Admittedly, I had pretty low expectations prior to visiting Australia’s capital city. With the exception of politicians, ardent museum goers, and city planners, Canberra is seldom considered a destination. However, when Nick suggested a day trip to Canberra from Southwest Sydney, I was more than happy to oblige. After all, we have somewhat unique tastes when it comes to travel.
A planned city, Canberra was built around the automobile and this is immediately evident. Not the most walkable of cities, we were armed with bicycles thanks to Little National Hotel. Navigating the city was a bit confusing at first, but eventually we found our bearings and cycled around the man-made lake and from museum to museum.
Speaking of the lake, make sure to spend an hour or two pedalling around and taking in the surrounding beauty. You’ll see plenty of cyclists, rollerbladers, runners, fishers and swans.
I highly recommend checking out the multitude of national museums, galleries, and parliament buildings. They are all educational, world-class institutions, but also an excellent way to escape the heat (it hovered over 30 degrees celsius the entire time we were there!)
If you’re pressed for time, like we were, start with the National Museum of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia. We were both inspired by architecture of these buildings and the breadth of information and artwork on offer.
Canberra has been stepping up its food and drink game as of late, gaining the attention of several food bloggers. One of the coolest areas for food and film is New Acton. Check out any of the eateries in this area, and you won’t be disappointed. Afterwards, stop by Courtyard Cinema for an alfresco screening. Or, if you’re looking for the best range of films, visit Palace Electric – they show foreign films, art house films, documentaries, you name it!
We indulged in two delicious breakfasts (my favourite meal of the day) during our stay. Our first meal was at A. Baker, an edgy cafe with plenty of outdoor seating and delightful seasonal dishes. I loved the industrial fit-out of this spot. Our second breakfast was at Double Shot, a bustling contemporary café with excellent coffee. I ordered an açai bowl (obviously) and devoured it instantly.
Dinner consisted of burgers at aptly-named, Grease Monkey and drinks on gastropub, Hopscotch’s leafy patio. This was easily the busiest place in town with each table packed with twenty and thirty-somethings.
While many tourists forgo Canberra for Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth, Nick and I were pleasantly surprised. Our visit to the capital was rewarding on all levels and the arts, cultural and food scenes certainly delivered.