Planning a perfect day trip to Canberra | Self-drive from Sydney

day trip to canberra from Sydney. An epic day out

Australia’s capital is not the most appealing destination within Australia. As it does not offer the appeal that cities like Sydney and Melbourne offer. It is, however, a great option if you want to take a day trip from Sydney and enjoy some culture.

Home to many imposing government buildings, stunning war monuments and lots of cultural treasures. Canberra is also known for its fantastic festivals, including the famous Floriade, a celebration of the city’s many spring blooms.

In this post, I will show you everything you need to plan your perfect Canberra day trip.

EXPLORING CANBERRA FOR THE FIRST TIME

The first time I went to Canberra I was 5 and not really interested in anything besides the food, typical kid of course. Mom – We’re going to Canberra Me: do they have food there? Mom- yes Me: yay!! Let’s go to Canberra! Of course, the real reason she wanted to take me there was to immerse my young self in Australian culture and politics and to see the capital city of my dad’s homeland.

To be completely honest, I don’t remember much except for getting sore feet (from all the walking) and I remember thinking we were in the jungle for some crazy weird reason? (btw it doesn’t look like the jungle at all) but kids’ imaginations and all that hoo-hah! So when my Mom and I decided to go on a road trip from Sydney to Canberra. We spent a day here checking the capital out and MAN did it disappoint! Oh wait just kidding….. it was amazing! Hehehe! Tricked ya!

Below I have listed a few of my personal must-see places of this incredible city, she’s no Washington but well at least you can see kangaroo’s here. Enjoy!

KINGS PARK 

I’ll start by saying, one of the many great things about Canberra is that the majority of activities are free…. Whoop whoop! So obviously great for any budget.

Kings Park is generally one of the 1st places you see once entering into the city, it is big, it’s bold, it’s beautiful! (its easy-breezy cover-girl) just kidding! But if this place was a cover-girl…. Dang it! She would be the Gisele of all parks.

With many walks (around Lake Burley), activities and stunning views all in one, you would be silly to miss this place as seen in the picture above, the park also has the national Carillon, that was opened by THE QUEEN herself! Sometime 1000 years ago hehe.

THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL 

This War Memorial/Museum is nuts! And I mean that in the best way possible… as in, it is bloody huge and definitely been well made and thought through. There is oogles and oogles of information on all the wars that Australia has participated in since ww1, until today in Afghanistan.

I have to admit I did get teary-eyed in some places as my dad and his pop were both proudly Anzac’s and the way they have created the museum is to truly immerse yourself in the wars and feel and hear what the men and women went through – so definitely take some tissues… I think it would make even the toughest of men shed a tear.

There is A LOT to see and I don’t mean that lightly, I genuinely think if you wanted to go through all of the museums properly, then you would practically need a whole two days. We only managed to squeeze in half a day and had to pass or rush through a lot of it. It was truly touching and beautifully set up and ended up being one of my favourite things that we got to see.

TELSTRA TOWER 

Views upon views upon views….yup you can see everything from up there! A 5-minute ride up to the top of black mountain and what you will get is 360-degree views of the whole of Canberra and let me tell ya, she’s pretty!

We were very lucky on the day we went, as there was literally not one cloud in the sky – making for sensational pictures!

COCKINGTON GARDENS

Cockington GardensCockington Gardens

At first when I heard that there was a park that held miniatures – I really freaked out, it just sounds so creepy… right? Or is that just me? Either way, much to my delight it was AMAZING! Miniature buildings, famous places, historical homes and a “world section” that has miniature iconic buildings that represent every country in the world! WOW! No need to travel anymore haha just visit the Cockington Gardens 😉

PARLIAMENT HOUSE OLD AND NEW 

I think whenever you visit a capital city, you must visit the parliament houses, right? I mean its where all the action happens for the country, its where all the fancy elite peoples of the world come to eat and speak and argue!!

Unlike a lot of the world’s parliamentary buildings, we have two… the old and the new.

The old one was too old and closed for business in the late 80’s – it is now a museum and the new parliament house is what’s used for today’s political debates and arguing’s etc.

Both full of history and amazingness, I personally found the old parliament house a little boring… however, you do get to see the Queen’s jewels (hehe the queen’s jewels, wink) which was pretty fabulous. The new parliament house is big and fancy and very informative of the last 20 years of Australian politics – if you can only make it to one, then I advise visiting the New Parliament House.

Mount Ainslie

A short drive up to the peak of Mount Ainslie gives you some incredible views across the city. The top of Mount Ainslie forms part of a central axis that goes straight through the middle of Parliament House, offering some incredible views. If you feel like going for a hike, it will around 1 hour and 30 minutes return. There is a large background near the top, so there will be plenty of parking available if you want to drive.

There are of course many, many wonderful things to see in Canberra that we did miss, like the Zoo and Dinosaurs (yes, they have dinosaurs in Canberra, the real-life Jurassic park!) but I felt in my short few days in the capital (not hunger games haha) that I really got to see the magical side to this incredible place and truly left brighter, smarter (questionable) and more informed about Australia. So as the famous saying goes – do yourself a favour and visit Canberra. 

BASIC INFORMATION | CANBERRA

Day trip from Sydney to canberra

Language English
Time Zone UTC+10
Electricity Flat three-pin plug. Electrical power in Australia runs on a cycle of 50hz, and a voltage of 230 Volt.
Currency Australian Dollar ($).
Tipping In Australia, you don’t have to tip – ever. But you can if you want to.
Weather January is the hottest month in Canberra with an average temperature of 69°F (21°C) and the coldest is July at 42°F (6°C) with the most daily sunshine hours at 10 in February. The wettest month is March with an average of 60mm of rain.

PRONUNCIATION OF CANBERRA

Like all Australian words, it is not as it seems, most tourists pronounce Canberra like Can–ber–ah , I can’t bare her hahaha!

But it’s actually pronounced Can-brah… like brah! You can thank me later.

HOW TO GET THERE

The train will take you about 4 hours and costs $28.25. You have to reserve your seat on the train, you can do that HERE.

By bus, it will take you 3 hours and 30 minutes. If you take the Murry coaches it will cost $38. To book and for more information click HERE.

If you are driving yourself then it will take about 3 hours from Sydney, about 286 km which is equal to 177 miles.

GETTING AROUND CANBERRA

I found that driving is one of the best ways to see Canberra. As the attractions are located pretty far from each other. Additionally, there is plenty of parking everywhere, making it easier to drive. However, you can get pretty much anywhere with Canberra’s public transport option, Transport Canberra operates the public bus and light rail network, a convenient and cost-effective way for visitors to get around Canberra. You can also take advantage of Canberra’s taxi cabs and ride-sharing services.

There is also a free Culture Loop bus to 10 attractions. Operating daily from 9 am to 5 pm, you can park once and ride all day for free. The Culture Loop stops include Parliament House, Museum of Australian Democracy, National Library of Australia, Questacon, National Museum of Australia, National Capital Exhibition and the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre, National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra Museum and Gallery and the Canberra Centre.

BEST TIME TO VISIT CANBERRA

I would say that September to November is the best time to check out Canberra. In general, the weather is pleasant at this time of the year. The mornings and the nights are cool while it is pleasantly sunny during the day time, making it perfect for exploring the city.

Have you ever been to Canberra? What did you think of Australia’s main capital? Let me know in the comment below.

This post was written by Kim. 
Thank you, Kim, for writing this great blog post for Bondi to Basic. 

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