Darwin is Australia’s only tropical capital city. It is the capital and chief port of the Northern Territory of Australia. It is situated on a low peninsula northeast to its harbor, Port Darwin looking to the Timor Sea. Chairs and tables spill out of street-side restaurants and bars, innovative museums celebrate the city’s past, and galleries showcase the region’s rich Indigenous art. Darwin has a cosmopolitan mix with more than 50 nationalities represented. The famous national parks of Kakadu and Litchfield are only a few hours’ drive away, and the unique Tiwi Islands are a boat-ride away.Darwin Australia Vacations will include balmy nights, colorful characters and outdoor adventures. You’ll find strong Aboriginal cultures here, and there is an array of languages spoken in the streets. With that comes vibrant Aboriginal art in the galleries and museums. With Darwin being in close proximity to Asia, you’ll also find strong Asian influences, especially in the food and night markets. For a complete list of Darwin beaches, << Click Here >>.
Darwin Weather (When to Visit)
In a region known for extreme weather, the Northern Territory is undoubtedly at its best in the Australian winter from May to early September. In Darwin, this season is known as The Dry, a time of gorgeous, balmy weather. The dragonflies are out, the sunsets are glorious and, compared to the rest of the year, and Darwin is positively buzzing. A visit during the monsoon months of The Wet (January to April) brings vivid green landscapes, electrifying afternoon storms, and the chance to explore with fewer visitors. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, avoid Darwin in The Build-Up (mid-October – late December). This is the pre-monsoon season of humid hot weather that drives the locals “troppo” or crazy, and makes it almost impossible for energy to do anything, like go sight seeing.
Best Darwin Area Beaches
Mindil Beach is one of Australia’s best beaches. Many visitors are surprised to find such a pretty tropical beach so close to a regional capital city. Some locals swim at Mindil during the dry season, but the possible threat of crocodiles and jellyfish makes this unwise for visitors to try. Better swimming is over at at Casuarina, which is patrolled by surf life savers, or alternatively at the Wave Lagoon water park and the free Leanyer Recreation Park. Still, at any time of day, a walk along the splendid Mindil Beach is not to be missed.
Located on the isolated Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Cossies Beach was named the best beach in Australia in 2017. Cossies Beach is perfect in every way: azure and crystal clear waters, swaying palm trees, superb snorkeling just off its shore, and white sandy shores.
The dog-friendly and unspoiled Wagait Beach stretches for two kilometers (1.2 miles). Here you’ll find WWII gun emplacements, and spot dolphins, turtles, and manta rays from the shoreline.
East Woody Beach
East Woody Beach has a large stretch of white sandy beach, azure waters, open forest, inland waterways, and spectacular sunsets. Swimming is not recommended at Galaru, due to saltwater crocodiles and box jellyfish.
Darwin Waterfront Precinct
This saltwater recreational lagoon is protected from jellyfish by stinger nets and regular monitoring by local lifeguards. The lagoon has a sandy shore, so you wouldn’t be remiss to think you’re swimming in a calm tropical beach. The Waterfront Precinct is also home to a Wave Lagoon, which has an entrance fee but is a great family-friendly attraction in Darwin.
Best Darwin Tours & Activities
Outback Floatplane & Airboat Tour from Darwin
Explore the Northern Territory’s forests and wetlands on a half-day air and boat adventure from Darwin. Fly to Sweets Lagoon by floatplane, and after a water landing, enjoy a cruise and barbecue breakfast or lunch. Ride an airboat through rainforest to spot saltwater crocodiles and other wildlife before a floatplane return. Choice of departure times, with central hotel pickup and drop-off included. Learn more about the Outback Floatplane & Airboat Tour.
1 Day Corroboree Billabong Wetland Experience including 2.5 hour cruise + lunch
See an abundance of birds, crocodiles and other wildlife on this day trip from Darwin with a 2.5-hour Corroboree Billabong cruise. You’ll board a shaded, open-sided boat for optimal wildlife viewing along the Mary River Wetlands, home to the largest concentration of saltwater crocs as well as 30 species of birds. Hear commentary from your guide throughout the full-day tour, which includes an informative stop at Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre as well as lunch and round-trip hotel transport. Learn more about the 1 Day Corroboree Billabong Wetland Experience.
Sunset 3-Hour Cruise from Darwin Includes Dinner and Sparkling Wine
Ensure you get the best sunset vista by heading out onto the water on this cruise across Darwin Harbour. Aboard a large, ocean-going catamaran with plenty of deck space, sit under the sails or in the air-conditioned salon and toast the setting sun with a glass of sparkling wine before enjoying a tapas/barbecue dinner while soaking up the views—if you wish, you can bring your own drinks and keep them chilled in the on board coolers. Learn more about the 3-Hour Cruise.
Darwin Sunset Cruise with Optional Buffet Dinner
Enjoy a spectacular northern Australian sunset over Darwin Harbour during a 2.5-hour sunset cruise with an optional dinner. Learn about Darwin’s history and landmarks from your captain, and get the chance to see batfish and other marine critters. Be sure to bring your camera to capture fantastic photo ops. Your relaxing cruise includes a complimentary drink and gourmet snacks, and the option to upgrade to a 3-course buffet dinner. Learn more about the Darwin Sunset Cruise.
Darwin History and Wartime Experience Tour
Enjoy a history tour from a unique angle: the seat of a World War II truck. The vehicle sets the scene for many of the places you’ll drive past and the stories your guide will tell you. See important wartime sites and get the chance to visit a military museum (extra cost). An ideal tour for history buffs and travelers curious to learn more about Darwin. Learn more about the Darwin History & Wartime Experience Tour.
Best Darwin Restaurants
Char Restaurant $31 – 60
Beneath an old elevated house by the sea, Char Restaurant is where Darwin’s power brokers dine. The steak-and-seafood-focused menu includes the standout numus of pickled local fish and scallops with lime and coconut cream (a popular dish in the Northern Territory). Wonderful little sides and an extensive wine list seal the deal. Telephone: 08 8981 4544 Web: Char Restaurant.
The Pearl Darwin $11 – 30
Pretty as a picture with its striped wallpaper and ornate mirrors, The Pearl is worth seeking out for elegant cocktails and Frenchified Australian food. À la carte and prix fixe menus offer the likes of trout rillettes and lobster tortellini with scallops on cauliflower purée. Telephone: 04 2372 5885 Web: The Pearl Darwin.
Pee Wee’s at the Point $31 – 60
Pee Wee’s offers a special dining experience: tables at the water’s edge facing the lights of the city and dishes such as kangaroo carpaccio and nut-crusted wild-caught barramundi. Time your booking to catch the sun setting over the sea – at about 6.30pm to 7pm depending on the season. Telephone: 08 8981 6868 Web: Pee Wee’s at the Point.
Moorish Cafe $11 – 30
Darwin’s first tapas restaurant, Moorish Café still has it. There’s always a tagine of the day, as well as 30-plus excellent tapas dishes. Sample grilled local eggplant with pomegranate and yoghurt; Berber-spiced kangaroo with tomato jam; or pumpkin and fetta salad with basil and pine nuts. Telephone: 08 8981 0010 Web: Moorish Cafe.
Chow $11 – 30
Chow is a ton of fun. Choose between the air-conditioned dining room or the palm-fringed outdoor space and order up a taste of tropical Asia: maybe Vietnamese pho, Malaysian laksa, chilli-salt chicken wings or a dish to share. After dinner, enjoy a cocktail, a whole fresh coconut or an icy, fruity slushie. Telephone: 08 8941 7625 Web: Chow.
Best Darwin Nightlife
Viva La Vida
While no longer as hot as it once was, Viva La Vida is still a popular haunt for city workers on a Friday night, who throw back jugs of sangria and craft beers on the outdoor terrace. Despite this being the only real wine bar in town, there are only a handful of non-Australian bottles on the extensive menu and barely any by the glass. That said, a gin cocktail and a mezze platter served by the very efficient staff is a pleasant way to pass an evening in town. On Friday nights there is live blues jazz and Motown tunes, while on Saturday night there’s a house DJ from 9pm. Telephone: 08 8942 0544 Web: Viva La Vida.
The Darwin Ski Club
There’s no better place in Darwin for a sun downer than this laid-back beach bar, which is also the club house of the Darwin water-skiing association. Despite its million dollar sunset views, it’s little more than some plastic chairs and tables dotted among the palm trees, which is how us locals like it. Don’t leave as soon as the sun goes down. Grab another cold beer and watch the real magic in the sky happen. There’s live music on Friday and Sunday afternoons and standard pub grub, including the terrifyingly tall Bad Boy Burger stuffed with beef, chicken, bacon and egg. Telephone: 08 8981 6630 Web: The Darwin Ski Club.
The Deck Bar
At the slightly more low-key parliamentary end of the street you’ll find Deck Bar, with its eponymous outdoor area shaded by large trees. It’s a nice spot to kick back with a couple of drinks, and it always feels a lot less intense than the pubs down the road. Owned by the same mob who run Chow, the food is also tasty – particularly the Malaysian curry laksa, which goes down well with one of the 80 plus varieties of beer. Brunch is served here on weekends, too. Telephone: 08 8942 3001 Web: The Deck Bar.
Daly Waters Pub
The pub promises a great outback experience, and to a certain extent that’s what you’re going to get. Along with the cold, cold beer and the decent pub grub, there’s a range of travelling entertainers that will make you cringe or guffaw, depending on the night. Chilli is the resident showman and he keeps the grey nomads happy with stories from the early days of the Territory. Memorabilia adorns the walls, from Irish football jerseys to bras. Telephone: 08 8975 9927 Web: Daly Waters Pub.
Monte’s is a really lively, laid-back drinking hole with a fantastic beer garden that is beautifully lit up at night, and an interior with the feel of a circus. It attracts everyone from backpackers to public servants who favor the eclectic menu and boutique beers on tap, including Western Australia’s Little Creatures, Vale Ale and Hills Cider. Kids will be kept amused by the giant rocking horse and swings. If you are sitting outside and planning on eating later in the night, make sure to sit at one of the designated non-smoking tables or you’ll end up losing you seat. Telephone: 08 8952 4336 Web: Monte’s Lounge.
Best Darwin Hotels
Elsey on Parap
Elsey on Parap Serviced Apartments are located 5 minutes from Darwin CBD. Situated directly opposite the Parap Village Precinct, Elsey on Parap has 28 one and two bedroom Executive Apartments. All apartments have superior features, modern appliances and stylish decor. Secure under cover car parking, Foxtel and WIFI are complimentary.
Argus Apartments Darwin
Argus Apartments Darwin offers modern self-contained apartments in the heart of Darwin city center. Facilities include a swimming pool, spa pool and fitness center. Free WiFi is provided.
Darwin Waterfront Suites
Conveniently located in Darwin, Darwin Waterfront Luxury Suites is a great base from which to explore this vibrant city. From here, guests can enjoy easy access to all that the lively city has to offer. The property offers impeccable service and all the essential amenities to invigorate travelers. The ambiance of Darwin Waterfront Luxury Suites is reflected in every guestroom with a desk, air conditioning, LCD/plasma screen TV, refrigerator and microwave. Recreational facilities available at the hotel include an outdoor pool and fitness center.
Kakadu @ The Kube
Kakadu @ the Kube (Darwin City) in Darwin offers accommodation with free WiFi, a 4-minute walk from Crocosaurus Cove. The Darwin Entertainment Center is within 600 meters of the apartment. This air-conditioned apartment has 3 bedrooms, a Fitness centre flat-screen TV, and a kitchen with a dishwasher. The apartment also features washing machine and a bathroom with a shower.
Crocs on Cavenagh
Crocs on Cavenagh has self-catering accommodations with a balcony and free WiFi. The property is a 3-minute walk from Crocosaurus Cove and 1,500 feet from Darwin Entertainment Center. Featuring city views, the apartment features a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, a seating area, a desk and 2 bathrooms. There’s a dining area and a kitchen equipped with a dishwasher. Non-stop assistance is available at the reception. The property has a fitness center.