Your Ultimate Guide to Darwin

Darwin in a nutshell

The capital of Australia’s Northern Territory – Darwin – is a place that invites the adventurous. Located at the gateway to the massive Kakadu National Park, and closer to Asia than it is to most Australian cities, Darwin is a little different. Darwin and its surrounds provide visitors with crocodile filled rivers, sunset cruises, stunning beach-scapes, a taste of Asia, a rich Aboriginal culture and an energetic city. It’s safe to say that there are endless things to do in Darwin, and in this ultimate guide we will cover as much of them as possible.

But of course Darwin wasn’t always a city and it wasn’t always home to European Australians. The traditional owners of Darwin are the Larrakia (saltwater) people. Covering the large area from the Cox Peninsula to the Adelaide River, the Larrakia people were the first people to trade in the region. Trading with other local groups as well as Indonesian fishermen, these original inhabitants have passed down some incredible stories, songs and ceremonies. Later, in 1839, the HMS Beagle sailed into the waters of Darwin harbour. The area was named Darwin, after the British evolutionist Charles Darwin. When gold was later found in 1871, Darwin began to flourish and city status was given in 1959.

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Things to do in Darwin

Today, Darwin is home to over 130,000 people. The tropical capital boasts a sparkling harbour, cuisine featuring the tastes of Asia, as well as an outdoor lifestyle that rivals any other Australian city. During your visit to the city and its beautiful surrounds, you’ll have the chance to wander through Asian food markets, visit galleries and museums, take nature-filled day trips and learn about Aboriginal history and culture.

In this Ultimate Guide to Darwin, we share some the top things to do in the city (as well as nearby) and set you up for the trip of a lifetime.

markets in Darwin

Pic credit: Tourism NT / From the sparkling harbor and WWII history to the city’s Asian-influenced food and tropical outdoor lifestyle, Darwin is an adventurer’s paradise.

Head to some of Darwin’s markets

Markets make up a big part of a visit to Darwin. With a tropical feel, the city’s food markets are jammed with smells, tastes and colours. A visit to one of Darwin’s best will transport you to Asia or the Mediterranean. Start your visit to Darwin with a trip to Mindil Beach Sunset Market. On a Thursday evening, tourists and locals alike flock here with camp chairs and eskies. Live entertainment and sunset skies set the scene for food stalls which present dishes from all over the world. It’s a multicultural feast, and thousands of people attend each Thursday.

Take a trip of a lifetime to Arnhem Land

Discover the enchanting wonders of Arnhem Land, a hidden gem in the Top End of Australia, and prepare to be captivated by its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. This remote and pristine region offers a unique experience for adventurous tourists. Immerse yourself in the ancient traditions and stories of the local Aboriginal people, as you explore breathtaking landscapes, from rugged coastlines to lush rainforests. Witness stunning rock art that dates back thousands of years and learn about the spiritual connection between the land and its traditional owners. Arnhem Land is a truly remarkable destination, where nature and culture intertwine, leaving a lasting impression on every visitor.

Take a ‘crocodile jumping’ cruise on the Adelaide River

The Adelaide River is full of saltwater crocodiles. So, during your visit to Darwin, why not pay a visit to some of the world’s most otherworldly and prehistoric creatures? Take a cruise with Jumping Crocodile Cruises and enjoy a comfortable, undercover boat as you glide down the river. Spot crocodiles, white-bellied sea eagles, whistling kites and even bull sharks. As you cruise along the banks of Djukbinj National Park notice the tropical flora and fauna that passes you by. By feeding the crocodiles from the boat, your onboard staff will make crocodiles jump from the water! It’s a sight you won’t forget.

Darwin Waterfront from above

Pic credit: Tourism NT / Darwin Waterfront is home to the Wave Pool and also safe swimming Recreation Lagoon. Cafes and restaurants offer plenty of opportunities to refuel after a morning swim.

Explore Darwin’s Waterfront Precinct

Darwin’s Waterfront Precinct is an exciting new project which has revitalised the city’s waterfront area. The precinct features public amenities such as parks, walkways, and plazas. Here, you’ll be put in touch with the water, through exciting attractions such as a wave pool, swimming areas and restaurants and bars which overlook the water. Take a stroll along the waterfront, admire the views, and enjoy the diverse range of shops, restaurants, and cafes. The precinct is also environmentally sustainable with features like solar power, rainwater harvesting, and green spaces.  You could easily spend a day here, and you definitely should!

Visit a museum in Darwin

Darwin is home to a number of museums that offer visitors a glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture. The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory is a must-visit for history buffs, showcasing the natural and cultural heritage of the Northern Territory, including the history of the Indigenous people. Internationally renowned artistic, cultural and scientific collections and research programs are all hosted here.

Otherwise, you might like to pop into the Darwin Military Museum which tells the story of Darwin’s role in World War II and the bombing of the city. Meanwhile, the Fannie Bay Gaol Museum is another option. As a former prison turned museum, it offers an insight into the history of the Northern Territory’s criminal justice system. It was operational for over 100 years!

Litchfield national park

Pic credit: Tourism NT/Jason Charles Hill / Wangi Falls is the best-known and most popular attraction in Litchfield National Park – a park renowned for its accessibility and pristine natural beauty.

Adventure through Litchfield National Park

Litchfield National Park has simply got to be on your list of things to do in Darwin. Located just an hour’s drive from the city, the national park is home to a variety of striking landscapes and natural features, including waterfalls, swimming holes, and ancient rock formations. Take a refreshing dip in the waters of Florence Falls or the Buley Rockhole. The park also offers scenic drives and some stunning hiking trails.

Litchfield National Park is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including wallabies, kangaroos, flying foxes, dingoes, water buffalo and a wide variety of bird species. You can also explore the magnetic termite mounds and learn about the unique ecosystem of the park. Whether you’re looking to relax and take in the scenery or explore the great outdoors, this park has something for everyone to enjoy.

Take the kids to a wildlife park

Territory Wildlife Park is located just a short 45 minute drive from Darwin. A perfect destination for animal lovers, the park is home to a wide variety of native Australian wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, crocodiles, and a variety of bird species. Stroll through the park yourself, or take a guided tour for a more in-depth experience. The park also offers a range of interactive experiences such as hand-feeding kangaroos and wallabies, and holding a snake or a lizard. There is also a cafe and a souvenir shop where the kids can bring home a holiday memory! Whilst this trip might be lot of fun, you’re guaranteed to learn a few things too.

aboriginal experience in Darwin

Pic credit: Tourism NT/Tourism Australia

Experience Darwin’s Aboriginal culture

Darwin is a melting pot of cultures, but most importantly the city offers visitors the opportunity to experience the rich and diverse Aboriginal culture. Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours is a 100% fully aboriginal owned operated tourism accredited business that delivers an original, authentic and popular experiences based on local knowledge and history.

The company’s Wetland Discovery Tour is a great way to explore a natural hidden gem outside of Darwin and spot a variety of local wildlife. Your experience will include a one-hour scenic boat cruise where you can witness an array of birds, crocodiles, and other wildlife in their natural surroundings. Following this, a 2-hour immersive cultural experience and bush tucker walk and talk, will give you the opportunity to try your hand at activities like spear throwing and didjeridoo playing. For more information and further tours, visit Pudakul.

Enjoy a sunset cruise

Darwin locals live their lives by the sea, so if you’re visiting, you’ll want to immerse yourself in the water as much as possible! One great way to do this, is with a sunset cruise. This is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Darwin!

Darwin Harbour features some incredible wildlife, historical landmarks, and unbeatable views of the tropical city. From your sunset cruise, sit back and soak up the views alongside delicious platters and beverages. If you order a platter, you’ll have access to premium outdoor seating on the sun deck!

Explore Myilly Point Heritage Precinct

Step back in time and explore the Myilly Point Heritage Precinct, a charming enclave in Darwin that showcases the city’s architectural history. Wander through beautifully preserved heritage homes, such as the iconic Burnett House and Fannie Bay Gaol, and immerse yourself in the stories of early settlers and convicts. Admire the unique tropical architecture, with its wide verandas, louvered windows, and intricate detailing. The Myilly Point Heritage Precinct offers a glimpse into the past, allowing visitors to appreciate the rich heritage and cultural significance of this fascinating area.

wave pool at Darwin Waterfront

Pic credit: Tourism NT / Darwin Waterfront is home to the Wave Pool and also safe swimming Recreation Lagoon.

Swim in the wave pool

Ready for a dip? Darwin has a wave pool called Wave Lagoon, located in the Darwin Waterfront Precinct. It offers visitors a fun and refreshing way to cool off, with artificial waves and a range of facilities such as toilets, showers and picnic areas. Enjoy a swim in the waves, as well as a lounge on the beach during your trip to Darwin. The Wave Lagoon is open all year long, and is a great spot for families, and people of all ages to enjoy.

Take a walk in the Darwin Botanic Gardens

The Darwin Botanic Gardens is a must-see destination for nature lovers visiting the tropical Northern Territory capital. The gardens are home to a wide variety of plants, including many that are actually unique to the Northern Territory. Visitors can take a stroll through the gardens, admire the lush greenery, and learn about the different plant species.

The gardens feature a range of different sections, including a tropical rainforest, a mangrove boardwalk, and a tranquil lily pond. Darwin Botanic Gardens also has a visitor center, a playground and a café where you can sip on coffee amongst the greenery after a walk through the grounds. Hosting events and educational programs throughout the year, you might even be able to find something to get stuck into during your visit!

art gallery in Darwin

Pic credit: Tourism NT/Sean Scott / Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre is the Indigenous community controlled art centre of Northeast Arnhem Land located in Yirrkala, a small Aboriginal community, approximately 700km east of Darwin.

Visit a Darwin art gallery

Art lovers will find plenty of ways to explore Darwin’s art scene. It is home to a number of art galleries that showcase the work of local and national artists. Firstly, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) is a must-visit, with its permanent collections of Indigenous and non-Indigenous art, as well as rotating exhibitions showcasing contemporary and historical art.

If you haven’t seen enough following your visit to MAGNT, the Darwin Visual Arts Association (DVAA) is another notable art gallery, which is run by local artists. As you wander, admire local artworks, including painting, sculpture, and photography. For those seeking insight into contemporary and Indigenous art, the Mbantua Gallery is a good option. Featuring artworks from local and regional Indigenous artists, the gallery is home to paintings, sculptures, and textiles.

Head to Bicentennial Park

When the city gets a little much, it’s time to head to nature. Experience the natural beauty and tranquility of Bicentennial Park, a serene oasis nestled in the heart of Darwin. This lush green space offers a respite from the bustling city, inviting visitors to relax and unwind amidst its picturesque surroundings. Take a leisurely stroll along the winding pathways, breathe in the fragrant blooms of the vibrant gardens, and enjoy panoramic views of the harbor. With its shaded picnic areas, children’s playgrounds, and waterfront promenade, Bicentennial Park is the perfect place to gather with family and friends, enjoy a picnic, or simply soak up the serene ambiance of this urban sanctuary.

Kakadu National Park near Darwin

Pic credit; Tourism NT/jack.and.megan / Ubirr is within the East Alligator region of Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Escape to Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park is a drop-dead gorgeous natural destination perfect for lovers of the outdoors. A visit here is certainly one of the best things to do in Darwin and its surrounds! The national park, which is located just a two-hour drive from the city, is home to a diverse range of landscapes, including wetlands, savannah woodlands, and rocky escarpments. Visitors can take a scenic drive and see the park’s many natural wonders, including the famous Yellow Water Billabong, home to a variety of bird species and saltwater crocodiles.

The park also offers a range of activities for visitors to experience, such as guided walks, boat cruises, and cultural tours. Visitors can learn about the rich history and culture of the local Indigenous people and discover the park’s unique biodiversity. As one of the most famous national parks in Australia, Kakadu National Park is a unique and beautiful destination that offers something for everyone.

Take a refreshing dip at Berry Springs

Berry Springs is a natural oasis located just a short drive from Darwin and an even shorter drive from Lake Bennett. The area is known for its crystal clear pools, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. Visitors can take a dip in the cool waters here, relax in the natural springs or take a leisurely stroll along the nature trails. The park also offers picnic areas, toilets and showers. Berry Springs also has a picnic area, where visitors can enjoy a BBQ or a picnic with views across the water. Bird-watchers make sure to bring your binoculars!

See the crocs

If you’ve got some time to spare, make sure you don’t miss Darwin Crocodylus Park, where you’ll encounter the magnificent creatures that call northern Australia home. Get up close and personal with these prehistoric reptiles in a safe and educational environment. Marvel at the sheer size and power of the saltwater crocodiles, learn about their habitat and behaviour, and even watch them being fed. With a range of interactive experiences, including crocodile feeding tours and wildlife presentations, Darwin Crocodylus Park offers an unforgettable adventure for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers alike.

Mindil Beach in Darwin

Pic credit: Tourism NT / The Mindil Beach Sunset Market has over 200 unique stalls, ranging from food stalls offering incredible local and international cuisine to an array of arts, crafts and services stalls.

Go to a Darwin beach

Darwin offers visitors a variety of beautiful beaches to enjoy. The warm temperatures and tropical feel of the city will make you feel as though you’re in the Maldives. Some popular beaches in Darwin include Mindil Beach, which is known for its sunset markets and live music and Casuarina Beach, which is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing. Other options include the East Point Reserve, which is a great spot for picnicking and bird-watching, and Nightcliff Foreshore, which is a popular spot for fishing and watching the sunset.

Beaches in the city’s vicinity all offer a range of facilities such as toilets, showers and picnic area. And whilst swimming is often the main activity, visitors can also take part in water activities such as fishing and kayaking.

Enjoy a weekend escape at Lake Bennett

Located just a short drive from Darwin, Lake Bennett is a tranquil gem amongst the secluded landscape of the Northern Territory, that offers visitors a peaceful escape from the bustle of Darwin. The lake is surrounded by lush greenery and is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and picnicking. Visitors can also take a leisurely stroll along the lake’s shoreline and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The lake is also surrounded by walking trails.

Stay for longer at Lake Bennett with the help and hospitality of De Lago Resort. Providing accommodation in Lake Bennett the hotel includes newly-renovated apartments that have lake-views, as well as caravan and camping facilities. Situated here, you’ll only be moments from popular attractions such as Litchfield Park, Berry Springs and the Adelaide River. Plus, a swimming pool directing looking over the clear lake and its isolated surroundings will place you right in heaven!

To book your room at De Lago Resort or to find out more, click here.

de lago resort in lake Bennett

Views from De Lago Resort, Lake Bennett.

Cafes in Darwin

It’s no secret that Australians love a good coffee and a tasty alfresco brunch. Darwin local are no different! Next, we share three of our favourite cafes in Darwin.

The Rabbithole

This café is known for its delicious coffee, great service, and comfortable atmosphere. Australian cuisine is the name of the game and local people visit for nicely cooked avocado toasts. Visit for fresh berry smoothies, French toast and brioches if you are feeling a little hungry.

Mad Snake Cafe

Among the toys and games, Mad Snake Cafe caters for a variety of foodies, with goodies from local businesses Fig ’n’ Bananas, who provide a range of vegan breads and cakes, and D-Town Coffee Roasters.

The Coffee Club

The Coffee Club offers a wide range of food and drink options, as well as a relaxing atmosphere and friendly service. Their baristas are well trained in making the perfect cup.

bar in Brisbane

Bars in Darwin

A cold beverage is a must during a trip to Darwin. The city’s tropical character makes it pretty unique in terms of its bars and pubs. Indulge in cold drinks, live music and great views at a Darwin bar during your visit.


Located in the heart of Darwin, Shenanigans (or Shags) is a favourite for locals and visitors alike. This is the place to sit back on the terrace with a pint and catch up with friends of watch the world go by.

Stone House

Great snacks and even better drinks are found here. It’s as simple as that. Order grazing platters, snacks, charcuterie and cheese alongside beers, ciders, cocktails, soft drinks and an impressive wine menu.

Restaurants in Darwin

Darwin is blessed with lots of restaurants; everything from fine dining to casual eateries. Match your mood with your food, with the help of some information about three of Darwin’s best restaurants.

Ella by Minoli

The innovative Ella by Minoli is a great venue where food becomes experience. You’ll feel right at home here, presented with Sri Lankan dishes that activate all the senses.


Take a journey through South East Asia at Hanuman. In the kitchen, a team of traditionally-trained chefs combine their cooking secrets with a contemporary take on Asian Cuisine. You can’t go wrong!


Mediterranean and North African fusion isn’t something we typically eat much of. But we should! The incredible chefs at Moorish have created a menu which brings Spanish tapas into the 21st century with some stellar dishes.