Our ultimate urban guide to Australia’s capital cities

Australia's capital cities

Get out and about with our guide to some of the best things to do in Australia’s capital cities.


From Indigenous heritage and iconic attractions to top restaurants and bars, cultural activities and gorgeous day trips, we take you on a journey through the very best of Australia’s capital cities.

Opening image: King Street in Newtown, Sydney. Image: Destination NSW.


Delight in the art and world-class exhibitions on show at the National Gallery. Image: VisitCanberra.


Canberra, ACT: for heritage and culture

Indigenous name: Ngambri

Our nation’s capital Canberra has the perfect mix of history, culture and outdoor fun. With world-class museums and galleries, family-friendly activities, cool climate vineyards and nature right on the doorstep, it’s great for a weekend getaway. 

Indigenous heritage

The traditional owners of Canberra, the Ngunnawal people, have a long history within the nation’s capital. Head to the National Gallery to see the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal art and craft, visit the Aboriginal Tent Embassy site, or take a tour of Namadji National Park or Parliament House to learn more about the world’s oldest continuous culture. 


Known for its monuments and museums (Parliament House, the Australian War Memorial and the Royal Australian Mint just to name a few), Canberra is also home to some of the best art galleries in the nation. From classical paintings to glassblowing and modern art installations, the city has something for every kind of art lover. 

Outdoor activities

There are plenty of outdoor activities in Canberra. The city is wonderfully bike and pedestrian-friendly, connecting with trails that snake out through the suburbs and beyond. National Parks and nature reserves give outdoorsy types endless opportunities to get those endorphins pumping. Outside the city, there are plenty of gorgeous rural towns and villages to discover. 


An exciting food and wine revolution is taking place in the ACT. Hidden amongst the hills of the burgeoning Canberra vineyards, travellers can discover many top quality, cool climate wines. Check out some stellar drops at our favourite cellar doors.


Aerial view of people doing the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk. Image: Destination NSW.


Sydney, NSW: for beauty and the beach

Indigenous name: Warrane

Sydney is situated on one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, with iconic attractions such as the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. With golden beaches and a spectacular coastline to explore, not to mention fantastic drinking and dining, world-class shopping and amazing cultural centres, Sydney is hard to beat.

Indigenous heritage

Sydney is the traditional home of 29 clan groups referred to collectively as the Eora Nation. There are so many great ways to engage with this living culture. See a show by the Bangarra Dance Theatre, visit rock carvings in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park or take a walking tour around the Rocks and Sydney Harbour with Dreamtime Southern X.

Beaches and pools

Sydney is home to some stunning coastline, with the world-famous Bondi Beach just a 20 minute drive from the city centre. If the hustle and bustle of Bondi is a bit too much, you can check out some blissful hidden beaches that are off the beaten path. Make sure you catch a ferry to take in the sights of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge from the water, or take a dip in one of the many ocean pools that dot the city’s shores.

Day trips

Sydney is surrounded on all sides by amazing national parks perfect for day tripping. Within an hour or two, you can be exploring the stunning escarpments of the Blue Mountains, trekking through the coastal beauty of the Royal National Park or trying Berry’s famous doughnuts.


From local Australian grills to European fine-dining experiences or authentic Asian eateries – Sydney restaurants take the culinary crown with countless award-winning venues that are  considered to be some of the best in Australia.


Group enjoying a beer at Revel Brewing Co. Image: Tourism and Events QLD.


Brisbane, QLD: for good vibes and sunshine

Indigenous name: Meanjin

Even though Brissie has a population of almost 2.5 million, this river city has always had a laidback vibe. In recent years it has shaken off its ‘Brisvegas’ reputation and upped the ante on thriving cultural hubs, cool eateries, bars and wildlife experiences. Just out of the city are amazing waterfalls, lookouts and mountains to explore.

Indigenous heritage

Meanjin, or Brisbane, was founded upon the homelands of the Turrbal and Jagera peoples. Meanjin is derived from the Turrbal word for the spike of land that Brisbane sits on. Check out Indigenous-owned Birrunga Gallery for awesome art and a native ingredient-led cafe, take a tour of the city with BlackCard or enjoy the breathtaking live theatre experience of Spirits of the Red Sand.

Iconic attractions

The Sunshine Capital has so much to offer, with plenty of iconic experiences at your fingertips. Wine and dine at Howard Smith Wharves, kayak down the river or cuddle a friendly koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. QAGOMA is known for its eclectic and exciting exhibitions, while West End markets are perfect for some weekend browsing. 

Day trips

Up and down the coast from Brisbane, there’s so much to explore on an exciting day trip. Go snorkelling in the pristine waters of Moreton Island, explore colonial history and heritage in Ipswich or chase waterfalls in Lamington National Park, the largest subtropical rainforest in the world. 

Fish and chips

Want to eat like a local? Fish and chips are a staple in every Brisbanite’s diet. Check out the best places in town for fresh, salted goodness. And if you’re looking for the perfect park to tuck into your dinner, we’ve got you covered.


Crowds enjoying Sampa The Great at WOMADelaide, the largest world music festival in the Southern Hemisphere. Image: Saige Prime.


Adelaide, SA: for festivals galore

Indigenous name: Tarntanya

Adelaide, the “Festival City”, is a feast for the senses. Also known as the wine capital of Australia, it offers visitors the chance to explore some of the best wineries in the country and dine on superior local produce. The perfect mix of relaxed and sophisticated, Adelaide truly has something for everyone.

Indigenous heritage

The Kaurna people (pronounced ‘gar-na’) are the Traditional Owners of Adelaide and the surrounding areas, and you’ll find their language woven into the design of South Australia’s capital city. A visit to Tandanya – National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Australia’s oldest Aboriginal owned and managed multi-arts centre, is a must for local stories and workshops. At the South Australian Museum, you can see over 30,000 Aboriginal artefacts and the beautifully painted Yuendumu doors.


Adelaide is known as the Festival City for good reason! There are enough events to keep you busy the whole year round, whether your passion is for arts, culture, music, cabaret, sports or things a little on the weird side. You’ll notice it’s go big or go home, with some of the largest of their kind in the Southern Hemisphere – WOMADelaide and Adelaide Fringe Festival are notable mentions.

Foodie haven

In South Australia, restaurateurs, chefs, winemakers and producers have a licence to saunter outside the confines of tradition. The result? A remarkably diverse food scene where unusual pairings, unique ingredients and unexpected twists are standard practice. Make sure to taste your way around Adelaide Central Market, and check out some of the best foodie destinations around town. 

Day trips

Adelaide is a great launch point for amazing day trips through the surrounding countryside, from beaches to bars, wildlife to wineries. Visit the Barossa Valley, home to more than 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors, or see the sights of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, a quirky German-style village with hotdogs and fruit picking ahoy!


Chickens at the Mona Wine Bar. Image: Mona and Jesse Hunniford.


Hobart, TAS: for country cool

Indigenous name: nipaluna

Tasmania’s capital is a perfect combination of nature, culture and cuisine. The city thrives beneath the rugged figure of kunanyi / Mount Wellington, enticing tourists with a dynamic food scene and exciting arts hub. Of Australia’s capital cities, it is the second-oldest after Sydney, and has so much to offer.

Indigenous heritage

The Palawa people are the Traditional Owners of Hobart, and have occupied the island of lutruwita (Tasmania) for over 40,000 years. In recent years, there has been a re-emergence and embracing of Palawa culture and language. Join Takara nipaluna, the first and only Aboriginal historical walking tour of Hobart, check out some art at Art Mob or visit TMAG to learn about Palawa culture, heritage and contemporary perspectives through their two permanent Palawa collections.

The cool list

Just 12 years ago, Hobart still had a reputation as a sleepy backwater. Now, as new hotels, restaurants and galleries open up, people are drawn to Tassie’s buzzing capital. Check out our insider tips on the best places to stay on a range of different budgets, the coolest places to eat and drink, as well as explore David Walsh’s subversive and exciting Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). There are also tons of amazing festivals and events in Hobart year-round.

Day trips

These five unforgettable day trips from Hobart cover convict tales, culinary adventures and bucketloads of natural beauty. Explore amazing history at Port Arthur and Richmond, sample delicious local produce on Bruny Island, and experience the natural beauty of Freycinet and Mount Field. 


Queen Victoria Market – Winter Night Market. Image: Visit Victoria.


Melbourne, VIC: for culture and nightlife

Indigenous name: Narrm

Some may argue that Melbourne is the best of Australia’s capital cities: home to Queen Victoria Markets, Southgate, the MCG, Albert park, St Kilda Beach and many other treasures, it sure is a special place. A drinking, dining and shopping mecca, Melbourne is also a haven for coffee and culture lovers.

Indigenous heritage

There are plenty of ways to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in Melbourne. Visit the Koorie Heritage Trust to learn about stories, history and culture from their events and exhibitions, or grab a bite to eat at Mabu Mabu, where dishes are created with the influence of traditional culture and cuisine.

Where to eat

Melbourne is known as an incredible foodie destination, with cool rooftop bars, cutting-edge restaurants and local cafes that take their coffee very, very seriously. Our five favourite eateries – from the buzzing Bangkok vibes of Khaosan Lane to French fine dining with a twist at Poodle – will be sure to get your mouth watering. 

Culture vultures

Culture lovers will have a field day in Melbourne, a city brimming with galleries, theatres, comedy, music, festivals and more. Check out the spectacular events coming up for 2024, as well as the best theatres for a night out on the town. There’s so much to see and do that this list of the truly unmissable Melbourne experiences will make sure you don’t skip anything. 

Day trips

There’s so many great destinations just a hop, skip and a jump from the city. Whether you’re travelling with family, or searching for a romantic weekend away, we’ve got you covered with these easy day trips. While you’re at it, don’t miss the glorious Mornington Peninsula for beautiful beaches or the Yarra Valley for vino and views.


View of Cottesloe Beach and Indiana Tea House. Image: Tourism WA.


Perth, WA: for outdoor fun

Indigenous name: Boorloo

Perth is known as the sunniest of Australia’s capital cities. Visit one of the world’s largest inner city botanical gardens, plus beautiful beaches, vineyards, and a vibrant nightlife. Visitors can explore the artsy city of Fremantle, take a day trip to Rottnest Island, or visit Swan Valley, WA’s oldest wine growing region.

Indigenous heritage

Indigenous culture in Perth is an important part of everyday life. The Whadjuk Noongar people, the Traditional Owners of south-west Western Australia, have cared for the land for over 60,000 years. There are many ways to experience ancient Indigenous culture in Perth: take a guided tour of Kaarta Gar-up (Kings Park) or Wadjemup (Rottnest Island), visit the Six Seasons Gallery, or catch a show from the Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company. 

Food and wine

Discover where to wet your whistle at the best venues for food and wine that locals know and love: from new-wave wine bars and rooftop hangouts to old-school pubs and urban craft breweries. Check out the best of the Fremantle dining scene, or make the most of Perth’s blue skies by having a picnic in some of the gorgeous parks and gardens the city has to offer.

Day trips

There are some amazing day trips from Perth. Only two hours’ drive away you will find the Pinnacles Desert, filled with natural limestone structures formed around 25,000 years ago. This red sand oasis spreads over 17,000 hectares and is one of WA’s most popular tourist destinations.  Or you can check out Swan Valley, just a 40-minute drive with more than 40 wineries, 10 breweries, five distilleries and lots of gourmet producers.


Travel Australia with Rex

Travel to all these destinations and more on the Rex network. Book your flights here and check out the route map below for inspiration.

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