33 Cool Things to do in Darwin, Australia
June 11, 2018
Looking for fun and cool things to do in Darwin? Lucky for you, I’m an expert. Darwin was my home for more than two years. And yes, there are 33 cool things to do in Darwin that I highly recommend checking out! For such a small city there is a ton to do and explore and I’m going to tell you exactly what those things to do in Darwin are, right here!
33 Cool Things to do in Darwin, Australia
As the capital city of the Northern Territory in Australia, Darwin often gets forgotten about by tourists. But it shouldn’t! There is a surplus of cool things to do in Darwin, and tourists who do venture there absolutely love it! If you love the outdoors, waterfalls, sunsets, wildlife, culture, and drinking then you will love Darwin too!
The truth is that Darwin has sort of a quirky charm to it. It isn’t a beautiful city with skyscrapers and the Opera House, it’s quite dangerous to swim in the ocean, and it gets hotter than 30 degrees almost every single day. Regardless of all of that, there is a lot of things to do that guarantee you to have a fabulous time while in Darwin.
Since I have come up with so many things to do in Darwin, I have broken them down into categories:
- Free things to do in Darwin
- Things to do in Darwin city
- Things to do near Darwin
- Multi-day trips from Darwin
1. Mindil Markets
The Mindil Markets are my favorite! During the dry season (May to October) there are night markets on at Mindil Beach every Sunday and Thursday night. The markets start at 4 pm and go until about 9 pm.
Most people go to the Mindil Markets for dinner and dessert. The selection of food is amazing, there is seafood, Indian, Chinese, crepes, wood-fired pizza, laksa, and so much more!
There is also street performers, musicians, and many market stalls selling all sorts of things! It is an easy way to keep busy for a few hours.
I would recommend going before sunset and having something to eat. Then watch the sunset on the beach with a drink in hand. At the Mindil Markets drinking in public is actually allowed, so bring a cider or some wine and enjoy the magic show that is the Darwin sunset.
2. Swim at The Lagoon
The Lagoon is located on the waterfront right next to the wave pool. The Lagoon is the only place where it is really safe to swim in the ocean in Darwin. It is a small bay that has a net surrounding it to prevent stingers and crocodiles from entering the area.
Of course, there is always a risk of swimming there still. Recently stingers have stung people swimming in the lagoon. The best way to avoid this is to only swim from the months from May to October.
Unfortunately, the lagoon is very still water and usually quite warm. Don’t go to the Lagoon for a refreshing swim. If you are after a refreshing swim then pay the entrance fee and go to the neighboring wave pool.
3. Visit the Museum and Art Gallery
Darwin actually has a pretty cool Museum and Art Gallery which are completely free!
The Museum and Art Gallery are both in the same building located a 5-minute drive from the city center. You could also take the public bus.
I’m not a huge art fan so I can’t speak much about the quality of the art gallery but I really liked the museum. They have a whole evolution exhibit which was really interesting.
If you want to see some traditional aboriginal artwork this is the place to go as well!
It is open from 10 am to 5 pm every day.
4. Walk in the Botanical Gardens
You can go for a walk in the Darwin Botanical Gardens from the city. The gardens are about 30 minutes from the city center by walking. They are well maintained and pretty. It is a peaceful escape from the city!
The gardens are just across the road from Mindil Beach so you could go for a walk in the gardens before checking out the Mindil Markets and watching the sunset.
5. Check out the Parap Markets
On Saturday mornings and early afternoon, the suburb of Parap puts on markets that the locals love! Many of the same food items are featured as at the Mindil Markets but it is a whole different setting.
The Parap Markets are more popular among locals than tourists.
Parap is about a 10-minute drive from the city and accessible by bus as well. The markets run every Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm all year around.
6. Watch a thunderstorm
If you happen to show up in Darwin during the wet season and are upset because a lot of things are closed, don’t fret too much, because you are guaranteed to see some wicked storms! Make the most of it and enjoy the show! From the bar at the casino is a great place to watch the storms roll in.
7. Go Fishing
Many of the locals favorite pass time in Darwin is fishing. You don’t need a fancy boat and gear, just a simple rod, some bait and head to the warf right in the city.
Darwin is renowned for great quality fishing so you’re bound to catch something!
8. Walk the trail from Nightcliff to Casuarina
Looking for some exercise? Head to the suburb of Nightcliff, there, right next to the beach is a huge car park and some walking and bike trails. If you follow the trail you will go next to the beach, over a river, through some mangroves and finish at Casuarina Beach!
It is an absolutely beautiful way to spend a morning. From Nightcliff Casuarina and back again is about 12 km.
9. Visit the Territory Wildlife Park
Want to get up close and personal to a croc without having to actually swim with one? The Territory Wildlife Park is the place to do this. They have a 6m croc in a tank that you can go right next to!
But besides the croc, the Territory Wildlife Park is essentially a big outdoor zoo. It is out in the middle of nowhere and the trails are all through the forest which makes the experience unique. It is famous for the big bird cages that you get to walk through.
Entrance to the Territory Wildlife Park is $32 AUD for an adult and it is about 45 minutes driving from Darwin city center.
10. WWII Tunnels
Near the waterfront where all of the cruise ships come in are some original WWII Tunnels. Darwin has a well-known history of its involvement in WWII, in fact, much of the city was completely blown up.
These tunnels are still the original tunnels they built back in the day for WWII and were supposed to be used to store fuel. The tunnels are hidden beneath a cliff right in the city.
Today, for a mere $8 AUD you can enter the tunnels and walk through them. They are all lit up and have write-ups and pictures about the tunnels and their use all of the way through.
11. Check out the Casino
Right next to the Mindil Markets is the casino. Whether you are a gambler or not, the casino is a good place to go for a drink or two. There is a bar at the back that looks out onto the ocean with tropical gardens.
The food at the Italian restaurant is really amazing too!
12. Swim at the Wave Lagoon
At the waterfront right in the city, there is a man-made wave pool right on the ocean’s edge.
The Wave Pool is nice because it has waves and nice grassed off areas to hang out. The wave pool costs $7 AUD for an adult and is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm daily.
If you aren’t interested in a wave pool then the lagoon might be more for you. Keep reading for more on the lagoon.
13. Eat crocodile
Locals love crocodiles in the Northern Territory, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t eat them!
One of the popular things to do in Darwin as a tourist is to try some crocodile! To me, it tastes like frog legs or similar to chicken but with a rubbery texture.
Crocodile is usually served on a skewer or as a jerky. You can get it as an appetizer at many restaurants or even at the Mindil Markets. The crocodile served at a restaurant called Crustaceans on Stokes Hill Wharf is quite good and worth trying.
14. Eat dinner on Stokes Hill Wharf
Stokes Hill Wharf which is near the waterfront is a great place to head for dinner. There is the nice restaurant called Crustaceans (which I suggested for trying crocodile) but if that is a bit too pricey for you there are some cheaper options.
There is a food court type setting but right on the wharf! Bring your own drinks and enjoy the evening watching the sun go down over the water.
15. Visit Crocosaurus Cove
Crocosaurus Cove is quite possibly the most popular thing for tourists to do in Darwin. This is the “zoo” right on Mitchell Street in Darwin city. In Crocosaurus Cove they have various presentations including the opportunity to hold a baby crocodile!
Entrance to Crocosaurus Cove is $35 AUD for an adult. For a complete schedule of the presentations and interactive activities click here.
If you want a real croc experience though you’re going to have to fork out the big bucks and swim with the crocs!
16, Swim with Crocodiles
At Crocosaurus Cove thrill seekers can jump into a glass tank and swim with the crocs!
While it looks like a crazy cool experience I did hear some mixed reviews especially considering the high price tag of $170. I never actually did it myself but what I hear is that it is a neat thing to do. I mean, it is the only place in Australia that does this!
That being said, a lot of the times the crocodiles are uninterested in you and even when they try to feed them to get them to come closer to the tank they aren’t hungry because they have been fed all day long.
My advice would be to book for first thing in the morning when the crocs will be the most hungry.
17. Sunday session on Mitchell Street
Locals in Darwin love a good “Sunday Sesh!”. On Sunday afternoons the bars on Mitchell Street fill up with those trying to saver the last of there weekend. Most bars have live music as people sit out on the patios drinking ice cold beers.
Forget about parting late into the night, just go party on a Sunday afternoon!
18. Go to Cullen Bay for sunset and dinner
Cullen Bay is another great place for sunset in Darwin! I know, you are probably thinking “how many sunsets do I need to see?” A lot! Every night! The sunsets in Darwin are truly amazing and you won’t want to miss a single one, so my best advice is to go somewhere different every evening to watch the sunset.
Cullen Bay is a short 10-15 minute walk from the city center. It is a cute little neighborhood to explore.
There is a nice grassy area where you can sit and bring a picnic dinner, or there a few different restaurants to choose from. If you are a big eater then the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet at Seafood on Cullen is well worth visiting, but if you are into a chic-pub setting then try Lola’s Pergola, Exotic North Indian for great Indian food, or Yots Greek Tavern for greek!
19. Sunset champagne cruise
Another sunset activity, but this one includes champagne and cruising on the ocean in a catamaran!
A couple different companies offer a similar service, but the one I went on was called Sail Darwin and they included as much champagne as you want! It is fun to relax on a catamaran with champagne in hand.
20. Go deep sea fishing
Darwin is famous for fishing. To be honest, I am not a huge fan of fishing, but in Darwin it is lots of fun because you are pretty much guaranteed to catch something! When I went deep sea fishing I caught a couple different snapper that I was allowed to bring home with me!
Just be aware, deep sea fishing is expensive! We went with Arafura Bluewater Charters and paid $170 AUD per person for a half-day.
21. Watch live music at Wisdoms
Wisdoms Bar and Café is a local hang out spot because the music is good, the vibe is chill, and the beers are cold. It’s a nice place to meet locals, people watch on Mitchell Street, and even have lunch! They have great lunch specials sometimes for as little as $12.50 with a beer!
22. Go skydiving
For the adrenaline junkies, skydiving and landing o the beach is a great activity in Darwin. However, if you’re after a great bunch of people and a fun night out then head out to bachelor for a tandem jump or sign up to go solo! The crew at Darwin Parachute Club are awesome and Daniel actually completed his course there!
It is free to camp on the grounds in bachelor at and the bar is super cheap!
23. Go to Crocodylus Park
Darwin has a zoo, it is called Crocodylus Park. To be completely honest, I haven’t been but I have a friend who went and paid extra to play with the Meerkats and absolutely loved it!
There is a funny story about the Darwin Zoo, when I was living there, a whole bunch of Crocodiles escaped! Weeks later people were still finding crocs in drains and backyards.
Going to the Zoo in Darwin is a full day activity, it is located about 20 minutes from the city center in the suburb of Berrimah and costs $40 AUD for an adult.
24. Go swimming at the Travelodge
This sounds like a weird thing to do but if you don’t have a pool where you are staying and need to cool down (which is likely in Darwin) the Travelodge in the city has a beautiful pool open for public use.
They will charge you about $8 to use the pool but it is a lovely way to cool down right in the city!
25. Go on a Jumping Croc Cruise
Going on a jumping Croc cruise would be my favorite out of all of the things to do in Darwin! I have gone three times and would go again in a heartbeat, it is just that exciting!
So, what is a jumping croc cruise exactly? It is a riverboat cruise on the Adelaide River, which is literally full of saltwater crocodiles (the most dangerous type in the world.) The tour guide will tie some raw chicken onto a stick and hang it over the water to tempt the crocodiles to come out for food. The crocs literally jump up out of the water to grab the chicken.
This is your chance to get up close and personal with wild crocs. They are incredible and scary at the same time!
They are a few tour operators who have the same trip, but there is one big difference between them – the boat size. Some of the boats are multi-level with the guide speak on a speaker. It would be hard to even see the crocs getting fed.
I recommend booking your jumping croc cruise with Darwin Tours.
26. Visit the Bluey Rock Pools
Litchfield National Park is only an hour from Darwin City and is a must-see attraction! Within Litchfield National Park there are a few different attractions that I recommend, one of them being Bluey Rock Pools.
Bluey Rocks Pools are the one place in Litchfield National Park that I could easily spend an entire afternoon at. There are a series of connected natural pools that you can relax in or jump into. It is the perfect place to have a drink and chill out (no glass bottles allowed though, you must bring cans.)
Bluey Rocks Pools are almost always open for swimming. It is only during extreme weather conditions where they flood that they close, but this doesn’t happen often.
There is no entrance fee to Bluey Rock Pools or Litchfield National Park in general. You can go on a tour from Darwin or drive yourself. The road in Litchfield National Park is unsealed but well maintained and fit for 2wd small cars.
27. Check out Wangi Falls
Wangi Falls is another attraction within Litchfield National Park. Wangi Falls is the farthest attraction but only about another 15-minute drive from the Bluey Rock Pools.
Wangi Falls are two big waterfalls with a pool at the bottom to swim in. There is also a short hike you can do to the top of the waterfall.
Wangi Falls closes for swimming during the wet season (November to May) as it floods and there is the possibility of crocodiles. But, during those months you can still go and view the waterfall.
During the dry season, Wangi Falls is a great place to swim, or even spend the night at the nearby campground.
Again, Wangi Falls is free and accessible with a 2wd.
28. Relax at the Douglas Daly Hot Springs
About a 45 minutes drive from Darwin there is the Douglas Daly Hot Springs. This is a perfect place to camp if you have a tent and the time, but if not, it is also a fun day trip.
The Douglas Daly Hot Springs is a small river that gets hot, like really hot! From the Douglas Daly Tourist Park, you can go straight into the hot part of the river and relax. Again, it is free!
Just be “croc-wise” in this area. Saltwater crocodiles have been spotted here. This is mainly after heavy rains. It is a very shallow river so chances are that you will be fine, but just be cautious especially if you are camping overnight and swimming in the dark. Rangers do check the area daily and close the area if crocs are sighted.
29. See the Termite Mounds
The Termite Mounds are a cool thing to stop at if you are already in Litchfield National Park. It is pretty neat to see termite mounds standing taller than a person!
This is just a quick attraction. It is located right at the entrance of Litchfield National Park, You just pull over, look at the termite mounds, take a couple of pictures and move on. Don’t drive all the way there just to see them, just make it a stop on a day trip to the Litchfield waterfalls.
30. Grab a beer in Humpty Doo
When you think of the Northern Territory locals you probably imagine a Crocodile Dundee type right? Well, the Humpty Doo pub is your best chance at meeting him.
Once afternoon stop at the Humpty Doo pub which is located, believe it or not, in the suburb of Humpty Doo on the outskirts of Darwin. It is on the way to Litchfield so is a good stop on the way back into the city.
Enjoy a couple drinks and meet the locals. They will be drinking, dancing, and having a good laugh, that much is sure!
31. Go to Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park isn’t in Darwin or really that near, a couple of hours driving at least to get to the closest attractions, but it is worth going to if you have the time!
Kakadu National Park is one of Australia’s most famous parks and for good reason, it is simply gorgeous! We went on a three-day tour and saw some incredible waterfalls, lookouts, and learned a ton about the aboriginal culture in the NT.
Kakadu National Park can only be explored in the dry season (May to October). You can go on your own, you will just want to do lots of research to ensure that you know where to visit, how to get around, and where to camp.
A three-day camping tour usually costs around $600 AUD per person (sometimes early bird deals are available) and I recommend booing with Kakadu 4wd Safaris. I went on a tour with them and loved every minute! Such a fun experience!
32. Visit Katherine and the Katherine Gorge
If you have more than a couple of days to spend in Darwin then consider going to the town of Katherine which is three hours away.
Near Katherine is the famous Katherine Gorge which is absolutely breathtaking! Take a boat cruise through the gorge to enjoy it best.
33. Explore Edith Falls
On the Way to Katherine make a stop at Edith Falls. These waterfalls have several levels, many of which you can swim in! It is free and a super fun place to explore, swim, and take pictures at the various lookouts.
And there you have it, 33 cool things to do in Darwin, Australia! As you can tell, I am very enthusiastic about Darwin and area. I truly think that Darwin offers an experience unique to anywhere else in Australia.
Have you been to Darwin or the Northern Territory before? If not, does it sound like a place that would interest you?