Top things to do in Canberra this summer

February 7, 2020 / By Lydia Stevens

Go Boat Go Boat

Canberra is a wonderful place to visit in summer as the cooler evenings and lack of crowds create a relaxing holiday-vibe that's very unlike its more serious side. There's also plenty to do whether you want to relax, be active, eat or get your culture fix in the capital, all while keeping your body temperature in a safe range. Here are some of my top picks!

Cool off in the water
Manuka Pool
This 1920s beauty got a facelift over winter, and is looking more gorgeous than ever. With art deco architecture, sprawling green grass and a kiddies pool that will make any youngster squeal with joy, this Canberra institution is a must visit with friends, the family or your swimmers and a good book.  Blow off some steam in the large pool, watch the kids enjoy the wading pool and pirate ship playground, or laze under the trees until the sun goes down. This pool really is a must visit.

Dickson Aquatic Centre
Dickson Aquatic Centre offers plenty of shade to escape the sun and a range of pools that will keep everyone from the die-hard lap swimmer to the little splashers happy. Even better, take advantage of the quality BBQ facilities and space underneath a magnificent canopy of trees to make a day or evening of it and relax. 

Civic Olympic Pool 
Get to the beach without leaving Canberra this summer! Work up a sweat on the beach volleyball courts before lounging on your beach towel in the large grass areas. If volleyball isn’t your thing, make use of the indoor 50 m pool or the outdoor 25 m dive pool (there’s even a toddler pool) before cooking up a sizzle of snags on the BBQ facilities. 

Canberra Aquatic Park
New to Canberra this summer, the Aquatic Park is a 1,600 square metre inflatable obstacle course that sits on top of Lake Burley Griffin, at Black Mountain Peninsula. Open to children (and adults) over 5 years, sessions go for 50 minutes and cost $20 per person, with special rates for families. Bookings are definitely recommended.  Entry to the park is free for spectators, with plenty of grassy areas to sit back and watch the fun.  

Natural pools - Cotter Bend & Casuarina Sands
Cotter Bend and Casuarina Sands are favourite swimming holes that offer refreshing waters, shady spots to rest, a reserve, playground and BBQ facilities. The perfect spots to soak in the water or rest in the shade as the little (or big) ones play in the shallows. 

Casuarina Sands - image credit Greg Nelson Casuarina Sands - image credit Greg Nelson

Things to do - Summertime fun
Spending a lazy summer day or evening at the cricket is a great Australian past time. And for lovers of the game, Canberra's got a lot on offer. There are two Big Bash League games - one on 21 December between the Sydney Thunder and the Adelaide Strikers, and the next on 15 January between the Sydney Thunder and the Melbourne Renegades. Then between 31 January and 2 February be in the front row for the Women's T20 involving Australia, England and India. 

Goboat Canberra
One of Canberra's newest and most fun activities is to book a silent picnic boat and take it for a ride on Lake Burley Griffin. This really is a unique adventure, offering views of Canberra from the water as you travel around in your own Scandinavian-designed boat. No boat licence or previous boating experience is required and you can book a picnic or take your own food and beverage on board to add to the atmosphere. 

The Look - National Portrait Gallery
On until 9 February 2020. the Look is a free exhibition featuring striking photographic portraits of contemporary figures from within the National Portrait Gallery's collection, See Ian Thorpe, Helen Garner, Cathy Freeman and many more as you have never seen them before. If this if your first visit to the Portrait Gallery, you're in for a treat as the building, artworks, cafe and bookshop are all 5 star. 

Rizla Rizla

Food & drink to keep you cool 
Snapper on the Lake
One of the best places to spend a summer's evening is Snapper's at the Canberra Southern Cross Yacht Club’,. Offering a relaxed outdoor seated area and plenty of grass to set up a picnic rug on, there's fresh fish, chips and salad on the menu and a bar serving local and imported beers and Australian wines. Watch the kids run around or kick a ball on the grass, enjoy live music on Saturday and Sundays, or just take in the views across the Lake as you relax in the evening breeze.  

Braddon has become Canberra's hippest destination, and Rizla, Canberra's new Riesling Bar, fits right in. Featuring all of the regions top offerings along with a selection from some iconic Australian and international producers, the wine menu alone will have you salivating. Add to this yummy share plates designed to match the wines and plenty of non-winey options, and Rizla guarantees a great evening out.  

Bookplate - National Library of Australia
Buildings in Canberra don’t get much more impressive than the National Library of Australia. With breathtaking lake views, a stunning interior and the opportunity to soak in decades of literary history,  Bookplate is an award-winning café option for your summer brunch, lunch or a truly indulgent high tea. 

We think you should know: The Weekender's travel guides are independently written by real travellers. We do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the entities listed in, or referred to in this article.

So much more to explore - Canberra