Guides

All The Good Food, Nice Wine & Beautiful Hikes Perfect For Your Next Weekend In Canberra

Despite what you might remember from your primary school government excursion, Canberra is more than Parliament House and Questacon. In fact, it’s actually a pretty sweet place for a weekend away.

Before you scoff, it’s had a bit of a glow-up in the last decade. It’s got a thriving food scene and is surrounded by top-notch wineries. If you’re not into galleries, there are great opportunities for hiking and getting in touch with nature, as well as some epic spots for afternoon drinks. It is a holiday, after all!

Where to eat and drink

For a pretty small city, Canberra actually has a lot of great places for food. Obviously you need to start your day with a good coffee, so hit up Cupping Room for some of the best in the city – they have some killer brekky options as well.

If you’ve had a rough night, Kyo Coffee Project has free Berocca on the menu alongside their strong coffee. Teddy Picker’s is a top bougie brunch option, just don’t visit without trying their french toast with Messina sorbet.

Next door is The Pedlar, another great foodie spot and a prime place for a long boozy lunch. Local Press is the best option for the health-conscious, with house-made and organic whole foods.

When you’re hungry again, 106 Hotpot in the city is a fun self-serve restaurant — like a sushi train but with Japanese, Chinese and Thai fusion dishes.

If you’re keen to splurge on a fancy dinner, Pilot does an epic eight-course degustation of incredible modern Australian dishes. Their Sunday lunch menu is a little more casual (and cheaper) if you’re on a budget. Fares Bueller is an awesome Lebanese food truck open weekends in Braddon, and Orto in Garran has the best pizza in the city.

The best part of holidays is that you can start drinking whenever you like. Bar Rochford is a local fave with good cocktails and a long wine list – try to nab a cute booth or just perch at the bar.

Beer lovers have to stop by BentSpoke Brewing, a craft brewery with 18 beers on tap. Caribou Kingston is a Canadian-themed pub with a delicious food menu featuring poutine, of course.

If no-one can decide what they want to eat, Coop at Soho is an outdoor food hall with options like the iconic Canberra fave Brodburger, as well as Peruvian street food and hand-made dumplings.

Where to spend the day

We all know that Canberra has a ton of great galleries. The National Gallery (and sculpture garden)  is a classic fave, as is the Portrait Gallery and the National Museum. Before you visit make sure to book in a free time slot online to make sure you’re staying COVID-safe.

Once you’ve had your culture hit, spend an hour at one of Canberra’s iconic markets. On Saturday mornings, the Capital Region Farmers Markets has a huge stock of local produce, flowers, baked goodies and homemade food. The beloved Sunday Old Bus Depot Market is closed due to COVID, but keep an eye out for their return.

 

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Did you know that the land around Canberra is actually a thriving cool-climate wine region? In fact, there are over 30 cellar doors within a half-hour drive of the city, so you really should dedicate at least an afternoon to wine tasting. Most group wine tours are on hold for the time being, so either splurge for a private tour or draw straws to find your designated driver.

Where to enjoy the great outdoors

Yes, a trip to Canberra is obviously an urban getaway, but because the city’s so small it’s very easy to get out in nature. Just 40km south of Canberra is heritage-listed Namadgi National Park, which is great for hiking and wildlife spotting. Keep your eyes peeled for swamp wallabies, eastern grey kangaroos, echidnas, wombats and emus, just to name a few. The popular Booroomba Rocks hike is closed for bushfire recovery, but the Square Rock hike is a good second choice.

 

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Staying in the city, the walk around Lake Burley Griffin is flat and chill, with lovely views. Or Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary is a beautiful parkland designed to reintroduce native species for conservation reasons. You can take a guided tour or just go for a wander.

Canberra’s answer to the Bondi to Bronte walk (aka, the weekend hike everyone tackles in trendy activewear) is the One Tree Hill Lookout – it’s steep but offers amazing views from the summit, and should take you about three hours. It’s a wonderful sunset spot as well.

If you just want to be outside with minimal physical exercise, the National Botanic Gardens is a lovely place for an afternoon amble through the trees.

Where to stay

It’s easy to just book an Airbnb and be done with it, but there are some pretty cool accommodation spots around the city you should check out first. Mount Majura vineyard has an epic glamping setup, with bell tents nestled between the vines and a fruit orchard.

 

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Ovolo Nishi has stunning themed rooms, but in a ‘artistic design’ way and not in a ‘seedy sex motel’ way. They’re each designed to elicit a certain feeling: choose from Cosy, Snug, Original, Creative or Meandering. The QT is always going to be a cool option, and the one in Canberra is no exception, with a laneway speakeasy and a rooftop bar for summer.

(Lead Image: Instagram / @thepedlar)