Looking for things to do in Darwin? You have come to the right place! Welcome to Darwin, the Northern Territory’s capital city. Darwin is one of Australia’s remotest towns, and it is closer to Singapore and Bali than it is to Sydney or Canberra. With its tropical climate and multicultural population, Darwin has an exotic charm that could almost make you think you were in Asia, rather than in one of Australia’s major cities. Nevertheless, many visitors to the Northern Territory see Darwin as a gateway to all of the attractions laying beyond this tropical town, such as Kakadu National Park, the Katherine area with Nitimiluk National Park, Litchfield National Park, or even the Kimberley Region in Western Australia. However, there many things to do in Darwin and visitors can easily fill a couple of days up to a week with a variety of activities and sights. Apart from enjoying our temperate climate, lazing at the hotel pool and working on your tan, you can learn about Darwin’s fascinating history, including Cyclone Tracy and war history, you can take part in our seasonal festivals and events, learn about and admire our impressive saltwater crocodiles or grab delicious street style food at one of our vibrant markets and food vans. Darwin also has excellent museums and art galleries that are well worth spending some time at, and once you are done with all that sightseeing, you can always relax at one of our beautiful beaches. Who said there was nothing to do in Darwin? Read on for more detailed information on some of the great things to do in Darwin.
THINGS TO DO IN DARWIN
- Have a wander around Darwin’s CBD. Darwin has undergone many changes in the past two decades and is turning from a frontier town into a modern city. New fantastic shops, cafes and restaurants are popping up everywhere and current projects to beautify and cool down the city are drawing more people into the CBD. If you are craving a great coffee, try the Rabbithole located at Smith Street Mall or Alley Cats next to the Greyhound terminal on Mitchell Street.
- Check out some of Darwin’s hip neighbourhoods; Darwin has many different residential areas each with their own vibe, shops and cafes and most locals have their favourite spot. There is Parap with its “village” housing an array of speciality shops from art supplies and a bakery to an excellent deli, and there are also a couple of great cafes. In Nightcliff, a very popular walking trail lines the ocean front, there are changing food trucks and an swimming pool with ocean views and cafe. Stuart Park is still very much a mix of residential and commercial properties, however now also has a few great cafes- Sweet Brew on the Stuart Highway is a local favourite… And there is so much more; just ask a local for their favourite spot.
- Explore Darwin’s Heritage Precinct by foot. Either grab a map from your accommodation or online, or join a guided walking tour (http://walkdarwin.com.au/darwin_heritage_walk/). You can also head to our Tourism Office Tourism Top End on Bennett Street and get information and a map from their friendly staff. From here, you are already in close proximity to many of our historical buildings around the Smith Street and the Esplanade areas.
- Have a swim at the Waterfront, Darwin’s prime destinations for relaxing and sun bathing with friends or family. This relatively new Darwin development includes a Wave pool (entry fee $7/ adult; $5 child) and a safe, croc free lagoon free of charge. You can relax on the vast green lawns or grab an ice cream, coffee or meal at one of the many cafes and restaurants. From contemporary Australian to Mexican, Vietnamese, Italian and excellent seafood, you can tuck into whatever tickles your fancy.
- If you are looking for a casual and very good value meal, head to the Darwin Wharf Precinct, around a 5 min walk from the Waterfront. A number of food stalls including mainly Asian foods and fresh seafood are located here. Tables and chairs are provided in a common area, which is handy if you feel like Indian food but the kids want fish & chips. It is a casual atmosphere with great views over the harbour.
- The Darwin Wharf is also home to Darwin’s latest tourist attractions, the Darwin World War II and Royal Flying Doctor experience. This new interactive museum uses the latest technology to display the history of the Royal Flying Doctor services and the Bombing of Darwin. All profits go to the RFD.
- The dry season is the right time to indulge in Darwin’s many festivals. From June- August, a variety of popular cultural events include the traditional Greek Glenti, the Italian Festival, Indonesian Festival and Thailand Grand Festival. Darwin also hosts the music festival Bass in the Grass, the Supercars, Darwin Cup and of course the yearly two week long Darwin Festival filled with shows and events for any taste, held in August.
- For visitors interested in Australia’s war history, head to the Defence of Darwin Experience located at iconic East Point, a powerful, immersive, interactive experience telling the story of an extraordinary, but little known chapter in Australian history, the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese on the 19 February 1942. Learn about life in the Northern Territory during World War II, of the contribution made in northern Australia to the war effort, and experience first-hand accounts of the bombing; a traumatic event that changed Darwin forever (adults AU$20, Children AU$10). You can also join a self guided World War II Tunnel tour on Kitchener Drive at the Waterfront or book a war themed day tour with a local operator.
- Well worth a visit is the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory at 19 Conacher St, the Gardens (catch Bus no 6 from the city). This excellent venue includes comprehensive displays of Darwin’s history, including impressive footage of Cyclone Tracy, our local flora and fauna, indigenous culture, marine history and more. There is a great art gallery displaying local indigenous art and changing exhibitions. The museum also hosts a cafe/ restaurant that serves good food overlooking the Arafura Sea. It is easy to spend half a day, or even a full day here and admission is free (http://www.magnt.net.au/).
- To get close up with our local fauna, and maybe for a bit of an adrenaline rush, try Crocosaurus Cove on Mitchell Street (http://www.crocosauruscove.com/). It hosts the world’s largest display of Australian reptiles, and the more adventurous can swim with crocs in the “cage of death”.
- One of Darwin’s most popular tourist attractions are the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets (April- October, Thursdays 4-9pm & Sundays 5-10pm). A massive choice of food stalls and local arts & crafts combined with a beautiful beach and some of the best sunsets in Australia lure visitors for all the right reasons. There is always a great atmosphere with music and entertainment and a lively mix of locals and visitors enjoying the night together.
- Mingle with the locals at one of Darwin great weekend markets. Try the Parap Markets on Saturday mornings and the Nightcliff and Rapid Creek Markets on Sunday mornings for a variety of fresh produce, local crafts, great food and a relaxed atmosphere. These markets are particularly great if you love authentic Asian food and fresh tropical smoothies (and who doesn’t?)!
- And if you need some time to relax after all that activity, Darwin has some great beaches and parks. Casuarina Coastal Reserve is a popular choice with local families, and the “Cafe La Plage” serves great coffee, snacks and meals right on the beach. The Nightcliff Foreshore has many lawn areas to relax on or have a picnic, while it is also great for some exercise; You can use the paved walkway and exercise equipment along the ocean or swim at the local pool. East Point Reserve is a another great choice with ocean views, walkways, exercise equipment, picnic tables, lawns and Lake Alexander which is safe for swimming.
- As you can see, there is a lot to do in Darwin! However, despite all that choice, don’t forget to explore the Top End environments beyond the city. Discover Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park and Nitmiluk National Park on one of our small group 4WD Tours below.