Tropical Adventures: The Best Things to Do in Darwin, Australia

The Northern Territory in Australia, also known as the Top End, is a unique area that not many travellers get the chance to see. In the region’s remote capital, Darwin, you can experience distinctive indigenous culture and enjoy a laid-back escape, with plenty of outback adventures.

Whether you’re interested in natural attractions, cultural experiences or outdoor activities, Darwin has something to offer every traveller. In this article, we will highlight the best things to do in Darwin that will make your visit spectacular. We also discuss when to visit and where to stay, so you can be fully informed when planning your Darwin holiday. 

The Best Time to Visit Darwin, Australia

Due to its remote location in Australia, Darwin experiences a very different climate to destinations like Sydney. With it being so close to Indonesia, the weather in Darwin is pleasantly tropical with moderate humidity.

The best time to visit Darwin is during the dry season, from May to October. Average temperatures in Darwin around this time reach highs of 32°C and drop to around 22°C in the evenings. This season has minimal rainfall, with only a couple of wet days across each month, particularly in April. 

The dry season may bring the best weather, but it also brings many visitors to the Northern Territory. This is the peak tourist season, which means attractions can get very crowded. However, this is also the best time to visit Darwin if you want to get involved in local events, like the Sunset Markets and Darwin Festival.

Where to Stay in Darwin, Australia

There are some really amazing places to stay in Darwin. Whether you’re after budget accommodation or a lavish retreat, there are some excellent options that will suit all kinds of travellers. Below we list some top recommendations that make for the perfect place to stay in Darwin. 

Budget: Travellers who want a cheap retreat should consider staying a few nights in Youth Shack Backpackers Darwin. With the harbour just a 5-minute walk away, you’re in the centre of the action and will have an easy time sightseeing. There are great facilities onsite like a bar, billiards and a tour desk, so you will have everything you need for a fabulous stay. 

Mid-range: If you aren’t keen on a hostel, there are plenty of great hotels in Darwin that are just as suitable. Palms City Resort is nestled right on the Esplanade and features lush gardens that complement the tropical climate. With the option of staying in a villa, it’s a great place for couples who want a private slice of paradise. 

Luxury: Families or groups may want to consider booking a private condo for a stellar stay in Darwin. This 3-bedroom condo is a great option that comes with everything you need for your holiday. Complete with a private pool, it’s the perfect place to make your base when you explore this amazing city. 

The Best Things to Do in Darwin, Australia

Darwin has a whole range of attractions that will suit a variety of travellers. With thrilling excursions to National Parks, roaring nightlife and some exceptional museums, every traveller is catered for in this remote paradise. Read on to discover our recommendations for the best things to do in Darwin. 

Take a Stroll Down Mindil Beach

One of the first places you should head to when you arrive in Darwin is the golden sands of Mindil Beach. It’s an excellent spot for relaxation and walks along the palm-lined coast. The beach is one of the best places in Darwin to catch the breathtaking sunset as it fills the sky with a warm pallet of colours. 

Right next to the beach, you can find Darwin Waterfront Wave Lagoon. This man-made swimming lagoon is an ideal place to beat the tropical heat. It’s one of the best things to do in Darwin for families with children, as the wave pool offers a safe environment for swimming and splashing.

Mindil Beach is also where you will find the summer Sunset Markets, which is one of the best activities in Darwin for any traveller. The market takes place on Thursday and Sunday evenings, offering a delightful mix of food, entertainment and shopping. A major highlight is the exceptional array of authentic dishes that have been introduced to Darwin by its Southeast Asian community.

Explore Darwin’s Different Museums

A real highlight of Darwin is the collection of museums that explore the history and culture of the Northern Territory. Whether you’re seeking information about the city’s aboriginal heritage or are more engrossed by WW2, there are plenty of exhibitions that will intrigue you no matter your interests. 

The crown jewel of Darwin’s museums is The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

MAGNT is a premier cultural institution, featuring diverse collections of art, history and science.

The museum showcases Aboriginal art and culture, including significant Indigenous artefacts, artwork, and stories. Visitors can also explore exhibitions on natural history, including preserved marine life and fascinating fossils. 

There is also the Cyclone Tracy Room that commemorates the city’s history-changing cyclone in 1974. With such a varied offering, it’s one of the best things to do in Darwin for travellers who want an educational experience on their trip.

Another fabulous museum in Darwin is the RFDS Darwin Tourist Facility. The Royal Flying Doctor Service is an essential lifeline for remote communities in the outback and the facility sheds light on the important work and history of the service. 

At the museum, visitors can learn about the RFDS from a hologram of its founder Rev John Flynn and experience a virtual reality simulation of the bombing of Darwin Harbour in 1942. A guided tour of the RFDS will offer more insight into the history of the service and will see you explore the inside of a decommissioned aircraft. 

Spend a Day in Kakadu National Park

If you’re seeking things to do in Darwin for outdoor adventures, look no further than the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. Covering approximately 20,000 square kilometres, Kakadu is the largest national park in Australia and offers a remarkable variety of experiences for visitors. 

Kakadu is home to a range of wildlife, including saltwater crocodiles, wallabies, kangaroos and an array of colourful bird species. Keep an eye out for these amazing animals while exploring the park’s waterways, billabongs, and hiking trails.

Kakadu also features some amazing Aboriginal rock art that can be visited on a private day tour of the park. The most famous sites in the park are Ubirr and Nourlangie. Here, visitors can find well-preserved Aboriginal rock paintings that shed light on the region’s Indigenous history and culture.

On your visit, you can also discover some of Kakadu’s most iconic waterfalls, including Jim Jim and Twin Falls. These majestic falls are surrounded by rugged escarpments and green vegetation, providing breathtaking vistas and refreshing swimming spots to cool off after a long day of hiking.

See the Natural Beauty of Litchfield National Park

If you want to visit Darwin for unparalleled outdoor experiences, Litchfield National Park is another great place to explore. This popular natural destination is located about 100 km southwest of the city and is one of the best things to do in Darwin if you want to connect with nature. 

The National Park is renowned for its picturesque waterfalls that cascade down from the sandstone plateau. Wangi Falls is a popular spot in the park thanks to its large swimming hole at the base, which is perfect for a midday dip and picnics on the shores. 

Another major highlight of Litchfield is the enigmatic termite mounds. These impressive natural structures are tall and thin, aligning themselves north to south to regulate temperature and optimise sun exposure. It’s a real delight to see and provides a unique look into the wonderful natural world. 

To make the most of your visit, a guided tour is highly recommended. Your friendly guides will take you to all the highlights of the park as well as treat you to a one-of-a-kind jumping crocodile show, which will let you see these scaly predators up close. 

Discover Darwin’s Nightlife and Gastronomy

Darwin boasts an exceptional food scene that will delight foodies and upscale diners alike. To experience the very best of Darwin’s culinary offerings, consider taking a guided gourmet food tour that will show you all the best restaurants. Stokes Hill Wharf in particular is a gastronomic highlight with its waterfront views and you can even watch fishermen bring in their daily catch. 

For travellers after a night out on the town, the famously lively Mitchell Street in the city centre is the main hub for evening escapades. You can find everything from lively dance clubs to laid-back lounges where you can enjoy drinks, music, and socialising with locals and other travellers.

The Darwin Waterfront Precinct also comes alive in the evenings with a variety of restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. Visitors can enjoy al fresco dining with harbour views, indulge in cocktails at waterfront bars and participate in live music events into the early hours of the morning. 

Commune with Darwin’s Crocodiles

One of the best things to do in Darwin that will thrill all kinds of travellers is a visit to Crocosaurus Cove. The attraction offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most fearsome reptiles, like the saltwater crocodile. 

Crocosaurus Cove is conveniently located in the heart of Darwin, making it easily accessible for visitors. A general admission ticket will let you peruse the reptile house and even experience a Big Croc Feed Show, where you can meet the scaly residents. The knowledgeable staff will be able to give you more information about the behaviour of these ancient predators.

If you’re feeling brave, Crocosaurus Cove is known for its unique ‘Cage of Death’ experience. Daring visitors can be submerged in a clear enclosure that’s then lowered into the water with massive saltwater crocodiles. The experience is thrilling but very popular, so if you’ve got your heart set on swimming with the crocodiles, be sure to book well in advance. 

Visit the Tiwi Islands

To make your trip to Darwin even more magical, spend a day on the Tiwi Islands. The remote islands are located to the north of the city and are one of the best places to experience the traditions of the local people. 

To reach the Tiwi Islands, you can take a ferry from Darwin or arrange guided tours that provide an in-depth experience and cultural interactions. Comprising two main islands, Bathurst and Melville, the Tiwi Islands are known for their rich Indigenous culture, unique art and pristine landscapes.

Bathurst Island is the smallest of the two main islands and is home to the town of Wurrumiyanga, formerly known as Nguiu. Here, you can explore the local markets and engage with the Tiwi people. The Tiwi Design Art Centre is a popular attraction that showcases Tiwi culture and artwork, some of which can even be purchased.

Melville Island is the largest of the two main islands and is celebrated for its diverse landscapes, from coastal areas to tropical woodlands. Pirlangimpi is the main settlement on Melville Island and offers opportunities for fishing, birdwatching and exploring the natural environment.

The local Tiwi people have a deep connection to their traditional way of life, which is reflected in their art, music, dance and daily activities. When visiting the islands, it’s important to respect the local customs and cultural practices of the Tiwi people. Seek permission before taking photos, be mindful of cultural sensitivities and listen to the stories and insights shared by the local guides.

Watch a Movie Under the Night Sky

If you want a more laid-back experience after a full day of exploring Darwin, then head to the Deckchair Cinema at the end of the Esplanade. Open throughout the dry season, the outdoor cinema is nestled on the waterfront and provides an atmospheric setting for watching movies under the starlit sky. 

One of the highlights of the Deckchair Cinema is its sunset screenings. Arrive early to enjoy the picturesque Darwin sunset over the harbour before the movie starts. The changing colours of the sky provide a stunning backdrop for the film screening, so it’s one of the most romantic things to do in Darwin and makes for a very special date night. 

The cinema showcases a diverse range of films, including recent releases, classics, family-friendly movies, documentaries and foreign films. There is a kiosk where you can purchase refreshments, but you are more than welcome to bring your own snacks to make your movie night perfect. 


From the tranquil shores of Mindil Beach to the immersive exploration of museums that unveil the fascinating history and culture of the region, Darwin’s offerings are as diverse as they are engaging. When you embark on a journey to Darwin, you get to discover the hidden treasures and exciting experiences that await in this remarkable corner of Australia’s Top End.

If this guide has inspired you to take a trip down under, be sure to check out our other Australia travel guides for more expert advice.

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About the Author

Tom Adams

Copywriter at SEO Travel. Contributor to Backpacker Boy, Travel Aisle with a background in Archaeology and Sports Writing.