Here are a few facts about Darwin. It’s one of the friendliest spots in Australia. The weather’s always hot. The beer’s always cold. And there is always something to see or do.
If you’re exploring the Top End, it’s worth spending a bit of extra time in Darwin before or after your holiday to soak up everything this big country town has to offer. Whether you want to relax, get active, explore, have a few drinks or dance the night away, Darwin ticks the boxes.
Here’s a few of our favourite things to do, places to see, and the best eats and drinks in town:
Things to see and do in Darwin
Parap Markets, Saturdays 8am-2pm (wet and dry season):
A great spot for lunch, especially the famous laksa soup. The best place is the one with the biggest line (don’t worry, you’ll see it). Wander through the chaos of people and stores packed with food, flowers and local arts and craft. Re-hydrate with a fresh lime juice along the way.
Waterfront (wet and dry season):
Head down to the waterfront in the afternoon for a swim (the only place netted off so crocs can’t get in!). There is also a blow up obstacle course on the water, as well as a popular wave pool. Bring some bread out to the end of the dock and feed the massive fish that swim underneath.
Esplanade (wet and dry season):
This park runs along the top of the peninsular in Darwin and looks out over the water. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic, has a great playground, and, if you’re into exercise, has an outdoor gym set as well.
And a few spots out of town
Hire a car (4WD not necessary) or get a local guide and do these little day trips just outside of town.
Berry Springs (dry season):
About a 45 minute drive from Darwin, this little spot can get popular so get out there early. There are barbecues if you fancy having a picnic, otherwise it’s a wonderful place to switch off and relax. Make sure you pack your swimmers and perhaps bring/hire a pool noodle or floaties for ultimate chill. The Berry Springs Tavern, just down the road, is a great spot for lunch.
Litchfield National Park (dry season):
An hour and a half out of Darwin, Litchfield is an easy day trip. Don’t miss Wangi Falls, Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole; they’re all great swimming spots and gorgeous places to sit back and take in the serenity. All three can get quite busy with tourist buses, but they don’t usually stick around for long; most of the time you’ll have it all to yourself. Keep an eye out for the giant termite mounds as you drive out here too – they’re great photo opps!
Best sunset spots
Grab a bottle of wine or a bucket of beers, pull up a chair and watch the sun go down right over the water. The view’s perfect, the atmosphere’s great, and the dinner won’t disappoint.
Book into a sunset cruise. Set off from the waterfront marina for a couple of hours cruising and enjoying the sunset across the Darwin waterfront. BYO food and drink.
Cucina sotto le stelle:
Down at the Nightcliff foreshore on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights you can enjoy authentic Italian handmade pasta and pizza at a BYO pop up restaurant. Just look for the fairy lights.
Mindil Beach Sunset Market, Thursday & Sunday (dry season):
Wander through the markets, grab a bite to eat and head to the beach to watch the sunset. When the sun goes down keep an eye out for the fire twirlers and don’t miss one of Mick’s Whips show.
Where to eat
Boatshed Coffee House:
For a great view of the marina, sit out on the deck with a fresh juice, hot coffee and delicious breakfast.
A local café on Stuart Highway. Get in early so you don’t miss out on the cold drip coffee. They’ve got great food with an ever-changing menu and some very scrumptious pastries and cakes.
Laneway Specialty Coffee:
This place is always busy, especially on weekends, so be prepared for a short wait which is totally worth it. My favourites include smoked belly bacon and two egg roll and the mushroom orgy.
This is a great little area with lots of choice for food. Favourites include Wharf One, Hot Tamale & Chow.
One of my favourites in town. Great food, great wine, great service and great gluten-free options.
Where to drink
A contemporary cocktail bar serving all your favourites (make sure you try their Espresso Martini). A good spot for an afternoon beverage or two.
The only wine bar in Darwin with a great outdoor area to sit back, relax and enjoy a glass.
If you’re lucky enough to be in town on Tuesday night, make sure you head here for a couple of rounds of Deck Queen Bingo, hosted by Darwin divas Miss Ellaneous and Marzi Panne. It’s a LOT of fun.
For a night out on the town head to any of the bars on Mitchell Street for music, dancing and lots of drinks.
Darwin is one of the most interesting cities in Australia. Almost everyone in Darwin isn’t from Darwin, making it feel like a holiday destination even for those who live there. It’s tropical, peculiar and always entertaining. If you haven’t been, add it to your travel list.
Ready to explore sunny Darwin? Check it out on a small group adventure in Australia’s Top End now.
Feature image by ChrisPusey c/o Shutterstock.