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Spotlight on Canberra

Canberra in summer abounds with amazing things to see, do and taste.

Photography by Visit Canberra

08 December 2021


Just a couple of hours’ drive from Sydney, or a quick flight from the major cities, Canberra offers a cornucopia of experiences.

The capital’s lushness is unparalleled at this time of year and it’s hard to imagine a better backdrop for an afternoon cycle, stroll or picnic.

With an abundance of cafes and national attractions dotted along Lake Burley Griffin’s perimeter, there’s no shortage of visual intrigue or sustenance to power your journey between the two bridges or beyond, by bike, foot or scooter.

No trip to Canberra would be complete without ticking off the top sights and iconic things to do, see and taste. In summer, experience Australia’s capital with this bucket list of the best activities from marvelling at Ancient Greek artefacts and exploring a foodie trail through to seeing masterpieces by Aussie icon Jeffrey Smart and sipping wine at cellar doors.


Celebrate one of Australia’s most acclaimed artists

A major exhibition of the work of celebrated artist Jeffrey Smart (11 December 2021 to 15 May 2022) at the National Gallery of Australia highlights the artists’ lasting legacy in urban and industrial modernity. This fresh perspective on Smart’s work commemorates 100 years since his birth, celebrating his understanding of geometry and composition.


Discover the stories of ancient Greece

Explore dozens of ancient artefacts from Greece at Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes, a major exhibition from the British Museum (17 December 2021 to 1 May 2022). It features more than 170 objects, ceramics, sculptures, pieces of armour and jewellery that have never before toured the Southern Hemisphere. See it at the National Museum of Australia.


Celebrate Australians in Hollywood

Delve into the world of talented Australian actors and filmmakers from Rebel Wilson to Baz Luhrmann at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, Australians & Hollywood (21 January to 17 July 2022). Exclusive to Canberra, this exhibition features never-before publicly seen costumes, original documents and footage as it tells tales of craft, talent and ambition.


Summernats 34 roars into town

Celebrate 34 years of the nation’s biggest car festival when street machines, hot rods and muscle cars roar in for Summernats (6 to 9 January 2022). Soak up the lively automotive atmosphere with the show ‘n’ shine, tyre burnouts and favourites like the city cruise and supercruise, live entertainment and the grand finale fireworks display.


New Year’s Eve celebrations return to the capital

New Year’s Eve is back this year with spectacular fireworks to welcome 2022 while providing support for local hospitality businesses. This year Canberrans and visitors are invited to picnic along the shores of Lake Burley Griffin from 6 pm and enjoy a family and community evening, ringing in the New Year with fireworks at 9 pm and 12 am.

The fireworks will be launched from multiple pontoons across central, east and west basins for the first time to ensure everyone will have a great view while being able to spread out and enjoy the evening in a COVID safe manner.


Sunset outdoor cinema

Taking place in the stunning grounds of the Australian National Botanic Gardens from November 2021 to January 2022, Sunset Cinema celebrates the perfect match of warm summer nights and cinema.  Enjoy watching a hot new release or all-time classic on a comfy bean bag in the Lawn Lounge or pick up a Sunset chair and spread out your blankets with a picnic. Order some mouth-watering dishes from the food truck, as well as get all your essential movie snacks like choc-tops, lollies and freshly popped popcorn! Head to the Sunset Bar for a refreshing G&T, a glass of wine or a frothy cold one from the selection of local beers.


Make a big splash

Get ready to have an awesome day out with friends and family as you climb, splash, slip and slide through a giant inflatable obstacle course. Black Mountain Peninsula transforms into an inflatable world with Canberra Aqua Park running until late February. The Aqua Park is made up of slides, ladders, and best of all the famous jumping pillow. The Park will offer something for everyone to beat the heat in summer.


Treat yourself to some-me-time

Locally created wellness brand Adytum has broadened to offer a flagship wellness space.  You would never know you are in the middle of the bustling Braddon precinct as you step inside the holistic health and wellness retreat. The sanctum includes an Elixir Bar, Apothecary Lab, a full-service day spa and mindfulness lounge, plus a bathhouse that includes a traditional hot rock sauna, Japanese Oak mineral bath (for a maximum of two people), and a cold pail shower, a first for the city.

Learn about Country

Reconnect with the land on a guided Indigenous tour with Dhawura Tours, learning about bush foods and Aboriginal interpretation of the landscape on tours to areas such as Mount Majura, Mount Taylor, Black Mountain and Flea Creek.


GoBoat Luxe

Launching this summer, GoBoat Luxe is a luxury on-lake experience from the GoBoat team, offering a new way to celebrate on the water with a capacity of eight guests plus a maximum of two crew. While the boat itself is still under wraps, we can reveal GoBoat Luxe is 50 percent bigger than a standard GoBoat and will feature a lounge at the back for the ultimate chill-out zone. Food and drink options will also be available for purchase to ensure there is maximum party-time.

In addition, GoBoat Luxe will have its own pontoon at Armada Outdoor Bar located on the northern shores of Lake Burley Griffin, with packages that allow you to arrive and head straight to your private VIP area to continue the party. Check out the website or Instagram for up to date information.


Pop up drinks venues

Soak up lake views, sunshine and good vibes at pop up venues, the House of Bubbles and the Pop Inn. A 1971 Citroen H Van brings sparkling, wine and beer to its pop-up locations while the Pop Inn runs from a mobile shipping container. Follow them on social media to find out where they will pop up next across the city over weekends.

Take a stroll around picturesque Lake Burley Griffin and stop off at Lerida Estate’s pop-up wine bar on the deck at the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre. With two delightful options to choose from – book the five-course tasting experience, which comes with an antipasto platter put together by the team at The Italian Place, or option two is to simply swing by and hopefully snare a wine barrel to lean on while you enjoy the spectacular view. You can taste one of five wines by the glass, with the wine list changing weekly. Open every day over the summer months between 12 to 4 pm.

Bookings are recommended, but if you miss out on getting a wine barrel, buy a bottle, some acrylic wine glasses and a takeaway antipasto platter and grab a spot on the grass. It’s the perfect way to end the day!


Some of the best lakeside dining spots to try

Explore the many cafes, restaurants and bars along the Kingston Foreshore. Watch the sunset with a side of fish and chips at casual outdoor eatery, Snapper on the Lake or both Waters Edge and The Boat House restaurants offer upscale dining and stunning sunset views across Lake Burley Griffin. In summer, enjoy a drink and tasty snacks at the outdoor Armada Bar. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset.


Hottest new restaurants

Did you know Canberra has more hatted restaurants per capita than any other Australian city? Book a table early to visit these popular restaurants that are all dedicated to creating exquisite dining experiences. Feast on Nikkei cuisine at INKA, authentic Japanese at RAKU and refined Aussie food at Corella Bar.


Long lazy lunch at one of the wineries

With more than 140 vineyards and 40 wineries within 35 minutes, you can linger longer in Canberra’s cool-climate wine region. Pair your glass of vino with a charcuterie board at Lerida Estate, wood-fired pizza at Four Winds Vineyard and delicious views at Brindabella Hills Winery, to name a few.



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