17 free (or cheap) activities to do in Canberra this winter


There’s nothing like a winter in Canberra to bring out your inner recluse, but these activities might just (hesitatingly) lure you out of the house.

Not to mention that they are – gasping for breath! -free (or surprisingly affordable). Here are 17 winter activities that won’t break the bank. Don’t mention it.

thrift shopping

Credit: Lauren Sutton.

Not only will the environment and your bank account thank you, but thrift shopping is the perfect way to find hidden, one-of-a-kind pieces that no one else has. So if you’re looking to reinvent your wardrobe and help the planet at the same time, this hand-picked list will guide you through Canberra’s best second-hand clothing stores. It is a north star for any fashion lover.

Go to the National Gallery

Art is always worth fighting for (and masking). At the National Gallery, there are plenty of free and inexpensive exhibits to get lost in. From the Aboriginal Memorial to the breathtaking exhibition of female artist Cressida Campbell, there is something about art that has the power to bring us back to life – yes, even in the middle of a Canberra winter.

Parkes Pl E, Parkes ACT | nga.gov.au

Visit your local bookstore

There’s something so magical about a bookstore, the oh-so-knowledgeable staff, the elusive new book smell, and the shelves brimming with endless possibilities. It’s nearly impossible for a winter hermit to resist, and lucky for you, there are plenty of places to visit. Check out the list of 14 Canberra bookshops we love, including a book cafe, because nothing brings more joy than a good book, a roaring log fire and freshly brewed coffee.

Explore the bushland of Canberra

Female hiker with backpack stands on a rock and admires the view while hiking in Australian bushland

If you suffer from cabin fever, a walk through Canberra’s beautiful bushland may be just what you need. Take advantage of the flickering moments of winter sun and fresh air on one of the many trails in the region – it’s a humble reminder of why we all love Canberra. If you’re struggling to find a place to start, this long list will help.

Take a day trip outside the city

Credit: Destination NSW

Every now and then it’s nice to change your scenery, especially when there are so many picturesque towns just a stone’s throw from the capital. Galivant to Braidwood for one of his life-changing (literally) pies or explore the magic of the Snowy Mountain region near Cooma. Perfect for those who crave travel but can’t bear the thought of going to airports at the moment. Need inspiration? Check out our list of four ideas for a picturesque winter day trip.

Explore the Canberra Glassworks

Step into this hot and creative world that is the Canberra Glassworks. From group tours to regular events where you can see the artists in action, it is a gathering point for endless inspiration and creativity, a feast for the eyes and soul.

11 Wentworth Ave, Kingston | canberraglassworks.com

Try Ice Skating

A humble reminder of some of the little joys winter can bring, and in case you missed Winter in the City, Phillip’s swim and skate experience has morning and afternoon sessions to indulge all your figure skating fantasies.

1 Irving St, Phillip | swimskate.com

Go on an adventure at Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing

It seems like everyone is trying rock climbing right now, and it’s easy to see the appeal. Whether you’re inspired by the documentary Free Solo, or the impressive power of someone on your Instagram feed, Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing has plenty of cheap and affordable options to get you started (literally).

North Rocks 38-40 Essington St, Mitchell, South Rocks 26 Raws Cres, Hume | canberrarockclimbing.com.au

Visit Dendy Cinema on Cheap Tuesday

If the cost of movie tickets is keeping you from going to the movies, let’s introduce you to cheap Tuesday. That’s right, for just $8 a ticket, it’s the perfect excuse to ditch Netflix and lose yourself in the beauty that is cinematic escapism. Oh, and since your ticket was so cheap, you can treat yourself to that big popcorn. Tempted? You should be.

Floor 2, North Quarter, Canberra Centre, 148 Bunda St | dendy.com

Enjoy the National Arboretum

There are endless opportunities for exploration and gardening inspiration at the National Arboretum. You’ll soon forget your cold toes as you marvel at the 44,000 native and endangered trees, which coexist with glorious landscapes and an endless array of native species. With guided and daily country walks, you can see Canberra from a new perspective.

Forest Dr, Molonglo Valley | nationalarboretum.act.gov

Browse the National Library

The ‘Nash’ is a beautiful building to relax in. Whether you’re there to study or to read a good book, it never seems to lose its charm. It also has free exhibitions all year round, should that interest you.

Parking space | nla.gov.au

Get lost in the National Botanical Gardens

Image via VisitCanberra

A celebration of Australian natives like no other, featuring nearly a third of Australia’s known plant species, it’s a mesmerizing fusion of nature and history. No matter how many times you’ve visited the National Botanic Garden – it never seems to lose its mesmerizing beauty.

Clunies Ross St, Acton | parksaustralia.gov.au

Spend time in the markets

Via facebook.com/haigparkvillagemarkets

Markets are the perfect place to sample local produce and find great deals. The Old depot Markets, Haig Park Village Markets, and the Capital Region Farmers Markets (to name a few) never disappoint. Check out our list on the Her Canberra website for help.

Visit the National Museum

With free heating and art on the go, a visit to the National Museum is a no-brainer. Included is their most recent exhibition, a celebration of Indigenous art featuring over 400 artworks from Far North Queensland. The museum also has many ongoing exhibits such as Talking Blak to History and First Australians.

Lawson Cres, Acton | nma.gov.au

Learn about changemakers at the Old Parliament House

Filled with a rich history and the complex layers of Australian politics, MOAD is always worth a visit. The current exhibition, Changers, is a timely and much-needed celebration of women who have worked and continue to work for women’s equality around the world. It is a powerful body of work that will touch the heart of every woman, daughter and male ally.

8 King George Terrace, Parkes | moadoph.gov.au

go roller skating

Yes, that’s right – roller skating is making a comeback. If you’re tempted by the colorful and effortlessly cool roller-skating girls (and guys) on your Instagram feed, we don’t blame you. After deducting the initial cost of the skates, roller skating is a fun and affordable way to get out of the house, use muscles you wouldn’t normally use, and awaken your inner Derby Girl. Canberra has plenty of skate parks to work on your skills – the Belconnen skate park has a reputation for being the best in Australia, with plenty of room to turn, slide and fall.

Walk around Lake Burley Griffin

Whether you’re a Northsider or Southsider, we can all agree that the lake holds a special place in our hearts. With beautiful views along the way, it’s the perfect place to catch up on your daily steps or perhaps to have a picturesque moment of break. That is the beauty of Canberra.

Feature image: Pew Pew Studio.

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