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Things to do in Darwin

Things to do in  Darwin

Welcome to Darwin

Welcome to Darwin, mate. The laid-back capital of the Northern Territory—and unofficial capital of the Australian Outback—is tropical, cosmopolitan, and surrounded by turquoise seas. Located at the southern edge of Australia’s Top End, this small but vibrant town is where rich Aboriginal heritage, strong Asian culture, and the Aussie Outback lifestyle intersect. Darwin pleasantly surprises travelers who intend to use it mainly as a base for exploring Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. The city’s main attractions can be easily visited on a hop-on hop-off bus tour, leaving time to spot saltwater crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove, stroll the waterfront precinct, and scour the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. Or get out on the water with a jet-boat, pontoon, or sunset cruise on Darwin Harbour. Then, it’s time to step outside the refined city streets to discover Australia’s northern region. Guided tours lead nature lovers straight to Litchfield’s ancient rock formations, crystal-clear waterfalls, and natural rock pools. Others head to UNESCO World Heritage–listed Kakadu to cruise down Alligator River, hike the striking Jim Jim Falls, and learn about Aboriginal rock art. To best experience the dramatic landscapes of Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park, take a sunset cruise along the gorge; helicopter above it; or hike, rock climb, and canoe all around it. With extra time, day trip to the Tiwi Islands, 62 miles (100 kilometers) off the Timor Sea coast, for an authentic look at Aboriginal life.

Top 10 attractions in Darwin

#1
Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge National Park)

Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge National Park)

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Nitmiluk National Park (formerly Katherine Gorge National Park) offers vast sandstone cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and a series of 13 gorges carved out by the mighty Katherine River. All of this dramatic scenery is located on the ancient lands of the Jawoyn people and is home to some impressive Aboriginal rock art sites.More
#2
Darwin Aviation Museum

Darwin Aviation Museum

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More than a dozen full-size aircraft are on display at the Darwin Aviation Museum (formerly the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre, including a rare Boeing B52 bomber and Japanese planes that crashed in Darwin during WWII. A must for anyone with a passion for planes, it’s one of the city’s most visited museums.More
#3
Cullen Bay

Cullen Bay

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Yacht-filled Cullen Bay attracts landlubbers with its collection of shops, restaurants, bars, and day spas in one of Darwin’s sleekest neighborhoods. The marina has space for 250 vessels, as well as an assortment of upmarket accommodations where visitors enjoy sea views and easy access to the ferry terminal.More
#4
Defence of Darwin Experience

Defence of Darwin Experience

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The Defence of Darwin Experience chronicles the Northern Territory’s role in World War II through a number of powerful exhibits that educate visitors on how the war deeply affected the region and its residents. This multimedia museum offers fascinating insight into the fateful events leading up to and on Feb. 19, 1942, when the Bombing of Darwin took place, killing over 250 people, sinking 10 ships, and kicking off a period of nearly two years of bombings in the Northern Territory. Guests can view historic equipment and artifacts from the war and listen to somber stories of locals’ whose lives were changed forever, as well as firsthand accounts of those who went off to war to avenge the lives that were lost.Immersive exhibits include the Bombing of Darwin Gallery with its 3D helmets and sensory footage illustrating what it would have been like to witness the bombings, plus StoryShare, where locals record their own stories to be shared with museum visitors. Travelers can also record their responses to all they see and learn at the museum. As one of Darwin’s most significant historical sites, the attraction is often included in guided tours of the city.More
#5
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT)

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT)

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The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) showcases a collection of more than 1.2 million natural history specimens and 30,000 art and cultural works. In addition to its seven galleries, MAGNT has a family-friendly Discovery Centre, providing visitors of all ages with fascinating insight into Australia’s history and heritage.More
#6
Magnetic Termite Mounds

Magnetic Termite Mounds

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Across fields in northern Australia stand these tall magnetic termite mounds standing up to two meters high. As a habitat created by termites, they’re strategically built to face away from the hot sun and keep temperatures cool. Inside are complex and fascinating architecture and networks of arches, tunnels, chimneys, and various chambers. Thousands of termites live in a single mound and are known to last anywhere from fifty to one hundred years — which can also be the lifespan of one termite queen. Looking at the mounds it’s hard to believe such a small insect could create such a large, elaborate dwelling for itself.There are several types of termite mounds, and in this case ‘magnetic’ refers to the way they are aligned (in conjunction with the earth’s magnetic field.) How the termites are able to consistently determine the north-south orientation to avoid the heat is unknown, and these structures remain a bit of a natural phenomenon.More
#7
Mindil Beach

Mindil Beach

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Mindil Beach is Darwin’s flagship beach. With golden sands and palm-fringed shores looking out over the Beagle Gulf, it’s an idyllic spot for sun-seekers and swimmers. It’s also renowned for its tropical sunsets, and crowds turn out at sundown to watch the spectacle and browse the seasonal night markets.More
#8
Darwin Waterfront Precint

Darwin Waterfront Precint

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At the southernmost tip of Darwin, fronting the Beagle Gulf, Darwin Waterfront Precinct is the first port-of-call for cruise ships and a buzzing hub of city life. Seafront parks, a swimming lagoon, and a man-made beach draw city-dwellers to the waterside, while the many bars and restaurants tempt visitors to stick around after sunset.More
#9
Ubirr

Ubirr

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It’s hard to grasp exactly what you’re looking at when you see the rock drawings at Ubirr. Here, etched before you on ancient rock that springs from the red dirt Earth, are drawings placed here by Aborigines nearly 20,000 years ago. How the drawings have managed to survive for so long is a fascinating geologic story, but it's one that pales in comparison to the stories told by the drawings themselves.Located in what’s known as the East Alligator Region of Kakadu National Park, Ubirr is a UNESCO World Heritage site that borders on desert magic. In addition to collections of ancient rock art, the site offers sweeping, panoramic views of the surrounding flood plains and fields, and includes a sacred “Rainbow Serpent” painting in one of the three different galleries. According to local Aboriginal legend, the serpent was involved in the very creation of Earth surrounding the site, and is regarded as one of the world’s oldest figures of early creation. To access the ancient rock art at Ubirr, follow the short, one-kilometer walking path that takes 30 minutes to complete.More
#10
Charles Darwin National Park

Charles Darwin National Park

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Protecting some of Darwin’s most cultural and historically significant wetlands, Charles Darwin National Park is the home of mangroves and wildlife visible by walking, cycling, or simply sitting at one of the park’s many overlooks. A complex system of bays, waterways, and small islands, 31 of the 50 or so species of mangrove of the Northern Territory can be found here. Historically the Larrakia people called this area home with evidence suggesting the Aboriginals had inhabited here for thousands of years. Now it’s a wonderful place to take in views of Darwin city, the harbor, and the surrounding landscape.The park is also home to concrete bunkers and shelters from World War II, which tell the story of Australia’s soldiers and are open to visitors. There is an impressive display of war memorabilia here, where ammunition was once stored and military tests were run. The park’s many paths can be used for both walking and cycling to take it all in.More

Trip ideas

Top National Parks in Darwin

Top National Parks in Darwin

How to Spend 3 Days in Darwin

How to Spend 3 Days in Darwin

Top activities in Darwin

Darwin Harbour Sunset Cruise
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Darwin Harbour Sunset Cruise

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Litchfield National Park and Jumping Crocodile Cruise
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Litchfield and Jumping Crocodiles Full Day Trip from Darwin
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Litchfield National Park Day Tour from Darwin With Waterfalls And Buley Rockhole
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Bombing of Darwin World War II Tour with Harbour Cruise
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Darwin Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

Darwin Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

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Kakadu Full-Day Tour from Darwin with Lunch
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Heli Pub Crawl – 4 Pubs
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Heli Pub Crawl – 4 Pubs

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Jumping Crocodile Experience
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Jumping Crocodile Experience

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Top End Safari Camp Day Tour
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Top End Safari Camp Day Tour

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1 Hour Darwin Airboat Tours
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1 Hour Darwin Airboat Tours

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Tiwi By Design Day Tour

Tiwi By Design Day Tour

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Recent reviews from experiences in Darwin

star-5
Great value
Martin_A, Jun 2022
Darwin Combo: The Bombing of Darwin Experience & Darwin Harbour Cruise
Nice way to see Darwin.
star-5
Great way to see and learn more about Darwin
Jose_L, Jun 2022
Darwin Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
Great way to see the city of Darwin and learn so much about of it at the same time.
star-5
Great
Leanne_H, May 2022
Darwin Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
I love that I got to see about Darwin and all information, it’s the best way around.
star-4
Relaxing cruise with stunning sunset
mrzabell, May 2022
Darwin Sunset Dinner Cruise on Cape Adieu
While not being able to see much of Darwin from the ship this is a very chilled three hours.
star-4
Enjoyable
James_N, May 2022
Katherine Day Tour from Darwin including Katherine Gorge Cruise
Swimming at Edith Falls very good, coach driver knowledgeable however that's a lot of kilometres in one day from Darwin.
star-5
Darwin's main attractions and highlights made accessible via small bus group and great guide
debramoloney, May 2022
Darwin City Explorer Tour
An excellent way to see the many attractions in Darwin.
star-5
Fantastic experience and a must do
Richard_M, May 2022
Sunset 3-Hour Cruise from Darwin with Dinner and Sparkling Wine
Food and drinks kept coming throughout the cruise which was a thoroughly enjoyable way to see Darwin
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Darwin Heritage Walking Tour - Excellent
annemarie_b, Apr 2022
Darwin Heritage Walk
Guide also answered questions which would have been on the other tours and recommended some local things to do which turned out to be great suggestions.
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Exceptional!
Janet_S, Apr 2022
Litchfield National Park and Jumping Crocodile Cruise
We swam in waterfalls and saw crocs close up.
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Good day out in Litchfield
Michel_H, Apr 2022
Litchfield National Park Day Tour from Darwin
Stopped at a number of rather excellent waterfalls.
star-5
Sip Swim and Jump !!!
JOHN_G, Feb 2022
Litchfield and Jumping Crocodiles Full Day Trip from Darwin
Waterfalls full and roaring.
star-5
Fabulous Tour. Must do in Darwin.
Jodie_b, May 2022
Litchfield and Jumping Crocodiles Full Day Trip from Darwin
Jumping crocs on the Adelaide river amazing, swam in beautiful water holes under waterfalls, stopped at two iconic pubs as well as the termite mounds.
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The only way to see Litchfield
Marianne_S, Apr 2022
Litchfield National Park and Jumping Crocodile Cruise
Make sure you take your bathers to swim when you are at the falls, it’s so nice.
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Simply wonderful
Lynette_T, Oct 2021
Darwin Harbour Sunset Cruise
To see Darwin from the harbour was great & the food & service was also great, our group had a lovely evening.
star-5
Staff were great, boat...
Craig_W, Sep 2021
Darwin Sunset Dinner Cruise on Cape Adieu
Lovely way to see the sunset in Darwin
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Unforgettable experience
renata_W, Sep 2021
Katherine Day Tour from Darwin including Katherine Gorge Cruise
The highest things to see in Darwin.
star-5
Great history tour
Jamie_R, Jul 2021
Darwin History and Wartime Experience Tour
Love it was a great way to see Darwin our tour guide was very knowledgeable and made us feel very welcome and the stop at the war museum was a must to the tour so much to see.
star-5
Great experience
Kumari_D, Jun 2021
Tiwi Islands Cultural Experience from Darwin Including Ferry
Learnt a lot and got to see and do and enjoy a lot more than expected.
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Amazing sun set
Andrew_S, May 2021
Sunset 3-Hour Cruise from Darwin with Dinner and Sparkling Wine
If you want to see the sun set from the water in Darwin this trip is your go to!!
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Tremendous day out, best tour
NANCY_P, May 2021
Litchfield National Park Day Tour from Darwin With Waterfalls And Buley Rockhole
Lyn took us to amazing sights, waterfalls to swim and then mades us the nicest lunch.
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All about Darwin

Time Zone
ACST (UTC +9)

People Also Ask

What is Darwin best known for?

Darwin is best known as the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, a sparsely populated expanse of desert and wetlands. In Darwin city, Waterfront Precint, George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, and Mindil Beach Markets attract visitors. Nearby are Litchfield and Kakadu national parks.

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How many days do you need in Darwin?

Two or three days is ideal amount for visiting Darwin, which is not large. Walk the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, swim at Waterfront Precinct, and view the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Make it a multi-day trip with a visit to Kakadu or Litchfield national parks.

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What is the best month to visit Darwin?

May to October is the best time to visit Darwin. Darwin has a tropical climate, so it experiences two seasons: wet and dry. May to October is the dry season—and while the average temperature is still hot, most travelers will find this climate more comfortable than the humid wet season.

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Can you swim at the beach in Darwin?

No. You should not swim at the natural beaches in Darwin. Darwin’s beaches are plagued with deadly venomous jellyfish and croccodiles. To swim in Darwin, head to the Darwin Waterfront Precinct’s Recreation Lagoon, which is an artificial and sheltered waterfront area that’s safe for swimming.

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What is there to do in Darwin for free?

Many of Darwin’s top attractions are free. There is no fee to visit the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory or the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. It’s also free to enjoy the Waterfront Precinct, with safe swimming areas, and Darwin’s famous sunsets over the Timor Sea.

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Is Darwin worth visiting?

Yes. Darwin is worth visiting for its many attractions, including the art galleries and museums, parks and gardens. Its tropical climate, sea views, pretty sunsets, and safe water activities at the Waterfront Precinct are draws. It's also an ideal starting point for trips to neighboring national parks.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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