It's vast, it's red and the population density equals just about 0.1 people per square kilometer. The uniqueness of the Northern Territory of Australia is something that needs to be experienced with your own senses.

A good starting point to explore Australia's outback state and natural richness is its tropical capital Darwin. This laid-back city really feels like a spread out town with a compact city center, some epic long beaches where you can catch stunning sunsets, a beautiful modern waterfront and seafood so fresh and drinks so cold, you will want them every day!

Be prepared to feel hot, sweaty and dusty, but most of all, be prepared to be absolutely amazed when visiting Darwin and the Northern Territory.

Darwin Accommodation – Best Places To Stay

Want to know where the best place to stay in Darwin is? Darwin's CBD around Mitchell, Smith & Cavenagh street is a great starting point and there are many accommodation options for any budget, with many budget hostels located on Mitchell Street.

Then you can also opt to stay around the Esplanade or the Darwin Waterfront which have a few more upmarket choices. The options to find a hotel in Darwin are plenty and I highly recommend staying in the center of the action as you can easily walk around. If you do want to stay on the other end and closer to Mindil Beach, your only option is the hotel adjacent to the casino with is set among tropical gardens and right by the beachside.

Bear in mind though, that beaches in the Top End are different than other beaches around Australia. Many of them have unpredictable rips as well as dangerous marine creatures like crocodiles or jellyfish. In Darwin, you can swim at Mindil Beach, Nightcliff Beach or Casuarina Beach when lifeguards are on duty. These beaches have not seen a fatal crocodile attack for over 120 years.

There are plenty of holiday parks for camping in and around Darwin, as it's a popular starting and finishing point for self-drive journeys around the NT. However, I wouldn't exactly recommend camping up here as the climate is characterized as tropical savanna climate and you get hot and sticky anytime of the day.

Darwins hottest months being October and November and the wet season with its monsoon rains and cyclones kicks in right after in December and last until roughly till March. The cooler months are June and July.

Darwin Esplanade
Darwin Casuarina Beach Darwin

Explore Darwin Like The Locals

So what makes Darwin worth visiting? What are some of the cool spots to check out?

Don't worry, I got you covered. Read on to find out all the popular spots that are worth visiting plus all the little Darwin secrets that only few tourists know or stumble upon.

Discover Darwins Coffee Scene

I know, ‘it's not Melbourne' you might say. But hear me out!

Multicultural Darwin has definitely picked up its game and now there are some awesome spots to be found to get your caffeine fix. And yes, you can totally drink it iced up here too!

Here are some cafés you cannot miss to check out:

  • Laneway Speciality Coffee
  • Four Birds on Smith Street
  • Eva's Café in the Botanical Garden
  • Rabbithole on Smith Street
  • The Cool Spot Café in Fannie Bay
  • De La Plage at Casuarina Beach

Cool Off At Darwin Waterfront

The Darwin Waterfront can easily be reached from Smith Street over a footbridge and elevator, alternatively, you can also take the stairs of course.

Once you arrive at the bottom you are greeted by extensive green gardens in which amidst sits a man-made beach which is safe to swim at. Right next door you can visit the wave lagoon and surf and boogie board along with the waves.

All around the waterfront you can find various restaurants, cafés and bars, serving ice cream, burgers, Mexican, Asian, Italian cuisine and much more. You can almost spend a whole day around here, or come for your morning swim or afternoon sundowner.

Darwin Waterfront

Parap Village Markets

Every Saturday, Darwin's longest running markets, the Parap Village Markets, open their doors to locals and travellers alike. Come early and grab a fresh coffee, then go on a browse around the market stalls that offer food, arts and crafts.

Starting around 8am until 2pm, you will especially find a lot of Southeast Asian-inspired stalls (try the Laksa!) and tropical fruit and veg. Worth a little browse if you like getting out of bed early on a Saturday.

Go On A Day Trip

There are plenty of day trips you can do from Darwin, no matter if you opt for a tour or rent a car and drive around yourself, as long as you stick to the dedicated roads, fuel up and take plenty of water with you, you are completely fine and safe.

Waterfalls, lagoons, rivers, national parks and natural beauty, it's all within easy reach of Darwin.

Here are some day trips from Darwin I recommend doing:

  • Litchfield National Park: Visit the magnetic termite mounds, Wangi & Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole
  • See the jumping saltwater crocodiles at Mary and Adelaide River Region
  • Swim in the emerald pools at Berry Springs Nature Park
  • Sunset cruise around Darwin's Harbour
  • Day trip to the Tiwi Islands

Also consider visiting Kakadu National Park with its various highlights such as Gunlom Falls, the beautiful Ubirr Aboriginal Rock Art, cruising the wetlands at Yellow Waters and the popular Jim Jim Falls.

Kakadu is, however, a little more than just a day trip and best enjoyed in 2 to 3 days. There are places to stay overnight throughout the national park.

Day Trips from Darwin

Explore The City Center

The center of Darwin has also a few spots you should not miss to explore.

Right along the Esplanade, you can find Bicentennial Park, a stretch of large parkland area overlooking the Darwin Harbour. Not far from here, you can find the Parliament Building. Join a free guided tour of the inside and learn about the history and what the building and city have been through in WWII.

Afterward, you can visit Speakers Corner Cafe inside and enjoy the extensive views of the harbour from your air-conditioned seat.

If you are out an about in the early morning or later afternoon, I recommend hiring a bike or alternatively drive your rental car to East Point Reserve where you can relax, have a BBQ, work out or learn about Darwin's military history. Check out Lake Alexander where you can also swim safely or go paddle boarding.

When biking to East Point Reserve from Darwin city, it takes about half an hour, maybe a little more if you stop along the way. For example, you could check out Cullen Bay, Darwins premium residential suburb and eye the fancy vessels in the Cullen Bay Marina or eat at one of the restaurants along the boardwalk.

As you bike on, you will also be able to see the Botanical Garden which houses mostly tropical species. As you reach East Point Reserve, you get uninterrupted views of Darwin City from Dudley Point, which is even prettier at sunset.

Come evening in the dry season from April to November, you may want to check out Deckchair Cinema which is only a few footsteps from the Esplanade. You can bring your own picnic or buy food right there, take a seat in one of the deckchairs and watch the sun go down before the outdoor cinema screens a movie.

Get Up Close With The Crocs

Have you ever wanted to come up close and personal with a saltwater crocodile? Put on your goggles and take a good look at some of the largest crocodiles cycling the transparent glass cylinder in which you are lowered into the pool massive pool at Crocosaurus Cove.

It's called the ‘Cage of Death' and even though your blood will surely be pumping, you are completely safe in the cage. And there are a lot more animals to meet and greet across the 3-stories of Crocosaurus Cove, make sure you bring some time with you.

Enjoy The Sunset At Mindil Beach Sunset Markets

If Darwin was famous for one thing besides crocodiles and its humidity, it would definitely be the stunning sunsets.

And what better way to enjoy a beautiful sunset than browsing around Darwin's largest market with over 300 stalls! Mindil Beach Sunset Market is a popular spot to visit for locals and travellers alike. The market operates in the dry season only.

Come a little before sunset so you have time to eye off all the delicious food which is heavily influenced by the proximity of Southeast Asia, listen to live music and browse around the stalls selling arts, crafts, clothing, homewares and more. Then take a seat on the sand and gaze into the sun at it sets over the water.

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets Darwin

Dine Alfresco At Stokeshill Wharf

A cool spot to grab a nice sunset dinner is Stokes Hill Wharf which is particularly known for its array of fresh local seafood as well as Asian and steak dishes.

Look out for the cheeky seagulls as you dine right by the seaside enjoying an icy cold drink and your meal. In the dry season, you can catch some live music every Wednesday and Sunday too.

Stokes Hill Wharf Darwin
Stokes Hill Wharf Darwin

Have you been to Darwin? How did you like it?

This post is brought to you in collaboration with AccorHotels, providing unforgettable stays to travellers in 92 countries throughout the world.

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