We’ve compiled the best of the best in Canberra - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Australian War Memorial


    Both as a moving memorial to Australians who served their country in wartime and as a military museum, this is a shrine of great national importance and the most popular attraction in the capital. The museum explores Australian military involvement from the late 19th century through the 1970s and Vietnam up to Iraq and Afghanistan today. Displays include a Lancaster bomber, a Spitfire, tanks, landing barges, and sections of two of the Japanese midget submarines that infiltrated Sydney Harbour during World War II, as well as more interactive displays in the Anzac Hall. Anzac is an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, formed during World War I. One of the most moving places is the domed Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that stands above the Pool of Reflection and the Roll of Honour, which are two walls of names honoring the thousands of Australians who have died in all military conflicts. There are a range of free guided tours, led by volunteers, throughout the day. You can best appreciate the impressive facade of the War Memorial from the broad avenue of Anzac Parade. The avenue is flanked by several memorials commemorating the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Nursing Corps, as well as some of the campaigns in which Australian troops have fought, including the Vietnam War. At closing time a bugler or bagpiper plays the emotive Last Post outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    Treloar Crescent
    - 02 - 6243–4211

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily 10–5
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  • 2. National Gallery of Australia


    The most comprehensive collection of Australian art in the country is on exhibit in the nation's premier art gallery, including superlative works of Aboriginal art and paintings by such famous native sons as Arthur Streeton, Sidney Nolan, and Arthur Boyd. The gallery also contains a sprinkling of works by European and American masters, including Rodin, Picasso, Pollock, and Warhol, as well as art and artifacts from closer to home, Southeast Asia. Free guided tours on a variety of topics with excellent guides begin in the foyer each day—check the website for details. A new wing, containing 13 galleries, is dedicated to indigenous art. The gallery extends outside into the Sculpture Garden, and the innovative Fog Sculpture takes place (outdoors) from 12:30 to 2 pm daily.

    Parkes Pl.
    - 02 - 6240–6411

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily 10–5
  • 3. National Museum of Australia


    This unstuffy museum is spectacularly set on Acton Peninsula, thrust out over the calm waters of Lake Burley Griffin. The museum highlights the stories of Australia and Australians by exploring the key people, events, and issues that shaped and influenced the nation. Memorabilia include a carcass of the extinct Tasmanian tiger, the old Bentley beloved by former Prime Minister Robert Menzies, and the black baby garments worn by dingo victim Azaria Chamberlain (whose story was made famous in the Meryl Streep film A Cry in the Dark). Circa, a 12-minute movie, gives a fascinating snapshot of Australian history and should be your first port of call. Children love the KSpace display, an exhibit where they can use computers and 3-D technology to design a space-age city of the future. You can also take a guided tour—the First Australians tours cost A$15 as does the Building and Architecture tour. 

    Lawson Crescent, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 2601, Australia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
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  • 4. Parliament House

    Capital Hill

    Much of this vast futuristic structure is submerged, covered by a domed glass roof that follows the contours of Capital Hill. You approach the building across a vast courtyard with a central mosaic titled Meeting Place, designed by Aboriginal artist Nelson Tjakamarra. Native timber has been used almost exclusively throughout the building, and the work of some of Australia's finest contemporary artists hangs on the walls. Parliament generally sits Monday to Thursday mid-February to late June and mid-August to mid-December. Both chambers have public galleries, but the debates in the House of Representatives, where the prime minister sits, are livelier and more newsworthy than those in the Senate. Free 40-minute guided tours take place at 9:30, 11, 1, 2, and 3 daily.

    Parliament Dr.
    - 02 - 6277–5399

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily 9–5, later when Parliament is session
  • 5. Poachers Pantry & Wily Trout Vineyard

    This favorite among gourmands is 25 minutes from Canberra. Here you'll find a tasting room offering good examples of Pinot Noir and Shiraz, and fabulous food and smoked goods offered by Poachers Pantry and the award-winning Smokehouse Cafe. Stock up on picnic-style smoked meats, poultry, and vegetables at the Pantry, or visit the café for a memorable countryside dining experience in a historic cottage. Poachers Panty is one of the 25 operators who make up the Poacher's Way (), a collective of food emporiums, wineries, restaurants, galleries, and experiences that are loosely linked by a trail and that provide memorable regional experiences.

    431 Nanima Rd.
    - 02 - 6230–2487
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  • 6. Questacon—The National Science and Technology Centre


    This interactive science facility is the city's most entertaining museum, especially for kids. About 200 hands-on exhibits in seven galleries use high-tech computer gadgetry and everything from pendulums to feathers to illustrate principles of mathematics, physics, and human perception. There are daily stage shows (about such things as rockets and natural disasters), puppet shows, and talks. Staff members explain the scientific principles behind the exhibits. The free-fall slide (with a drop of 20 feet) and the 360-degree swing are huge hits with all ages. It's pricey, but kids (and their parents) love it.

    King Edward Terr.
    - 02 - 6270–2800

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: A$23
  • 7. Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)


    Aussies are obsessed with sports, so its no surprise that this 150-acre site, established to improve the performance of Australia's elite athletes, is such a big draw. Daily 1½-hour tours, some guided by AIS athletes, explore the state-of-the-art facilities, where you may be able to watch some of the institute's Olympic-caliber squads in training for archery, gymnastics, swimming, soccer, and other sports. The second half of the tour takes you through the Sports Visitors Centre, where displays, hands-on exhibits, and a video wall show the achievements of Australian sporting stars. Afterward, you can use the tennis courts and other facilities for a fee.

    Leverrier Crescent
    - 02 - 6214–1010

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Guided tour A$18
  • 8. Australian National Botanic Gardens


    Australian plants and trees have evolved in isolation from the rest of the world, and these delightful gardens on the lower slopes of Black Mountain display the continent's best collection of this unique flora. The rain forest, rock gardens, Tasmanian alpine garden, and eucalyptus lawn—with more than 600 species of eucalyptus—number among the 125-acre site's highlights. Two self-guided nature trails start from the rain-forest gully, and free guided tours depart from the visitor center daily at 11 and 2. Prebooked and more individualized guided tours cost A$5 per person.

    Clunies Ross St.
    - 02 - 6250–9540

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily 8:30–5, weekends in Jan. 8:30–8 pm, visitor center 9:30–4:30
  • 9. Bookplate


    A good spot to catch your breath amid the Parliamentary Triangle's mix of history, culture, and science is Bookplate, in the foyer of the National Library. It has lovely stained glass windows and extends out onto a patio overlooking the lake. Sandwiches, salads, cakes, warming soup and curry in the winter, and tea and coffee are served weekdays 7:30–5 (until 4 on Friday) and weekends 9–4.

    Parkes Pl.
    - 02 - 6262–1154
  • 10. Brindabella Hills Winery

    It's worth heading to the cellar door at this winery (weekends only) to taste the Reserve Shiraz, one of the varieties that this family-run operation specializes in. The vineyard is ringed by the lovely Brindabella Range, providing a gorgeous setting on a sunny day for a picnic or barbecue. Light lunches are served on weekends, often accompanied by a jazz band. The vineyard is 25 km (16 miles) north of Canberra.

    156 Woodgrove Close
    - 02 - 6230–2583
  • 11. Cockington Green Gardens


    You'll feel like Gulliver walking through this miniature village and gardens 15 km (9 miles) northwest of the center of Canberra. Named after a small town in England, this site is a big hit with children who love wandering past the football stadium and hearing the roar of the crowd, and seeing classic structures such as Stonehenge, a miniature turf maze, windmills, and a cricket match on the village green. They'll also love taking a ride on the miniature train through the gardens. Cockington Green began as a miniature museum for all things English (country cottages, village church, etc.) more than 30 years ago; however, many international miniature buildings—such as theTenochtitlan Temple in Mexico, the Chateau Bojnice in Slovakia, and India's Red Fort—have been added over the years. It is near Gold Creek Village shopping center; take the Barton Highway and head toward Yass.

    11 Gold Creek Rd.
    - 02 - 6230–2273

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: A$20
  • 12. High Court of Australia


    As its name implies, this gleaming concrete-and-glass structure is the ultimate court of law in the nation's judicial system. The court of seven justices convenes only to determine constitutional matters or major principles of law. Inside the main entrance, the public hall contains a number of murals depicting constitutional and geographic themes. Each of the three courtrooms over which the justices preside has a public gallery, and you can observe the proceedings when the court is in session.

    Parkes Pl.
    - 02 - 6270–6811

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Weekdays 9:45–4:30, Sun. noon–4
  • 13. Lambert Vineyards

    You either like the style of this modern complex with cellar door or you don't—it provokes strong opinions on the Canberra wine trail. Its wines are generally popular, however. As it is more than 2,600 feet above sea level, it produces mostly red cool-climate varieties. After your tasting, don't miss the barrel room, which holds approximately 250 barrels of maturing wine.

    810 Norton Rd.
    - 02 - 6238–3866
  • 14. Lanyon Homestead

    When it was built in 1859 on the plain beside the Murrumbidgee River, this wonderfully restored homestead from pioneering days was the centerpiece of a self-contained community. Many of the outbuildings and workshops where servants and the homestead's convict labor lived have been similarly well preserved. The gardens are lovely to wander around in, too.

    Tharwa Dr.
    - 02 - 6235–5677

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: A$7
  • 15. Lark Hill Winery

    This family-run enterprise overlooking (the usually bone-dry) Lake George specializes in biodynamic Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir varieties. After your tasting, have lunch at the restaurant (weekends only, bookings essential) and sit out on the deck that looks out over the vines.

    Bungendore and Joe Rocks Rds.
    - 02 - 6238–1393
  • 16. Lerida Estate Wines

    About 45 km (28 miles) out of Canberra, this highly respected winery is as famous for its design by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Glenn Murcutt as it is for its mid-price bottles. Try the Proprietor's Selection if its available at the cellar door—the Chardonnay is excellent. The tasting room and adjoining café, which serves light seasonal meals, enjoy lovely views over the often dry Lake George. Visitors, in groups of six or more, who make an appointment in advance can take either a 40-minute or 60-minute tour of the winery followed by tutored wine tasting priced from A$7.50 to A$12.50 per person.

    Federal Hwy.
    - 02 - 6295–6640
  • 17. Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House


    This museum is inside the Old Parliament House. Curators use stories of real people and events to trace the history of democracy both in Australia and abroad. The museum features five exhibits, as well as the opportunity to see the original chambers and prime minister's office. There are free 45-minute guided tours every day starting at 9:45 am, with the last at 3:45 pm. While you're in the area, take a stroll through the delightful Rose Gardens on both sides of the Old Parliament House building. Across the road from the entrance, visit the controversial Aboriginal Tent Embassy, established in 1972 to proclaim the Aboriginal people as Australia's "first people" and to promote recognition of their fight for land rights.

    18 King George Terr.
    - 02 - 6270–8221

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: A$2, Daily 9–5
  • 18. National Capital Exhibition

    Commonwealth Park

    Photographs, plans, audiovisual displays, and a laser model inside this lakeside pavilion illustrate the past, present, and future development of Canberra. Exhibits cover the time of the early settlers, Walter Burley Griffin's winning design for the city, and plans for the coming decades. From the pavilion's terrace there are sweeping views of the Parliamentary Triangle across the lake.

    Barrine Dr.
    - 02 - 6272–2902

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 19. National Film & Sound Archive


    Housed in one of Canberra's most beautiful art deco buildings, this museum displays Australia's audio-visual cultural history. Among the many exhibits are costumes from films including Muriel's Wedding,The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Ned Kelly, along with vintage film, sound equipment, and a film still collection of more than 300,000 images. You can relax in the small theatrette (designed along early 20th-century theater lines) and watch some of the country's early news reels and short films (some are very funny). Watch arthouse movies (at an extra cost of around A$5–A$25) in the beautiful Arc cinema, which regularly screens classic movies and other nonmainstream cinematic gems.

    McCoy Circuit
    - 02 - 6248–2000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Open some weekends for special events, Weekdays 9–5
  • 20. National Library of Australia


    Constructed loosely on the design of the Parthenon in Athens, this library houses more than 5 million books and 500,000 photographs, maps, drawings, and recordings of oral history. Don't miss the state-of-the-art Treasures Gallery, which displays 80 of the library's prized pieces, such as Captain James Cook's journal of the Endeavour and Australia's only complete original convict uniform. A free Treasures Gallery tour takes place daily at 11:30 am, and a behind-the-scenes tour takes place on Thursday at 2 pm. The café has a wonderful view, and the bookshop is a browser's and buyer's delight.

    Parkes Pl.
    - 02 - 6262–1111

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Mon.–Thurs. 10–8, Fri. and Sat. 10–5, Sun. 1:30–5

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