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Why Canberra Should Be on Your Bucket List for 2019

With a vibrant culture, thriving food and wine scene, and stunning landscape,  it’s easy to see why Canberra ranked third on Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel — Top Cities’ list for 2018.

Trumping Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, it is the only Aussie city to be ranked in the top 10 and the highest an Australian city has ever appeared on the acclaimed list.  From unique adventures to Canberra-only experiences, here's why the Capital should be on your travel radar this year!

Canberra’s exceptional Wine Regions

Image via Helm Wines | Out in Canberra

Canberra's wine region produces some of the nation’s most outstanding high-country, cool-climate wines, so it’s no wonder it earned a spot in Lonely Planet’s list of the most revered wines trails in Australasia.

A sip of the region’s stellar rieslings and stunningly complex shirazs will make you understand why Canberra’s wine regions are on par with the likes of Margaret River and the Hunter Valley.

Must visit wineries:

  • Four Winds Vineyard boasts a relaxed vibe and family experience leavened with woodfired pizza and other varietals such as the sophisticated Sangiovese.
  • Clonakilla at Murrumbateman is a local industry pioneer, making history for its groundbreaking shiraz and signature Viognier. 
  • Mt Majura Vineyard - located close to the CBD, this vineyard features a unique and interactive gumboot tour through the vineyard. They also produce Spanish varieties such as Tempranillo.
  • Helm Wines is known for producing the best rieslings the region has to offer.

Mint your own coin at the Royal Australian Mint

Image via Royal Australian Mint

If you’re looking for a quintessentially Canberran souvenir, head to the multi tourism award winning Royal Australian Mint where you can mint your own coin for keeps!
Tag along on The Mint’s 30-minute free guided tour to get a glimpse of how Australian coins are made, learn about the history of the national currency, and see robot’s make tomorrow’s coins.

The Mint recently launched the Australian Dollar Discovery, a Willy Wonka-style nationwide treasure hunt, to encourage a new generation of collectors.
Prizes include return flights to Canberra, two nights' accommodation at Jamala Wildlife Lodge and 1kg pure silver coin! So be sure to keep an eye out for $1 coins minted with the letters A, U and S for your chance to win.

Located at Royal Australian Mint, Denison Street, Deakin, ACT
Open Mon and Fri from 8.30 am to 5 pm, and Sat and Sun from 10 am to 4 pm
Cost: Entry is free!

Hot air balloon rides over Canberra

Image via Balloon Loft | Dawn Drifters

If you’re after something unequivocally unique and memorable, a hot air balloon ride over the Capital is right up your alley. Soar high above Canberra and get a bird’s eye view of this gorgeous city’s picturesque landscape and spectacular skyline. It’s amazing, breathtaking, exhilarating and relaxing all at once!

Canberra is also the only city in the world where you can fly over its nation’s Parliament House. So take your Canberra experience to new heights by booking rides with Balloon Aloft Canberra or Dawn Drifters. Prices start from $330 each per person.

GoBoating on Lake Burley Griffin

Image via GoBoat Canberra

For a relaxing maritime adventure, cruise along the iconic Lake Burley Griffin on a GoBoat - a Scandinavian-style picnic boat for hire.

Originating from Copenhagen, GoBoat Canberra is the first of its kind in Australia! It’s a unique way to experience the scenic Lake Burley Griffin and the city’s many lakeside highlights.

For some nibbles, take a picnic basket on onboard or grab a takeaway meal from one of the nearby cafes and restaurants. We especially love Bad Betti's signature beef burger and fried jerk chicken basket to share!

Located at Wharf 2, Trevillian Quay, Kingston ACT
Last GoBoat departures at 6 pm on most days. More information here.

Get a taste of Burger High Tea

Image via  Riot Act | Beef and Barley

A three-tiered burger feast with all the trimmings replaces dainty pastries and finger sandwiches, and schooners of draught beer sit in place of elegant porcelain tea cups - as you can tell, this is no ordinary high tea.

Beef and Barley on the Kingston Foreshore brings peak burger-mania to Canberra with their Burger High Tea. At $40 per person, this feast includes a glass of bubbly or a schooner of beer and scrumptiously generous servings of juicy burgers and sides! For an extra $20 you can also upgrade to a bottomless tipple to keep you going all afternoon long.

Located at Kingston Foreshore & Eyre St, Kingston ACT
Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 11.30 am until late.
Cost: From $40 per person. Bookings essential.

Become a Ghostbuster with Tim the Yowie Man

Image via Tim the Yowie Man

Get spooked on a ghost tour led by local legend Tim the Yowie Man, an expert on mysterious phenomena of the hidden underbelly of the nation’s capital.

With a variety of tour experience choices, Tim covers all the mysterious hotspots in the Capital, including secret spy tunnels in the Parliament House, the restless ghost who roams around the War Memorial, and the story of a diplomat who was turned into a pin cushion by bloodthirsty murderers.

It’s Canberra as you’ve never experienced it before! Tour prices start at $59 per person. More info here.

Skydiving over the city

Image via Skydive Oz

Any thrill-seeker’s bucket list isn’t complete without a skydiving adventure! Skydive Oz offers an adrenaline pumping alternative to exploring the city’s landmarks all in one go!

Hop on the plane, soak up the sights and feel the rush of a lifetime as you free fall with an experienced instructor over the Bush Capital’s scenic landscape and national landmarks. After the rush of the free fall, the parachute opens and carries you serenely down the green grass of Deakin Oval. It's a pinch-yourself experience that you will never forget!

Located at Deakin Oval, Denison St, Deakin ACT
Cost: From $358. 

Release some stress with Breakr & Axe Throwing

Image via Breakr | Axxe

Everybody wants to blow off steam in their own way. Some people go for a drive, others go for a run. At Axxe, you can throw axes and break plates!

Canberra’s first smash pit and axe-throwing venue, Axxe at Fyshwick, offers a unique way to unwind and let off steam after a long hard day at work. From just $50 per person, you can try your arm at the fine old lumberjack sport of axe-throwing. It’s just like dart throwing - but with axes. Simply aim and wield the axe at the bullseye.

Likewise, if you’ve ever wanted to smash a plate to smithereens without worrying about cleaning it up, Breakr lets you smash plates, mugs, glasses and other fragile things in the name of destruction therapy. Throw it against the walls or use one of the tools provided. Either way, it’s 100% satisfying and heaps of fun!

Located at 4/1 Lyell Street, Fyshwick, ACT
Cost: Breakr - from $40 per person | Axxe - from $50 per person

Feed the birds at the Walk-in Aviary

Image via Walk-in Aviary | Vist Canberra

Get up close with over 500 free-flying birds at The Canberra Walk-in Aviary! Here you’ll find a plethora of native Australian birds such as the brightly coloured rainbow lorikeet and Black Throated Finch, as well as species from around the world such as the rare Luzon bleeding-heart pigeon from the Philippines.

Your entry fee includes a small plate of bird food so some of the birds will come and interact with you. It’s a treasure trove for keen bird watchers and animal lovers of all ages. 

Located at Federation Square, Gold Creek Village, O'Hanlon Place, Nicholls ACT
Cost: Between $9.50 and $13.00, Family passes from $40.

Australian Institute of Sport Tour

Image via Visit Canberra | AIS

This Canberra-only tour gives you a behind the scenes scoop on where and how Australia’s national champions trained and came to be.

Guided by an elite athlete, the tour takes you around the precinct, providing a unique insight into the life of our country's sporting legends. If you keep an eye out, you might even get to see Australia’s best swimmers in action or gymnasts and athletes in training.

The tour ends at Sportex, an interactive sports exhibit where they can have a go at football penalty shootouts, rock climbing, wheelchair basketball and even virtual downhill skiing!

Located at Australian Institute of Sport, Leverrier Street, Bruce, ACT
Cost: $12 for kids and $20 for Adults. Family passes available from $55

Capital Brewing Co. Brewery & Tours

Image via Capital Brewing Co

Whether you’re a seasoned beer swiller or a not, Capital Brewing Co. is a great addition to your itinerary.

As big believers of good vibes, the expansive brewery has plenty of spaces to relax, chill out, and socialise with friends. Pouring from their sleek wall taps is an impressive lineup of beers; we especially love the Rock Hopper IPA - crisp, fruity with a slightly dry finish.

To eat, Capital Brewing Co teamed up with Brodburger to provide succulent burgers for meat lovers and veggos alike.

If you’re planning on becoming a beer baron, come along their Brewery Tours every Saturday and Sunday to learn about the intricacies of stewing a delicious brew.

Located at 1 Dairy Road Fyshwick ACT
Open Wed & Thurs from 4 pm to 10 pm, Fri to Sun from 12 pm to 12 am
Cost: Free entry. Tours from $25 per person. Bookings are essential.

Canberra Secrets Highlights Tour

Image via Canberra Secrets Tour| ABC 

The revered Canberra Secrets Highlights Tour is a great way to explore the city whether you’re an interstate traveller, international visitor or a local looking to rediscover the area! Steering away from the bland and forgettable tourist rhetoric, these tours offer a flexible itinerary that’s tweaked to each tour group’s preference.

You’ll be guided by a passionate Canberran through a carefully curated itinerary of the capital’s hidden haunts like the Designer Op Shop Emporium and well-loved national attractions such as the National Archives, National Museum and Portrait Gallery. You can even request to visit nano-breweries, gin distilleries or even a hot air balloon ride!

Cost: Between $189 to $220 per person
Tour start locations vary. More information here.

Mountain Biking at Stromlo Forest Park

Image via Stromlo Forest Park

For an action-packed outdoor adventure, go mountain biking at Stromlo Forest Park - one of Australia’s best mountain biking venues and host to elite local and international competitions such as the Shimano MTB Grand Prix.

Whether you’re a road cyclist, BMX rider, mountain biker, or just looking for a leisurely bike ride out in the sun, the park has a diverse range of facilities to suit riders of all types and skill levels.

Located at Uriarra Road, Mount Stromlo, ACT
Open daily from 6 am to 6 pm
Cost: Free entry

Featured Image: Mt Majura Vineyard