Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Top End, certainly has many things to offer to solo travellers and families alike. It is a unique and lovely little Australian city, but you need at least a couple of days to discover all its fun places fully.
Its fantastic blend of historic landmarks, diverse locations, exotic cuisines, and a tropical climate makes it a cosmopolitan atmosphere with a touch of Outback flair. If you visit Australia between March and October, that’s the best time of year to plan a trip to Darwin in Australia.
Top things to Do in Darwin Australia All Year Round
If you are asking yourself: Is Darwin worth visiting on a solo trip? Don’t overthink about it. It is a destination that you must see when planning your solo trip to the Top End of Australia.
Darwin’s natural surroundings are perfect for exploration and relaxation, whereas the town will keep you busy with fun activities and entertaining sights.
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 in 2008 and back in 2015. I love Darwin’s laid back lifestyle. The main reason why visiting Kakadu National Park is that there are many more attractions nearby, making Darwin worth visiting.
Free Things to Do in Darwin City
There so are many fun activities that you can do in Darwin Top End Capital City at any time of year. Everything there is within walking distance, and you will not have to worry about transportation as much. Here are a few of the spectacular things to see and do in Darwin throughout the year.
Visit the Famous 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 taste a selection of local food, enjoy the sights and sounds of the market stalls, and maybe even catch some live music during your visit there.
Enjoy the Darwin City Centre
This is a hub of activity and entertainment for everyone. Stroll along Mitchell Street and stop at some trendy Darwin cafes and bars, browse through Aboriginal art galleries. There are also excellent venues for dining out and restaurants with local and international cuisine too.
Walk The Botanical Gardens
If you would like to take a long walk, the Darwin Botanical Gardens are thirty minutes away from the City Centre. It is a beautiful, green, and peaceful space that you can enjoy alone or with a group. Mindil Beach is just across the garden. You can wind up your day by taking in a beautiful sunset stroll at the beach.
Dive in Darwin’s History
You can pay a visit to 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. There you can learn interesting facts about the city new and ancient arts and history.
Enjoy 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 a place where you can relax and enjoy yourself or take a long walk, whichever suits your fancy. Nearing the end of the park 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. You can bike from the city centre, past the Marina, and proceed on the bike path along the coast, to reach East Point.
Enjoy the Darwin Sunset
One of the things Darwin is famous for is its amazing sunsets. The ideal place is to enjoy the sunset on the beach, but there are many spots anywhere, 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.
Here are our picks for all the things to do indoor and outdoor 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 your 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.
- The Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls of Kakadu National Park are breathtaking spectacles to behold. You can view this beautiful sight by taking a chopper ride over the national park. This will not only keep you comfortably dry but also guarantee you the most scenic view possible.
- Another spectacular adventure that 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
The dry season from April to September is unarguably the best time of the year to visit Darwin because it’s when the dry weather allows you to do more exciting things to see and better explore the national parks.
The Darwin Festival
This is something that you should not miss 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. I could only see a few music performances as I got sick, unfortunately.
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 it encompasses the best of the Darwin Waterfront.
The Litchfield National Park
This the better place to pick on a scorching summer day. It is far away from the hustle and bustle of Darwin surrounds 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 of which are lively places for exploration. There are also waterfront lagoons where you can cool off during the day, and swim at the Darwin wave pool is truly a fun thing to do. At night the Deckchair Cinema allows you to take the films out in the open.
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 the modern and vibrant qualities of Australia. 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 a glass of wine and eating delicious seafood in Darwin.
Fannie Bay Beach is one of Darwin’s best beaches, with beautiful white sand that is just great for a fun outing. It has a bike track nearby that is frequented by runners and cyclists. Between the beach and the bike track, there is a grassy area that is perfect for picnics. Situated close by is Lake Alexander, where you can take in a cooling swim. You can also take a 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 that thrives during the dry season. It’s live on Thursday and Sunday Evening 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 for you to swim and enjoy terrific sunsets too.
Casuarina Beach and Coastal Reserve
The Casuarina Coastal Reserve is a fabulous place in Darwin with unspoiled beaches, sweeping trees and exotic native wildlife. Depending on the time of the year, it is also a great spot for birdwatching. Whether you want to have a picnic, enjoy some 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. When the tide is low, you can spend your time looking at the little fish or crabs moving about in the rock pools. Can you swim on this Darwin beach? Yes, of course, you can, but it’s best to be cautious because of the jellyfish or crocodiles that could be in the water, so watch out for the safety and swimming signs.
Darwin has many interesting markets that you can stroll through. Regardless of the weather, on your solo trip to Darwin, you can do lots of fun things for free and enjoy the best food in Darwin. Here are the best markets in Darwin to check out from Thursday to Sunday.
The Mindil Beach Sunset Market
This is a place that you can enjoy visiting 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 what time 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 being played there is a delight to the senses. The Mindil Beach Sunset Market is probably one of the most popular things to do in Darwin at night, on a Thursday.
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 spend a lot of time walking 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 8cam to 2 pm every Sunday. You can start your day 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 that you can buy and attractions that you can try.
The Palmerston Markets
Darwin’s night markets are open on Friday evening in Goyder Square, which is 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 that Palmerston has to offer.
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 alike.
A day trip to the Litchfield National Park
Start your day trip to Litchfield National Park early because there is just 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 are the cathedral termite mounds which can reach up to a height of five meters. Florence Falls, Wangi Falls, and Tolmer Falls are some of the other beautiful natural landmarks. You can take time to enjoy their lovely picnic areas, beautiful scenery, and lush greenery.
Visit the Nitmiluk National Park
This national park is the home to ancient Aboriginal rock art, the Katherine Gorge, and many massive gorges carved out of sandstone. You can spend your time here by taking 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 stay in Darwin
While visiting Darwin, you can choose from a wide variety of 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 useful 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.
Hostels 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 mostly 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 hiring a campervan and stay in campsites, if you wish to save money on traditional accommodation. Compare and book all Campervans Deals at DriveNow.
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 exciting 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. It is quick and easy to reach the city centre by taking a taxi or a coach ride from the airport.
Travelling to Darwin by car
A road trip can be an excellent way for you to get to Darwin. It might take close to three days to travel to Darwin from Alice Springs, the nearest city. 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 on your own.
Going on a train ride
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 summertime and once a week in the wintertime. It is an excellent way to see the Outback while you travel in comfort 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 the solo traveller.
Getting there on a bus tour
A fascinating part of Darwin Australia’s tourism is the multitude of bus tours available to travellers. 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 to Alice Springs, Katherine and more places. A tour allows you to 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 to make and will allow you to meet many travellers from all over the world.
When is the best time to visit Darwin Australia?
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. In Darwin, there are 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 actives like adventure sports when the humidity is low.
What is the best time of year to visit Darwin and Kakadu?
Since Kakadu National Park is home to such a unique environment, you must pick the right season to plan your visit. The best time to visit the Kakadu National Park is from May to June. In these months, you will get the best of the wet and dry season in Darwin. 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 lush greenery that is ample there.
Pin it for later
More Travel Guides to the Top End of Australia
Planning an extended trip from Darwin?
Check out our travel guides:
This post was last updated in Jan 2021
If you find this article helpful for your trip, I’d appreciate it if you could support Rocky Travel and book your accommodation, tour, rental car, or purchase my book using the links in the box below. Thank you!
TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES
GET HELP WITH YOUR AUSTRALIA TRIP