Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
One of Australia’s most popular destinations, Darwin is a tropical city that hugs the coastline in the Northern Territory. Closer to Bali than Bondi, it’s a vibrant multicultural destination and a gateway to several natural icons like the Top End, Katherine Region and Adelaide River. If you’re lucky enough to visit, you’ll find plenty of things to do, including these options that are sure to enhance your time here.
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.
The Ghan is a living legend that offers a luxurious train ride bringing passengers through some of the country’s most magnificent wilderness areas in one of the most comfortable ways possible. It’s an ideal way to experience some of Australia’s most remote towns and the incredible beauty of the Outback, traveling from Darwin to Adelaide and vice versa, covering 1850 miles, stopping in places like Katherine and Nitmiluk Gorge with its ancient sandstone cliffs. You can also marvel at the striking beauty of the Outback and visit the world-famous town of Alice Springs as well as the largest monolith on Earth, Uluru Rock, and so much more for the ride of a lifetime.
The “Jumping Crocodile Cruise” takes place on the Adelaide River and is one of the city’s most popular attractions. If you’re in Darwin and want to get up close to toothy crocs, this is one of the best options. You’ve probably glimpsed this famous experience online as countless images and videos have been posted across the Internet. This is your chance to capture your own while enjoying one of the biggest thrills in the country.
Head to the Waterfront Precinct and you can take a stroll and enjoy the views on historic Stokes Hill Wharf. Dine al fresco while gazing out at colorful sunsets over the ocean, and take advantage of the host of events that are offered throughout the year. You’ll also find a variety of shops, a wave pool, free family recreation areas and a wave pool. By walking the Heritage Trail, you can learn about Darwin’s history, including sacred sites of the Larrakia people and witness the spot where the first bomb fell in the 1942 air raid.
There are a few water parks in Darwin but Big Buoy is arguably the most thrilling and unique. It floats in the Darwin lagoon along the waterfront – you’ll have to swim out to it and then climb a rope to have fun and cool off in the obstacle course. Climb to the top of the tower and leap into the water, whiz slide down the slide, or if you’re really daring, get into the human launcher where you’ll be shot high into the air.
Crocosaurus Cove offers another opportunity to get up close to huge crocodiles, perhaps a little too close for some. It’s located right in town and hosts pools and aquariums with the animals – and the very brave can even get into the water with them by stepping into the transparent “Cage of Death,” a croc enclosure that brings a chilling eye-to-eye view. There are also a variety of attractions like the Reptile House and the Big Croc Feeding Show.
Spanning more than 100 acres, the Darwin Botanic Gardens is one of the few in the world where both estuarine and marine plants can be found growing naturally. It’s also rather historic in that it somehow managed to survive the Second World War and 1974’s Cyclone Tracy, which caused devastating destruction throughout Darwin on Christmas morning. The lush, tropical gardens include waterfalls and a wide range of local flora, like tropical orchids, bromeliads and all sorts of exotic plants with walking trails winding through while aromatic scents fill the air.
The Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory offers lots for both history and art enthusiasts as a combined history museum and art gallery. It focuses on everything from the region’s prehistoric indigenous history dating back some 60,000 years to the early European settlement of Darwin as a frontier outpost. Visitors of all ages will find lots of fascinating exhibits throughout, including Central Australian fauna that’s highlighted in impressive displays and the Strehlow Research Centre, one of the country’s most important collections of film, sound, archival records and museum objects that relate to Indigenous ceremonial life. The gallery showcases contemporary and traditional art, with a focus on local artists.
Darwin’s markets are well worth visiting, with the Thursday and Sunday night Mindil Beach Sunset Market, open from April through October, especially popular. A Darwin institution, it features hundreds of stalls, including a vast selection of foods and handmade items, with arts and crafts, soaps, clothing, jewelry and much more.
Darwin was one of the few places on Australia’s mainland to be attacked directly by the Japanese during World War II. There were 300 bombs dropped here in February 1942, and visitors can learn all about the city’s experience in the war through multiple significant sites like the Defence of Darwin Experience and the adjacent Darwin Military Museum. The Aviation Heritage Centre holds the wreckage of a Japanese Zero fighter shot down during the first air raid, a B-52 bomber (one of only two on display outside the U.S.), and a Cenotaph that overlooks the harbor.