Up in the far north of the Northern Territory (NT), Darwin is the only Australian state capital with a tropical climate. Unsurprisingly, it makes for a popular destination for visitors from places like Melbourne and Sydney, especially when they want to escape the chill. Even though it is the youngest state capital, Darwin has solidified its place with its melting pot of cultures, outdoor markets and waterside attractions. It’s also known for its avid wildlife nestled in and out of the city! From seeing jumping crocodiles, learning about Aboriginal culture and sampling the city’s attractions, here are the best things to do in Darwin!
1. Play at Darwin Waterfront Precinct
With the sunny weather even in winter, one of the best things to do in Darwin to cool down is to head to the Darwin Waterfront Precinct. With a Wave Lagoon, Saltwater Lagoon, Aqua Park, a playground and more, there’s fun to be had here for all ages. When you need a bite, refuel at one of the cafes and eateries, have a beer in the tavern, or picnic in the shade in the lush parklands.
2. Check out Darwin’s famous markets
Find local crafts and treat your taste buds at one of Darwin’s famous markets. Open from the last Thursday in April until the last Thursday in October every year, the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets hosts over 200 specialty stores and food vendors. sit on the beach with something to eat as the sun sets behind the ocean! Every weekend, many suburban spaces also transform to open-air markets. Try some authentic laksa in Parap Village Markets, meet local jewelers in Malak Market Place and shop for vintage items in Nightcliff Markets!
3. Explore Litchfield National Park
Litchfield National Park makes for the perfect day trip from Darwin. An easy 1.5-hour drive away, here visitors can witness epic waterfalls, see massive termite mounds, swim in a waterhole and so much more. You’ll need more than a day to discover all of Litchfield’s natural wonders. Camp within the park for easy access to the hiking trails, swimming holes and other attractions. If you’re a hardcore outdoor lover, you can even do a seven-day road trip through Kakadu and Litchfield!
4. Learn about Aboriginal culture on Tiwi Islands
A chain of nine islands of which the two largest are inhabited, Tiwi Islands is home to indigenous Australian people who’ve been here for at least 7,000 years. It’s a fascinating place to learn about a part of indigenous history and culture. Check out the local arts scene, an important part of both the local culture and economy, along with fascinating myths and stories that shaped their communities. There aren’t a whole lot of tourist attractions on the island, but that’s a part of the charm of going off-the-beaten-track.
5. Do a Mary River cruise
Love birdwatching? An hour east of Darwin, the lush Mary River wetlands is alive with birds and fishes. Check out the Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve from May to October to see some of the 250 species of birds that flock here – jabiru, jacana, pygmy geese, brolga and ibis feed among pink water lilies. If you prefer creatures of the water, join a fishing charter to land a barramundi or two, the most famous sports fish plentiful in the Mary River.
6. Get up close and personal with crocodiles
Crocodiles are an icon of the Northern Territory. For a safe but thrilling way to interact with them, Crocosaurus Cove offers the fearsome Cage of Death experience. Enter a cage in croc-infested waters, that’s the only thing keeping you from becoming crocodile food. If that’s too much for you, drive about an hour to experience one of the best things to do in Darwin: a jumping crocodile cruise on the Adelaide River!
7. Enjoy a sunset dinner cruise
Travelling with your significant other? Catch a famous Darwin sunset from a luxury yacht or a cruise around Darwin Harbour. There are many cruises to choose from, where you can enjoy a multi-course dinner, seafood buffet, canapes, champagne and more. With the breeze in your hair and a majestic sunset blazing on the horizon, this is the ultimate date experience in Darwin.