The only question you should really be asking yourself, is when to visit Canberra? The great thing about Canberra is that it is easy to get to and great for a weekend.
Canberra, Australia’s often forgotten capital city. When compared to its competitors, Sydney and Melbourne. Or considered not worth time and effort. Which I always think is a huge shame, there is actually, a lot to do in Canberra. Sure the beaches are on the side of a river, which is cascading over sandstone rocks under the shade of eucalyptus. The nightlife is limited to a few small streets, with only boutique bars and pubs. Finding somewhere to eat can be tricky, as there are so many options (did you know that Canberra has more restaurants per capita than any other city). Don’t even get me started on the museums and art galleries – constantly getting rare and unique exhibitions. If you don’t want to expand your brain while having A LOT OF FUN, definitely don’t visit Questicon. Actually… there are a lot of things to do when you visit Canberra.
Put these 3 best weekends to visit Canberra in your diary and start planning your trip
Visit Canberra on the Floriade Weekend
When: Usually in during September (exact dates will be different every year)
Australia’s big flower festival. It isn’t as naff as it sounds – trust me. The organisers have spent a lot of time and energy to ensure that each year it does something different and stays current with recent trends. Sometimes the beds will have a powerful message about current events. Sometimes they will have a few satirical jokes hidden away for the savvy. But, the flowers are ALWAYS amazing. Situated right up against the lake just as the weather is starting to warm up, it is a fantastic day out.
There are also face paint stalls, food stalls, champagne stalls, jumping castles and market stalls. There is literally something for everyone. I do suggest you time your entrance early, as by lunchtime it is packed with tourists coming down from Sydney on coaches for the day.
Visit Canberra for ANZAC Day
- When: 25th April
Technically this isn’t a weekend, though it will fall close enough to a weekend most years that you can make a long weekend out of it. The Australian War Memorial is one of Canberra’s must-see attractions. It is powerful and humbling. It gives you an education about the various conflicts that Australia has been involved in, but in a way that keeps you interested.
On ANZAC Day, the parade leading up to the memorial packs out with people who come to attend the dawn service. It is both awe-inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. It is a unique way to experience and understand modern Australian history. Make sure you book early as lots of people travel in from out of state for the day.
Visit Canberra for the Canberra Balloon Spectacular
- When: Usually the first two weeks of March
Every year in Autumn, Canberra wakes up to see the skyline dotted with hot air balloons. The atmosphere in Canberra is perfect for hot air ballooning, being chilly enough that they can rise easily. And (usually) clear enough that you can a great view when you are up in the air. For two glorious weeks, you can find dozens of hot air balloons setting up on the lawns of Old Parliament House. On fog-free mornings, you can watch them take off over the lake and disappear into the sunrise. On the mornings when fog prohibits take off, they still go up and down on a rope. Watching each of these giant, colourful blobs take shape is fascinating for people of all ages.
It is an early morning though. You have to be there before the sun is up as the balloons usually take off at sunrise. But don’t worry, there are plenty of food trucks selling coffee and pancakes. Make sure you talk to the locals to learn about which balloons they are expecting to see this year. Balloon watching for Canberran’s is a sport in itself. They know the history of most of the iconic giants that visit each year.
This is my favourite weekend to visit Canberra, not just because of the balloons. I love seeing all of the European trees that line Lake Burley Griffen change to their autumn colours. The sunsets and sunrises are so spectacular at this time of year give the whole place a magical feeling that you don’t see in other parts of Australia. It’s chilly though, so pack a scarf.
As you can see there is a lot to do in Australia’s capital, especially if you time your visit for one of these 3 weekends. I grew up in Canberra, so if you are heading there and want some more tips, feel free to contact me using the contact form.