I recently spent a bit of time in Canberra which is (if you didn’t already know,) the capital of Australia. Canberra has always gotten a bad rap for being a boring city that is filled with government buildings and only inhabited by public servants and politicians. But Im here to tell you that its actually a really cool city! There has been a lot of new development in the last couple of years, some beautiful architecture is mixed amongst hipster suburbs and there is a pretty big foodie scene happening all around Canberra. So what is there to do in a weekend in Canberra? Let me show you!

New Acton

To begin with, the new suburb of New Acton is definitely worth checking out and staying at. I stayed at Hotel Hotel which is a big, new development that was completed in 2013 and houses Monster Bar and Kitchen, an art house cinema and Max Brenner chocolatier and has 68 rooms – which are Cosy, Original, Creative and Meandering. Each one is unique. There are also  apartments known as Design Icons. Hotel Hotel is where all the local Canberrians hang out after work and this place is off the charts with modern luxury and coolness. From the rain shower, to the Aesop products, sound proofing for an ultra quiet sleep, the most comfortable bed and pillows. There is nothing that you could want for. I will write a separate blog about how cool this place is because theres too much to mention in this blog.

 

The very modern and luxurious Hotel Hotel, New Acton
The very modern and luxurious Hotel Hotel, New Acton

 

My apartment at Hotel Hotel
My apartment at Hotel Hotel

 

Within the New Action precinct you have the Nishi Gallery which is a blank space for artists and curators to display all types of visual art.

 

Nishi Gallery, New Acton
Nishi Gallery, New Acton

 

New Acton is also home to some of the best restaurants and cafes in Canberra including A.Baker. This place is filled with the buzz of an inner city environment seven days a week whether it be for lovely daily baked artisan breads, contemporary dining in the regional produce restaurant, a relaxing cocktail in the downstairs bar or an evening event amongst the trees in the NewActon courtyard. It’s a place for all people, all times. The pastries are pretty damn delicious too.

 

A delicious almond croissant from A.Baker, New Acton
A delicious almond croissant from A.Baker, New Acton

 

Courtyard-New-Acton
A.Baker Courtyard, New Acton

 

Weird and wonderful sculptures, New Acton
Weird and wonderful sculptures, New Acton

 

New Acton is also home to The Cupping room which is known by the locals to pour the best coffee in Canberra. Coffee so good it rivals Melbourne baristas. There is also Mocan and Grout which do amazing food and is a cute little cosy cafe in amongst the New Acton precinct.

 

Mocan and Grout cafe, New Acton
Mocan and Grout cafe, New Acton

 

Braddon

 

Another cool suburb of Canberra is Braddon. In particular Lonsdale street, Braddon. This area used to be old car yards and has now been developed into a funky hipster hangout for 20 to 30 somethings. Braddon is home to The Hamlet which is a space created for food vans. I highly recommend Mr.Pappas pork belly sandwich. Carlos has brought his peruvian heritage and talent with him to Australia to serve up the tastiest dishes to the locals.

 

Pork Belly Sandwich from Mr.Papa, Braddon
Pork Belly Sandwich from Mr.Papa, Braddon

 

But really you can’t go wrong with any of the food vans at The Hamlet. There is always a string of people coming and going and just hanging out. Braddon is also home to other funky cafes and hidden behind the food vans at The Hamlet are a number of local designers that have opened pop-up shops selling jewellery, fashion, furniture and homewares.

 

Kin - Pop Up Jewellery store
Kin – Pop Up Jewellery store

 

In the newly opened ORI building which is another amazing architectural structure in itself is the famous Frugii Desert and laboratory for artisan ice cream made by the ice-cream alchemist John Marshall who I actually met while eating my pork belly sandwich at The Hamlet. He is the loveliest guy, and also loves the pork belly sandwich from Mr Papas! The ORI building is also home to Hive, Groom, Handsome Pretty and a mix of other quirky and fun homewares, art and fashion boutiques.

 

Hive - Quirky homewares store, Braddon
Hive – Quirky homewares store, Braddon

 

A massive piece of street art fills this alley way in Braddon
A massive piece of street art fills this alley way in Braddon

 

Lonsdale street, Braddon
Lonsdale street, Braddon

 

Food Vans at The Hamlet, Braddon
Food Vans at The Hamlet, Braddon

 

Lake Burley Griffin

You can’t come to Canberra without seeing the Lake Burley Griffin. Numerous important institutions, such as the National Gallery, National Library, and the High Court were built on its shores, and Parliament House is a short distance away. Its surrounds, consisting mainly of parklands, are popular with the locals who love to walk, run, cycle and relax by this beautiful lake. You can also sail and go for a cruise on the lake.

 

A beautiful day on Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra
A beautiful day on Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra

 

LBG
The Carillon on Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra

 

Hot Air Balooning over Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra
Hot Air Balooning over Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra

 

The Australian War Memorial

 

I am not a fan of war but this place is beautiful and is a really touching tribute to the sacrifice that our fellows Australians made for the freedom of this country so that we have the wonderful life and freedom that we have today. The Australian War Memorial was opened in 1941, and is widely regarded as one of the most significant memorials of its type in the world. At 11am each  morning there is the very moving Last Post Ceremony and each day honours one of the 62,000 who gave their lives in service.

 

AWM
The Australian War Memorial courtyard, Canberra

 

Beautiful gardens and sculptures surrounding the Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Beautiful gardens and sculptures surrounding the Australian War Memorial, Canberra

 

Hall of Honour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Hall of Honour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra

 

Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Australian War Memorial, Canberra

 

The Australian War Memorial from ANZAC parade, Canberra
The Australian War Memorial from ANZAC parade, Canberra

 

National Gallery of Australia

The National Gallery of Australia is the national art museum of Australia as well as the largest art museum in the country, holding more than 166,000 works of art. The gallery itself is hugely impressive with works by Pollock, Monet and Bacon and Hockney, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art collection is, understandably, the best in the world but another part to this gallery that a lot of people miss is the sculpture garden. Highlights are Fukiko Nakaya’s meditative fog sculpture and James Turells Skyspace “Within Without” which invites you to lie down inside a viewing chamber and watch the sky through a hole in the roof.

 

Monet - National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Monet – National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

 

Aboriginal Bark Paintings, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Aboriginal Bark Paintings, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

 

Meditative Fog Sculpture, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Fukiko Nakaya’s Meditative Fog Sculpture, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

 

Parliament House

You can’t come to Canberra without visiting Parliament House. You have to take the obligatory selfie out the front and then walk up onto the grass roof and even roll back down the hill if you are a big kid! You can also take a tour of the inside which is actually quite impressive. If Parliament is not sitting then you can visit the House of Representatives Room and the  Senate Room. Its actually not as big as it looks on television when they are yelling across the room to each other! The principal design of the structure is based on the shape of two boomerangs and is topped by an 81-metre (266 ft) flagpole with an Australian flag bigger than a double decker bus.

 

Parliament House, Canberra
Parliament House, Canberra

 

The Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra
The Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra

 

House of Representatives Chambers, Parliament House, Canberra
House of Representatives Chambers, Parliament House, Canberra

 

Senate Chamber, Parliament House, Canberra
Senate Chamber, Parliament House, Canberra

 

Sunset at Mount Ainslie Lookout

You can’t leave Canberra without watching the sun go down from Mount Ainslie Lookout. This view point sees you looking straight down Anzac Parade from behind the Australian War Memorial all the way to Parliament House.

 

Sunset from Mount Ainslie Lookout, Canberra
Sunset from Mount Ainslie Lookout, Canberra

 

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Canberra. I was really impressed with this city and look forward to returning again. There is so much more to do than what I have listed here too like the National Museum of Australia which tells the story and history of Australia, the National Arboretum which was a suburb that got burnt down in a horrific fire and has been regenerated into a green space, Mout Majura Vineyard, the only vineyard in the ACT with a vineyard that grows in red volcanic soil, Telstra Tower and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Have you been to Canberra recently or in the past? I would love to know your thoughts on it so leave a comment below and let me know!

 

www.visitcanberra.com.au

 

Hotel Hotel

25 Edinburgh Avenue

Canberra ACT 2601

www.hotel-hotel.com.au

12 thoughts on “How to spend a weekend in Canberra

  1. Wow – thanks for sharing! Canberra looks like an amazing city! In going to have to definitely visit! What was you favourite thing in Canberra?

    1. Thanks so much Andrew!! Its a great place. I had lots of favourite things but probably watching the hot air balloons fly over Lake Burley Griffin and the food! Such a good food scene. I absolutely loved exploring the suburbs of New Acton and Braddon too! 🙂

  2. Love, love, love the blog! Thank you so much for sharing your Canberra experience with everyone! It looks like an amazing & fun city!! Love the photos of New Acton & Braddon!!

  3. Awesome blog Larissa. I went to Canberra years ago on a school excursion. Looks like it has changed a lot since then. Makes me want to go back and check it out again! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much Jake! Im so glad you enjoyed it. You should definitely go check Canberra out again. I had a great time and look forward to going back again soon! 🙂

  4. Canberra look so cool. I have never really thought about visiting Canberra before but its somewhere that I would definitely put on my list now. Thanks for sharing Larissa.

    1. So glad you would add Canberra to your list Kiki! Its such a great city that gets overlooked because of Sydney and Melbourne. I had a great time there!

  5. I haven’t been to Canberra for years, but I will bear all this in mind if I am headed that way anytime soon. The view from Mt Ainslie seems pretty impressive I must say.

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