8 must-do things to do in Darwin

Visiting Darwin: What are the best things to do and see in Australia’s northernmost city? Here are our 8 must-sees!

Darwin is the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory region and its most populous city. Situated on the Timor Sea in the very north of the island, Darwin is the economic center of the region, with a population of 150,000. It began as a colonial outpost, before becoming one of the most modern, flourishing and cosmopolitan cities on the Australian continent. The place is not lacking in character: Darwin is famous for being the city with the most lightning storms in the world, but also… the city with the most accidents involving marine crocodiles, monstrous reptiles that can grow up to seven meters long and weigh almost a ton!

A young, urban university town, it has the highest proportion of Aboriginals among Australia’s capital cities, who established trade routes between Southeast Asia and South Australia long before the arrival of the first European settlers.

Wondering what to do in Darwin during your stay? Here’s the answer, with our must-sees for visiting Darwin and making the most of your time here!

Also read about the Darwin guide:

1. Smith street and its aboriginal art stores

Darwin Smith St Mall

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Bidgee

Located in the heart of the city center, Smith Street is a charming, lively shopping street: Darwin’s authentic thoroughfare! Its tourist appeal is due to the massive presence of traditional stalls showcasing the handicrafts created by the city’s many aborigines. Why not take a stroll here when visiting Darwin?

Communities come here to sell souvenirs and picturesque accessories, sometimes made from surprising materials such as kangaroo hair or crocodile skin! Numerous small gourmet establishments serve a variety of delicious foods, and the area is sure to delight young and old alike.

2. Crocosaurus Cove

What can you do in Darwin if you like to shiver? Crocosaurus Cove is a wildlife park dedicated to reptiles, the local stars. Interactive, it offers numerous workshops that will appeal to the youngest visitors, and presents the different characteristics of crocodiles, lizards and turtles, the last descendants of the dinosaurs! Guided tours can be enjoyed in several languages and, for the more daring, a unique attraction is on offer: immersion in a cage in a tank with… a sea crocodile, a gigantic and frightening mastodon!

And if you’re particularly fond of crocodiles, why not take the « jumping crocodile » cruise on the Adelaide River, another Darwin must-see? You’ll be able to observe wild crocodiles in their natural habitat, and see them jump out of the water to catch meat from a fishing rod!

3. Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory is a not-to-be-missed cultural venue for visitors to Darwin. Located in the city’s inner suburbs, in Fannie Bay, it is one of the largest museums on the Australian continent, and a must-see tourist attraction.

It presents the specificity of Aboriginal culture, the rites and customs of this very special people, and their fascinating ability to live in harmony with nature. Along the way, you’ll discover the boats that enabled the first settlers to land on the island, as well as the country’s animal species, including the famous Sweetheart crocodile, which was known to attack any boat unfortunate enough to cross its path!

4. George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens

George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens

Photo credit: Flickr – Geoff Whalan

The George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens are a must-see for anyone visiting Darwin, offering a well-deserved break in a 42-hectare nature reserve featuring local tropical flora, countless varieties of flowers and a greenhouse of some of the world’s finest orchids.

What’s more, the visit is very pleasant as the heat is absorbed by the lush vegetation, and this area promises to be a must-see for those still looking for what to do in Darwin. Oh, and don’t forget to try one of the delicious tropical fruit muffins sold in the shady alleys!

5. Darwin Military Museum

Darwin Military Museum

Photo credit: Flickr – Geoff Young

Did you know? During the Second World War, Darwin was bombed 64 times in the space of two years! Inevitably, the conflict left its mark on the collective memory of Darwin’s inhabitants, and the Darwin Military Museum, created by the Australian Gunners’ Association, now serves as a memorial site.

It’s a popular destination for students and college classes from all over the country, as well as for visitors who come to see period photographs and a wide range of objects, each with its own story to tell. Ready to take the plunge into history? Come and visit Darwin via this memorial!

6. Leanyer Recreation Park

Come to Darwin as a family, with your children? Or, if you haven’t lost your kid spirit, head for Leanyer Recreation park and its gigantic slides to cool off on those hot austral summer days. For young and old alike, the place is a bubble of coolness in this northern territory known for its harsh summer temperatures. If you don’t know what to do in Darwin, you should know that it’s very popular at weekends, when the locals come to enjoy themselves. So it’s best to visit during the week, to avoid the queues and waits typical of the most popular theme parks.

7. Mindil Beach and its market

Mindil Beach

Photo credit: Flickr – Andy M

What can you do in Darwin if you like to do… nothing? It’s quite simple: visit Mindil Beach during your stay! This beach, located close to the city’s business district, is a popular spot for locals to relax with their families and do their shopping.

Mindil Beach is home to a picturesque little market, open during the dry season (April to October), which has the particularity of being open until sunset… which you can admire, once you’ve done your shopping, by sitting on the beach. This is a popular spot for lovers and romantics visiting Darwin.

8. Other things to do in Darwin

Litchfield national park

Photo credit: Flickr – Geoff Whalan

  • Litchfield National ParkLitchfield National Park is a sensational natural water theme park where you can enjoy waterfalls, natural pools and hiking trails, all less than 1h30 from Darwin!
  • Berry Springs Nature Park – A true nature paradise just 40 minutes from Darwin!
  • Darwin Waterfront – This is the place to be if you’re looking for relaxation: large lawns for sunbathing, palm trees and a lagoon pool with waves… If you’re lucky, you might even catch an open-air cinema or take part in the morning Tai Chi class!
  • East Point Reserve – Locals love this place. Located next to the Military Museum, you can get there by bike to ride the 200 hectares of trails!

Good to know: The Darwin Attraction Pass gives you access to four of Darwin’s main attractions at a reduced price!

How do I get to Darwin?

Darwin has its own international airport, located on the outskirts of Marrara, 13 kilometers north of Darwin city center. Air travel is still the best way to get to this remote location, and our partner Skyscanner will help you find a flight at preferential rates. From Charles de Gaulle airport, your journey will be punctuated by at least one stopover (very often in Singapore) and should take you at least 19h!

What’s more, the city’s modern and efficient infrastructure (several rail lines providing south/north links with the rest of Australia, a tramway, as well as an excellent but sparsely populated road network) means that you can vary your means of getting to the city, and, once there, visit Darwin with ease. For a more independent stay, you can also rent a car at Darwin airport.

Where to stay in Darwin?

Darwin is a good-sized city with several types of accommodation, each with its own advantages, to choose from according to your profile as a traveler visiting Darwin. For typical, family-style accommodation, don’t hesitate to choose one of the many guesthouses in or around the city, run by genuine, friendly Australians.

Members of the junior clientele will appreciate the numerous youth hostels, very widespread in Australia (the destination being popular with young backpackers, or seasonal workers), while those on a comfortable budget will opt for a room in the downtown district and its typically Australian wide alleys: you can actually find the hotel of your dreams in Darwin by searching on this hotel comparator. And if you prefer a flexible, affordable solution, opt for Airbnb accommodation, so you can enjoy a pied-à-terre that feels like home. Finally, our article on the best areas to stay in Darwin should also help you!

Now you know how to make the most of your visit to Darwin, and the charms of this very special region during your stay. But will you be able to decide what to do in Darwin and… would you prefer to visit in winter, or in summer?

Map of hotels and accommodation – Darwin,au