Darwin, Australia’s top-end capital, offers solo travellers to Australia many things to do. It is a unique and lovely little Australian city, but you need at least a few days to discover all its fun places fully. Darwins’s fantastic blend of historic landmarks, diverse locations, exotic cuisines, and a tropical climate makes it a cosmopolitan atmosphere with a touch of Outback flair. This lively hub has a lot in store for you and can herald the start of a great Australian Adventure, either solo or with a companion. I first visited Darwin thrice in 2008, 2011 and 2015. I love Darwin’s laid-back lifestyle; it’s mesmerising.
Things To Do in Darwin All Year Round
If you ask yourself: Is Darwin worth visiting on a solo trip? Don’t overthink it. Darwin is a must when planning your solo trip to the Top End of Australia. Darwin’s natural surroundings are perfect for exploration and relaxation; you will never feel alone there. The town will keep you busy with fun activities and entertaining sights by day and night. While the main reason for travellers going to Darwin is a trip to Kakadu, you will be surprised by the many things you can do in Darwin.
If you visit Australia between March and October, that’s the best time of year to visit Darwin in Australia and enjoy its vibrant outdoor lifestyle and activities.
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The Best Free Things in Darwin
There so are many fun activities that you can do in Darwin Top End Capital City at any time of year. Everything is within walking distance, and you will not have to worry about transportation as much. Here are a few spectacular things to see and do in Darwin throughout the year.
Visit the Markets in Darwin
The Parap Market, the Rapid Creek Market, and the Nightcliff Market are some of Darwin’s best markets and top places to see. You can enjoy tasting a selection of local food, enjoy the sights and sounds of the market stalls, and maybe even catch some live music during your visit.
Enjoy the buzzing Darwin Vibes
This is a hub of activity and entertainment for everyone. Stroll along Mitchell Street and stop at some trendy Darwin cafes and bars, and browse through Aboriginal art galleries. There are also excellent venues for dining out and restaurants with local and international cuisine.
Walk The Botanical Gardens
If you want to take a long walk, the Darwin Botanical Gardens are thirty minutes from the City Centre. It is a beautiful, green, and peaceful space you can enjoy alone or with a group. Mindil Beach is just across the garden. You can wind up your day by taking a beautiful sunset stroll at the beach.
Dive into Darwin’s History
You can visit the Chinese Museum and Temple, a short walk from Darwin City Mall. You can view photos that showcase the history of the bombing that took place in Darwin. You can also visit the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and the Darwin War Museum at East Point. You can learn exciting facts about the city’s new and ancient arts and history there.
Take a stroll through the Bicentennial Park.
The Bicentennial Park is a beautiful location where you can take in the splendid views of the city. It is where you can relax and enjoy yourself or take a long walk, whichever suits your fancy. Near the park’s end is the Acquascene, where you can hand-feed hundreds of fish.
Go biking through the East Point Reserve.
This is a beautiful place to enjoy a bike ride and explore the wild natural locations. It is a trendy region with a diverse landscape, a gorgeous sandy beach, and thriving mangroves. To reach East Point, you can bike from the city centre, past the Marina, and along the bike path along the coast.
Enjoy the Darwin Sunsets
One of the things Darwin is famous for is its incredible sunsets. The ideal place is to enjoy the sunset on the beach, but there are many spots in the city parks or at one of the night markets. Check the sunset time around 6.30 pm, depending on the season and pick a beautiful place to sit down and relax.
Fish Feeding in Darwin
Finally, a top free thing to do in the city is fish feeding at the Darwin Wharf. The access is free, and you can have fun spotting the many fishes, like large moonfish and mullet coming to the surface. You can stroll from the CBD along the waterfront precinct to the wharf and end your evening with a lovely dinner at one of the many seafood restaurants there.
What do to in Darwin from October to March
Travelling to Darwin in the wet season from November to March is not a deal-breaker. There are plenty of exciting things you can do there. And you may be lucky with not too rainy weather too.
Visit Darwin’s beautiful Museums
Here are our picks for all the things to do indoors and outdoors in the wet season:
The Museum and art gallery of the Northern Territory is a beautiful place with a well-equipped simulated exhibit and decorative, aboriginal cultural and scientific collections from Australia and abroad. It is the perfect place to visit during the wet season and spend time.
Visit the Darwin War Museum, a.k.a. Military Museum at Eats Point; this is another interesting place to learn about the II world war facts and sites.
Take a tour to the Kakadu National Park Falls
The Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls of Kakadu National Park are breathtaking spectacles. You can view this beautiful sight by taking a chopper ride over the national park. This will keep you comfortably dry and guarantee the most scenic view possible.
See crocs on an Adelaide River Cruise
Another spectacular adventure you can experience during Darwin’s rainy season is a cruise on the Adelaide River. It is famous for its Jumping Crocodile Cruise, where you can watch massive saltwater crocodiles lunge out of the water, all from the comfort of an air-conditioned boat. It is, after all, one of the top 10 things to do in Darwin.
What to Do in Darwin from April to September (dry season)
The dry season from April to September is the best time to visit Darwin because the dry weather allows you to do more exciting things to see and better explore the national parks.
Visit Darwin in August during the Darwin Festival
You should not miss this if you are visiting Darwin in August. Held amidst stunning scenery, it showcases unique films worldwide to Darwin’s locals and tourists. I was there in 2015 and loved it. Unfortunately, I could only see a few music performances as I got sick.
Enjoy the Waterfront Lagoon
This is also the best way to cool off during the dry season. It is a calming place to see where you can take a swim in a natural ecosystem with fish all around you. It’s also known as the best city beach in Darwin and encompasses the best of the Darwin Waterfront.
Go on a day trip to the Litchfield National Park
This is the better place to pick on a scorching summer day. It is far away from the hustle and bustle of Darwin’s surroundings and gives you many opportunities to explore. You can spend your day swimming, bushwalking, exploring waterfalls, and taking pictures of the incredible wildlife.
These are some of the best beaches in Darwin that you can visit on your trip. Take your pick from some of these natural places:
The Darwin Waterfront Precinct
The Darwin Waterfront Precinct is a thriving centre for dining, shopping, fishing, and so much more. It consists of Stokes Hill Wharf restaurants and is connected to Darwin’s CBD, both lively places for exploration. There are also waterfront lagoons where you can cool off during the day, and swimming at the Darwin wave pool is truly fun. The Deckchair Cinema lets you take the films out at night.
Cullen Bay Marina
Cullen Bay is a marina located less than two kilometres away from the city centre of Darwin. It is a relaxing place that encapsulates Australia’s modern and vibrant qualities. You can satisfy your taste buds with an eclectic blend of flavours from top seafood restaurants or enjoy fresh local fish and chips. It is a lovely place to sit back and view private yachts, fishing boats, and sunset cruise boats while sipping wine and eating delicious seafood in Darwin.
Fannie Bay Beach is one of Darwin’s best beaches, with beautiful white sand that is great for a fun outing. It has a bike track nearby that is frequented by runners and cyclists. A grassy area is perfect for picnics between the beach and the bike track. Situated close by is Lake Alexander, where you can take in a refreshing swim. You can also walk along the boardwalk to see the tidal mangrove forest.
Mindil Beach is one of the most popular Northern Territory beaches. It is widely known for the Mindil Sunset Market, which thrives during the dry season. It’s on Thursdays and Sundays evenings every week from April to October. You can also enjoy the Darwin Beercan Regatta held at Mindil Beach annually. If you wonder whether you can swim at the Darwin beaches, the answer is yes, but not in all of them. And Mindil Beach is a safe place to swim and enjoy terrific sunsets.
Casuarina Beach and Coastal Reserve
The Casuarina Coastal Reserve is a fabulous place in Darwin with unspoiled beaches, sweeping trees and exotic native wildlife. It is also a great spot for birdwatching, depending on the time of the year. Whether you want to picnic, enjoy mountain biking, or explore the historical ruins, there is something for everyone at Casuarina Beach.
Lee Point Beach
Lee Point Beach is located 14 kilometres away from Darwin’s Business District. It is a wide-open space with many things to pick from. It is an excellent place for fishing when the tide is right. The little fish or crabs move about in the rock pools when the tide is low. Can you swim on this Darwin beach? Yes, you can, but it’s best to be cautious because of the jellyfish or crocodiles in the water, so watch out for the safety and swimming signs.
Darwin has many attractive markets that you can stroll through and spend a whole day there. Regardless of the weather, on your solo trip to Darwin, you can do lots of fun activities for free and enjoy the best food of Darwin. Here are the best markets in Darwin to check out from Thursday to Sunday.
The Mindil Beach Sunset Market
You can enjoy visiting this place on Thursdays and Sundays from the end of April till the end of October. On Thursdays, they are open from 5 pm to 10 pm and on Sundays from 4 pm to 9 pm. It is best to know when the Mindil Markets start so that you can make the most of the time you spend there. There is so much to see at the markets, and they boast a wide variety of food stalls, indigenous art, craft, and handmade jewellery. Its atmosphere is electric, and the live music there delight the senses.
The Mindil Beach Sunset Market is probably the most fun thing to do in Darwin at night on a Thursday or a Sunday.
The Parap Markets
The Parap Markets are open on Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm. They are located very close to Darwin city centre and are an excellent place for shopping. You can walk through the winding stalls of local produce, delicious drink, and multiple food stalls.
The Rapid Creek Market
The Rapid Creek Market is located very close to the City Centre. It is one of the few markets in Darwin open on Sundays, and you can usually see a massive crowd of people enjoying its atmosphere. Due to the masses, it is best to take public transportation to this Sunday morning market as it may take too long to find a place to park your car. There are different varieties of fruits, vegetables, and delicious Asian food on sale at this market.
The Nightcliff Markets
The Nightcliff Markets are one of the attractive Sunday Markets in Darwin. They are open from 8 am to 2 pm every Sunday. You can start your day by browsing through the stalls that boast unique sculptures, clothing, and exotic crafts. There is plenty of space for you to rest and relax while taking in the music by local artists. There are many other curious things you can buy and attractions you can try.
The Palmerston Markets
Darwin’s night markets are open Friday evenings in Goyder Square, a hub of activities and varied entertainment. There are dancers, bands playing different music genres, and clowns, so you surely won’t be short of things to do at night in Darwin. You can see Rainbow Lorikeets fly overhead as you browse through the many stalls Palmerston offers.
Discover the National Parks on Day Trips from Darwin
If you are looking for something jam-packed and fun to do with your day, then taking a day trip to one of these Northern Territory national parks is another great thing to do in Darwin in winter and summer.
A day trip to the Litchfield National Park
Start your day trip to Litchfield National Park early because there is so much to explore. Luckily for you, it is only one hour away from Darwin city.
Everything in the park is within a short distance, so you won’t have to spend too much time driving around. Close to the park’s entrance is the cathedral termite mounds, which can reach a height of five meters. Florence Falls, Wangi Falls, and Tolmer Falls are other beautiful natural landmarks. Enjoy their lovely picnic areas, beautiful scenery, and lush greenery.
Visit the Nitmiluk National Park
This national park is home to ancient Aboriginal rock art, the Katherine Gorge, and many massive gorges carved out of sandstone. You can spend your time here on a boat cruise or a helicopter ride to see the magnificent Katherine Gorge. There are also many walking tracks that you can use to explore the flood plains, waterfalls, rock art, and native wildlife of the area. These trails are only accessible during the dry season, though. Some of these national parks are excellent and fun day trips from Darwin.
Where to best stay in Darwin
While visiting Darwin, you can choose from various excellent and affordable accommodations to make your trip comfortable. You can stay in a family-run guest house. Booking a guest house will give you the feeling of being at home, along with home-cooked meals, spacious rooms, and possibly helpful information and advice from the owners.
Search among all value accommodation options in Darwin
Solo traveller’s friendly hotels in Darwin
Hotels are another type of accommodation for Darwin. They are equipped with all kinds of facilities and comforts that you might require. They range from the necessary facilities to fully serviced hotel rooms. You can use a hotel comparison site to pick the best type of hotel that fits your budget and needs.
Alternative Budget accommodation
If you consider staying in Darwin longer than a week or longer, then an excellent alternative to hostels is renting a house or an apartment. Here you can browse through +40 Rental Apartments in Darwin.
Best Hostels to stay in Darwin
Hostels are one of the best budget options to stay in Darwin for backpackers and all those travellers who want to travel on a budget. They are the cheapest option if you travel solo to Darwin and are mainly in the city centre and remote Outback areas. You will get excellent facilities at all Australian Hostels and can enjoy quality time with your fellow travellers.
Hiring a Car or Campervan in Darwin
Alternatively, hire a campervan and stay in campsites to save money on traditional accommodation. Compare and book all Campervans One Way Deals.
Darwin is a magnificent place to visit on any adventurous Australia trip. It is a beautiful combination of lively and laid-back that you cannot find anywhere else. It is a hidden treasure, just waiting to be explored.
How to get to and around Darwin
When planning the travel for your holiday in Darwin, there are many options that you can pick from.
Getting there by plane
Darwin receives many domestic flights from Australia’s main cities, like Alice Springs, Broome, and Cairns. Flying to Darwin is the best way to cover the vast distances of Australia in a short period. Australia has many domestic airlines that you can choose from. Reaching the city centre by taxi or a coach ride from the airport is quick and easy.
Travelling to Darwin by car
A road trip can be an excellent way to get to Darwin. Travelling to Darwin from Alice Springs, the nearest city, might take up to three days. You can also take the national highway from Adelaide or Ayers Rock to get to Darwin. Driving from Cairns might be trickier, especially during the wet season, and you must take extra care while doing this. You can rent a car or a campervan, giving you more freedom to explore independently.
Going on a train ride from Adelaide
Another way that you can reach Darwin from within Australia is by train. A famous Australian train called the Ghan Train opened in 2004 and was named after the early Afghan camel train. It operates twice a week in the summer and weekly in the winter. It is an excellent way to see the Outback while you travel comfortably and style from Adelaide through the Red Centre and the tropical Top End. I travelled twice on this train and loved it. It is perfect for solo travellers.
Getting to Darwin by bus or on a bus tour
The many bus tours are a fascinating part of Darwin, Australia’s tourism. One popular trip is the Adelaide to Darwin tour. This trip traverses the whole country from the bottom to the top end and includes stops at Alice Springs, Katherine and more places. A time lets you pack the most into your trip without worrying about your itinerary. During the visit, accommodation and meals will be completely taken care of. It is an exciting adventure for you and will allow you to meet many travellers worldwide.
When is the best time to visit Darwin?
Before planning what to do in Australia’s Top End, it is essential to figure out the best time of year to go to Darwin. After you do that, everything will fall into place. Darwin has clear skies and a pleasant climate from mid-June to mid-September. Due to the minimal rainfall during this period, it is the perfect time to go bird-watching. You can also engage in exciting outdoor activities like adventure sports when the humidity is low.
What is the best time of year to visit Darwin and Kakadu?
Since Kakadu National Park has such a unique environment, you must pick the right season to plan your visit. The best time to visit the Kakadu National Park is May to June. You will get the best of Darwin’s wet and dry seasons in these months. This ensures that you can experience the iconic waterfalls in their entirety, and no flooding in the park will dampen your experience.
You can also go camping in Kakadu and explore the ample lush greenery there.
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More Travel Guides to Northern Australia
Are you planning an extended trip from Darwin? Maybe flying into Cairns to explore more of northern Australia? Check out our travel guides:
Discover Tropical Queensland on a road trip
The Best Things To Do In Cairns
The best Adventure Day Trips From Cairns
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First published in August 2019 and last updated in March 2023.
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