33 Awesome Things to do in Darwin, Australia
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Looking for fun and interesting 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 things to do in Darwin that I highly recommend checking out!
The truth is that Darwin has a sort of quirky charm to it. It isn’t a beautiful city with skyscrapers and the Opera House, instead, it’s quite dangerous to swim in the ocean and gets hotter than 30 degrees Celcius almost every single day.
Regardless of all of that, there are a lot of different things to do that guarantee you to have a fabulous time while in Darwin!
As the capital city of the Northern Territory in Australia, Darwin often gets forgotten about by tourists. But it shouldn’t! Tourists who do venture to Darwin absolutely love it! If you love the outdoors, waterfalls, sunsets, wildlife, culture, and drinking (Territorians love an ice-cold beer) then you will love Darwin too!
Both Daniel and I lived in Darwin for two years and during that time, fell in love with the place! We spent every weekend exploring the area and tried to experience as much as possible. This blog compresses our highlights over two years of exploring all in one place!
Since I have come up with so many things to do in Darwin, I have broken them down into the following sub-categories for the purpose of this blog:
- Things to do in Darwin city
- Things to do around Darwin (day trips from Darwin)
- Multi-day trips from Darwin
Things to do in Darwin
1. Enjoy the famous Mindil Markets
The Mindil Markets are my favorite! During the dry season (May to October) there are night markets 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 are also street performers, musicians, and many market stalls selling all sorts of random 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.
If you don’t have your own transport the Hop-on Hop-off bus is a great option! You can take it throughout the day to many points of interest, and then finish at the Mindil Markets for the sunset!
2. Swim at the Darwin City Lagoon
The Darwin City 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 small risk when swimming at the lagoon. The best way to avoid this is to only swim from the months from May to October when the Irukandji Jellyfish is rare in Darwin’s waters.
Unfortunately, the lagoon is very still water and usually quite warm. Don’t go to the lagoon if you’re expecting a refreshing swim. If you are after a refreshing swim then pay the entrance fee and go to the neighboring wave pool (more on that below.)
3. Swim at the Wave Pool
At the waterfront right in the city, there is a man-made wave pool right on the ocean’s edge.
The Wave Pool is a nice place to cool off in Darwin. Around the pool, there are 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.
4. Visit the NT Museum and Art Gallery
Darwin actually has a pretty cool museum and art gallery which is completely free!
The Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery are both in the same building located a 5-minute drive from the city center.
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!
The NT Museum and Art Gallery is open from 10 am to 5 pm every day. You can easily get there on the public bus or just drive yourself (there is a large parking lot.)
For information on getting the public bus around Darwin check out the Darwin Journey planner. Otherwise, consider booking a half-day sightseeing tour which includes a guided stop at the NT Museum and Art Gallery!
5. Swim with Crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove
Crocosaurus Cove is quite possibly the most popular thing to do in Darwin for tourists. This is the “zoo” right on Mitchell Street in Darwin city that you’ve likely seen signs for.
In Crocosaurus Cove they have various things to see and do including the opportunity to hold a baby crocodile or swim with a Saltwater Crocodile (one of the most iconic things to do in all of Australia!)
Entrance to Crocosaurus Cove is $35 AUD for an adult. You can buy your general admission ticket online and skip the line!
At Crocosaurus Cove, thrill-seekers have the option to 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 I sure would like to. I mean, it is the only place in Australia where you can swim with a real crocodile!
6. Walk in the Darwin Botanical Gardens
On a nice day, you should go for a gorgeous stroll in the Darwin Botanical Gardens. They are well maintained and it’s a peaceful escape from the city!
The gardens are located 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.
7. Relax on a Sunset Champagne Cruise
Yet another sunset activity, but this one includes champagne and cruising on the ocean in a catamaran!
I’ve been on a couple of different sunset cruises in Darwin, but my personal favorite one was this particular sunset cruise! The sunset cruise included a welcome drink, a 2.5 hour-long cruise at sunset, fish feeding, and even the option to add on a dinner buffet!
Overall it was a very fun tour in Darwin and one I highly recommend!
8. Go fishing
Many of the locals’ favorite pass time in Darwin is fishing. You don’t need a fancy boat and gear either, just a simple rod, some bait, and then head to the jetty right in the city.
To be honest, I am not a huge fan of fishing. But in Darwin, I went deep-sea fishing and found it to be a blast because you are pretty much guaranteed to catch something! When I went deep sea fishing I caught a couple of different snappers that I was allowed to bring home with me!
It turned out to be one of the best tours in Darwin I have done!
Just be aware, deep-sea fishing is expensive! We paid $375 for our full-day fishing trip. That being said, we did catch a ton and left with lots of fresh fish to eat!
For more information about the deep sea fishing charter we did, or to book, check out this tour! You’re pretty much guaranteed to catch something!
9. Watch a thunderstorm
If you happen to show up in Darwin during the wet season (October to May) and are upset because a lot of things are closed, don’t fret too much, because you are guaranteed to see some wicked storms!
The storms tend to roll in from the ocean and the bar at the casino gives you a great view. So, make the most of Darwin’s tropical climate and enjoy the show!
10. 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 head along the beach, over a river, through some mangroves and finish at Casuarina Beach!
It is an absolutely beautiful way to spend a morning and do some Darwin sightseeing. From Nightcliff to Casuarina and back again is about 12 km.
Related read: Traveling more in Australia? Check out 31 FREE and cheap things you can do in Sydney!
11. Step back in time at the 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.
Although just a quick activity in Darwin, visiting is worthwhile if you ask me! The tunnels are open daily from9 am to 2 pm.
If you are really interested in the history of Darwin and exploring the city, consider booking this guided Darwin city sightseeing tour! It not only includes a guided tour of the WWII Tunnels but also showcases other points of interest around the city!
12. Shop and eat at the Parap Markets
On Saturday mornings and early afternoon (between 8 am and 2 pm), 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 rather than tourists but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth going to! You’ll find a huge selection of crafts and good for sale as well as a lot of food and drinks!
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 round so it’s a great thing to do in the Darwin wet season.
13. Check out the Mindil Beach Resort & Casino
Right next to the Mindil Markets is the casino. Whether you’re 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.
From here you have one of the best vantage points in town to watch the sunset. The food at the Italian restaurant is really amazing too!
14. 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 appetizer dish served at a restaurant called Crustaceans on Stokes Hill Wharf is quite good and worth trying.
15. Eat dinner on Stokes Hill Wharf
Stokes Hill Wharf near the Darwin 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 too.
There is actually 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.
16. Go skydiving
For the adrenaline junkies, skydiving and landing on the beach is a great activity in Darwin. Top End Tandems operates in the city and you’ll land on the beach in Nightcliff.
However, if you’re after a great bunch of people and a fun night out then head out to the town of Bachelor (near Litchfield National Park) for a tandem jump or sign up to go solo! The crew at Darwin Parachute Club are awesome and Daniel actually completed his skydive course there (yes, Daniel is a solo skydiver!)
17. Drink at a “Sunday sesh” on Mitchell Street
Locals in Darwin love a good “Sunday sesh” which essentially is an excuse to drink on a Sunday afternoon. On Sunday afternoons the bars on Mitchell Street fill up with those trying to savor the last of their weekend. Most bars have live music as people sit out on the patios drinking ice cold beers.
Forget about partying late into the night, just go party on a Sunday afternoon!
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 even have great lunch specials sometimes for as little as $12.50 with a beer!
18. Explore Cullen Bay
Cullen Bay is another great place for sunset in Darwin! I know what you’re probably thinking “how many sunsets do I need to see?” A lot! Every night in Darwin!
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!
Cullen Bay is also a nice place to visit for lunch!
Cullen Bay is one of the stops on this Hop-on Hop-off tourist bus. An adult ticket is only $36 for the day and gets you around to some of the best places to check out around Darwin city!
19. Visit 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 – she absolutely loved it!
There is a funny story about Crocodylus Park, when I was living there, a whole bunch of crocodiles escaped! Weeks later, people were still finding crocs in drains and backyards!
Going to Crocodylus Park 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.
20. 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 center!
The Travelodge is also a good budget-friendly hotel option right in Darwin city. Check out their prices and availability if you are thinking about booking!
21. Ride in an airboat
This is a very unique activity in Darwin! Riding on an airboat will get you going at top speeds as you cruise through the mangroves, spot crocodiles, and get splashed with mud!
These airboat tours are fairly new to Darwin but come highly rated. They depart from Stokes Hill Warf which makes it easy to get to right from the city center.
Airboat tours last for about an hour and range in price depending on the the tour you choose.
22. Go to the rodeo!
Just on the outskirts of Darwin city you can actually go to a real rodeo!
The Noonemah Rodeo is on nearly every weekend during the Darwin dry season from September to May. Expect live music, barrel racing, bull racing, freestyle motocross, lots of drinks, and lots of fun! It is a place to go if you want to meet locals.
To get to the rodeo it is about a 35-minute drive from Darwin city. There are free shuttle buses available as well as camping options if you’d rather pitch a tent and spend the night.
23. Go on a scenic flight
There is no better way to take in the beautiful scenery of Darwin than from the air! From up in the sky you can see the unique bays, mangroves, city center, and incredible wilderness that surround this little city.
Some great tours for exploring Darwin city:
Things to do AROUND Darwin – Day Trips from Darwin
24. 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! It’s also one of the most popular Darwin tourist attractions!
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 offer the same trip, but there are two big differences between them – the boat size and the guide’s knowledge. Some of the boats are multi-level with the guide speaking on a speaker. It would be hard to even see the crocs getting fed in a boat this big. That’s why choosing the right jumping croc cruise is important!
I highly recommend booking THIS jumping croc cruise! I have done it a couple of times and it is awesome! It also includes a trip to Litchfield National Park and is really good value! You really get to see the crocodiles and you’ll have a typical “outback Australian” guide who genuinely loves crocodiles (say hi to Pat for me when you go!)
It is a once in a lifetime experience and you will not be disappointed!
Our recommended jumping croc cruise:
25. Swim at the Buley 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 Buley Rock Pools.
Buley Rocks Pools are the one place in Litchfield National Park that I could easily spend an entire afternoon at. They are a series of connected natural pools that you can relax in or jump into. It’s the perfect place to have a drink and chill (no glass bottles allowed though, you must bring cans.)
Buley 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 Buley Rock Pools or Litchfield National Park in general. You can go on a tour from Darwin or drive yourself. It’s one of the best places to visit in Litchfield National Park.
The road in Litchfield National Park is unsealed but well maintained and fit for 2wd small cars. So, if you prefer, skip the tour and hire a rental car instead!
If you don’t have a vehicle consider booking this tour. On the full-day tour, you get to see all the best highlights of Litchfield National Park.
26. Check out Wangi Falls
Wangi Falls is another attraction within Litchfield National Park. It is the farthest attraction in the park from Darwin, but only about another 15-minute drive from the Buley 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.
The falls closed for swimming during the wet season (November to May) as it floods and there is the possibility of Saltwater 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 car from Darwin.
Related read: Wangi Falls is one of the best waterfalls near Darwin – find out what the rest are!
27. Relax at the Douglas Daly Hot Springs
About a 45-minute 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 from Darwin.
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. Just be cautious especially if you are camping overnight and swimming in the dark (like we did). Rangers do check the area daily and close the area if crocs are sighted.
28. 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.
Book this full-day tour from Darwin to Lithfield that includes a jumping croc cruise, stops at the best waterfalls, as well as a stop at the Termite Mounds!
29. 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 Hotel pub is your best chance of meeting him.
One 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 it makes for a good stop on the way back into the city.
Enjoy a couple of drinks and meet the locals. They will be drinking, dancing, and having a good laugh, that much is sure! If you’re hungry, try their iconic buffalo, barramundi, or crocodile burgers!
30. Visit the Territory Wildlife Park
If you’re confused about what to see in Darwin then start with a Saltwater crocodile! The Territory Wildlife Park is the best place to do this. They have a 6meter-long crocodile in a tank that you can walk 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’s 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 a 45-minute drive from Darwin city center. You can book a shuttle from Darwin city if you don’t have your own rental car already.
Related read: Traveling more in Australia? Check out our blog about the best day trips from Perth!
Multi-day Trips from Darwin
31. Go to Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park isn’t in Darwin, it’s actually located a couple of hours’ drive from Darwin to get to the nearest attraction, 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 is best explored in the dry season (May to October). You can go on your own but 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 from Darwin usually costs around $1,000 AUD per person. I recommend booking this 4wd camping Kakadu trip. I went on this tour and loved every minute! Such a fun experience in the Australian Outback and I wouldn’t have changed a single thing!
Be sure to book in advance because these small group tours do book up and you don’t want to get stuck on a less-personalized tour on a large bus!
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 to visit and a super fun place to explore, swim, and take pictures at the various lookouts.
You can also camp at Edith Falls. At the lower falls near the parking lots is a government-run campground – perfect for spending a night on a budget! Alternatively, the grassy day-use areas have picnic tables which is where I usually go for lunch.
Where to Stay in Darwin
If you’re visiting Darwin to explore all of the best things to do, then you’re going to need somewhere 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 Airbnb 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!
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.
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 it’s 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!
Best Airbnb – Darwin Executive Studio
This Airbnb is located right near the Darwin Waterfront and includes everything you’d expect from a fully self-constrained apartment. Fitted with a full kitchen, laundry, and onsite pool it has everything. The apartment has a queens bed and single bed and therefore sleeps up to 3 people.
Visiting Darwin, Australia FAQs
Yes! Darwin is unlike any other city in Australia and offers a variety of incredible things to do and see. Amazing wildlife, landscapes, and activities make Darwin definitely worth a visit!
May to October is the dry season and the best time to visit Darwin! During these months it is hot, but not humid, and it doesn’t rain.
The quick answer is yes. Darwin is a relatively safe city even in comparison to other cities around Australia. Petty crimes are the most common including vehicle break-ins (so don’t leave valuables in your car.) At night, it is best not to walk alone just to be extra cautious.
The temperature in Darwin ranges from as low as 20 ° Celcius in the cooler months of June to August, and to 35 ° Celcius in the hottest months of December and January.
Litchfield National Park is 120 kilometers from Darwin. The drive takes about 90 minutes.
Visit Mindil Markets
Swim with Crocodiles
Swim in Lagoon and Wavepool
Visit the NT Museum and Art Gallery
World War II Tunnels
Walk Mitchell Street
Darwin Botanic Gardens
Day trip to Litchfield National Park
Jumping Crocodiles tour
Before you go…
And there you have it, 33 awesome things to do in Darwin, Australia! As you can tell, I am very enthusiastic about Darwin. I truly think that Darwin offers an experience unique to anywhere else in Australia and I hope this blog has helped you see that too!
If you found this blog useful, then be sure to check out the rest of our blog about Australia. Otherwise, check out some of our most popular blogs below:
Thanks for reading and happy travels!
January 10, 2021