Canberra has come along way since I first moved here from Queensland in 2010. It’s no longer known as just the hub for Australian politicians and the never-ending roundabouts. There’s a buzzing food and drink scene in Canberra with lots to do and plenty of places to explore. So, next time you visit Australia’s capital city use this locals’ healthy travel guide to help you find ways to keep your taste buds dancing and your body moving.
5 of the Best Cafes in Canberra
Local Press Café | 9/81 Eastlake Parade, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra
Local Press Cafe is set in the trendy Kingston Foreshore and boasts an array of delicious and health conscious options. From the famous green pea pancake to their own cold-pressed juice, dairy-free smoothies and a range of healthy sweets, everything at this café is delicious. They also support some great causes to encourage sustainability. It’s one of my favourite cafes in Canberra and I usually take visitors here for breakfast, brunch or lunch. It does get really busy so try not to go at peak times to avoid the crowd. It’s also near Lake Burley Griffin so you can easily go for a walk or run before or after you eat.
Eighty/Twenty Food | 1/18 Lonsdale St, Braddon
Situated on Canberra’s little strip of Melbourne, also known as Lonsdale street in Braddon is Eighty/Twenty. They’re opened for breakfast and lunch and promote the balance of eating 80% food that’s good for you and 20% decadent ‘sometimes’ foods. This busy café has lots of delicious options that you can choose to eat in or takeaway. On the menu you’ll find matcha lattes, golden lattes, Acai bowls, Japanese salad bowls, smoothies, organic tea, salmon dishes and more. Eighty/Twenty has you covered and has lots of options for you to choose from. You’ll also find lots of green food on the menu that with give you the energy you need to make the most of your time in Canberra.
Sweet Bones Café | Shop 8, 18 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, Canberra
Sweet bones is a funky little vegan, organic café and bakery located rights beside Eighty/Twenty in the suburb of Braddon. It’s a vegan’s definition of heaven! You’ll find amazing cakes, baked goods, burgers, drinks and lots of other yummy options for breakfast and lunch. I love Sweet Bones Café even more now that they’ve recently introduced Cocowhip to Canberrans. I had been waiting for this day for a long time.
Au Lac Royal Vegetarian Cuisine | 4/35-39 Woolley St, Dickson
This restaurant is located in Dickson, alongside lots of other Asian restaurants and it’s always full – you’ll know why after you visit. The legendary Au Lac is considered the ancestral kingdom of the Vietnamese people. So as the names suggests you’ll find a range of Vietnamese and other Asian options on the menu. It’s fresh, tasty and everything is vegetarian. You can get soy duck wraps, spring rolls, beef rendang, laksa, Vietnamese crepes and heaps more. The Vietnamese cannelloni is one of my favourite dishes.
Kagawa Japanese Restaurant | 55 Woolley St, Dickson
If fresh sushi and some yummy cheap Japanese food is what you’re after then you need to check this place out. It’s also located in Dickson and it’s nothing fancy inside but it’s one of the more authentic Japanese restaurants in Canberra. After visiting Japan last year I find it so hard to find Japanese food that compares. Most places in Australia smother sushi in mayonnaise and sweet sauces but not Kagawa. You’ll find a great selection of Japanese cuisine on offer and dinner for two people will set you back about $AUD70. It can get busy so it’s best to book a table.
5 of the Best Activities in Canberra
SUP’ing Caveman | Molonglo Reach Park, Campbell
Get out on the water with The SUP’ing Caveman, Canberra’s original stand up paddle boarding company. The first time I tried SUP was on the Noosa River and although Lake Burley isn’t quite Noosa, being out on the water in Canberra is just as good. Matt from The SUP’ing Caveman teaches groups and individuals in Canberra and is a gun on the board. Book in for either a group booking or a private class with Matt. I’ve been told that going at sunset on a nice day in Canberra is a magnificent treat. You can also try Yoga SUP and if you visit Canberra at the right time of the year you might be lucky enough to watch the balloon festival from the lake.
F45 Training | Multiple Locations
Take a class at F45. If you’re feeling a little sluggish and are looking for an intense workout then head to one of Canberra’s F45 studios. You’ll find them in the CBD, Braddon, Phillip, Belconnen and other locations around the nation’s capital. If you’re not familiar with F45 then you can choose from a range of 45-minute HIIT workouts. They’re intense but addictive. Some of the studios offer a 1-2 weeks free trial or you can pay about $28 per session. It’s basically a PT class in a group so be prepared to sweat and possibly be a little sore the next day. No pain, no gain.
Power Yoga | Multiple Locations
If you need to stretch it out then you can choose from a range of yoga studios offering different styles in Canberra. I’m a member of Power Yoga so it’s my pick and there’s a studio in Belconnen, Woden and Civic. The room is warmed to about 30 degrees and there’s a range of 60, 75 and 90-minute classes to choose from 7 days a week. They also offer Yin Yoga.
Take a hike. Literally. Put on your boots, pack your water bottle, some healthy snacks and go hiking when you visit Canberra. There’s a reason it’s known as the bush capital. Canberra is surrounded by mountains and bushland, which means there are so many options for hiking. If you don’t want to venture far out of the city then climb Mt Ainslie where you’ll find a pretty amazing view of the well-planned and picturesque city of Canberra. You can also choose Black Mountain or Mt Painter. But, if you have a car and you want to explore then head to Booroomba Rocks in Namadgi National Park. It’s a 50-minute drive from Canberra City and a 30-minute hike to a stunning view.
Go Chasing Waterfalls
If you have a car then head to Gibraltar Falls. It’s a short 45-minute drive from Canberra CBD and you can drive to the top and walk out to the lookout or walk about 1km each way from Woods Reserve. It’s one of the largest waterfalls in the ACT, descending a vertical distance of 50 metres. If you decide to go swimming there then make sure you swim in the safe spots. If you’re looking for other swimming spots then you could stop at Tharwa Sandwash on the way back to the city. It’s about 10 minute from Gibraltar Falls and there are 128 species of birds known to inhabit the two hectares that surround the area. Check out The Cotter, Casuarina Sands and Kambah Pool for other natural swimming spots.
5 of the Best Things to do in Canberra
Explore Canberra’s Markets
If you’re looking to pick up some fresh produce, a quick lunch or breakfast, some unique handmade products or just have a browse then you need to head to one of Canberra’s many markets. Hopefully your trip will coincide with one or more of the following:
- Farmers and Foodie Markets | Old Bus Depot Building, 21 Wentworth Ave, Kingston |Friday 4-8pm
- Capital Region Farmers Market | Exhibition Park in Canberra, Flemington Road, Mitchell | Saturday 7:30-11:30am
- Canberra Southside Farmers Markets | Canberra College, Cnr Launceston St & Yamba Drive, Phillip | Sunday 8-11:30am
- Old Bus Depot Markets | Old Bus Depot Building, 21 Wentworth Ave, Kingston | Sunday 10am-4pm
- The Handmade Market | Held four times a year from 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday of the weekend they are held. They are definitely worth checking out. Tens of thousands of people travel from all over Australia to attend these markets each time they’re held.
Canberra is full of bike paths and you can easily hire a bike and go riding around Canberra’s central Lake Burley Griffin. The National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia, War Memorial and lots of other tourist attraction are within riding distance from Lake Burley Griffin. Check out Lake Ginninderra to explore more of Canberra and if you want to venture south then you’ll find Lake Tuggeranong. All lakes feature sign posted cycle paths and offer picturesque routes perfect for a cycling tour by yourself or with family and friends. You can hire a bike from a range of businesses including Cycle Canberra who can also deliver the bike to your home, hotel or straight to the lake.
You can do it in New York, Rio, Melbourne, Helsinki and Sydney and lots of other cities around the world. Now, you can join a walking food tour in Canberra. If you want to sample some of Canberra’s best eats while getting a little exercise then come on a food tour with Eat Canberra. We’ll show you some of our favourite places to eat in Canberra while we restaurant hop our way around, introducing you to some of Canberra’s chefs and restaurateurs. You’ll also get lots of advice and tips so you know exactly where to eat and what to do to make the most of your visit. We can also organise private tours and help you with any questions you have to make your visit the best it can possibly be. Walking food tours will launch in March 2017 and we also run foodie events so check in to see if we have anything scheduled during your visit.
Seg Glide Ride | West Kiosk, Queen Elizabeth Terrace, Parkes
Have you ever been on a Segway? Put it on your ‘to do’ list when you visit the nation’s capital. It’s a fun and unique way to see Canberra. You’ll get a good laugh and your balance will be tested.
There are so many bars to choose from in Canberra so it’s really hard to narrow it down to a few. One of my favourites is Suke Suke Bar, an underground Japanese style bar tucked away in the city. They have a range of Japanese eats and you’ll find a big range of whiskey, sake and fun cocktails on the menu like the Hello Kitty. White Rabbit Cocktail Room is another fun place to grab a drink and if you’re feeling naughty you can get one of their yummy desserts too. They have adopted a fun Alice and Wonderland theme and some of their cocktails and desserts are served in tea cups. It’s also close to Suke Suke Bar so you could stop in and have a drink at both.
Passionate about all things food, travel and wellness Amelia is the Founder and Editor of Eat Canberra and The Balancing Act.
She’s also a trained journalist, communications professional and freelance writer who enjoys eating her way around the world one bite at a time.
Amelia aims to inspire others to live a balanced, healthy life and to be the best version of themselves.
Eat Canberra: https://eatcanberra.com.au/
Facebook – Eat Canberra