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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 15 attractions in Darwin

#1
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
#2
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
#3
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
#4
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
#5
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
#6
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
#7
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
#8
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
#9
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
#10
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
#11
Parliament House

Parliament House

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Australia’s newest parliament house was built in Darwin in 1994, and has been the seat of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly since then. It was designed in a postmodern style and built to suit the tropical climate of Darwin. The entrance features a Northern Territory coat of arms placed at the top of its ceremonial doors.The building overlooks Darwin Harbor, sitting on the site of the former Post Office and Telegraph Station which were bombed during a raid in 1942. There is a state library, portrait gallery, and a massive Main Hall indoors, and the Speakers Green outdoor. The areas function both as parliamentary and government receptions and public exhibitions. Unique tributes to the symbols of the Northern Territory, such as a desert rose in the reception foyer, are present throughout.More
#12
Crocosaurus Cove

Crocosaurus Cove

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Crocosaurus Cove comprises the world’s largest display of Australian reptiles. The 52,834-gallon (200,000-litre) freshwater aquarium is home to turtles, barramundi, whiprays, and archer fish, but it’s the saltwater crocodiles—some of the largest in Australia—that star. See them in displays designed to be viewed from three levels.More
#13
Crocodylus Park

Crocodylus Park

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Australia’s toothy residents are the stars of the show at Crocodylus Park, a research, conservation, and education center in the Northern Territory. The park is home to crocodiles from around Australia and the world, as well as monkeys, marmosets, big cats, wallabies, kangaroos, and birds.More
#14
George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens

George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens

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The George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens offer a portal into the diverse wilderness and tropical ecosystems of Australia’s Top End, all without having to leave the city. There are more than 104 acres (42 hectares to explore, including palm-lined walkways, a rainforest gully, and a vast variety of exotic plants and flowers.More
#15
Tiwi Islands

Tiwi Islands

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Located in the Timor Sea, 50 miles (80 kilometers off the north coast of the Australian mainland, the Tiwi Islands are part of the Northern Territory, and offer rich Aboriginal culture and beautiful landscapes. Melville Island and Bathurst Island are the largest of the 11 islands and the ones that most travelers visit.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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Darwin Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

Darwin Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

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Bombing of Darwin World War II Tour with Harbour Cruise
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Kakadu Full-Day Tour from Darwin with Lunch
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Jumping Crocodile Experience
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Jumping Crocodile Experience

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Heli Pub Crawl – 4 Pubs
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Heli Pub Crawl – 4 Pubs

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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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Kakadu National Park Scenic Flight &Yellow Water Cruise
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Recent reviews from experiences in Darwin

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Darwin’s Wartime History
Vicky_W, Jul 2022
Darwin History and Wartime Experience Tour
He covered a range of different aspects of Darwin’s wartime history and the tour was perfect for us as we had only limited time in Darwin to see all these sites.
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Darwin overview
NATALIE_C, Jul 2022
Darwin City Explorer Tour
I got to see all of the places of interest to me in 6 hours.
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Great way to see Darwin!!
Joanne_C, Jul 2022
Darwin Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
We loved the RFD and Japanese bombing on the whalf and to see an overview of Darwin.
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Jumping croc’s
Barbara_M, Jul 2022
Jumping Crocs & Nature Adventure Cruise from Darwin
Great tour, if you want to see the biggest crocodiles around!!!
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A relaxing way to see Darwin and the sunset
Susanna_L, Jul 2022
Darwin Harbour Sunset Cruise
A great way to see Darwin from a different perspective and a wonderful way to enjoy the sunset.
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Very Convenient got to see parts of Darwin we will be heading back to
Kaylene_K, Jul 2022
Darwin Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
Very Convenient got to see parts of Darwin we will be heading back to again and would not have known about it we didn't jump on the bus
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Great value
Martin_A, Jun 2022
Darwin Combo: The Bombing of Darwin Experience & Darwin Harbour Cruise
Nice way to see Darwin.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Sip Swim and Jump !!!
JOHN_G, Feb 2022
Litchfield and Jumping Crocodiles Full Day Trip from Darwin
Waterfalls full and roaring.
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The Wangi falls were...
Peter_C, Aug 2022
Litchfield National Park and Jumping Crocodile Cruise
The Wangi falls were beautiful, as was every other attraction we stopped at.
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Litchfield and Adelaide Rivers best Tour!
Jodie_L, Jul 2022
Litchfield and Jumping Crocodiles Full Day Trip from Darwin
With a couple of visits to waterfalls and pubs in between, lunch is provided and Simon takes the upmost care of anyone he takes on tour.
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Waterfalls and crocodiles
Kym_H, Jul 2022
Litchfield National Park - Top End Day Tour from Darwin
The water holes and falls are beautiful, but heads up the water is cold, so if you are not a keen swimmer, there is a lot of time spent looking at the water falls.
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Great night out
Susanna_L, Jul 2022
Darwin Sunset Dinner Cruise on Cape Adieu
The cruise is a great way to see Darwin from a different perspective and a wonderful way to enjoy the sunset.
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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.
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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.
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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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What are the top things to do in Darwin?
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