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Darwin is an awesome city in Northern Australia that is often unfortunately overlooked by tourists, but it really shouldn’t be! Being the Capital of the Northern Territory, the city really has SO much to offer!
Believe it or not, we were lucky enough to live in Darwin for a few years and in that time we fell completely in love with the city! In the two years that we lived there, we tried to see and do as much as we could so we are now somewhat experts on how to best spend your time in Darwin!
As much as possible, we try to explore places on our own and only book tours when we think they are really worth it. That being said, we did a lot of tours during our time in Darwin and have compiled this list of the best tours in Darwin that are well worth your money and will ensure you have the best time possible!
Our TOP Picks for Dawrin Tours
Combining a trip to the beautiful Litchfield National Park with an incredible jumping crocodile cruise, this full-day tour is a clear favorite for us when it comes to variety! And it’s not just us either… Almost 1,200 people have given this tour a 5-star review, so you know you’re onto a winner here.
Tickets for this tour cost $185 AUD per person, which is also pretty good value! You can check dates and book your spot online here.
Best scenic tour:
When it comes to which tour gives you the best views of Darwin’s iconic landmarks, I’ve got to give it to this scenic flight tour. It’s not every day you get to see Darwin from such a cool and unique perspective, and our guide was full of fun facts and stories about every single location!
At $800 AUD per person, this tour isn’t cheap, but if you’re looking for that WOW tour, this is the one to go for. You can check available dates and book online here.
Best cultural tour:
No trip to Darwin is complete without learning more about the local native culture, and this Tiwi cultural experience tour is our top pick for just this! As a full-day tour, this is the best way to get to know the local Tiwi people and their traditions. I thought this tour was really professionally run, without feeling overly ‘touristy’, which was great!
Tickets for this tour cost $375 AUD and can be booked online here.
The Best Tours in Darwin, Australia
1. Jumping Crocodile Cruise
Going on a Jumping Crocodile Cruise was one of our favorite things to do when we lived in Darwin, so much so that we did it multiple times!
You jump on the croc river bus and cruise down the Adelaide River seeing Darwin’s incredible wildlife including birds, snakes, insects, and of course crocodiles!
The main highlight of the tour is when the expert guides take pieces of meat on a long stick and hang the stick up from the boat, crocodiles will then leap out of the water to grab the meat.
The crocodiles are absolutely huge and you really get to see the full size of them up close when they are jumping up!
I will admit it can be scary seeing them so close but an amazing experience, it’s one of Darwin’s top attractions for good reason!
You will find there are a few different companies offering jumping crocodile cruises, but we personally recommend this particular one. Some of the cruises are on huge double-decker boats where you are with a ton of other people and quite far from the water. This tour is on a smaller boat (but still safe, with a cage railing) so you get a better experience overall. Trust us, this is the tour to book!
Prices start at $120 AUD per person and include your cruise along the river as well as a trip into the Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve where the enthusiastic guides will help point out some more of the outbacks wildlife including buffalos, pigs, and if you are lucky, the adorable wallabies! Transport from Darwin city is also included.
2. Sunset cruise in Darwin Harbour
This is another tour in Darwin that involves getting on a boat, but this time you are relaxing on a luxury catamaran in the ocean with champagne in hand, enjoying the sunset – talk about a holiday!
I’ve been on a couple of different sunset cruises in Darwin, but my personal favorite one was this particular sunset cruise! This cruise lasts for 3 hours and includes unlimited sparkling wine and a 7-course tapas dinner.
However, there’s one other reason I love this cruise. They let you BYO other drinks – they even provide the esky and ice! Although some other cruises are cheaper, if you enjoy a sunset drink (or four!), this saves you from buying expensive drinks.
This sunset cruise departs from Stokes Hill Wharf at 5:00 pm nightly (can change slightly depending on the time of year of the sunset), and costs $159 AUD per person. If you ask us, that’s a great deal considering you get food, drinks, and a cruise on a 50ft luxury catamaran!
3. Full-day tour to Kakadu National Park
Kakadu is one of Australia’s most popular national parks, and for good reason. Not only is it one of Australia’s largest parks, but it also has two UNESCO recognitions for its natural and cultural significance. Think waterfalls, natural infinity pools, and ancient aboriginal rocket art.
Kakadu National Park is actually located two hours outside of Darwin but with so much to do within the park, it is definitely worth the trip! The park itself is naturally beautiful and has incredible landscapes but the main draw to the area is the rock art scattered around the park.
The art provides a record of aboriginal life dating back to 20,000 years ago and shows how their culture was ingrained in their land and spirituality. The main rock art galleries are in Ubirr and Nourlangie so you should add these stop-offs if you are visiting yourself.
While you can rent a car and drive yourself, it is quite the drive. Plus, depending on where you are going, you might need a 4wd. It makes for a long day of driving and touring, which is why there are so many Kakadu tours available from Darwin. These tours are, after all, some of the most popular tours in Darwin.
On top of that, you’ll have a knowledgeable guide to teach you about indigenous culture
This tour, in particular, includes the national park highlights as well as both the main rock galleries. The tour also includes a cruise led by an aboriginal guide along the incredible East Alligator River, where you can soak up their knowledge of the region and the local wildlife.
The tour starts at $290 AUD per person including lunch and transfers. Do bear in mind it’s an early one, though as pick-up time is at 5:15 am, but this just means that you get a full day exploring the park!
4. Litchfield National Park AND Jumping Crocodile Cruise
The best part about this tour is that they start super early in the morning. If you are not naturally an early riser, that might put you off, but I promise that having the stretch of the Adelaide River to yourself for your private boat cruise is way worth it!
With crocodile cruises being such a popular activity in the area, the river can feel overcrowded and take away from the overall experience if you go in the middle of the day.
After your boat cruise, the tour takes you to some of the best waterfalls in Litchfield National Park Wangi and Florence Falls, where you can take a dip, and Buley Rockhole where you can actually snorkel around beneath the trees.
What really made this experience so great for us though was the guides. They are so knowledgeable, really funny and amazing at spotting wildlife and getting us up close and personal with some crocs!
Prices start at A$185 which includes your crocodile cruise, lunch, snacks, water and a tour guide, just don’t forget to bring your own towels, swimwear and snorkel gear if you want to have a snorkel.
You can check availability and book this combo Litchfield and jumping croc tour online here!
Related Read: A tour is just one of the ways to get from Darwin to Litchfield National Park – read about the others!
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Check out the Viator website here!
5. Katherine Day Tour from Darwin
The stunning town of Katherine is located in the Northern Territory, just a three-hour drive from Darwin. The town is named after the Katherine River, which the town sits on, but what makes the town famous is the nearby Katherine Gorge.
The Gorge itself is absolutely breathtaking and has some of the best views in Northern Australia! From our experience, it is best seen from the water so booking a day trip (like this one) to Katherine which includes a boat cruise is ideal!
This tour starts at $309 AUD per person for a full-day tour of Katherine including hotel pick-up in Darwin, a local guide, lunch, and the Gorge cruise. The first stop of the tour is a trip to Adelaide River War Cemetery, where you can pay your respects to the soldiers who lost their lives in World War II before a trip to the incredible Edith Falls. Here, you can take a refreshing dip in the pools below, as long as you’re visiting in the dry season.
After drying off and enjoying a delicious lunch, the tour takes you to the Nitmiluk Visitor Center before embarking on your two-hour cruise in the Katherine Gorge where you’ll cruise between the huge sandstone cliffs, and keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles on the river banks!
6. Tiwi Islands Cultural Experience
Home to the Tiwi people, The Tiwi islands are one of the most unique day trips you can take from Darwin! The Tiwi Islands are made up of Bathurst Island, Melville Island, and nine other smaller islands which are uninhabited.
The islands are a two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from Darwin, so not only do you get to visit the beautiful islands, but you get a pretty cool boat cruise along the way!
The Tiwi community of Wurrumiyanga are known for being extremely friendly, welcoming, and love sharing their culture with visitors. To visit the Tiwi Islands you actually need a permit, so if you aren’t going on a tour to the islands, you’ll need to apply for a visitor’s permit here. It’s actually a bit of a hassle, plus, you’ll need your own boat to get there, which is why a tour is what we suggest!
We highly recommend booking this particular tour as it includes your permit, the boat ride there and back, and an opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the local culture.
It’s a cultural tour, so the trip includes an expert guide and a trip to the Tiwi Museum, where you can see traditional art and meet some of the Tiwi ladies while they complete their weaving, smoke ceremony, and totem dances. It really is an experience like no other!
Prices start at $375 AUD but if you are traveling as a family, they have discounts for people under the age of 16! You can check availability and all inclusions and book online here.
7. Darwin City Explorer Tour
There really are so many amazing things to do in Darwin, so much so that if you are only staying in the city for a short amount of time, you might struggle to do it all! For that reason, we really believe that taking a city tour is an ideal way to see the city and ensures you experience all the highlights.
There are a lot of city tours on offer, but having lived in Darwin for a while, we think this City Explorer Tour is one of the best!
The tour starts at $130 AUD for the whole five-hour-long coach tour, taking you all around the city’s top sights and beautiful waterfront.
If you are interested in the history of Darwin (which is fascinating), you’re going to love this tour as the first two stops are museums! The first is the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, which has an incredible range of Aboriginal Art.
The second stop is at the Darwin Aviation Museum, where you can learn all about the aircrafts used and Dawin’s part in WWII. The other museum on the tour is the Defence of Darwin Experience where you can see immersive World War Two displays and machinery.
The tour then continues to have a few drive-by viewings of some top landmarks including the Darwin Botanic Gardens, Fannie Bay Gaol, and the Parliament House. If you take the tour on a Saturday, you can stop off at the Parap Markets, which is a great place to pick up some local foods and souvenirs to take home with you.
The last stop on the tour, and many people’s favorite, is the 1934 Qantas Hangar, an antique vehicle museum with some awesome vintage cars and bikes.
Whether you are just in Darwin for the day or staying a whole week, this tour is an ideal way to learn a bit more about the history of the city! You can check availability and book this city tour online here.
8. Kakadu National Park 3-day Tour
If you are lucky enough to be staying for longer than just a couple of days in Darwin, we highly recommend taking a three-day tour of Kakadu National Park!
While you can take a day trip to Kakadu from Darwin like we mentioned above, Kakadu is absolutely huge, at nearly 20,000 square kilometers, so you really need more than a day to appreciate it! We did a three-day tour of Kakadu once and found it was the perfect amount of time to properly see the top attractions.
This three-day tour is an excellent choice! It starts with a 6:30 am pick-up from Darwin and takes you across the stunning floodplains of the Adelaide River all the way up to Kakadu National Park. From here you will see the rock art of Ubirr, Crocodile Wildlife Cruise on the Mary River, and enjoy sunset overlooking the Nadab Floodplain – and that’s all on day one!
Day two is a day of swimming and chasing waterfalls as your group explores Jim Jim and Twin Falls before heading back to camp for a freshly cooked meal and a camp out beneath the stars!
Your final day includes a trip to the small pioneering town of Pine Creek, some hiking, and a refreshing dip at Buley Rockholes, Wangi Falls, or Florence Falls before you head back to Darwin to conclude your tour.
The price of the tour starts at $950 AUD which includes all the camping gear you’ll need, your 4×4 vehicle, a friendly knowledgeable guide, and five meals during your tour!
We took this tour when we first moved to Darwin and found it to be the best introduction to the beauty of the National Park and all the wildlife inside it! You can book this exact tour online here (be sure to book in advance as it often sells out!)
Related Read: Love waterfalls? Learn about the best waterfalls near Darwin that you can visit!
9. Kakadu National Park Scenic Flight
With Kakadu National Park being one of the most popular and largest National parks in Australia, it is impossible to take in its full size and beauty on foot!
Luckily with this scenic flight tour, you can see it from the skies! The tiny plane is only for your group giving an intimate tour experience flying over Kakadu National Park and Mary River and wetlands.
If you are visiting in the wet season, it is also the best way to see both the beautiful Jim Jim Falls and the Twin Falls (these waterfalls are generally inaccessible by land during the wet season.)
This was one of our favorite experiences in Darwin, and we got to see parts of the park we had never seen before. Our pilot was so knowledgeable and friendly. He informed us all about the areas we were flying over and even pointed out some great photo ops!
The tour starts at $780 AUD but it is worth noting that you need at least two people for the tour to go ahead, so you might want to find a friend to join you if you are traveling solo in Darwin.
10. Darwin Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
A hop-on hop-off bus tour is always a great way to see a new city, especially if you are short on time, and this Darwin hop-on bus tour is no different!
Not only does it mean you can get transport to all of the highlights and landmarks in Darwin but it also means you can pick and choose which ones you visit, and go at your own pace!
We took this tour pretty early on when we first moved to Darwin and it is something we always recommend visitors take as it is affordable and has great stops along its route.
This tour starts at A$47.90 and has the option of either a 24-hour pass or a 48-hour pass if you have enough time. The two-day pass is ideal as it will give you more time to explore and visit more of the stops.
There are 12 stops in total along the buses route and the best part about this kind of tour is that you are able to start and finish the tour at any of the stops, and jump on and off whenever you fancy!
If you do take the tour, you can download their handy map to see a full list of the stops and the notable spots along the route so you can plan your trip accordingly but rest assured that the bus can take you all around the city and you will not struggle to find things that takes your interest!
You can get all of the details and book the hop-on hop-off bus tour online here!
11. Top End Safari Camp Day Tour
Whether you are a thrill seeker or just a huge wildlife fan, you are going to absolutely love this tour!
This tour starts with a short minibus ride from Darwin to Matt Wright’s croc rescue area where you will board the cruise boat and enjoy a nice breakfast (or lunch, depending on the tour time you choose) with the rest of your tour group.
From there, the activities really begin!
Let your food settle with a peaceful Cyclone Creek Billabong Cruise where you can take in the natural beauty, grab some photos, and spot some amazing local wildlife.
Now for the more high-adrenaline activity, you can board the airboat cruise and feel the thrill of speeding off in the airboat, past the rainforests, and along the river! It’s super fun, and while it can be a little scary at times, there are bars to stop you from falling out!
You can then meet some of the area’s huge resident rescue saltwater crocodiles, the expert guides will tell you a bit about their personalities while feeding them.
Just when you think that might be enough adventure for one day, you will get ready for the highlight of the day, the helicopter ride over the area! The beauty of the river systems is best seen from a bird’s eye view and the ten-minute tour of the skies is the perfect end to a fun-filled day!
Prices for the tour start at $495 AUD, is suitable for the whole family and have four different pick-up points to choose from around the city.
You can check availability and book this unique tour in Darwin online here. Be sure to book in advance as this tour does often sell out!
12. Arnhem Land Yingana Injalak Hill Full Day Tour from Darwin
Injalak Hill is one of the best places near to Darwin to see ancient Aboriginal rock art, the art is so protected that it is impossible to visit without a special visitor permit.
This private tour is the only one that departs from Darwin that is led by indigenous guides. They will take you through Arnhem Land while teaching you all about the sacred land and the part it has in Aboriginal heritage.
The walk up Injalak Hill is definitely not for the faint-hearted but as it is a private tour, the guides let you take it at your own pace, just bring plenty of water!
The tour provides exclusive access to the Injalak Hill rock art site where the guide will explain some of the stories behind the paintings and how exactly they were created. To be honest, without a guide, you might struggle to know what you are looking at, but the history behind the art is fascinating!
Prices for the tour start at $345 AUD but it really is an experience unique to the area, and the intimate tour is the perfect way to find out as much as you can about Aboriginal history.
You can book this private tour online here.
13. Helicopter Pub Crawl Tour in Darwin
Pub crawls are always great fun, but usually, you would walk between local bars – not on this tour! Oh no, on this tour, you fly! Not only is it a super fun and unique activity, but it also allows you to visit three awesome drinking spots that you would never be able to visit in one day without flying.
After departing from the Darwin Aviation Museum, you will arrive in style at the first stop off, Crab Claw Island. This is a beautiful resort complete with harbor views, palm trees, swimming pools, and of course, a fully stocked bar!
From here, you will fly over beautiful landscapes en route to your next destination, Darwin River Tavern, an awesome pub that is famous in the area for its panoramic views and resident saltwater croc! The food is incredible here, so now is a great chance to soak up on some lunch!
The final stop is the Noonamah Tavern, which is a lively bar popular for its live music and entertainment, which makes it a great place to stop for a drink before flying back to the start.
The pub crawl is priced at $835 AUD, which we think is very well priced for a few helicopter rides, unbeatable views over the city, and a fun-filled day! You also get a free stubby cooler to take home with you and keep your drinks fresh throughout the day.
You can check all of the details, availability, and book this heli-pub experience online here!
14. 1 Day Corroboree Billabong Wetland Experience
One of our favorite ways to spend a relaxing day in Darwin was to enjoy this peaceful Billabong cruise!
It is the perfect opportunity for wildlife spotting along the Mary River Wetlands which is actually home to the largest concentration of saltwater crocs in Australia! You’ll also want to bring your binoculars for this one as there are a huge variety of bird species you can see along the way.
The open-topped boat sails around slowly through the Corroboree Billabong, so you’ll have time to snap some great pics of the scenery and animals during the cruise. There is also an expert guide on board, who is an absolute pro at spotting rare species and bathing crocodiles!
This Billabong Wetland Experience starts at $195 AUD including a two-and-a-half hour cruise, lunch, and a trip to Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve, which has one of the largest populations of snakes in the whole of Australia!
You can book this Billabong Wetland experience online here to secure your spot!
15. Darwin History and Wartime Experience Tour
The city of Darwin has a super interesting history which we were able to learn about throughout our life here, but if you are only visiting, taking a history tour, like this one, is a great introduction to Darwin!
Everything from the early settlements and establishment of trade routes by the Larrakia people to how Darwin got its name after European settlement and the extensive bombing during World War II, all of which make Darwin what it is today.
This History and Wartime tour is carried out in what is potentially the only wartime vehicle commercially operating in Australia which takes you around all of Darwin’s wartime and prominent spots throughout the city.
Even if you are not a huge history buff, the expert guides manage to keep the stories informative while still interesting and fun!
The tour starts at only $60 AUD with an optional add-on of a ticket to the East Point Military Museum, which we would highly recommend if you haven’t visited already.
You can check availability and book this history tour of Darwin online here.
Where to Stay in Darwin
After you’re done touring around Darwin, you’re going to need somewhere beautiful to stay. There are tons of amazing places to stay in Darwin. In fact, there are so many that you might have a hard time choosing!
For that reason, I’ve hand-selected the best hostel, hotels, and holiday homes for you in Darwin. These choices are based on my own personal experience and the experiences of friends and family who always came to visit us in Darwin!
Best Hostel – Youth Shack
This backpackers hostel is located right on Mitchell Street in the most central location. They have dorm beds, budget private rooms, and all rooms have air conditioning. Their rooftop pool and bar is always busy ad the perfect place to party and meet other travelers. You can book the Youth Shack on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.
Best Budget Hotel – The Cavenagh
This centrally located hotel is super cheap but also comfortable with a pool and clean rooms. They have standard double rooms but also have a few dorms available. The onsite restaurant is a favorite among Darwin locals for their delicious steak and cold beer! You can check prices and book The Cavenagh online here.
Best Moderately Priced Hotel – Travelodge Resort Darwin
I love the Travelodge Resort Darwin for their amazing outdoor area complete with tropical gardens and multiple pools. Located a short walk from Mitchell Street, this hotel is in a quiet area but still central. Their rooms are great value and are perfect for couples or families. You can check prices and book the Travelodge Resort Darwin here.
Best Luxury Stay – Mindil Beach Casino and Resort
It doesn’t get more luxurious in Darwin than the Mindil Beach Resort. Located right on Mindil Beach, this hotel is known for its oceanfront pools, tons of delicious onsite bars and restaurants, and just pure luxury! If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Darwin – then this is it! You can check prices and book Mindil Beach Resort online here!
Best Holiday Home/Airbnb – Argus Apartments Darwin
This apartment building is located right near the CBD, not far from the waterfront, and includes everything you’d expect from a fully self-constrained apartment. Choose between a 2-bedroom, 3-bedroom, and 4-bedroom apartment, that sleeps up to 8 people. All units are fitted with a full kitchen as well as a patio with a BBQ. The building has a pool as well as a gym. You can browse available apartments and book online here!
Getting Around Darwin
There is public transport (a bus) that operates in Darwin city. This is great for getting around within the city limits to places like Cullen Bay, Mindil Beach, or even the Parap Markets.
However, if you want to explore more remote locations such as Litchfield National Park, Berry Springs, the Territory Wildlife Park, or many other attractions then you’re going to need to book organized tours or get your own wheels.
You can easily rent a car in either Darwin city or at the airport. Rental cars are great value for money – especially when compared with booking a couple of organized tours!
If you’re lucky enough to e visiting Darwin in the dry season then you might want to camp! Consider renting a campervan or motorhome for camping and road trip opportunities! Head out to Kakadu National Park, Litchfield, or Katherine and spend a few nights in the Aussie Outback!
Thanks for reading!
Well, I must say, writing this blog sure has me missing living in Darwin – there are just so many cool experiences near the city! I hope this blog has helped you choose a couple of the best tours in Darwin. Honestly, all of the tours in this blog are a great choice!
Before you go, be sure to check out the rest of our Australia blogs including a couple of related articles below: