Heading to Darwin? Here’s what you should see, do and eat in Australia’s Top End.
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’s 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 coastal city 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 are a few of our favourite things to do, places to see, and the best eats and drinks in Darwin.
Things to see and do in and around Darwin
Parap Markets, Saturdays 8am-2pm (wet and dry season)
The Parap Markets is 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 stalls packed with food, flowers, and local arts and crafts. Rehydrate with fresh lime juice along the way.
The waterfront (wet and dry season)
Head down to the waterfront in the afternoon for a swim (it’s the only swimming spot with a netted enclosure so crocs can’t get in). There’s also a blow-up obstacle course on the water, as well as a wave pool.
Esplanade (wet and dry season)
The Esplanade has 3km of walkways and laws that run along the top of the peninsular in Darwin. It looks out over the water and is the perfect spot for a picnic. There’s also a playground and an outdoor gym.
You could also 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)
Berry Springs, about 45 minutes outside of Darwin, is a popular waterhole for cooling down in the Top End Heat. It has barbecues if you fancy having a picnic. 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. It can get quite busy, so get out there early.
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 ops!
Best sunset spots in Darwin
Darwin Sailing Club
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 food won’t disappoint either.
Book onto a sunset cruise. Set off from the waterfront marina for a couple of hours cruising and enjoying the sunset across the Darwin waterfront. You can usually get dinner and drinks packages to enjoy some of Darwin’s local seafood and produce.
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 pop-up BYO 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 shows.
Where to eat
Darwin has a great foodie scene with plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars serving up tasty bites. Here are some favourite spots.
Boatshed Coffee House
For a great view of the marina, sit out on the deck with a fresh juice, coffee or delicious breakfast.
Sweet Brew & Co.
A local café on the 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 heirloom mushrooms on sourdough.
The Waterfront has loads of options for food. Local 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
Darwin isn’t short of a bar or two to quench your thirst…
A contemporary cocktail bar serving all your favourites (make sure you try their Espresso Martini). It’s a good spot for an afternoon beverage or two.
Stone House Wine Bar & Kitchen
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 and dancing.
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.