Not only is Darwin the capital and biggest city of the Northern Territory, but it is also a cultural melting pot. Also known as the “Gate to Asia”, there are an amazing 75 different nationalities living in Darwin, with one-quarter of its citizens being Aboriginals or Torre Strait Islanders.
This kaleidoscope of cultures makes Darwin extremely special. It is rich and vibrant, and you can experience it from each corner. The food variety, the wonderful street art, the museums, and the markets.
As the CBD is compact and easy to walk, you can head out and explore this amazing city on foot. After many dry days in the Outback of Queensland, we were really looking forward to spending some time in a bigger city!
Get ready for the top highlights in the wonderful city of Darwin!
Darwin Street Art
Australia has many artists who eternalize themselves in the most vibrant way: in awesome Street Art! We had seen so much great street art during our travels throughout the country and were fired up to delve into the streets and look at Darwin’s artistry.
Most of Darwin’s street art is found along Mitchell Street, Shadforth Lane, West Lane, Austin Lane, and Cavenagh Street. Probably the most well-known is Odeith, which is on West Lane outside the Darwin Galleria. This is a truly Australian painting: a kangaroo. Painted on a 90-degree corner and with an electrical box in front of it, it creates an awesome 3D optical illusion!
It goes without saying that we took a selfie there. But all the other paintings are no less interesting or beautiful, so take your time admiring these fabulous sites.
Tip: Get a free Darwin CBD map that highlights all the street art you can admire in the city.
One of the most well-known highlights in Darwin is Crocosaurus Cove. This must-see attraction is where you can interact with dangerous crocodiles. The entry is valid for the entire day, so be sure to get a pass if you want to come and go as you please.
The Crocosaurus Cove has many amazing encounters, including holding a baby croc, meeting reptiles, fish feeding, baby croc feeding, as well as an incredible presentation where they feed the huge crocs! But the biggest adrenaline kick at Crocosaurus Cove is to swim with the crocs (extra fee), which is rightly called “The Cage of Death”.
Tip: The NT holds the highest concentration of saltwater crocs in the World, so be sure to take “croc-wise” safety notes seriously!
We were fascinated to learn that crocs are able to regrow limbs!
Adult $36.00, Child $23.00
1 Adult, 2 Children $77.90
2 Adults, 1 Child $90.25
Or 2 Adults, 2 Children $112.10
And 2 Adults, 3 Children $133.95
Cage of Death:
1 person per Cage $175.00
2 people per Cage $270.00
Address: 58 Mitchell Street, Darwin City NT 0800 (Corner of Mitchell & Peel Street)
Open Daily: 9 am – 5 pm
Big Market Scene
We absolutely love markets and never want to miss a single one when we travel. And Darwin has one of the best markets we’ve been to! We visited many of Darwin’s markets and can recommend them all!
The Parap Village Saturday Markets are held year-round and are so much fun. Sample some of Darwin’s flavors and enjoy the colorful and vibrant atmosphere. Don’t miss the nice coffee shop Laneway Coffee located across the stalls.
Another great market is the Nightcliff Market. The market is every Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm and is held all year round.
But our absolute favorite market highlight was the Mindil Beach Sunset Market! Located directly at Mindil Beach, the Mindil Beach Sunset Market takes place between April and October and is the most romantic market experience we’ve ever made. Get your drink and food from one of the many stalls and then find your spot at the beach for an amazing sunset.
Ebb & Flow
When we say that our mouths are watering just thinking of the plant-based food at Ebb & Flow, it is an understatement! In fact, we went three times during our short stay in Darwin and are absolutely amazed by the flavors of the dishes. Our favorites were the V-ish and chips, plant-based fish served with fries, and special of the day, the pastrami sandwich. But be sure to get there early because the specials sell out quickly!
Even if you are not vegetarian or vegan, give it a try! It is delicious! The menu is changing and they often have weekly specials.
Address: U 1 52 Marina Boulevard, Larrakeyah, NT 0820
Did you know that Darwin Harbor is larger than Sydney Harbor? Neither did we! And Darwin Harbor offers a large variety of recreational activities.
The coastline has many sunken shipwrecks from World War II which makes it a great spot for diving. But be aware that the number of crocodiles and sharks, not to mention the jellyfish just might make your dive more adventurous and dangerous! So maybe you want to stick to fishing at Stokes Hill Wharf or charter a fishing boat.
Or enjoy a nice Sunset Cruise. They depart from the amazing Darwin Waterfront and take around 2,5 hours. Drinks and food platters can be purchased on board.
Address: Sunset Cruise, Dock 3, 45 Stokes Hill Road, Darwin City NT 0800
Parking is free for up to three hours.
Tip: There is a free Waterfront Shuttle Bus that operates daily from 11.30 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 9 pm. The Bus connects Stokes Hill Wharf and various locations around the Darwin Waterfront.
A Great place to relax
Dotted along the waterfront you will find countless inviting restaurants and bars.
But the most amazing thing is the man-made beach lagoon located at Darwin Waterfront! You can easily spend an entire day here. Go for a swim in the salt-water lagoon, play beach volleyball, or just relax on the sand. Get your lunch from one of the restaurants and enjoy your sundowner either on a cruise or in one of the bars. And it is beautifully lit up in the evenings. Plus, it is croc free!
If you travel with kids there is also the Wave Lagoon. This fun attraction has different wave patterns, ranging from gentle swells to up to a meter-high wave, perfect for boogie boarding. Fun is guaranteed!
Under 3 years Free, Under 15 years $6, 15 years and over $8, Family (max 2 adults & 3 children) $25
Parking at the Darwin Waterfront Precinct costs $5 per day ($10 overnight).
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
If you are interested in culture and scientific collections, then The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, or MAGNT for short, is a Must when you visit Darwin! The exhibitions are incredible, and we were surprised by how wide of a range MAGNT offers! We spent almost an entire day exploring this museum.
The changing nature of the Northern Territory, the devastation of Cyclone Tracy, the Collection Lab, and the story of Sweetheart, the legendary saltwater crocodile from Darwin, are only a few of the many things to see and learn about in this unique museum.
Address: 19 Conacher Street, The Gardens, NT 0820
Open daily: 10 am – 4 pm
Historic Fanny Bay Gaol
After your visit to the MAGNT, which overlooks the beautiful Fanny Bay as well as the Fanny Bay Gaol, you might want to visit this historic museum. Both male and female prisoners were held here until the prison was moved in 1979.
Address: Corner of East Point Road and Ross Smith Ave, Fannie Bay, NT 0820
Open: Wed-Sun: 10 am – 2 pm
George Brown Botanic Gardens
The George Brown Botanic Gardens is a beautiful area and has themed sections like Rainforest Loop, Africa, Tiwi Wet Forest, and the Secret Moonlight Garden. It is the perfect place to wind down, enjoy yourself, and reconnect with nature.
Leaving Eva’s Café, we saw a sign at a gate that a snake had been sighted recently in the gardens. Of course- not only must you be aware of crocs, but also snakes, I thought! We took the sign seriously and warned a couple that was walking their dogs. They just smiled and explained that this is just a joke from locals! Locals had hung plastic snakes in the tree to amuse tourists like us. Oh, that Aussie humor!
Address: Gardens Road, The Gardens, NT 0820
A trip to the Tiwi Islands is the one thing that we, unfortunately, didn’t do but wish we would have! We have read that the Aboriginal culture of the Tiwi Islands is different from the many Aboriginal cultures of the mainland. Tiwi Islands are known for their traditional lifestyle. Learn about the rich history and life on the tour*. Don’t miss out on exploring the ‘Island of Smiles’!
Darwin Golf Club
Established in 1930, Darwin Golf Club is the oldest golf course in the Northern Territory. Located just north of the airport, this open to the public course is a must-play for any golfer! And, at only $35 for 18 holes during the week, it is a fantastic deal!
We had an incredible day at Darwin Golf Club. The course is predominately flat, but the gentle flowing contours of the fairways will easily hold interest. The greens had some movement in them, and even though they had recently been aerated, they rolled better than we had expected.
Address: Links Road, Marrara, NT 0812
Green fees: 18 holes on weekdays are $35, and weekends and holidays are $40.
Beaches of Darwin
We were mainly exploring the city and didn’t spend much time at Darwin’s beaches as we should have, but we did make it to Mindil Beach and Cullen Beach. Mindil Beach is conveniently located right at the Sunset Market and the sunsets here are absolutely amazing. It is the best-known and most popular beach in Darwin.
Cullen Beach is a relatively new beach at Cullen Bay that is 250 meters in length. Found just east of it is Kahila Beach, which is a 100-meter-long artificial beach.
If you want to explore more beaches in Darwin, you can go to Vesteys Beach, Dudley Point, East Point, Lamaroo Beach, and the man-made Lake Alexander.
Lake Alexander is one of the favorite places where locals go to spend time kayaking, sunbathing, and relaxing.
From East Point, behind Lake Alexander, you can enjoy the beautiful Mangrove Boardwalk. Get your camera ready for all the various plants and animals you will likely see.
There is a lot of WWII history located in and around Darwin to dig into. Darwin was the first mainland site in Australia to come under direct attack. Join a Hangar Bombing of Darwin WWII Heritage Tour, visit the Darwin Cenotaph War Memorial, or tour the Darwin Military Museum.
The WWII Oil Storage Tunnels are shelters that were built during the second world war to protect oil supplies from bombings.
Address: Darwin Waterfront, Kitchener Drive, Darwin City, NT 0800
Opening hours: Daily May–September 9 am – 4 pm; October–April 9 am – 1 pm
Children 4 – 16 years $5.50
The Strauss Airstrip Historic Site is the most intact airstrip that was used during WWII.
Address: Stuart Highway just before Noonamah
We also visited the 1934 Qantas Hangar. The first Australia-England air service from Qantas and Empire Airways was operated here. The hangar is now an enormous Museum for Motor Vehicles of all ages and forms. While visiting the hanger, we were invited in and were in awe of how many collectibles were inside. If you are interested in a membership, contact MVEC-The Motor Vehicle Enthusiasts Club Inc.
Address: 22 MacDonald Street, Parap, NT 0820 Lot 5601
Last but not Least
Last, but surely not least, the Darwin Parliament Library is also absolutely worth a visit! Located in the Parliament House, it holds the largest number of books and archives in the NT. And as the cherry on top: if you need free internet, a printer, or an air-conditioned place to finish some work, you found the right place!
We loved Darwin and were surprised by how modern and diverse the city is. Truly, we didn’t expect there to be so many top highlights! We loved strolling through the streets, spoiling our taste buds with the multi-cultural flavors, the colorful street art, and most romantic sunsets. Another huge plus of Darwin is that you can reach unforgettable places like Litchfield National Park* and Kakadu National Park* on full-day trips.
If you plan on coming to Darwin and are not sure how much time that you’ll need: be sure to plan a couple of days longer. We spend a week there, and it was absolutely worth it!
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