Guys, we fell in love with Darwin.
Honestly, it might be the smallest city in Australia but OH MY GOD, there is just so much to do here. They have really done an amazing job of packing the city jam full of things to do. We had originally booked a whole week in Darwin, ended up extending our stay because we loved it so much, and STILL didn’t want to leave when our time was up.
Darwin absolutely exceeded any and all of our expectations of what this little city would be, and if you haven’t visited already put this down as one of the places you need to visit in Australia, we honestly can’t say enough good things about it.
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Where to stay in Darwin
During our time in the Top End we popped in and out of Darwin several times, and every single time we made Discovery Parks Darwin our home base. I can’t really explain it, but it actually just felt like home here. They have everything you could need during your visit to Darwin, including two pools that were the perfect temperature, palm trees lining the main roads, plenty of laundry facilities so you never have to wait and a great boom gate/security system to keep everything safe.
They have all kinds of different site options around the park depending on your preferences, including grass sites, gravel sites and drive through sites to give you EXTRA room for your car and caravan! They also have unpowered sites if you’re camping, as well as cabins for couples and families. Discovery Parks Darwin is about 12 minutes drive from the main city of Darwin, the waterfront and the marinas, and about the same distance away from Causarina and the main shopping centre (hey, we know everyone is looking for a kmart shop after being remote for so long, this is where you’ll find it!).
We absolutely loved how central Discovery Parks Darwin was for our stay in the Top End, plus the guys in the office are just so helpful and friendly, it instantly felt like home. Also, they do caravan storage here for $15 a night, so if you’re going anywhere else during your stay in Darwin and need your van stored have a chat with reception.
Follow THIS LINK to book your stay at Discovery Parks Darwin, and if you’re planning to visit during school holidays or the peak season it’s definitely a good idea to book in advance, they often completely book out with people flocking to Darwin to escape the cold weather down south.
Discovery Parks Darwin || 11 Farrell Cres, Winnellie || Ph: 1800 662 253
Top 15 things to do in Darwin
Whether it’s your first or your tenth visit to this vibrant city there is always something new to explore and discover. We haven’t even really left yet and we’re already planning our next visit back. Here’s a few of our favourite places to help you plan your visit to Darwin.
1. Check out the Darwin Waterfront Precinct
Since all the beaches and ocean water around Darwin is crocodile infested, they have created the perfect little inland beach at the Darwin Waterfront. The beach is surrounded by a sandy shore, lined with beach beds and umbrellas and is the perfect place to spend the day. There are also heaps of great places to eat around the waterfront, with all kinds of cuisine no matter what you’re looking for.
2. Visit the Mindil Sunset Markets
Head down to the Mindil Sunset Markets for a bite to eat and a great sunset. There are all kind of food stalls at the markets, with everything from Nutella crepes to crocodile burgers to try. Bring a picnic blanket, grab yourself a plate to eat and then head across to Mindil Beach to watch one of Darwin’s world famous sunsets over the ocean.
The Mindil Markets run throughout the dry season, generally from April to October from 4pm to 9pm. Normally they are on both Thursday and Sunday nights, but due to covid this year they are only operating on Sundays. Check out the Mindil Beach Sunset Market for any updates on additional dates.
Once the sun has gone down there is all kinds of entertainment for you to enjoy, including live music and fire shows! There’s plenty of space to park, but come down early to secure your spot on the beach.
Mindil Beach Sunset Market || Mindil Beach, Darwin || Ph: (08) 8981 3454
3. Litchfield National Park
One of the absolute highlights of any visit to Darwin, give yourself at least one day to explore and experience Litchfield National Park. There are so many beautiful spots around the national park, with waterfalls flowing all year round, waterholes that you can swim in without fearing for crocodiles and beautiful nature walks around the park.
Some of our favourite spots around Litchfield that you can’t miss on your visit include Florence Falls, Bluey Rockhole and Wangi Falls.
There are also heaps of cathedral and magnetic termite mounds to check out around Litchfield National Park, and if you haven’t found many big ones so far there are some HUGE mounds to see in here.
There are camping options throughout the park and the road is sealed most of the way, so grab yourself a spot for the night and explore as many of these beautiful spots as you can.
4. See the jumping crocodiles on the Adelaide River
We jumped on board with the Original Famous Jumping Crocodile Cruise to get up close and personal with some of the huge salties that live in the Adelaide River. These guys know that the boats mean feeding time, so they are heading towards the boat as soon as you hit the river. The cruise is only an hour long, but our guide was getting crocodiles to jump for their dinner only a few hundred metres from the boat dock. It’s a fantastic way to learn more about these incredible animals, and also see some of the biggest crocodiles you have ever seen!
Tickets for the Pathfinder Cruise costs $35 per person, and they go out a few different times throughout the day. You can find out more on their website at .jumpingcrocodilecruises.com.au.
The Original Famous Jumping Crocodile Cruise || 3220A Arnhem Highway, Wak Wak || Ph: (08) 8988 8144
5. Swim in the Cage of Death at Crocosaurus Cove
One of the top attractions in the heart of Darwin is Crocosaurus Cove, home to heaps of crocodiles and some of Australia’s most unique crocodile experiences, including the epic Cage of Death. Jump into a cylindrical container and then be plunged into the water with one of the huge resident crocodiles as they swim around you. If you’re not game to jump in the water you can also watch others in the cage of death from the underwater viewing area!
There are lots of presentations throughout the day to learn more about the crocodiles that live around Darwin, and you can even take the chance to hold a mini crocodile in the World of Crocs area. You can even see their baby crocodile that’s only a few months old and only around 25cm long. He’s so cute and living in the reptile house, in a tank with two turtles.
Crocosaurus Cove is open from 9am until 6pm each day and tickets cost $36 per person. Additional charges apply for animal encounters. For more information head to croccove.com.
Crocosaurus Cove || 58 Mitchell Street, Darwin || Ph: (08) 8981 7522
6. Take a trip out to Kakadu
Is there a more iconic place to experience the Top End than Kakadu National Park? Whether you’re visiting Darwin for a weekend or a month, if you can get out to Kakadu you will not regret it. There are so many amazing Top End experiences to be had out here, from sunrise cruises where you can spot crocodiles and wild buffalo, to hopping through the many waterfalls and waterholes in the region.
Kakadu is best visited in the early months of the dry season, roughly from May to July, when many of the main waterfalls are still flowing and there’s plenty of water in the various rock holes, but it is definitely still beautiful at any time of the year.
7. Check out the local street art
This was definitely a favourite of our time in Darwin. For the last couple of years Darwin has been holding a street art festival during their annual Darwin Festival, where they commission local artists to create beautiful pieces of art around the city.
The result has been beautiful murals and art pieces that line the murals, marinas and streets around Darwin, making it so colourful and beautiful as you wander the streets. Most of the art can be found along West Lane and Austin Lane.
Some of the art work even comes to life! Download the Darwin Street Art Festival app on your phone for a list of all the different art sites, as well as the ones that come to life when you hold your camera up to them in the app. There are some really beautiful pieces, it’s definitely worth walking around.
8. Watch the sunset at Gunn Point
This is such a beautiful spot and is definitely a can’t miss spot to watch the sunset. Gunn Point is a big wide beach that allows driving on the beach, as well as free camping on the beach. The sun sets right over the ocean here and it’s just so beautiful.
9.Cruise around Darwin Harbour at sunset
The sunsets in Darwin are just something else. So full of colour, so bright and vibrant, you’ll want to find yourself a great sunset viewing spot every night. Shake things up a bit by heading out on a sunset cruise around the harbour and really make the most of the days final light.
There are all kinds of different options for sunset tours around Darwin, including an option where you get to watch the sunset from a lone sand bar in the middle of the option. AMAZING, and so uniquely Darwin.
10. Mindil Resort Infinity Pool
Longing to take a dip in Darwin in some water that has no risk of having a crocodile in it? We’ve got the perfect solution for you. Infinity is the infamous Mindil Resort infinity pool, which is open for everyone to visit on the weekend, even if you’re not staying in the hotel!
Spend the afternoon lounging on a sunbed, swimming in the beautiful infinity pool and trying some of the delicious cocktails at Infinity at Mindil Resort, while overlooking the iconic beach in the distance.
Infinity is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 8pm. There is a $30 minimum spend before 4pm, $20 after 4pm. This is an 18+ area and there are no bookings here. To find out more head to the Mindil Beach Resort website. [Above image found HERE].
11. Take a trip to the Tiwi Islands
One of our favourite experiences in the Top End was visiting the Tiwi Islands. The Tiwis are found just north of Darwin and are Aboriginal Land that is still home to a huge number of local Aboriginal people. There are a couple of different ways to experience this unique paradise:
Tiwi Island Retreat: to spend the night in the Tiwi Islands book yourself a night or two at the Tiwi Island Retreat. One of Matt Wright’s iconic experiences, this place exceeded all of our expectations and is truly an island paradise off the coast of the Northern Territory.
Tiwi by Design day tour: for a day tour option and to learn more about the culture of the Aboriginal people that have been living on the Tiwi Islands for thousands of years, check out SeaLink NT’s Tiwi by Design day tour. On the tour you have the opportunity to learn about screen printing and create your own art piece, take a guided tour with a local and learn more about the Tiwi culture and check out some of the amazing local artwork.
12. Eat your way around Darwin
There is SO MUCH amazing food in Darwin. Honestly, for the whole week we spent here we did not cook food in our van one time, and absolutely ate our way through the city. Not great for the bank account but omg it was so delicious.
Some of our favourite places to eat were:
- Mexican food and margaritas at Hot Tamale
- Asian and Indian cuisine from the eateries at Stokes Hill Wharf
- Eggs, bacon and avo on the beach at De la Plague
- Fish and chips with a sunset view at La Beach at Cullen Bay
- Acai bowls at the waterfront from Thirsty Zac
13. Give yourself a tour on an electronic scooter
If it’s too hot to walk around Darwin jump on one of their electronic scooters and check out more of the city on wheels. They’re so fun to ride and it’s super easy to figure out (even for someone as uncoordinated as me).
All you have to do is download the app and you’re good to go. If you’re travelling with someone else you can use each others referral code for your first rides to start you trip with $5 credit each. When you’re done leave your scooter wherever you are, end your ride on the app and you’re good to go. Such a great easy way to get around the city and not worry about parking!
14. Watch a movie at the Deck Chair cinema
For one of the most unique ways to watch a movie head to Darwin’s very own Deck Chair Cinema. They have a movie every night at 7:30pm with all kinds of different genres throughout the week, and generally kids movies on Sunday nights (yep, you bet this is the day we chose to visit).
Dinner is served at the Deck Chair Cinema every night from 6pm, before the movie starts at 7:30pm. Different local businesses cater different nights of the week (check out the menu for your day HERE) but if you would like to eat before the movie they recommend that you arrive before 7pm to avoid disappointment.
Head to the Deck Chair Cinema website to check out what’s playing during your visit and to book your tickets, or you can just rock up on the night and be surprised.
Deck Chair Cinema || Jervois Road, Darwin || Ph: (08) 8941 4377
15. Visit MAGNT Darwin
Head to the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (also known as MAGNT) to learn more about the history behind this unique state. They have some great exhibitions displaying Aboriginal artwork, sharing the challenges of life in the Territory in the early 1900’s, showing the extensive damage that Cyclone Tracy caused in 1974, as well as their most famous exhibit feature Sweetheart the crocodile.
The gallery is free to visit and is open daily from 10am until 4pm. It has some great permanent exhibits, as well as feature exhibits that change throughout the year. Definitely a great way to learn a little bit more about Darwin and it’s unique history.
MAGNT Darwin || 19 Conacher Street, The Gardens || Ph: (08) 8999 8264