City Guide: Canberra
Canberra is the capital of Australia and often overlooked when it comes to cities in Australia. However, I thought that the city, while small, is definitely interesting enough to visit. Read why in this extensive city guide!
I’ve been to quite a few cities over the course of the last years and particularly liked the Australian ones, be it Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. While I re-visited a few of those, I also wanted to experience a new city, so I thought that it would be interesting to have a look at Canberra. While I was made fun of for visiting, I can safely say: It was worth it even though Canberra might not have as much to offer as other cities in Australia.
The beautiful New Parliament in Canberra
The main attraction in Canberra definitely is the so-called New Parliament. It’s located on a hill and has a really special history and design.
While Canberra was just founded for being a capital, it was already planned that the parliament shall be something really special.
I’ll honestly say that this worked out really well as the New Parliament and especially the surroundings (in particular the Centenary Trail) have something particularly peaceful and nice.
The interior isn’t bad either, starting from the really beautiful foyer.
The big hall, which is used for events is worth having a look at.
However, the highlight definitely are the two chambers, which is where the fate of Australia is being decided upon.
As the parliament can be freely visited by everyone (you may need to book a free tour in case you are interested – I’d say it’s worth it), you can roam around quite a bit. The highlight of this is definitely going to the rooftop.
Here, you enjoy an incredible view of Canberra and the mountains in the background, making it a really special place, in my opinion. I’d say that even if you are not into politics, visiting the New Parliament in Canberra is quite an experience.
Historic Old Parliament House & Queen Elizabeth Terrace
There’s more than just the New Parliament on the “political side” of Canberra (the city center is on the other side of the river). Particularly, the Old Parliament right in front of it is worth having a look at.
Nowadays it houses a museum, which can access for a modest fee. It has lots of interesting history about democracy in Australia and the old parliament chambers – definitely worth having a look. If you just keep on walking from here in the direction of the water, you’ll pass nice gardens like the National Rose Garden and will soon find yourself at Reconcilation Place.
The whole area feels very backlaid and just incredibly nice to just roam around and enjoy the views.
Speaking of views, once you get down to the Elizabeth Terrace, you can walk along the water for a long time with nice views with the town and the parliament in the distance, which is really enjoyable!
Furthermore, this area has a couple of other noteworthy buildings (thought not particularly interesting in terms of design). These include the High Court of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia…
… as well as the National Library of Australia.
What I also though was worth having a look at is the Waterloo Bridge, which you can cross to get back to town – it just comes with a cool design.
I’d say that you can easily spend half or even full a day with just exploring this part of Canberra, including the two parliaments. It’s much more interesting and relaxing than you might think when reading this!
City Center & Canberra War Memorial
While the city center of Canberra is quite nice for getting something to eat or just go shopping, it’s not like there would be much history or any particular sights. However, there’s more spot on this side of town, which is definitely worth seeing. I’m speaking of the War Memorial of Canberra.
The whole monument is really fascinating and its standing on a small hill, overlooking the city with views up to the New Parliament.
Personally, I really enjoyed visiting the Canberra War Memorial, also known as ANZAC memorial and thought that the combination of history and peace makes it a really special and memorable place.
In the evening, there’s also a daily event in honor of one of the many people who died in the First or Second World War – very touching.
Overall impressions of Canberra
While I do understand that Canberra isn’t on your map if you have a limited time to explore Australia, I can definitely recommend paying the city a visit in case you happen to have some more time. The convenient location between Sydney and Melbourne makes it possible to “squeeze” Canberra in and I’d say that it’s really worth it for a day or two. While the city doesn’t come with the historic charme of other cities, I thought that the whole planning for building this city and particularly the politcal part was very well executed and makes Canberra very livable.
Do you have any questions about Canberra? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!