From the Snowy Mountains to the stunning South Coast, Canberra is situated in one of the best locations for a fun day trip. Here are 15 trips to take for when you feel like escaping the capital city, no matter the season.
Life’s a beach
The beach is never far away for Canberrans wishing to visit the South Coast. Drive to Batemans Bay to enjoy the beachside town or visit the popular Sapphire Coast. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous and have some time up your sleeve, Mollymook might be calling your name, or with its white sand beaches and bushwalking trails, Jervis Bay is always worth the visit.
Go wine tasting
Canberra is surrounded by wine regions with 140 vineyards located around 30 minutes away. Murrumbateman has several wineries to choose from. Visit Four Winds Vineyard cellar door for delicious wine and food with an Instagram worthy backdrop or visit Eden Roads Wines to see the organically managed vineyards. Lake George Winery has award winning wines while Gundog Estate Cork Street Cellar Door offers a tasting experience like no other.
Explore the Tulip Top Gardens
Something to remember for spring days, Tulip Top Gardens is located 20 minutes away from Canberra in Sutton. The Tulip Top Gardens are only open during spring but it’s worth the wait to see the endless gardens. Because of COVID restrictions last year and for those who can’t leave the house, they also offer a Digital Season Pass to tour the gardens from your own home.
Follow the trail at the canola fields
In the Spring, the Binalong Canola Fields are endless gold, making it a beautiful spot to stop and explore the Canola Trail. Two hours away from Canberra, the whole trail can be travelled in a day but it also has a variety of accommodation options as you explore the shires of Coolamon, Junee and Temora.
Mountain bike or walk alpine trails
Thredbo is not only beautiful in the snow. Thredbo Mountain Bike Park is Australia’s premier biking destination with the only summer-long chairlift accessed gravity trails in the country. If bikes aren’t your style, grab some boots and experience the natural beauty of Australia’s highest mountains in summer as you walk the alpine trails. With lots of glacial lakes, unique flora and fauna and mountains as far as the eye can see, it’s a must do.
Hunt for Truffles
On the edge of Canberra you’ll find the Truffle Farm. Open from late May through to early September each year, the homestead farm comes alive with an onsite restaurant with a chef who has graced the kitchen of several Michelin-star restaurants worldwide. Join a hunt and follow the truffle hunting dog as it searches for truffles and learn how truffles are prepared for market. Don’t forget to try one and buy some products from the farm.
Visit Corin Forest
Located 45 minutes away in the Tidbinbilla Mountain Range, Corin Forest is Canberra’s local winter snow recreation area. For those who don’t have much experience in snow, Corin Forest is perfect for learning how to ski or throw a snowball. Snowplay offers snowman building, tobogganing and snowball fights while the Alpine Slide descends 1.2km through the majestic Mountain Ash forest. Guests who book tickets for the Alpine Slide, Snowplay, or both between 2-5 April will receive a free bag of Easter eggs upon arrival that can be used to set up our own socially distanced Easter egg hunt!
Relax at Lake Crackenback Resort and Spa
Surround yourself with the Snowy Mountains and curl up next to the fire at Lake Crackenback Resort and Spa. The resort offers a huge range of boutique accommodation, free activities, unique on and off resort experiences as well as deep tissue massages, rejuvenating facials and indulgent spa packages.
Ski at Perisher, Thredbo or Charlotte Pass
Perfect for a weekend away, Canberra is a short drive away from several beautiful ski resorts. Perisher is located within the Kosciusko National Park and can be reached by car or ski tube. There are areas to suit all abilities, a range of on-snow accommodation and numerous pubs, restaurants and cafes. Situated in the heart of the Snowy Mountains and only 10 minutes away from Perisher, Charlotte Pass is Australia’s highest resort at 1765 metres. Open for skiing and snowboarding in winter and hiking in summer, Charlotte Pass receives some of the most consistent snowballs, offering a unique snow experience. Along with skiing and snowboarding for all ages, Thredbo offers boutique shops, cafes and restaurants, an indoor swimming centre and even a sled track. For a treat, visit Eagle’s Nest, the highest restaurant in Australia. At 1,937 metres, you can find it perched at the top of the Kosciuszko Express chairlift, offering 270-degree views of the area.
All Year Round
Swim in the Yarrangobilly thermal pools
Three hours away from Canberra, the spring-fed Yarrangobilly Thermal Poolsare mildly mineralised pools that stay a consistent 27 degrees all year. Visit after spending the day skiing at Thredbo or bushwalking in the mountains, take a picnic to spend the afternoon in bliss.
Explore the underground
Within three hours distance of Canberra, an abundance of caves are waiting to be explored. Visit the Yarrangobilly Caves for the day or take a caving tour in some limestone caves in the Wee Jasper Reserve less than an hour away. This area has fantastic exploratory caves, abseiling caves and a show cave with great limestone natural features.
Visit Gibraltar Falls and hike Booroomba Rocks
Drive 45 minutes south of Canberra to visit Gibraltar Falls. Watch the water from the viewing platform, use the picnic shelter and barbecue near the Gibraltar Falls car park or bushwalk around the area to enjoy the native wildlife. Further down from the waterfall is a popular bushwalking spot at Booroomba Rocks, located at Namadgi National Park. The walk offers stunning views of Canberra and across the Brindabella Ranges, with the shortest walk just 2.5km return.
Visit Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Namadgi National Park
Forty minutes away from Canberra, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is home to a variety of wildlife including birds, kangaroos, wallabies, platypus and koalas. With 21 trails to explore, there’s something for everyone including guided activities, educational activities about Ngunnawal culture and heritage, and exhibitions about rural life in the Tidbinbilla Valley. Venture further into Namadgi National Park to learn more about the Ngunnawal people and explore the walking trails. While 80% of Namadgi National Park was burnt during the 2020 Orroral Valley bushfire, there are some areas the public can access, just make sure to check before you leave for the day.
Climb Mount Kosciuszko
Set aside a couple of hours and pack some snacks to conquer Australia’s highest mountain. Popular in summer, the mountain offers amazing views of historic huts, weathered snow gums, rock formations and wildflowers. For those who don’t mind the cold, the mountain can be hiked in winter for snowy views. The walk is snowbound between June and October but you can cross-country ski or snowshoe; just be aware no snow poles mark the route. For more information, visit NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Visit some of Canberra’s neighboring towns for a change of scenery and some fresh country air. The Yass Valley hosts an array of festivals and workshops year-round while the Upper Lachlan region has the remarkable Wombeyan Caves, which are estimated to be between 400 and 430 million years old. The Hilltops area has one of the most exciting wine regions, surrounding the towns of Boorowa, Harden and Young. Make a special trip to historic Queanbeyan, visit the charming village of Bungendore or duck into Braidwood to support local speciality shops. For something special, join the Pie Trail in the Southern Highlands in June and enjoy one or more of the locally made pies from 30 pie outlets around the region. Be sure to check COVID-19 restrictions before visiting.
What are your favourite day trip locations? Tell us in the comments below.