Canberra ACT Travel Guide
Why visit the ACT?
The seat of government, world-class museums and lots of beautiful parklands are just some of the reasons that the ACT makes a great getaway. The Australian Capital Territory has a decent wine scene, and there are plenty of great restaurants waiting to impress.
- 140 wineries
- More than 20 museums
- 43 Nature reserves
- Canberra is home to the most restaurants per capita in Australia
So let’s start exploring and see what takes your fancy.
Areas in The ACT
Canberra is a purpose-built city; They chose its site because of its location halfway between Sydney and Melbourne.
The main areas of the ACT are:
- Woden Valley
- Weston Creek
- Jervis Bay Territory
In Canberra where most visitors head the main areas are:
- Central Canberra, known as Civic
American architect Walter Burley Griffin’s winning design for Canberra was one of 137 entries
When to visit Canberra
The old saying there is no bad time to visit a place, only the wrong clothes apply firmly to the ACT. Winter is cold, summer is hot, and for eight months of the year, you need a jacket for the evenings.
Canberra draws big visitor numbers in early Autumn (March/April) and early Spring (October/November); both seasons bring stunning foliage and flower displays and an array of festivals. The weather at this time of year can be a bit changeable, so pack a warm jacket and an umbrella but, you are often greeted with blue skies.
Summer can be hot, temperatures in the high 30s celsius are not uncommon, and bushfires are a real threat in some seasons. Winter will make you glad the city is full of museums as being indoors is often preferred.
Be sure to pack warm clothes if visiting outside of the summer! I have been caught short a couple of times when it was much colder than predicted.
How to get to Canberra
Drive – Canberra is 287km southwest of Sydney, a comfortable 3.5-hour drive. The drive from Melbourne takes about 7.5 hours. From elsewhere, flying is your best option.
Bus – Buses from Sydney take 3 hrs and 45 minutes. The bus from Melbourne takes about 9 hours. Tickets can be as low as $25 from Sydney when booked in advance. Check Murrays and Greyhound website for the best prices.
Train – The train service from Sydney will take about 4 hours and 10 minutes. There are two or three direct services per day, depending on demand. The cheapest place to book your ticket is directly on their website. There is no direct service from Melbourne, there is a bus/train combo, but it takes a long time. The train terminates in Kingston where you can join a bus to the city (20 mins travel time).
Fly – There are regular flights from most states thanks to business travellers, but prices are not usually all that attractive. Bus service from the airport (Bus 11) will get you to the city for about $5.
Getting Around Canberra
Canberra operates bus and light rail services that link the suburbs to Civic (the city centre). You can read about the ticketing system, MyWay. Single tickets cost $3.22 and are valid for 90 minutes. A daily cap of $9.60 applies.
Most useful for visitors is the free Cultural Loop Service. The service operates from 9 am-5 pm on an hourly schedule. This service ceased during Covid but is expected to start again soon.
- Parliament House
- Museum of Australian Democracy
- National Library
- National Museum
- National Capital Exhibition
- Visitors Centre
- National Film and Sound Archive
- Canberra Museum and Gallery
- Canberra Centre.
There is also a good cycling network and a bike-share program.
Canberra is one city where having a car will certainly make your life easier, but don’t let the lack of a car stop you from visiting because it can be done. It just requires that you either love walking or are a little more organised.
Rideshare – services are legal and regulated in Canberra; you can use either Uber or Ola.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people.