!

Soak in the weather and relax at the park. You can also bring along some snacks to munch on as you enjoy Canberra’s gorgeous sunset.

Location: Barrine Dr, Parkes ACT 2600
Distance from CBD: 5-6 minute drive

Alternatively, you could head up to Snapper on the Lake to get yourself some fish n’ chips.


7pm: Explore Canberra’s night-scene in New Acton Precinct

As the sun sets and it gets dark, prepare to indulge in Canberra’s nightlife scene, with a plethora of bars and restaurants to grab your attention. New Acton precinct, located close to Henry Rolland Park is a great area for dinner and bar hopping after. Here are some favourites:

  1. Monster Kitchen & Bar

Proudly residing within the Ovolo Nishi building in New Acton, is Monster Kitchen & Bar. An architectural masterpiece, Monster is spread across four separate spaces, with a dedicated Mosaic room, a lounge, a Salon & Dining room, each boasting a variety of themes and artworks.

Recently, Monster introduced the ‘Year of the Veg’, becoming a completely vegetarian restaurant for 365 days as a global commitment, becoming the first hotel group in the world to go vegetarian. Relish at one of the most aesthetically pleasing interiors Canberra has to offer, along with an exquisite range of drinks and delicacies for dinner.

Location: 25 Edinburgh Ave, Ovolo Nishi Building, ACT 2601
Distance from CBD: 8-10 minute walk
What’s popular: Their house special cocktails, the Parmesan Churros and the Grilled Head of Cauliflower w/ Macadamia Satay.

Alongside Monster, feel free to wander around the New Acton precinct for alternate options to dine in, or to grab a drink. Rebel Rebel and High Jinks are popular options amongst locals.

Day 2 in Canberra: A Sight for Sore Eyes

7:30am: Breakfast at The Cupping Room

Comfortably sitting at the corner of London circuit & University Ave, The Cupping Room checks all the boxes when it comes to a cafe. A product of the team behind ONA coffee, Canberra’s largest specialty coffee roaster, The Cupping Room brings together an array of knowledge and passion for coffee. Thus, you’ll receive exquisite experience packed with flavour for customers.

Location: 1/1-13 University Ave, ACT 2601
Distance from CBD: 8-10 minute walk
What’s popular: Their specialty range of coffees and drinks. We also recommend the chia & oat bircher, and the baked eggs with mushrooms.

Other popular options for breakfast or brunch in the Canberra CBD area include Alter Ego and Gus’ Place.

9:30am: Visit the National Museum of Australia

The National Museum of Australia (NMA) situated on the shores of Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin is truly a sight to remember. Furthermore, here you’ll find gallery sections that showcase native Australian and Aboriginal history, this architectural masterpiece includes various artful exhibits that will stimulate your mind as much as your eyes.

Location: Lawson Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm
Distance from CBD: 5-6 minute drive
Website: nma.gov.au


11:30am: Visit the Australian Botanical Gardens

Located a mere 3km from the National Museum are the Australian Botanical Gardens. With a comprehensive display of living Australian native plants, take a well-deserved break from the hustle and busyness of the city life by entering the gardens filled with tranquility. Hence, you can feel adventurous in a serene rainforest-like setup with wooden walkways and mists to enhance your sensory experience.

Location: Clunies Ross Street, Acton, ACT 2601
Opening hours: 8:30am to 5pm
Distance from CBD: 5-6 minute drive
Website: anbg.gov.au


Lunch & Shopping in Canberra Centre

Travelling with your family and want some choice? Canberra’s City Centre offers a plethora of delectable restaurants and cafes for you to choose from.

Some popular options are:

  • Burgers: Grease Monkey
  • Italian: Solita and Briscola Italian
  • Asian: CBD Dumpling House and Akiba
  • Indian: Tikka Take and Ganjees

Alternatively, you can enjoy a wide array of cuisines available to choose from in the food court inside Civic centre.

Post lunch, stretch your legs with some shopping in and around Canberra Centre. With numerous stores ranging from fashion, cosmetics, technology and accessories, you can ease up and shop to your heart’s delight here.

Location: 148 Bunda Street, Acton, ACT 2601
Opening hours: 9am to 5:30pm

Evening: Scenic View of Canberra at the National Arboretum

Drive up to the National Arboretum for a scenic view you’ll never forget. Moreover, the Arboretum is home to diverse living forests and gardens, offering a breathtaking view of Canberra during golden hour.

Location: Forest drive, Molonglo Valley, ACT 2611
Distance from CBD: 15 minute drive


7pm: Spend your evening at Verity Lane Market

Return back to Canberra CBD to end your day at Verity Lane Market. This newly opened boutique food hall is packed with diverse food vendors as Canberra’s gastronomic ground zero. Pair up your favourite drink with a choice of Ramen, Italian, Indo-fusion and more!

9:30pm: Bar Hopping in Canberra Civic & Braddon

Post dinner, unwind at some of Canberra’s best bars spread across Civic and Braddon. Some popular options are:

  1. Bar Rochford
    Location: 1/65 London Cct, ACT 2601
  2. Molly’s
    Wooden Door, Odgers Ln, ACT 2601
  3. Corella Bar
    14 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, ACT 2601


And that’s a wrap! Here’s your curated 2-day Canberra itinerary for when you plan your trip down to the bush capital! Canberra has much to see, so keep this plan handy and explore everything great Canberra has to offer!