Surprises are abundant everywhere in Canberra's districts. Take time to get out and explore, and you are sure to take away fond memories of the bush capital. Ginninderra Falls is a short drive from Belconnen, while Mt Stromlo Observatory and the
Settled before Canberra, Queanbeyan is a typical inland Australian "city" with a township built around the main street, a welcome lack of high-rises and one shopping mall. Although only a 15 minute drive from Canberra's city center, Queanbeyan can feel like a world apart. The city is close to Molonglo Gorge and the magnificent Googong Dam — which is both an amazing engineering feat and a pleasant spot for a picnic, fishing or bushwalking.
Rural Bungendore is Canberra's historical region. This small, colonial-style village established in 1880 is now a thriving tourist attraction. Art, craft, and antique stores are great for shopping or just browsing. And the Bungendore Wood Works is a must. The beautiful Carrington Hotel in the center of the village serves as restaurant and function center, and even has a resident ghost!
Originally a booming mining town, Captains Flat is now a great place for an afternoon drive, being only 45 minutes from the city center. Tipped to become one of the city's next big tourist venues, Captains Flat is still a sleepy township that seems miles from anywhere. Enjoy a peaceful picnic in the park, a bushwalk or a lazy lunch at the pub while you can.
Another rural village center, Murrumbateman is an ideal stopping off point between Canberra and Yass. Home to many of the region's noted wineries, such as Clonkilla Wines and Doonkuna Estate, Murrumbateman makes a great destination for wine lovers. Antique stores are also plentiful here.
The Inner North area of Canberra offers visitors an array of accomodations. Rahula Lodge is just outside the city center, and is an easy distance from the Lyneham and O'Connor shopping areas. Or, be spoilt at the Pasmore Cottage for a fraction of the cost of a hotel.
You will find a great range of hotels and motels of all standards in the inner northern suburbs of Lyneham and Braddon where the Barton Highway from Melbourne joins the Federal Highway from Sydney. There are some excellent restaurants nearby, with the city's attractions only five minutes away. The Quality Inn Dickson is on the doorstep of nearby Chinatown.
On the outskirts of Canberra, as you enter from the Federal Highway, you will come across the wonderfully equipped Rydges Resort at Sutton.
To the south of Canberra in the vibrant inner suburbs of Kingston and Manuka, you will find many serviced apartments, such as Medina Classic and Kingston Terrace, which are often used by government departments and private companies for business trips or as temporary housing for new employees. Both offer excellent facilities and are close to some of the best dining experiences in Canberra. Less expensive options include Crestwood Apartments in Narrabundah and Forest Inn close to the diplomatic center of Canberra.
Further south, close to the attractions of Tharwa, Tidbinbilla and Namadgi National Park, try the aptly named Country Comfort Greenway. Bed and Breakfast is available at Birch Corner in Curtin to the south west of Canberra. If you are traveling with pets, Home Stay Bed and Breakfast also in Curtin will welcome your dog.
Canberra's wining and dining scene will come as a pleasant surprise to many visitors. For a city of its size, there is a great variety of restaurants, cafes and bars, ranging from upmarket venues catering to politicians and executives, to cheap and cheerful establishments frequented by university students.
You will find an abundance of international restaurants, trendy cafes, tapas bars and stylish dining venues. Pavement dining is particularly popular and "Canberrans" can spend hours over a leisurely lunch in the sun! The quality of cuisine in the region is excellent, thanks to a smorgasbord of fresh produce, including seafood and excellent local wines.
Being the well-planned place it is, Canberra's main drinking and dining venues tend to be clustered in certain suburbs. However, there are a few notable establishments located outside the main centers that are definitely worth a visit.
Great for families and those heading out for tasty, well-priced food. Wooley Street, in Dickson, is dedicated almost exclusively to exciting, international cuisine. For Italian, check out Zeffirelli's, which serves inexpensive yet consistently great pizzas and pastas, and Belluci's Trattoria, an old favorite. If you are after Chinese, try the Ruby Restaurant, which has an authentic Cantonese menu and fabulous seafood. If you are after something less exotic, El Dorado's, an American-style bar and grill, serves great steak and chips.
Manuka is the home of Canberra's stylish cafe society. The streets are lined with boutiques, restaurants and cafes. Tables and chairs spill onto the street and many people come simply to "be seen" sipping flat white coffees under the trees! A consistent favorite with locals and visitors alike is Caph's, a well-established, bustling restaurant and cafe. Fine dining is also well represented with Atlantic and Daniel's is regularly patronized by Canberra's discerning diners.
Kingston is a bustling, picturesque square, famous for its outdoor cafes. Soak up the sunshine over a coffee and brunch at Zest Cafe, or gossip over champagne and lunch at the Holy Grail. Come evening, the Holy Grail transforms into a trendy night-spot with live bands and an upwardly mobile clientèle. La Rustica, with its Tuscan decor and hearty Italian food is a perennial favorite. Kingston is also the home of British pubs, with Filthy McFadden's and the Durham Castle Arms serving up Guinness, fine scotch and live music until late.
The central shopping area abounds with stylish restaurants and alfresco cafes. During the day, shoppers and executives relax in the sun over Mediterranean-inspired dishes at laid back cafes like Caffe Della Piazza, Red Back Cafe and Woodstock.
For a night out with a group of friends, you cannot go past the party atmosphere (and a margarita or three!) at Montezuma's. Other destinations for get-togethers are the Australian Pizza Kitchen and the ever-popular Little Saigon. Antigo's, with its friendly service, contemporary menu, modern decor and large outdoor seating area is where revelers ready themselves for a night on the town.
Civic is the hub of Canberra's eclectic nightlife, where virtually anyone is guaranteed a great Saturday night. Heaven Nite Club and the Red Room cater to the hardcore dance crowd, with live local and national DJ acts. Insomnia, Babylon and Pandora's attract the hip young things, with more mainstream dance music and plenty of neon atmosphere. Gypsy Bar is grungier, with pool tables, a dance floor, live music and a friendly, laid back feel. If you are after a beer and a laugh, head to the Wig and Pen or PJ O'Reilly's—both cozy wood-paneled pubs serving Guinness and steak and kidney pies to university students.
Braddon is a main business district and tends to cater to the after-work crowd. Arguably the best bar in Canberra, All Saints Tapas Bar, with its cool interior, distinctly urban feel and friendly service, is a regular watering hole for many. Also worth a visit in Braddon are O Stratos (where you will actually believe you are on a Greek Island) and Mosaics, a fun, vibrant brasserie and bar.
Many of Canberra's suburbs harbor little gems known only to locals. Of particular note is Tilley's Devine Cafe and Gallery in Lyneham, an art deco lunch spot which becomes a great live music venue at night. All Bar Nun in O'Connor is an unpretentious, laid back bar, perfect for a quiet weekend drink. And if you are after top-quality international cuisine, head to Belconnen for Indian (The Tandoor, Taj Agra), and to Weston for Thai (River Kwai, Thai House) .
All restaurants and cafes in Canberra are non-smoking.
Cinema, theater, sport, museum, restaurant, dancing, live music or taking your chances at the casino. What will it be? As the national political seat, Canberra is not short of entertainment. Keeping up to date with events in Canberra is as easy as picking up a newspaper. The Canberra Times has a daily list of entertainment in its Alive section. Two free newspapers are available at music stores, inner city cafes and information centers: BMA Magazine lists live music concerts and Muse gives updates on literary and theatrical events in the region. Canberra Tourism provides a regularly updated list of events and entertainment locations on its comprehensive web site.
There are "watering holes" in just about every suburb of Canberra, with the Irish/English tavern being the current trend. Around the city area and Tuggeranong, more and more venues are opening with that distinctive old English style—such as PJ O'Reilly's. There are also many standard pubs with pool tables and live music. Add to this the very Australian "RSL" Club scene, such as the Canberra Tradesmen's Union Club and the Canberra Southern Cross Club chain, which offer gaming machines, live music, dancing and bistro meals.
The latest dance music is always the flavor in Canberra and various nightclubs cater for late night dancing on the weekends. The concentration of clubs is in the city and Manuka areas with well-established venues, such as Minque, always the favorite. New clubs are popping up all the time and many offer specialty nights to cater for most musical tastes. Canberra's only casino—Casino Canberra—has entertainment available in every arena and is guaranteed to keep you going well into the night, whether you enjoy dancing, dining, live music or simply gambling.
Canberra's music scene caters for all possible tastes. Local and interstate bands perform at most clubs and pubs in the city, while there are several other venues that specialize in live music. Well-known Australian artists perform on a regular basis at Tilley's in Lyneham. Blues and jazz lovers are well looked after in Canberra, with such venues as PJ O'Reilly's, Canberra Tradesmen's Union Club, Canberra Southern Cross Club and the Wig and Pen offering live acts on a regular basis. Club Mombasa specializes in Afro and Reggae. Irish music has also become popular, with live performances every Sunday at the Phoenix.
Popular international acts visit the city more often these days, particularly at venues such as, the Royal Theatre and AIS arena. Tickets and information for these concerts are available through the Ticketek agency.
Theater & Cinema
Whether you prefer main stream or alternative cinema, Canberra will have something for you. With large cinema complexes in each town center—Hoyts in Belconnen and Woden, and Greater Union Civic in the city. Ronin Independent Center Cinema and Electric Shadows—have been the alternative and Australian film hotspots in Canberra for many years. International films and cult favorites get a great deal of screen time at these venues and at Screensound Australia.
Canberra hosts a full annual calendar of festivals, many of them internationally famous and visited by tourists from across the globe. The best known and loved of these festivals is Floriade, held in September and October each year when the shores of Lake Burley Griffin at Commonwealth Park are transformed into a botanical masterpiece. In April the National Folk Festival, a celebration of music, takes place at Exhibition Park. Sporting fans are also well catered for in Canberra with several rugby teams, including the Canberra Raiders rugby league.