Mindil Beach Sunset, Darwin Mindil Beach Sunset, Darwin

Holidays inDarwin

Not just the tropical gateway to the outback, Darwin is a youthful, vibrant city, with a rich indigenous culture and a colourful mix of more than 50 nationalities.

The Top End’s capital is a natural stopover for your big ticket outback must-do’s, such as Kakadu and Nitmiluk (formerly Katherine) Gorge, but ever increasing pockets of laid-back urbanity mean the place is no longer just a pit stop on your Territory adventure.

Here’s our pick of the best things to see and do in and around Darwin.

Best things to see in Darwin

Darwin might be Australia’s smallest capital city, but there is loads to do. Hot and steamy all year – if you don’t like the rain visit during the dry season between April and November – the swimming lagoon and wave pool at the waterfront precinct is a perfect place to cool off.

Darwin’s markets are some of the best in the country; we highly rate the Mindil Beach evening markets and Saturday’s Parap markets. Darwin might have a reputation as a tropical frontier, but you’ll be surprised by how sophisticated this city can be if you know here to look. To save you searching, we’ve found the hip in this ‘hood for you.

Darwin is significant in our nation’s history and it’s full of great museums and historical sights. Dive into World War II history and experience, through the wonders of modern technology, the bombing of Darwin that that rocked Australia in 1942, or get a better understanding of the fury of Cyclone Tracy at the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT.

Darwin Accommodation

Accommodation in Darwin is fairly centralised around the CBD, which is probably right considering this is where most of the action happens.

The Esplanade and Waterfront are the pick of city areas with beautiful views of the harbour and close to the action of Mitchell St or the wharf precinct dining. The Waterfront has the added benefit of the waterpark and fenced off (read croc-free) ocean swimming zone.

More central hotels are excellent for business meetings followed by a little leisure. A quick important tip for business travellers: unless you have a car, stay as close as possible to your meetings to minimise walking. This means more central hotels, such as the Hilton Brisbane and Mantra Pandanus, come into  play.

For our picks, check out our list of where to stay in Darwin.

Maybe chill out in style in one of the city’s luxury holiday homes surrounded by Asian antiques and tropical gardens full of fuchsia frangipani and a shady pool to escape the heat.

Where to eat in Darwin

Great places to eat out in Darwin are easy to find in this city where Asian markets, hipster cafes and jovial Greek tavernas meet high-end restaurants, perfect for sampling wild ingredients such as banana prawns, crocodile and kangaroo.

Special spots include Hanuman – try the ‘Meen Moolie’, a creamy curry starring local barramundi – Lola’s, a cabaret- and carnival-themed restaurant and bar in the harbour-side precinct of Cullen Bay with a cracker of an outdoor area and more atmosphere than you’ll find at a footy grand final, and The Pearl, where Champagne high teas are held on Saturdays and Sundays. Feel like fresh barra’? Head down to Darwin Fish Market at Fisherman’s Wharf to buy straight off the boat.

Darwin Nightlife

Darwin’s nightlife has a raucous reputation. A wander along a certain couple of blocks in the famous Mitchell Street and you’ll probably agree that it is well deserved. But outside this lively backpacker magnet, the nightlife and entertainment options are quietly and calmly blossoming, in all directions.

Beer lovers welcome a pit stop at the Precinct Tavern in the waterfront complex. Among the many fine eateries of the waterfront, the Precinct serves 44 beers (including ciders) on tap, evidenced by the maze of kegs visible through the main bar’s transparent wall. If you’re feeling indecisive, select the $12 tasting tray.

Alternatively, the beer garden at Parap’s Railway Club is an intimate space adored by local hipsters and artsy folk; it feels like a 1960’s lodge. The garden’s adjoining room stages indie bands from all over Australia, and its interior is strewn with fairy lights, low couches and wine barrel high tables.

Because life is an adventure, try a Darwin-flavoured drag show at Throb (Smith Street). Don’t be put off by the kitschy name, this joint attracts open-minded Darwinites from all walks of life.

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