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10 Incredible Canberra staycations: where to stay & what to do

Linden Brown

Imagine a few days when time stops. You're off work. You're with your favourite person or people. Whether you wake up to greet the sun or enjoy a slow breaky in bed, the only agenda for your day is to enjoy it.

No need to book that expensive flight. Stay home and rediscover Canberra – where nature's playground surrounds some of the most exciting venues south of the equator.

We compiled this comprehensive guide to make your Canberra staycation unforgettable. It covers where to stay and what to do for some of your best days yet.  

Grab a Canberra car rental and book a great hotel for an incredible experience close to home.

Jump to:

What is a staycation, and why choose Canberra?

A staycation is your chance to explore the delightful underbelly of the place you love, experiencing the thrill of travel right in your backyard – without the hassle and expense of a long journey. 

Canberra combines breathtaking nature with a bustling cultural scene.

Just a short drive brings you to the lush expanses of Namadgi National Park, interactive museums and galleries in the city, or the vibrant markets of the Old Bus Depot. 

Start your day with a sunrise stroll through the Australian National Botanic Gardens, where the dew-kissed leaves and fresh floral scents set the scene for a spectacular day. Afterwards, head to Braddon for a robust espresso and a chef-crafted breakfast. 

a boat on the water
Photo by Raelle Gann-Owens / Unsplash

Spend your afternoon cycling around Lake Burley Griffin, exploring the iconic Parliament House like a real tourist or unwind at a National Carillon concert. 

And top off your evening at a rooftop bar in Kingston, sipping a bespoke cocktail as the city lights flicker to life.

As a local, you have the luxury of experiencing Canberra's rich offerings at your own pace, making it easy, budget-friendly, and full of variety.

Top ten hotels for the best staycation in Canberra

Whether you’re after luxury Canberra staycation packages or some of the best value this side of the Snowy Mountains, here are ten of our favourite stops. 

Five luxury hotels to try in Canberra

Ovolo Nishi

Nestled in the creatively charged New Acton precinct, Ovolo Nishi is a hub of cultural immersion and a masterpiece of sustainability and style. And when you stay, the hotel's 'Loot Bag' of goodies and free minibar items adds a playful touch to its luxury.

Nearby: Close to cultural sites like the National Film and Sound Archive.

QT Canberra

QT Canberra offers a political twist on design, with rooms featuring artefacts and quotes from Australia’s political history. Beyond its quirky art and stylish furnishings, the hotel boasts one of the city’s best steak restaurants, Capitol Bar and Grill, where locally sourced produce meets culinary excellence.

Nearby: Steps from Lake Burley Griffin and Canberra’s cultural institutions.

Hotel Realm

Situated in the diplomatic enclave of Barton, Hotel Realm combines refined luxury with technological comforts. Its rooms feature Apple Mac minis and Nespresso machines, so you can stay connected and caffeinated in style.

Nearby: Walking distance to Parliament House and national museums.

Midnight Hotel, Autograph Collection

Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, Midnight Hotel offers a bespoke experience in Braddon. Each room is curated with artworks from local Canberra artists, celebrating the city’s vibrant art scene. The hotel's proximity to the trendiest bars and eateries adds an urban chic vibe.

Nearby: Canberra’s bustling Lonsdale Street, filled with cafes and boutiques.

Jamala Wildlife Lodge

Unique in every sense, Jamala Wildlife Lodge allows you to sleep next to a lion’s den or a shark tank. This extraordinary experience is complemented by African-inspired interiors and gourmet dining under a rainforest canopy, truly a luxurious escape into the wild.

Nearby: Located within the zoo, close to the Molonglo River.

Are you looking for a city escape? Step into Dinny, your personal escape at Mount Majura Vineyard, just a stone's throw from the city. This isn't just any tiny home. 

Wake up to a vineyard vista, prep breakfast in a snug kitchen stocked with local flavours, and unwind on your deck as dusk settles over the vines. Perfect for a spontaneous staycation, Dinny turns a quick getaway into a memorable retreat right on Canberra's doorstep.

Five hotels for a budget staycation Canberra style

Here are five of the best budget Canberra staycation deals that might surprise you. They offer more than just savings.

The Sebel Canberra Campbell

Located in the quiet suburb of Campbell, The Sebel offers spacious apartments with unexpected luxuries like a pillow menu and a high-tech fitness centre.

Nearby: A short drive from Canberra’s CBD and local dining options.

Deco Hotel

At the heart of lively Braddon, Deco Hotel merges the 1920s art deco style with modern design. Each room features a unique blend of vintage and contemporary elements. You’ll also enjoy complimentary access to a digital newsstand that offers newspapers and magazines from around the world.

Nearby: As well as Braddon's creative hubbub, you're close to Dickson's dynamic food and arts scene.

The Green Rooms

The Green Rooms set the standard for sustainable living just outside the city centre. These tiny-home-inspired micro-apartments are not only eco-friendly but come with high-end Smeg appliances, proving that luxury need not be sacrificed in eco-conscious accommodation.

Nearby: A short drive from major attractions and natural reserves.

Little National Hotel

Overlooking the Parliamentary Triangle, Little National Hotel maximises space and comfort in its smartly designed rooms (giving off fun tiny house vibes). The rooftop lounge, with its panoramic city views, offers a spectacular space to unwind, embodying luxury at an affordable price.

Nearby: In the heart of the Realm Precinct, the hotel overlooks the Parliamentary Triangle and is close to cultural institutions.

Forrest Hotel And Apartments

Just minutes from Manuka Oval, Forrest Hotel offers more than just comfortable lodging – it serves up a historical experience with its family-owned charm and a restaurant decked out in cricket memorabilia.

Nearby: Minutes from Manuka’s shopping and dining precinct.

Now that you’re settled into your room let’s think about what to do.

Five must-do activities for a couple’s staycation in Canberra

1. Picnic at the National Arboretum

Start with a picnic at the National Arboretum, where you can soak in panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside. Pack a hamper with your favourite local cheeses and wines, and find a special spot among the 94 forests of rare and endangered trees.

2. Night at the Observatory

For an evening of stargazing, head to the Mount Stromlo Observatory. Join one of their public observing nights to peer through telescopes and learn about the cosmos together, a perfect blend of romance and science under the starlit sky.

3. Art and Coffee Crawl in Braddon

Explore Braddon’s vibrant streets with a self-guided art and coffee crawl. Start with the street art along Lonsdale Street, then dip into boutique galleries. Between stops, grab a coffee or a bite at trendy spots like Lonsdale Street Roasters or the BentSpoke Brewing Co. You might even stumble on some great live music.

4. Kayaking on Lake Burley Griffin

Rent a kayak and paddle around Lake Burley Griffin at your own pace. Glide past iconic landmarks like the National Gallery of Australia and the Carillon. It’s a refreshing way to see the city from a different perspective while getting some gentle exercise.

5. Cooking Class with a Local Chef

Book a cooking class with a local chef using regional produce. It’s a fun, interactive experience that ends with you both enjoying the meal you’ve prepared together. This activity teaches you new skills and lets you take a piece of Canberra's culinary scene home.

Five fun activities for a family staycation in Canberra

1. Spark curiosity at Questacon 

Dive into the wonders of science at Questacon. From the earthquake lab to the free-fall slide, each exhibit will thrill and teach. It's perfect for curious minds of all ages, making science fun and accessible through hands-on activities.

2. Cycle around Lake Burley Griffin

Grab bikes and explore the paths around Lake Burley Griffin. You'll pass iconic landmarks like the National Library and Questacon. Pack a picnic and stop at one of the scenic spots for a family lunch with a view.

3. Enjoy Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Go wildlife spotting at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Follow the walking trails and keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos, koalas and emus. It’s a great way to introduce kids to Australia’s native animals in their natural habitat.

4. Visit the National Dinosaur Museum

Step back in time at the National Dinosaur Museum. It's home to life-sized dinosaur models and real fossil displays. The interactive dig-a-dino exhibit lets kids play palaeontologist and dig for their own fossils.

5. Try geocaching in the National Arboretum

Turn the National Arboretum into a treasure hunt with geocaching. Using your smartphone, search for hidden caches around the vast gardens. Combine technology, problem-solving and outdoor fun in a modern-day treasure hunt.

How to get around during your staycation

Why not add even more fun to your staycation? Leave your car at home and grab a fun new ride. 

With Uber Carshare, you can pick up the perfect car when and where you need it. Fancy a sporty ride for a fun day trip, or do you need some extra boot space for the crew? Pick up a Canberra car rental close to where you’re staying. No queues, no paperwork. Just you, your favourite people, and endless possibilities.

Final word: create the best Canberra staycation

Travel takes you out of your everyday routine and creates an exciting new buzz. Fun sights, new tastes, relaxing into your surroundings. Making memories to last a lifetime. But you don't have to go far to find that feeling. 

Imagine rediscovering the very best of your home city at your own pace, without booking flights, navigating unfamiliar language or changing time zones. 

Grab a fun new Canberra car rental, and it’s your adventure – on your terms.

For even more inspiration, discover the incredible road trip to Murrumbateman and our favourite free things to do in Canberra


Where can I go for a staycation in Canberra?

You're spoiled for choice right here in Canberra. Check out the artsy vibes at Ovolo Nishi or the politically inspired QT Canberra. For a truly unique experience, Jamala Wildlife Lodge offers overnight stays right next to animal enclosures. Enjoy a distinct slice of Canberra, perfect for a refreshing break from the everyday.

What is there to do in Canberra?

Rediscover the joys of your city. Start your morning with a stroll through the dewy Australian National Botanic Gardens. Then, join in at the vibrant Old Bus Depot markets or cycle around Lake Burley Griffin. For something different, enjoy a soothing bell concert at the National Carillon or wrap up your day with a bespoke cocktail atop a Kingston rooftop bar.

How can I spend 48 hours in Canberra?

Kick off with a sunrise walk in the Australian National Botanic Gardens, followed by brunch in Braddon. Explore the National Gallery or cycle around Lake Burley Griffin. On day two, head to Namadgi National Park for some fresh air and stunning scenery. Wrap up your adventure with a live show at the Canberra Theatre or dinner at Kingston Foreshore. 

Where to sleep in Canberra?

Whether you're after luxury or on a budget, Canberra has it all. Feel artsy at QT Canberra or enjoy eco-luxury at Ovolo Nishi. For a budget-friendly stay, the Deco Hotel in Braddon mixes modern style with affordability. Each place offers a unique vibe to make your Canberra staycation special.

How do you spend a long weekend in Canberra?

Spend a weekend right here in town. Enjoy a morning picnic at the National Arboretum, savour the panoramic views, and perhaps even a local wine tasting. Explore the cosmos at Mount Stromlo Observatory by night, or take a gentle kayak trip around Lake Burley Griffin. Each day here can be as relaxing or adventurous as you choose.

Did you like this article? Check out our Brisbane Staycation, Perth staycation and Melbourne Staycation articles for more tips.