Canberra is an interesting city full of great sights and attractions, along with a thriving dining and café scene. While there is plenty to do in the city, it is also worthwhile getting out of the city for the day to explore the scenic countryside. Canberra is lucky to be surrounded by an abundance of interesting destinations all within an easy drive from the city, so you can still stay in the Canberra city centre and venture out there.
Here are some nice day trips from Canberra that you will enjoy.
Visit the historic village of Gundaroo
Located across the border in New South Wales, but just a 35-minute drive north of Canberra, Gundaroo is a cute little historic village dating back to the gold rush days in the 1800s. Visit the Gundaroo Colonial Inn for a beer or a pub lunch, while enjoying the atmosphere of this charming 1872 pub. Down the road, Grazing Restaurant, located in the 1865 Royal Hotel building, gets rave reviews for its fantastic food. There are also several cellar doors in town where you can taste wines from the local region.
A day trip to the wine region of Murrambateman
The wine region of Murrambateman is the east of Gundaroo. If you’re a wine lover, a day trip to this excellent wine region is a must. Cool climate wines do well here, such as Riesling and Pinot Noir, and some of the best vineyards near Canberra are located here, including Eden Roads Wines, Four Winds Vineyard and Shaw Vineyard Estate. The weekend is the best time to go as more cellar doors are open, and you can make a day of it. Enjoy a day of wine tasting and indulge in a lovely lunch at one of the vineyards.
A day of skiing at the Snowy Mountains
Canberra is located in Australia’s high country, and it is close enough to New South Wales’ ski resorts that you can hit the snow for the day in the winter. Head off early, and in two and a half hours you can reach Perisher or Thredbo for a day of skiing and play in the snow. The Snowy Mountains are well worth visiting at any time of the year though, and Kosciusko National Park is a great spot to do some hiking or mountain biking. At the same time, the towns of Jindabyne and Cooma are beautiful places near Canberra to stop in and explore.
Visit the heritage-listed Braidwood
You can reach Braidwood in just over an hour’s drive east of Canberra. This charming heritage-listed town is full of history. Walk the streets lined with old historic buildings and visit the Braidwood Museum. There are some excellent cafes and places to eat, such as TorPeas or The Albion, along with boutique shops and antique stores to explore. Don’t miss the superb bakery, Dojo Bread. Admire the old theatre across the street and enjoy one of their fantastic pies.
Drive to the Lanyon Homestead
To get a taste of farm life in the 1800s, visit Lanyon Homestead, half an hour’s drive south of Canberra. This historic homestead is full of history, dating back to 1835. The stunning main home of the property was built in 1859, and you can enjoy a tour of the house to learn about its history and admire its charming old-world features. Enjoy tea and scones at the café, sitting inside the historic building or at one of the outside tables on the lawn.
Take a dip at the Cotter Reserve
The Murrumbidgee River is where Canberrans go on the weekend to swim and escape the city during summer. There are several right spots to take a dip, but one of the most popular is Cotter Reserve, located on the tributary, the Cotter River. This scenic spot is just half an hour’s drive west of Canberra, but you will feel a world away from the city. Enjoy a picnic on the river with forest and tranquillity all around. Take a refreshing dip at one of the swimming holes on the river, visit Cotter Dam or take the kids to the fun-filled playground at Cotter Avenue.
Drive to the ocean and visit Batemans Bay
Canberra might be an inland city, but it is actually not that far from the east coast, so you can still enjoy a beach day trip from the city. Batemans Bay is the top spot that Canberrans go to when they want to visit the ocean, located just a two-hour drive down Kings Highway. This charming seaside town has plenty to offer, with some excellent cafes for lunch, Crumb and Espresso Yourself. When you’ve recharged with some great food, there are a ton of water activities to enjoy. For many, it is best to spend the day on one of the fantastic beaches located just outside of town.
Visit the historic town of Bungendore
If you’re heading to Batemans Bay, or want to enjoy a day trip within a short drive of the city, stop in at the historic town of Bungendore. This little town is just a half hour’s drive east of Canberra and is full of little gems that will draw you in. Visit the historic Bungendore Royal Hotel for a beer or eat at one of the charming small cafes. The Bungendore Wood Works Gallery is well worth checking out for its excellent local handmade wooden art pieces, furniture and other household items.
Go to the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex
To the west of Canberra is a NASA funded series of substantial deep space satellite dishes used to examine space, right here in Australia’s capital. The complex is impressive to view, and the attached visitor centre makes visiting the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex a good day trip from the city.
Stop at the Gibraltar Falls
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is an excellent spot to head to for the day to escape the city and get back to nature. The highlight is a visit to the scenic Gibraltar Falls, which tumbles 50 metres down into Gibraltar Creek. This lovely spot is located just west of the Canberra Deep Space Communications Centre, so you could even combine the two into a one big day trip.
There are so many beautiful places to visit around Canberra that you could never get bored. Whether you want to get back to nature for the day, visit a country town or even go to the beach, all of this is possible as a day trip from Canberra.
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How to organise your day trips from Canberra
The best way to organise your day trips from the city of Canberra is to hire a car. You may prefer to go on a self-driving day trip from Sydney or an extended weekend tour. If you are on a tight schedule, you may want to combine a guided day-tour with public transport trips.
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First published in 2017, last updated in Jan 2021