Taking out the gong for being Australia’s only tropical capital city is Darwin. But there’s more to this city than balmy weather – though the warm temperatures and sun-kissed days might be all you need to hear in order to book your flight. Need more convincing? There’s the fact that Darwin has a happening food and culture scene, complete with waterfront restaurants, lush parklands, outdoor festivals, quirky events and world-class museums. Then you have Darwin’s proximity to some of the most spectacular scenery you’ll like ever see; the city is a gateway to Kakadu, Arnhem Land, Litchfield National Park and the Tiwi Islands. Feeling inspired to explore Australia’s Top End? To make it even easier, we’ve created an itinerary for your first 24 hours. Happy travelling!
Welcome to Darwin! If you have a soft spot for epic car journeys and open roads, you could drive to Darwin but flying is the quickest (and easiest) option. Darwin International Airport has a super central location – it’s only a 15-minute drive into the CBD. There is a taxi rank and a trip from the airport to the city centre will cost you about $25. The airport also has a collection of car hire desks, which could be the way to go if you’re keen on exploring Darwin’s surrounds and making a couple of day trips. Darwin has a good network of public busses, which can take you around the city.
Up and at ‘em | 8:30am
To fuel up for a busy day, head to Laneway Specialty Coffee in Parap. This eatery serves breakfast and lunch and has a menu boasting sweet and savoury dishes. Caffeine-lovers can get their kicks with a brew made from Campos Coffee. When you’ve had your fill from the all-day breakfast menu but are keen to stock up on something for later, Laneway Specialty Coffee have a range of tempting goodies and takeaway treats.
Museum meander | 10am
Head west towards Fannie Bay and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT). The museum and gallery overlooks the Arafura Sea and is home to permanent and temporary collections, as well as ever-changing exhibitions. Take your time exploring the exhibits – the Cyclone Tracy display is a highlight – and soak up tidbits about local history and culture. The museum is an all-ages activity, so is perfect for families with children, couples or groups – the air-conditioning is also a plus and offers a temporary respite from Darwin’s heat. Entry is free and there is an onsite café for you to grab lunch or a small snack. History buffs can also check out the Defence of Darwin Experience, which is located in East Point.
Along the garden path | 1pm
From MAGNT it’s around a 20-minute walk to Darwin’s Botanic Gardens. The gardens feature a maze of walking tracks and shady spots to rest in and people watch. The gardens are also close to Mindil Beach Sunset Market, a Darwin institution that happen every Thursday and Sunday evening between April and October. The markets are popular with locals and tourists alike, thanks to its collection of buzzing food stalls. Be sure to get down here during your stay, pick up some plates and grab a perch on the beach to watch the sun set.
Waterfront wander | 3pm
Make your way through Darwin’s CBD and to the city’s waterfront precinct. Here, you’ll find a collection of visit-worthy sites, including buildings that have been reconstructed after being bombed in WWII; Government House, the oldest European building in the Northern Territory has been restored a handful of times. Take a walk on the Esplanade and around Stokes Hill Road to the wharf area. This district is peppered with cheap eats, photo opportunities and even a wave pool.
Sunset sail| 5pm
As it happens, Darwin’s waterfront is also where one of the city’s most popular must-do happens: sunset cruises. There are a smattering of tours operating out of the area, so finding one that takes your fancy is sure to be a cinch. Most cruises leave at 5pm and take around three hours. Some operators allow you to bring your own drinks and nibbles aboard; others may provide platters, full meals or welcome drinks. Tip: remember to bring your camera, sunglasses and even sunscreen.
Land ahoy | 8:30pm
You’re back on dry land and are ready for your next stop. You could catch a flick at the Deckchair Cinema, which is located at the end of Jervois Road. The cinema screens movies every night until 20 November 2016. Most nights see just one film play, but some nights have later screenings available too. Be sure to check the timetable to see what’s playing when you’re in town. Those eager to hit the hay (you've had a busy day, after all) can make a beeline for their accommodation and kick back on the couch. This is your chance to rest up before another on-the-go day tomorrow - think Crocosaurus Cove, the Territory Wildlife Park, a cruise in the Mary River Wetlands or a trip to Litchfield National Park.
Where to stay?