Travel Guide

Top 10 things to do in Darwin for first timers

If you’re seeking different out of your holiday this year, then you're among millions of Australians currently daydreaming of broader horizons. Darwin is different in every sense with visitors treated to a tropical climate well suited to secluded swims in natural waterfalls and waterholes, bushwalks in the wilderness, rugged landscapes, cultural experiences with the world’s oldest living culture and a close encounter (at a safe distance) with crocodiles on a tranquil Billabong cruise.

Tucked away in the Top End of Australia, visitors will never be short of things to do in Darwin. Swap the beaches for the bush and seek different with a Northern Territory getaway. If you’re a first time visitor, you don’t want to miss out on all the extraordinary experiences that Darwin has to offer. Here is our guide to the top ten things to do in Darwin that all first time visitors should slide into their Northern Territory itinerary, pronto!

1. Toast to a marvellous sunset on a Darwin Harbour Cruise

Dine on fresh seafood and toast to a marvellous sunset on a Darwin Harbour Sunset Buffet Dinner Cruise. The Northern Territory sure does know how to put on a magical display at sunset and what better way to take in the sights of Darwin than on a 2.5 hour Darwin Harbour cruise.

Relax on the Captain’s Deck and enjoy the warm breeze with a refreshing beverage in hand or stake out a spot on the two airconditioned levels of the vessel to watch the setting sun. On the menu for dinner is chilled seafood, native bush beef salad, Litchfield mango chicken, Top End reef fish, Mediterranean style roast vegetable and quinoa salad and a selection of mouthwatering desserts.

2. Stop by Crocosaurus Cove to swim with crocs

Located in the heart of Darwin, Crocosaurus Cove boasts the world’s largest display of Australian reptiles and is the only place in the world where you dive with Crocodiles. The urban wildlife experience is a must-do for first time visitors. Swim with crocs in a safe enclosure in the Cage of Death, wander through the freshwater aquarium and hold a baby saltwater crocodile.

Crocosaurus Cove also offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with giant Whiprays during their afternoon Aquarium show that will see you handfeeding the curious creatures with marine keepers.

3. Marvel at Mother Nature at Kakadu National Park

An outback adventure to Kakadu National Park will surpass all your expectations. The World Heritage-listed national park stretches over an unbelievable 20,000 square kilometres and features a host of thundering waterfalls and rocky escarpments, lush rainforest, ancient Aboriginal rock art and magical wetlands that act as a haven for crocodiles and millions of migratory birds.

Book the Kakadu National Park Day Tour from Darwin for a glimpse of this untouched piece of paradise. The jam-packed itinerary includes a visit to the Nourlangie Rock Art Site, a Yellow Water Billabong Cruise to witness crocodiles and majestic birds in their natural setting and the opportunity to meet and learn from Australia’s early custodians at the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre. With return hotel transfers from Darwin and a buffet lunch in a breathtaking setting, the only thing you need to do is set the morning alarm for a full day of adventure.

4. Cool off in the waterfalls in Litchfield National Park

An enchanting rainforest and world of secrets waterholes can be found just 60 minutes from Darwin. Seek different and leave the city streets of Darwin behind for an afternoon floating in lush waterholes during a day tour to Litchfield National Park.

This guided tour from Darwin encompasses everything that you would expect from a natural escape in the Northern Territory. Tick off three waterfalls in a day including the famous Florence Falls, Tolmer Falls and Wangi Falls after a short walk through monsoonal rainforest vines that lead you to nature’s water parks. Contrasting with the lush greenery of the national park, guests will also get to pose beside the giant magnetic termite mound nestled in amongst the vegetation.

5. Discover the Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls

Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls are synonymous with the Northern Territory and you can enjoy three Northern Territory bucket list experiences on this Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls Day Tour from Darwin. Enter sandstone country to view 13 impressive gorges and cliffs faces on a Katherine Gorge Cruise in Nitmiluk National Park with Traditional Owners.

Be transported to an ancient world where the spiritual stories of Aboriginal Culture come to life. Keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles. Following an unforgettable Katherine Gorge Cruise, you’ll get to view Aboriginal Rock Art and the tranquil Edith Falls. The tranquil waterholes are an ideal place to cool off so don’t forget to pack the swimmers for a quick swim on this tour.

6. Discover Darwin’s military history at the Royal Flying Doctor Service

The city of Darwin has played a pivotal role in WWII and the Royal Flying Doctor Service offers a glimpse into an important moment in Australia’s history. The virtual reality museum brings the stories of the iconic Royal Flying Doctor Service and the bombing of Darwin to life in a moving story that is beautifully narrated.

The aeromedical services first began in the Northern Territory in 1939 and continue to operate today to provide medical to Australians living in remote communities. Be astounded by the heroic tales of everyday Australians, tour a decommissioned aircraft and relive the drama of the 1942 Bombing of Darwin and stories of survival in a visceral virtual reality story.

7. Channel James Bond on an exhilarating Darwin Airboat or Jet Ski Tour

If you’re seeking a different way to get a dose of adrenaline then a Darwin Airboat Tour is the perfect solution. With the backdrop of the beautiful city harbour, strap in and be prepared to be blown away (literally). This tour is all about fun and adventure powered by a V8 Airboat that will take guests on a 60-minute journey across the harbour and scenic mangroves.

You can also channel your inner James Bond on a guided Darwin Jet Ski Tour with 00Seven tours. Discover sunken warships and coastal locations on a 75 minute Thunderball Shipwreck tour or jump on the Die Another Day tour and embrace your licence to thrill as you blast through the waterways.

8. Explore sacred sites on a cultural tour to Arnhem Land

Go walkabout with the Traditional Owners on an Arnhem Land adventure. This sacred land is rich in Aboriginal culture, scenery and rare wildlife bound by the Arafura Sea. For an authentic outback cultural experience, join this Arnhem Land day tour from Darwin or Jabiru where you’ll be granted special access to sites alongside Aboriginal guides.

Among those secret sites is Injalak Hill with some of the best examples of ancient rock art to be unearthed. You’ll want to also keep your camera handy because the views from the hill are pretty spectacular. Next, up is the Arts and Crafts Centre to view timeless traditions such as painting and weaving in between panoramic views of rugged escarpments and beautifully billabongs.

9. Witness the circle of life on a tranquil Wetlands Cruise

The Mary River Wetlands are a wildlife sanctuary and paradise for nature lovers. Step aboard for a tranquil cruise along the Rockhole Billabong that supports and sustain life for freshwater crocodiles, wild buffalo and millions of native and migratory birds.

The region is believed to have the largest concentration of crocodiles in Australia and if you keep your eyes peeled it won’t be too hard to see their eyes pop up to the water’s surface. The Mary River Wetlands is one of the top things to do in Darwin with trained guides knowledgeable about the natural ecosystems and Northern Territory wildlife.

10. Feast on Darwin’s Gourmet Delights

Sample the tastes of the territory on a Darwin gourmet tour over lunch or dinner. Wherever you are in the world if you want to dine on delicious food a good rule of thumb is to follow the locals. And, you will do exactly that with local guides leading you on a culinary adventure to taste unique menus that feature native ingredients and Aboriginal bush foods.

Comprising of both large fine dining restaurants and secret hole in the wall cafes, you’ll get the best of both worlds on these foodie tours that also double as a guided walking tour of the city with stops to see Darwin’s vibrant street artworks.

Darwin is full of extraordinary experiences that will tick all your boxes and ensure you have an unforgettable experience in the Northern Territory. Embrace the wide-open spaces and spectacular landscapes and start filling up your itinerary will all the top things to do in Darwin. If you are ready to seek different in the Northern Territory, click here to start planning an unforgettable getaway

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We acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Custodians of Country and their connections and continuous care for the skies, lands and waterways throughout Australia.