12 best things to do in Darwin

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  • Post last modified:June 24, 2024
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Framed by grand nature, Darwin is refreshingly untamed — as it always has been — but you can certainly enjoy the finer things in life in the Top End’s tropical capital too. Embrace a lifestyle like no other with these highly contrasting things to do in Darwin and it surrounds, letting you feel like Crocodile Dundee one moment and sip on a drink at an oceanfront bar the next.

1. Chill out at the Darwin Waterfront

Head to the Darwin Waterfront Precinct for well-needed relaxation. Here, you find Darwin’s only man-made beach, featuring soft golden sand and a saltwater lagoon, free from crocodiles and patrolled each day. When hunger calls, sample the impressive dining opportunities, providing something for every holidayer.

Strayaguide's Marie sitting on the edge of the blue lagoon in Darwin Waterfront Precinct, NT
Marie unwinding along Darwin’s waterfront.

2. Immerse yourself in the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

Artistic, cultural and scientific collections unite at The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT). Be amazed by Sweetheart the crocodile, 5.1m huge, relish Indigenous art and learn about Cyclone Tracy — you can even hear her hair-raising roar. Let it all sink in while having something to eat or drink at the on-site restaurant facing calming Fannie Bay.

3. Let Litchfield National Park cool you off

Boiling Darwin weather can take a toll on you; for the ultimate respite, travel an hour or so south to find picturesque waterfalls and cooling pools framed by tropical forest in Litchfield National Park. Plunge into highlights including the waterholes beneath Wangi Falls and Florence Falls as well as the three-tiered Buley Rockhole. Before or after, be sure to stop for the park’s famous magnetic termite mounds too.

Water crashing over the brink of Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park, and down into the refreshing pool below
Florence Falls might be your favorite spot in Litchfield.

4. Experience the thrill of jumping crocs

Adelaide River teems with the Northern Territory’s poster animal, the fearsome saltwater crocodile. Take a tour with Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruises or Adelaide River Cruises to see them attack in full force. Suddenly it happens: A majestic croc soars out of the water, targeting a small prize of meat, displaying its remarkable hunting technique and sheer power. Keep your hands in the boat and your camera ready at all times.

5. Marvel at Crocosaurus Cove beasts

You don’t need to leave Darwin CBD to see the jaws of hungry crocs accelerate. At the city’s heart, Crocosaurus Cove offers a wide range of interactions with those prehistoric beasts, culminating adrenaline wise with the storied Cage of Death — Australia’s only crocodile dive.

Tail of huge crocodile seen through underwater viewing glass at Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin
Is that croc on break?

6. Try new flavours at Mindil Beach Sunset Market

An iconic Darwin happening, Mindil Beach Sunset Market runs on Thursdays and Sundays during the dry season, typically from late April to October. Along with locals and fellow tourists, inspect over 200 exciting stalls, most offering yummy food but some also arts and crafts. Bring your dinner down to the beach to see the sun set over the Timor Sea. Then return to the market for a sweet, and maybe cool, dessert.

People sitting down waiting for the Mindil Beach sunset, Darwin
Sit down for the Mindil Beach sunset.

7. Live out your big-landscape dreams in Kakadu National Park

It’s like time stands still in Kakadu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing almost 20,000 square kilometres of majestic landscapes a 3-hour drive outside Darwin. Glide through the wildlife-filled Yellow Water billabong, be inspired by Ubirr rock galleries and goggle at pounding Jim Jim Falls.

Although you can visit as a day trip from Darwin, the best approach is to spend at least one night within Kakadu. There’s just so much to see, and the park especially comes to life during sunset and sunrise, when the colours and animal activity peak.

Aboriginal paintings on Ubirr cliff in Kakadu National Park, NT
Admire Aboriginal rock paintings at Ubirr.

8. Embrace Aboriginal culture on remote Tiwi Islands

Embark on a tour to Tiwi Islands, floating a 2.5-hour boat cruise or 30-minute plane ride from Darwin. Among eleven sun-kissed islands, Bathurst and Melville are the hubs. With a local guide leading the way, embrace the rich Tiwi Aboriginal culture, where art plays an important role.

9. Enter long secret WW2 Tunnels

A secret until 1992, these World War 2 Tunnels were built under Darwin to protect precious oil tanks from Japanese bombing. Wander through them — information panels along the way add context — while contemplating the devastation of war as well as what human determination can achieve. Bonus feature: No UV-rays reach this deep!

Pipes leading into the World War 2 Tunnels, an educational underground museum in Darwin.
Discover Darwin’s underground museum.

10. Sweat alongside locals in Bicentennial Park

Lush Bicentennial Park brilliantly extends atop the cliffs of Darwin Harbour. Lace up your favorite athletic shoes and join locals as they, outside those hot(test) midday hours, walk or run its oceanfront trail. Allow time to stop for breathtaking ocean vistas and touching war memorials along the way.

Couple admiring the blue waters of Darwin Harbour from a lookout in Bicentennial Park
Bicentennial Park is beautiful — but avoid the midday hours.

11. Say “cheers” at Darwin Ski Club

There’s no shortage of options for a cold one in Darwin, and friendly Darwin Ski Club, home of the Northern Territory Water Ski Association, is one of the very best. Picture a large grassy area with plenty of space to spread out, soothing perspectives of Fannie Bay and, of course, all the beverages you might need to cool down — cheers!

12. Soak up the atmosphere at Stokes Hill Wharf

Discover Stokes Hill Wharf, Darwin’s bubbling main pier. Some come for the history; the Royal Flying Doctor Service shares two captivating stories: One about its own operation and one about the devastating 1942 bombing of Darwin. Others fish from the pier, take a ride with the ferris wheel or enjoy waterfront alfresco dining. No matter your pick, the friendly ambience and azure-blue ocean views create magic.

Sunset at friendly Stokes Hill Wharf, with a landmark ferris wheel, jutting out into Darwin Harbour
Absorb the good vibe at Stokes Hill Wharf.

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