Civic is Canberra’s cultural hub and centre of the action. Bordering Civic to the west is Acton, where the fun can be found around the New Acton precinct.

HIGHLIGHTS

As the nation’s capital, Canberra is packed with museums and activities to explore. For art lovers, there’s the National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery of Australia, while history lovers should head to the Australian War Memorial. This museum, memorial and archive provides a real sense of Australia’s identity and place in the world.

A large mall is a fixture of most Australian city centres and Canberra is no exception. The Canberra Centre is Civic’s biggest retail hub, housing more than 250 stores, a cinema complex, food court and a diverse range of restaurants. Exploring its many levels will be a pleasure for shoppers, and comforting for those looking to escape from the Canberra winter or a scorching summer day.

After an afternoon of shopping, stop in at one of the many eateries on Bunda Street to enjoy a range of cuisines. Afterwards, Garema Place, home to some of Canberra’s best small bars, is the perfect destination for those desiring a cocktail. Head to Honky Tonks for Sangria and Spanish-themed finger food, upstairs to Hippo Co for whisky and cocktails, or a couple of doors down to Playground for martinis and tapas.

A few blocks west is the smaller suburb of Acton. For those with a passion for film, the National Film and Sound Archive is located in the area and is a great way to lose an afternoon.

The buzz around the neighbourhood’s New Acton precinct has been steadily growing in recent years following the opening of the towering, Japanese-inspired Nishi building. Described as Canberra’s “most sustainable mixed-use building complex,” it houses an art space, boutique cinema and hundreds of environmentally friendly apartments. Art and fashion markets are regularly held on its premises, while dotted around the building are trendy coffee spots and restaurants offering quality food at mostly reasonable prices. A particular highlight is brunch at Mocan & Green Grout, one of the New Acton’s tastiest and funkiest cafés.

Perfectly located for ANU students, The Cupping Room is the spot for a morning coffee and delicious cronut. The venue is run by Ona Coffee (Fyshwick) whose barista Saša Šestić won the World Barista Championship in 2015!

COMMUNITY FACILITIES

Civic Library offers free public library services Monday to Saturday. This central community reading spot also hosts services for learning and social groups and has free internet and Wi-Fi available.

The City Community Health Centre offers health services at the heart of the city, and is open Monday to Friday, with mental health and women’s health services also on offer. A mental health hotline is also available, 24 hours a day, on (02) 6205 1065 or 1800 629 354.

The Canberra Olympic Pool on the corner of Allara Street and Constitution Avenue has a 50m heated pool, which you can use for a small fee, and also features a series of diving boards, for the more adventurous looking to take the plunge.

Craft ACT Craft and Design Centre is located in the shimmering gold building in Civic Square and is a hub for local craftspeople and designers.

Free Wi-Fi is available in Civic and will be introduced across the city throughout the year.

FREE & FRUGAL

You can get a very decent deal on groceries if you shop at the Canberra Centre’s discount supermarket, Aldi, where food is often much cheaper than at the bigger stores. While you’re there, pop into Top Bargain (opposite Aldi), which sells handy household products like detergent and bathroom items much cheaper price than the chain supermarkets.

Around Garema Place and City Walk you’ll find cheap and delicious dining options like iPho, where you can sit down to an amazing bowl of Vietnamese cuisine for around $10.

Beach Burrito sits like a comforting beacon in the centre of the CBD, serving up $10 burritos until 3pm, Monday to Friday.

Weekly specials abound, with Uni Pub dishing up $10 schnitzels on Wednesdays, or on Thursday nights an appetizing two-for-one burgers at Treehouse. Student discounts can also be found at PJ O’Reilly’s, so pop in for a pint and a feed.

The Palace Electric Cinema in New Acton also sticks to the bargain theme early in the week, offering cut-price movie tickets on Mondays.