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Flip the switch below and discover Canberra by day or night
By Concrete Playground
March 16, 2022
By Concrete Playground
March 16, 2022

Canberra's inner south is known for its prestige, and is teeming with young professionals and families. It's a hub of trendy restaurants and bars, lively cafes, lush gardens and prominent tourist sites.

If it’s your first time to the capital, you’re going to want to spend the majority of your day ticking off the big sites: Old Parliament House, the National Gallery of Australia and the National Library. Done all of those? Slow down the pace by grabbing a pastry from one of the area’s superb bakeries and enjoying Lake Burley Griffin’s recreational offerings.

Flick the switch above, and we’ll dim the lights to show you the best things to do once the sun goes down. You can also explore more Canberra suburbs and plan your trip here.

Canberra's inner south is known for its prestige, and is teeming with young professionals and families. It's a hub of trendy restaurants and bars, lively cafes, lush gardens and prominent tourist sites.

Little known fact: sunsets are pretty amazing in this part of town. Watching the colours change and shadows fall across the architecture and parks is a sight to behold. Once nature’s show is over, filling the evening is easy with sprawling restaurants and buzzing wine bars at every turn. In fact, your only trouble may be deciding where to check out first. Keep scrolling to see our suggestions for after-dark fun in this area.

Flick the switch above, and we’ll turn on the lights to show you the best things to do pre-6pm. You can also explore more Canberra suburbs and plan your trip here.


The city of Canberra is rumoured to contain a vast system of underground tunnels and trenches, including a hidden passageway that runs underneath the city’s expansive lake, Lake Burley Griffin. Old Parliament House has also been found to have access hatches that lead to secret tunnels under the building.


E-scooters are all the rage in the country’s capital right now, with approximately 1500 Beam Mobility and Neuron Mobility devices in and around the city as part of the shared scheme. Prices start at just $0.45 per minute with a $1 unlock fee. Just remember that road rules apply.


Lake Burley Griffin runs as the backdrop to Canberra’s inner south and is an essential part of any trip to the city. You can cycle or run the tracks that border it, have a picnic beside it or even take a cruise on top of it. Whatever the case, just make sure you take the time to enjoy the vast and tranquil waters.


The National Gallery of Australia is an obvious drawcard to the area. The expansive exhibition spaces are constantly playing host to touring landmark exhibitions, film screenings, workshops and talks, so even if you’ve been before, there’ll be something for you to see.


A surefire way to get caught out as a tourist in these parts is to pronounce the suburb Manuka as you would the type of honey (Ma-NOO-ka). The correct pronunciation is hotly debated but most locals put emphasis on the first syllable — MA-noo-ka.


If you’re relying on public transport to get you around this area, the Route 6 bus is your friend. It runs from the city through Barton, Kingston and Manuka to the Woden Interchange every 15 minutes until on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends.


The National Library of Australia is home to a range of exhibitions and works of art, and also has a huge database of books, maps and audio clips. The library often puts on nighttime events, so the What’s On page on the Library’s website is worth perusing before a visit.


The Kingston Foreshore sits on the edge of the Parliamentary Zone and transforms into a lively and bustling night scene as the sun sets. You’ll often find locals drinking cocktails, sipping wine and downing pints — all in their finest, of course.

What to check out in Manuka, Kingston, Barton and surrounds

Do as the locals do.


Bit of a pastry fiend? You're in luck. Buttery, flaky, sugary treats are in high supply here.

1. Silo Bakery

Head to this Kingston bakery to stock up on life's little pleasures: fresh sourdough, cheese and coffee.

2. Penny University Cafe

Feel at home at this cosy cafe with comfort food and great coffee.

3. Maple + Clove

A wholefoods cafe serving nutrient-rich smoothies and hearty (and healthy) meals.

4. Cafe Patissez

This Manuka cafe is famous for its OTT shakes — but it also serves a killer mi goreng fried chicken burger.

5. Thirty8 Espresso

A specialty coffee spot perched along the Kingston Foreshore.


Refuel for an afternoon of sightseeing and gallery hopping at one of these lively eateries.

1. Snapper on the Lake - CLOSED

Enjoy fresh fish and chips by the lake at this unassuming establishment.

2. Muse

Prepare to lose hours at this restaurant-cum-bookstore.

3. Typica

A cafe specialising in single origin coffee and classic breakfast fare.

4. Urban Pantry

Start the day with a boozy breakfast at this popular Manuka eatery.

5. Tokyo Canteen

An airy Japanese-inspired cafe in the Eyre Street Market precinct.

Arts, Culture & Leisure

There are plenty of artistic gems and recreational activities to keep culture vultures busy in these parts.

1. GoBoat Canberra

Spend a couple of hours captaining your very own boat around Canberra.

3. Canberra Glassworks

Explore the art of glass blowing — and get some hands-on experience.

4. National Portrait Gallery

An extensive collection of portraits of Australia's most prominent figures.

5. She Shapes a Nation Walking Tour

Discover an untold Australian history with this two-hour walking tour in the capital.

What to check out in Manuka, Kingston, Barton and surrounds

Do as the locals do.


From punchy Thai and Japanese dishes to hearty pub feeds, every craving is covered here.

1. Molto Italian

Hit up this Italian restaurant for woodfired pizza and an unbeatable tiramisu.

2. Lilotang

Swing by this Japanese eatery for sake-tinis and innovative share plates.

3. Walt and Burley

The kind of place you can visit for brunch, then return for sundowners.

4. Morks Restaurant

You can order everything from Isaan-style larb to fried ice cream at this hatted Thai eatery.

5. Otis Dining Hall

An intimate fine diner in Canberra's Parliamentary Zone.


Spend afternoons in the beer garden, and evenings in sophisticated wine and cocktails bars.

1. Public

Settle into this neighburhood pub's leafy beer garden for an evening of classic brews and bites.

2. Caribou Kingston

Enjoy crispy chicken poutine and craft brews at this bar inspired by Great White North.

3. Queenies

A regal art deco bar serving natural wine and native ingredient-packed snacks.

4. Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar

Hotel Realm's sophisticated all-day French bistro and wine bar.

5. Joe's Bar

Swing by East Hotel's colourful cocktail bar for Italian-inspired snacks and live music.

Arts, Culture & Leisure

You're on holidays — it's time for some much-needed R&R. And this area offers it in abundance.

1. Hale Gym and Spa

Relax and unwind at Brassey Hotel's luxe Scandi-style spa.

2. Lake Burley Griffin

Canberra's epic lake offers outdoor activities aplenty — and excellent sunset views.

3. Red Hill Lookout Walk

Take a leisurely stroll up to epic sweeping views and a cuppa.

4. Manuka Pool

Do some laps in Manuka's long-standing art deco public pool.

5. Paperchain Bookstore

With 16,000-plus books, this bookstore definitely has your next read sorted.

CP Picks

Here is how our team loves to spend a few hours in the inner south.

Find Your Way Through the Inner South

Track down the must-visit local haunts.


Discover more experiences to have in Canberra at VisitCanberra and start planning your next city break.

Words by: Marnie Vinall

Top images: Penny University, VisitCanberra; Buvette Bistro and Wine Bar

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