12 Things to do in Canberra for under $50
Surrounded by national monuments and vineyards, Canberra is touted for its world-class exhibits, sophistication, and cultural hubs. But you don’t need to stretch your budget to make the most out of the Capital.
Fortunately, some of the best places to visit in Canberra are usually free or have affordable options. From happy hour deals to fun, free events, we’ve found a bevy of things to see and do for under $50, so you can indulge without breaking the bank!
Encounter lost species at Mulligans Flat
Images via Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary
There aren’t many places on earth where you can spot a striped legless lizard, hooded robin and other rare, endangered species all in one place. Mulligans Flat is truly a one-of-a-kind sanctuary that’s protecting many native and endangered flora and fauna such as the Eastern Bettong, Bush Stone Curlew, and the Eastern Quoll - who now call this box-gum grassland their home, along with a number of other furred and feathered friends.
With clearly marked walking tracks and informative brochures, it’s easy to go on a self-guided wildlife tour. You can also go on two wheels and hire a bike from one of the many Share a Bike Canberra stations for a relaxing ride across the sanctuary. For night owls, the Mulligans Flat Twilight tours provide a rare glimpse at how the ecosystem comes to life as nocturnal wildlife come out to feed and frolic about.
Not only is it free, but it’s a truly fantastic space to experience Australia’s unique wildlife and inspire all generations about the importance of conservation.
Located at the Corner of Quinane Avenue & Justice Kelly Street, Forde ACT
Open all day, every day.
Cost: Free entry
Twilight tours: $49.50
Monday Trivia at Ducks Nuts
Images via Ducks Nuts | Spoonful Canberra
Get the brain churning, beers aflowing and beat the Monday blues at Ducks Nuts’ infamous Trivia Night. The high-stakes world of pub trivia is one of the most entertaining ways to spend a weeknight. And with cash prizes of up to $100 and a round free drinks to be won, Ducks Nuts’ Trivia is the best of its kind in Canberra.
Sign up is free! So gather your brain trust, brush up on your random facts knowledge and mosey down to Dickson’s favourite gastropub for some head scratching trivia from 6.30pm every Monday. To top it off they also have $15 schnitzels all day, and happy hour from 4 pm to 6 pm every day!
Located at 30 Woolley Street, Dickson, ACT
Open seven days a week, from 11 am to late
Cost: Free to sign up for the trivia!
88 MPH Karaoke
Images via Good Food
Travel back to the future at 88 MPH, Canberra’s first and only dedicated 80s bar brought to you by the geniuses behind Molly and The Highball Express. From the minute you walk in, the decor sets the tone with an equaliser mural made up of VHS and cassette tapes, a reflective dance floor, and neon strip lights. It’s an 80s lover’s paradise from shoulder pads to huarache-adorned toe.
On Tuesdays, they have $10 pizzas and free karaoke equipped with hit classics and power ballads from the 80s. Belt out ‘Living on a Prayer’ or gather the crew and sing along to John Farnham’s ‘You’re The Voice’ (aka the unofficial Aussie anthem).
Feeling parched after your jam sesh? They’ve got happy hour every day, with $5 schooners or $10 cocktails on tap. If you’re not much of a Madonna or Lionel Richie fan, they’ve also got pinball machines and arcade games to keep you entertained.
Located at the Basement, 8-10 Hobart Place, Canberra ACT
Open Tues to Wed from 4 pm - 12 am, Thurs to Sat from 4 pm to 4 am
Cost: $10 Pizzas and free Karaoke room hire on Tuesdays. Happy Hour everyday!
More information here.
Enjoy the views from Mount Ainslie
Images via Visit Canberra | ABC
Head up to Mount Ainslie Lookout and you’ll encounter the best views of the Capital. Breathtaking, stunning, priceless - literally. It’s free and accessible to all, day and night.
Whether you’re driving up, cycling, or hiking, you will be rewarded with picturesque views of the city in all its glory. It’s truly an amazing spot to watch the sunset or to get a glimpse of the Capital’s stunning surrounds.
Get your weekly cardio by hiking up one of the scenic trails or ditch the runners and chill out with a book for a leisurely Sunday afternoon. Better yet, make a day of it and pack a blanket and a picnic basket full of your favourite snacks for a fun (and free) day out with friends and family.
You can also stay after sunset to watch the city lights come to life, and stargaze as the night falls over the bush Capital.
Located at Mount Ainslie Drive, Ainslie, ACT
Open all day and night
Cost: Free entry
Catch a live show at the Canberra Theatre
Images via Canberra Theatre
The Canberra Theatre Centre has seen world-class live shows with the likes of Bell Shakespeare, The Australian Ballet, Mamma Mia, and Phantom of the Opera. The grandeur of its interior, paired with its modern-day architecture, can lead you to think that it costs a pretty penny to see a show. But a dose of culture doesn't have to bust your budget. Gone are the days of gloves, ball gowns, bowties, and monocles skillfully balanced on one eye.
As the Capital’s premier performing arts centre, the theatre hosts a plethora of live performances for under $50 a ticket. From live comics such as Dave Hughes and Nazeem Hussain, powerful performances from the Sydney Dance Company, internationally acclaimed musicals, and kid-friendly entertainment, you’re sure to find something to suit anyone’s theatre taste buds.
Located at Civic Square, London Circuit, Canberra ACT
Cost: Ticket prices and dates vary. See what’s on at the Canberra Theatre here.
Guild Board Game Restaurant
Images via Guild / Facebook
Pizza, board games, and a whole lot of fun - That’s what’s in store for you at Guild - the city’s one and only board game restaurant. Popular day and night with uni students, families, and travellers of all ages, Guild provides a welcome break from screens and smartphones, in favour of good old-fashioned tabletop games and quality time with friends.
Their menu is specially designed to be enjoyed while playing games so you can have a full night of uninterrupted board game fun. Enjoy a $9.50 tasty wood-fired pizza or the crowd-favourite $15 schnitzels.
And for just $3, you’ll get unlimited access to their board games on deck! From Cards Against Humanity, Monopoly, Hungry Hungry Hippo, Exploding Kittens and everything in between, there’s something to entertain everyone with their eclectic selection of games for all generations and skill levels.
Located at LG Baileys Corner, 150 London Circuit, Canberra ACT
Open every day from 12 pm until Late
Cost: $3 fee for unlimited board game fun, with affordable lunch, dinner and snacks. More info here.
Mount Stromlo Observatory
Images via Guild / Facebook
There are few things in life that compare to the awe-inspiring nature of space, and stargazing on a clear summer’s night. Head up to the Mount Stromlo Observatory with fellow astronomers and experience a night marvelling at the wonders of the universe.
For just a price of a large coffee, you can tag along on a walking tour of Mount Stromlo Observatory to get insight about its history, science and the future of space. The short tour takes you through the labs displaying fascinating equipment, a visit to the space simulation chamber and a walk through the site of semi-restored facades from the 2003 bushfires. It's interesting, exciting, insightful, and a hit for any science-buff!
For a post-tour treat, head to the onsite cafe boasting stunning views of the valleys and Brindabella Mountains.
Located at Mount Stromlo Road, off Cotter Road, Weston Creek, ACT
Open daily from 6 am - 7 pm
Cost: Free entry! Site tours from $5.59
Pedal Kayak Island Hopping with the Waterbirds
Images via Urban Adventures | Weekend Notes
For something truly unique and quintessentially Canberran, head to Lake Burley Griffin for a pedal kayaking adventure! Glide through the picturesque lake atop a safe and easy to use kayak, while admiring the waterside views and discovering the spectacular local flora and fauna.
Here you’ll encounter some water birds who call the lake their home, such as the majestic black swans, cormorants and swallows darting around the water’s edge. By the lake’s forest-lined shores you’ll be able to spot more bird life such as tiny finches, Cockatoos and Crimson Rosellas pecking at fruit trees surrounding the island.
With the leafy surrounds, calm waters, and gorgeous sunset backdropped of forested peaks, it’s hard to put a price on this one-of-a-kind experience.
Located at The Wharf on Lawson Crescent, Acton ACT
Cost: Starts from $25. More information here.
Gender Bender Bingo at Hopscotch
Images via Hopscotch bar
Hailed as one of Canberra’s Favourite Nightlife Venues, Hopscotch Bar in Braddon is much more than just a schooner and a dram. This laid-back yet quirky bar is home to the Capital’s one and only Gender Bender Bingo!
As the name suggests, this is not your grandma's typical Friday night bingo. Hosted by fabulous and ever so sassy drag queens Penny Tration and Minnie Cooper, Gender Bender Bingo is full of laughs, cheeky banter, prizes and hours of entertainment!
If you’re feeling hungry Hopscotch serves up classic bar snacks and deep fried faves, as well as mouth-watering meats cooked over their prized Argentine wood-fired grill.
And if whisky is your poison, you’ll find yourself at home with their extensive collection of brown liquor from single malt scotches to Japanese whiskies - on top of fine wines and craft beers on tap.
Located at Hopscotch Bar, 5 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT
Cost: $10 entry to the game
When: Every three weeks, check Hopscotch Bar’s events page for more details
Yarralumla Mini Golf and Weston Park Railway
Images via Yarralumla Play Station
Locals and international visitors fall in love with the Yarralumla Play Station for its nostalgic, family-friendly offerings. And the affordable ticket prices don’t hurt either!
For some wholesome, friendly competition, try your hand at the Lake Walter Miniature Golf, studded with mini versions of Canberra icons such as Lake Burley Griffin, Telstra Tower, and Kings Avenue Bridge.
If you’re feeling a sense of wanderlust, hop on the miniature train ride along the iconic Weston Park Railway to explore the area’s historic sites and monuments. Whether you’re looking to entertain the little ones or on a mission for new things to do with your friends, Yarralumla Play Station is the way to go.
Located at 9 Prescott Lane, Yarralumla ACT
Open Mon to Fri from 8.30 am to 4.30pm; and Sat to Sun from 8am to 5.30pm
Cost: Train tickets from $5, and Mini golf from $10. More info here.