Designed by visionary American architect Walter Burley Griffin, who was assisted by his wife Marion Mahony Griffin, Canberra features expansive open spaces, aesthetics influenced by the 19th-century Arts and Crafts Movement and a seemless alignment of built and natural elements. Unfortunately, the city is totally geared towards the car – it's difficult to explore by public transport and almost impossible to do so on foot. You really need wheels (two or four) to do it and its scenic natural surrounds justice.
Though it seems big on architectural symbolism and low on spontaneity, there is a fair bit going on behind the slightly sterile exterior. The cultural institutions have lively visitor and social programmes, there's a limited but often excellent choice of restaurants and cafes and there's also a lively bar scene that is fuelled by the city's university students. During parliamentary-sitting weeks the town hums with the business of national politics, but it can feel a bit dead during university holidays, especially around Christmas and New Year.
Best places to stay in Canberra
Australia - Canberra & Around (Chapter)
Canberra is where many of the decisions that shape Australia are made and where many of its major cultural institutions are located. Its museums and galleries are repositories of the artefacts and artworks that have defined Australia’s modern...
Ultimate Australian weekend escapes
Australians spend more than AU$51 billion on domestic travel every year and the latest stats from Tourism Australia suggest Aussies are trading long languid holidays for shorter stays focussed on making the most of a destination...
Canberra destination guides
Hit Australia's capital highlights: 2 days in Canberra
Some capital cities almost define the country they represent. What would France be without Paris, Italy without its Eternal City or England without London? Canberra, on the other hand, is so obscure many overseas visitors have never heard of it...
Canberra Day Trip from Sydney
Visit beautiful Canberra on a day trip from Sydney. The nation's capital - a purpose built city, ultra modern, with imposing architecture yet a rural charm of lakeside, gardens and open spaces. Come and discover this hi-tech city - home of superb national monuments, museums and galleries.
Canberra Explorer: Australia's Capital City Tour from Sydney
Enjoy this comprehensive day tour of Canberra, Australian's capital city. Travel south by coach from Sydney through the Goulburn region, one of Australia's premier sheep and wool growing areas, and on to Canberra.