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The Best Summer Activities in and Around Canberra

It’s finally summertime! You’ve worked long and hard at your studies all year and now you get to enjoy some well-deserved time off. Although you may have been waiting for this break for months, you might now find yourself wondering: well, now what? In a new city especially, it can be difficult to figure out what the best summertime activities are – especially in a city such as Canberra, which has so much to offer.

Whether you’re interested in exploring the region’s stunning natural landscapes, or whether you’d prefer to cool down with a refreshing beverage, below we provide a list of the most memorable summertime activities in and around Canberra. 

Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin is the centrepiece of Canberra’s inner city. It’s also one of the best places to spend a summer day. If you’re in the mood to relax, you can simply spend the day sunbathing, reading or picnicking on the lake’s edge. Alternatively, the lake facilitates a wide range of summer activities, such as fishing, stand-up paddle boarding, or kayaking. Get out on the water by renting a boat with some friends and setting sail. Or, simply hop on the ferry and take a cruise

Manuka Pool

It’s no secret that Australian summers are intensely hot. Fortunately, Manuka Pool in Griffith is the perfect place to cool down. Established in 1931, this is Canberra’s first-ever public swimming pool. Known for its cool art deco designs and surrounding grassy areas, Manuka Pool is a beloved slice of Canberra history.

National Arboretum Canberra

The National Arboretum Canberra is a must-see for lovers of nature. This 250-hectare site features a collection of more than 44,000 rare and endangered trees, showcased across 94 forests. Here you will also find gorgeous gardens and the award-winning Village Centre. There are several lookouts within the arboretum that are great for picnics, so be sure to pack something to eat!

Rainforest Gully

Escape the summer sun by heading to the cool and shady Rainforest Gully at the Australian National Botanic Garden. This gorgeous rainforest features a wide range of lush plants from all over the country. As you explore the upper and lower boardwalks, you’ll enjoy the refreshing mists and relaxing ambience. If you want to preserve these breathtaking views, remember to pack your camera!

Canberra wine region

One of the best ways to cool down on a hot summer day is with a crisp, refreshing glass of wine. Fortunately, Canberra’s impressive wine region contains 140 vineyards and more than 30 cellar doors, all of which offer the opportunity to sample great local wines. From Riesling to Merlot to Shiraz, there’s something here to satisfy everyone’s wine preferences. 

Mount Ainslie

If you want to get out into nature, don’t miss out on a visit to Mount Ainslie, located in Canberra’s northeastern suburbs. You can walk, run, or cycle along the trails to reach the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city. For an especially stunning view, plan your journey for sunrise or sunset – you won’t regret it!

Cricket games

Cricket is a quintessential part of Aussie culture. Widely recognised as the national summer sport, cricket games are super popular among locals in the hotter months. You can head to the Manuka Oval to see a Big Bash League cricket game from December through February. The lively and spirited atmosphere is something you will never forget.

Rooftop and outdoor bars

Canberra’s wide selection of rooftop and outdoor bars is the perfect way to combine a love of nightlife with a love of warm weather. Located atop Canberra Rex Hotel, The Howling Moon serves delicious drinks and bar snacks that can be enjoyed in front of an unmissable city view. In Belconnen, a popular spot amongst students is Lighthouse Pub, which is affectionately referred to as the ‘Lighty’ by locals. The waterfront venue is known for its stunning views over Lake Ginninderra, a great beer selection, and live music shows.

The NGA’s Sculpture Garden

Art lovers can’t miss out on the National Gallery of Australia’s sculpture garden, which features almost 30 works from some of the best sculptors of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. From Mark Di Suvero’s Ik Ook to James Turrell’s Within Without, these incredible pieces are sure to impress.

Red Hill Lookout

Just south of Canberra’s city centre, you can enjoy the secluded serenity of Red Hill Lookout. This spot offers an incredible view over Canberra’s colourful parklands, as well as some of the city’s most renowned landmarks. You can also enjoy a delicious meal at nearby restaurant, Onred.

Cotter Bend 

Located 20 minutes west of Canberra’s city centre, Cotter Bend is a scenic spot for an afternoon swim. Here, Paddys River meets Cotter River, creating a large natural pool at the foot of a sandy beach. If you’re in the mood to relax, you can sunbathe or seek shade at one of the grassy areas. There are free on-site barbecues, so you can cook up something delicious while enjoying the peace and quiet. 

Snowy Mountains

As the name would suggest, the Snowy Mountains is a well-known skiing and snowboarding destination during the winter. Although the heat melts the snow in summertime, there are still plenty of fun things to do. These beautiful mountains become an outdoor playground during the summertime. Popular activities include bushwalking, horseback riding, and mountain bike trails. Some of the best places to visit within the mountains are Kosciuszko National Park, Cooma, and Tumbarumba. 

South Coast

No Australian summer is complete without a trip to the beach. Although Canberra is not known for beaches, you can easily drive 2.5 hours to the New South Wales South Coast, which is known for its many breathtaking coastal towns. You can swim, surf or sunbathe at any of the stunning beaches located between Wollongong and the Sapphire Coast. You may even spot a seal or a whale, or get the chance to sample some freshly shucked oysters.

Looking for more summer activity inspiration? Make sure to head to the VisitCanberra website.

Header image courtesy of VisitCanberra.