Canberra, Australia’s “bush capital” is often overlooked in favor of Sydney and Melbourne. Its unique bush setting makes it one of the most beautiful cities in Australia. During the summer months, it is surrounded by greenery and vibrant floral displays. In the fall, the deciduous trees put on a spectacular golden display.

Whether you are interested in outdoor activities, cultural experiences, museums and art galleries, or fun things to do with kids, Canberra has something for everyone. Canberra is much cheaper than the more popular cities. In fact, there are many free things to do in Canberra.

Free Things To Do In Canberra

Visit Parliament House

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Australian Parliament House would be one of the first Canberra attractions most visitors will think of. But did you know we have two?

1.Old Parliament House

Old Parliament House was the center of Australian Democracy from 1927 to 1988 when the current building was completed. Today you can wander through the extensive rose gardens and visit the Museum of Australian Democracy. Guided tours are also available from $5 for families.

2.Parliament House

The flagpole above Parliament House on Capital Hill is an unmistakable Canberra landmark. Entry to Parliament House is free once you have passed through the security checkpoints. Free guided tours will take you through the marble hallways, both chambers of parliament and also the impressive art collections and a display of historic documents.

Discover the Australian War Memorial.


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3.Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial, located in Campbell is one of Canberra’s most popular attractions. Here you will find contemplative commemorative spaces as well as an extensive war museum with historic artifacts and documents telling the stories which shaped Australia. Entry is free, with guided tours each hour.

Looking from the Australian War Memorial down Anzac Parade, you have a great view over Old Parliament House, to the current Parliament House on Capitol Hill with it’s now iconic flagpole flying high over Canberra.

4.Anzac Parade Commemorative walkway

The Anzac Parade Commemorative walkway is a Canberra landmark. The red gravel drive leading towards Parliament House is lined with memorials to the ANZACS who have fought and died in a war and is well worth exploring.

Explore Canberra’s museums


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Canberra is home to a wealth of museums, where you can browse through the permanent exhibits for free. Special exhibitions will attract an entry fee. Most are located within close proximity to each other in Parkes, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

5.Australian National Library

The Australian National Library in Parkes hosts a range of free exhibitions and activities. Here you will find much more than just books, the library hosts a range of free exhibits. In the Treasures Gallery, you will find artifacts from the life of Australian poet, Henry Lawson, together with Australian sporting memorabilia. The collection also displays maps, photos, diaries, paintings and artifacts which tell Australia’s story.

6.Australian National Museum

The Australian National Museum in Acton holds many national treasures. Among these, you will find the 1866 Melbourne Cup, collections of historic motor vehicles, relics from our colonial history and items which are significant to Australian social, military and political history. Entry to the permanent exhibits is free.

7.Canberra Museum

In the heart of the city, you will find the Canberra Museum (not to be confused with the National Museum). Here you can learn about the history of our capital, from the early farming history, through the initial planning stages for the national capital which was established in 1913, to the current day.

8.Royal Australian Mint

At the Royal Australian Mint in Deakin, you can not only learn the history of Australia’s currency, but you can also view coins being made and strike a coin yourself. Entry is Free with half-hour guided tours.

Browse through an Art Gallery


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Whatever your artistic interests, Canberra’s art galleries have something to interest all tastes. Most are within very close proximity of the museums and entry is free to the permanent exhibitions.

9.Australian National Gallery

The Australian National Gallery in Parkes houses the famous “Blue Poles” by Jackson Pollock and Sidney Nolan’s “Ned Kelly” series among its collection. Free guided tours of the major works are available every half hour.

10.National Portrait Gallery

Also in Parkes, you will find the National Portrait Gallery, with its a fascinating collection of portraiture of over 400 people who have shaped Australian history.  Free guided tours are available at 11.30am daily.

11.Australian National University School of Art

If you are interested in emerging artists, the Australian National University School of Art opens its gallery on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons between noon and 5pm.  Enjoy an afternoon browsing through the works of some of Australia’s up and coming artists.

Explore Lake Burley Griffin


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12.Lake Burley Griffin

The centerpiece of Canberra is Lake Burley Griffin. The man-made lake is surrounded by parklands which make the perfect setting for a picnic or to simply laze in the sun and soak in the scenery. You can enjoy a stroll or cycle along the 40 kilometers of walkways around the lake, or in summer you can enjoy a paddle boat ride.

13. Carillon

In the middle of the lake, you will see the 50-meter tall Carillon on Aspen Island.  Regular free Carillon recitals are held on the island, the chime of the 55 brass bells resounding across Canberra. The instrument was a gift to the people of the ACT from the British as a 50th-anniversary present.

14.Captain James Cook Memorial Fountain

Also look out for the Captain James Cook Memorial Fountain, nearby which operates between 11 am and 2 pm daily.

15.Weston Park

Weston Park was always one of our favorite picnic areas. Shady barbecue areas, safe swimming spots, and kids play areas, including a small water park, mini golf and a maze make it a perfect summers’ day out

Hike to a lookout


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16.Black Mountain

Take a ride up to Black Mountain and enjoy one of the many marked walks through the local bushland. This is a natural habitat for over 500 species of birds, reptiles, and insects, so you are bound to see some of the local willdlife in their natural environment. While you are there, you can take a ride to the top of the Telstra tower. At nearly 200 meters tall, you have panoramic views over the region. Entry is $7.50 for adults, $3 children.

17.Mount Ainslie

From the Australian War Memorial in Campbell, you can take the 4.2km walk to the summit of Mount Ainslie. If hiking is not your thing, you can also drive to the lookout, which is a popular picnic spot, offering great views over Canberra and the Brindabella mountains beyond.

18.Mount Stromlo Observatory

A fifteen-minute drive from the city center brings you to the site of the Mount Stromlo Observatory. The observatory was destroyed by a bushfire in 2003, however, the site still provides an excellent picnic spot with views over the Brindabella ranges. There are a number of marked walking trails suitable for hikers or cyclists of all fitness levels.

Walk through the gardens


19.National Botanical Gardens

A few minutes from the center of Canberra you will find the National Botanical Gardens, where you can enjoy free guided tours of the native plant collections. The gardens feature and cultivate plant species from all over Australia. They also host regular events and exhibitions, such as sculpture, painting and botanical workshops.

20.Commonwealth Park

Commonwealth Park is the perfect lakeside park in which to relax and enjoy the changing seasonal views. Stroll among the trees around the lake and browse the many garden sculptures.


During spring Commonwealth Park is bursting with colour as Floriade, an annual exhibition of plants, shrubs, floral displays and all things garden begins. Entry to the displays is free, and a range of entertainment and workshops are available for an entry fee.

Head to the markets


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22.Gold Creek Village

Gold Creek Village in the north of Canberra is a destination in itself. The village has a range of old-fashioned shops where you will find arts and crafts, handmade toys, furniture and clothes and the hub of the town- the boiled lolly shop. There is a range of galleries and attractions, which do charge an entry fee, including the National Dinosaur Museum, Cockington Green miniature village, and the walk-in bird aviary. Adjacent Federation Square holds a range of cafes and retail outlets.

23.Farmers’ Markets

Also in North Canberra, Exhibition Park holds the Farmers’ Markets every Saturday morning from 7.30am. Be there early to pick up the best fresh local produce.

24.Old Bus Depot Markets

The Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston in Canberra’s south is open every Sunday. Located in an old industrial warehouse, you can browse through hundreds of stalls for jewellery, clothes, arts and crafts as well as the best local food and produce.

Take a drive around the embassies

25.Embassy Drive

A unique feature of Canberra is over 80 embassies on Embassy Drive in the suburb of Yarralumla. Take a leisurely drive around and spot the distinctive architecture representing each of the various countries.

See the oldest home in Canberra

Blundells Cottage in Parkes is an 1860’s workers cottage, which gives an insight into the lives of some of the regions earliest European residents. The displays cover the early colonial period until the area was proclaimed as the nation’s capital in 1913. The cottage is open from March until December each year and is closed during the hot summer months.

Whether you prefer to embrace the great outdoors and explore Canberra’s natural beauty, spend a fun day by the lake, or experience Canberra’s history and culture, there are many great free things to do in Canberra.

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