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The Top Things to do in Darwin

At the heart of any visit to Darwin is balmy tropical weather, WWII history, Indigenous culture, nature and a crocodile or two. The outdoor lifestyle is best suited to an adventurer with the capital city just a stone’s throw away from outback oasis’ in Litchfield National Park and Kakadu National Park. There are quite a few activities that are unique to Darwin, such as swimming with crocs, discovering remote waterholes and learning about the city’s disastrous involvement in WWII. Start planning your Darwin adventure here with a list of the top things to do to fill in any travel itinerary.

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Darwin Harbour Sunset Buffet Dinner Cruise

by Darwin Harbour Cruises
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1 Day Kakadu Tour including Billabong Cruise and Lunch

by AAT Kings
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Tiwi Islands Aboriginal Cultural Day Tour

5.0
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Katherine Gorge Day Tour including Cruise and Lunch

by AAT Kings
4.6
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Litchfield National Park Day Tour including Lunch

by AAT Kings
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Crocosaurus Cove General Admission

by Crocosaurus Cove
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Adelaide River Jumping Crocodile Cruises

by AAT Kings
4.0
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Cage of Death at Crocosaurus Cove

by Crocosaurus Cove
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Darwin Harbour Sunset Cruise

by Darwin Harbour Cruises
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Small Group Arnhemland Day Tour including Lunch

by Top End Day Tours
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Darwin City Sights Half Day Tour

by AAT Kings
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Royal Flying Doctor Service Darwin

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Full Day Floatplane Tour from Darwin

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Darwin Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

by Big Bus Tours Darwin
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Outback Floatplane Ultimate Overnighter

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2 Day Kakadu and East Alligator River Tour Departing Darwin

by AAT Kings
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3 Day Camping Kakadu and Litchfield 4WD Tour (May to Oct)

by Territory Expeditions
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Darwin Airboat Experience

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The Top 10 Things to do in Darwin, NT

The Northern Territory's capital and its surrounds makes for an excellent choice of destinations for those looking for urbanised Australia that still has plenty of history and stays in touch with the country's traditional roots.

Sitting on a lovely coastal aspect facing the Timor Sea and serving as the ideal gateway to the many natural wonders of the NT's interior, Darwin is famous for a number of distinctive traits.

With legendary (and legendarily beautiful) thunderstorms, crocodile-inhabited waterways, World War 2 memorials and modern CBD, Darwin is a city of juxtapositions that all, in their own way, sum up what “Australia” is all about. With its far northerly location, Darwin also makes for perhaps one of the best choices for a getaway during the colder winter months, as its climate makes these otherwise unpleasant parts of the year enjoyable.

While it may not have the “brand name” recognition of some of its southern brothers, with its eclectic mix of scenery, history and nearby adventure locales, Darwin is a place that provides an exciting break from the humdrum of everyday life. If you're planning to make the trip to the NT's capital, here's our recommended list of the Top 10 Things to do in Darwin and surrounds.

The Top 10 Things to do in Darwin, NT - Crocosaurus Cove and the Cage of Death

1. Crocosaurus Cove and the Cage of Death

Location: 58 Mitchell St, Darwin

Had enough of crocs on this list yet? While it's possible to feel a sense of “crocodile overdose” when looking at tourist places to visit in and around Darwin, each of them tends to have their own unique focus on the creatures.

Crocosaurus Cove in the heart of the city takes this theme and kicks things up a notch by being the only place in Australia that allows you to dive with a fully-grown crocodile with its Cage of Death experience. If that is not your cup of tea, you can always admire them from afar or hold a baby croc.

Situated right in the middle of the city's main shopping district, it's an excellent time-saver for those wanting to get close to crocs without leaving the city or heading further afield.

The attraction features some of the largest captive saltwater crocodiles in the country, which are interesting and impressive to look at, but it's the Cage of Death that makes Crocosaurus Cove a standout. So what exactly does this experience involve?

Those looking to take part will don goggles and enter a transparent glass cylinder, which will be gradually lowered into a pool with one of the “big” crocs, coming literally face-to-face with one of these awesome beasts.

Over the next 15 minutes, you'll be able to tread water as the creatures approach the glass – it's a sensation of wonder and helplessness that makes it easy to forget you're completely safe!

Those looking to take part will don goggles and enter a transparent glass cylinder, which will be gradually lowered into a pool with one of the “big” crocs, coming literally face-to-face with one of these awesome beasts.

Those of less daring temperaments can still stand by and observe the Cage of Death, and it's amusing to watch other people's reactions as they get close up with the crocs.

Along with the crocodiles, there's also an interesting and quite large reptile enclosure for seeing other types of animals and providing a temporary break from any possible croc-fatigue, with the largest display of native Aussie reptiles in the world.

Some of these also include multiple varieties of the deadliest snakes on Earth, which can be both impressive and intimidating to see close up!

This is rounded out by a range of lizards, turtles and frogs that tend to prove popular with kids as well. VIP tours are also available that can take you for a more in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at how the park is run while being able to hold animals and see how the attraction operates.

Add to this the quality keeper talks, fish feeding and great souvenir store and cafe and there's everything you'll need to enjoy a very Darwin-style wildlife experience all within a short walk from the majority of Darwin accommodation.

Educational, entertaining and efficient, time-starved travellers and those wanting to take part in a more extreme and personal crocodile experience should be sure to give Crocosaurus Cove a look.

The Top 10 Things to do in Darwin, NT - Enjoy a sunset dinner cruise

2. Enjoy a sunset dinner cruise

Location: 7 Stokes Hill Rd, Stoke Hill Wharf, Darwin City, NT

The perfect activity on a steamy Northern Territory evening is a relaxing sunset cruise aboard the ‘Charles Darwin’ with Darwin Harbour Cruises.

With outdoor or indoor dining in air conditioned comfort, there is truly no better way to witness a colourful sunset and a delicious Territory style themed buffet dinner.

Over the course of 2.5 hours find your table or the perfect spot on the 25 metre, multi-level catamaran and it won’t be long before everyone becomes transfixed by the famous sunsets as you gently cruise Darwin Harbour.

A sunset cruise is one of those Northern Territory bucket list items that encompasses beautiful scenery, sightseeing and of course local cuisine and it lives up to the hype. Once the sunset has begun to set on the evening, a delightful buffet dinner is served up with Australian seafood and the very best local produce.

The journey along the harbour is not without informative commentary but it is balanced perfectly as the Captain points out local landmarks and highlights of the region without intruding on the serenity of the sunset cruise thus giving you time to soak in the scenery and conversation with your friends or family.

"A sunset cruise is one of those Northern Territory bucket list items that encompasses beautiful scenery, sightseeing and of course local cuisine and it lives up to the hype."

Once the sunset has begun to set on the evening, a delightful buffet dinner is served up with Australian seafood and the very best local produce.

On the menu are freshly shucked South Australian oysters, pickled octopus, prawns, local reef fish, beef fillets and an assortment of salads and mouthwatering cakes and desserts.

The cruise is a superb introduction to Darwin or a great way to celebrate a special occasion departing every evening from the Stokes Hill Wharf at 6pm and returning at 8.30pm.

With a warm climate all year round there is nothing better than kicking back after a long day with a cool drink in your hand and a cool breeze in your hair as the sun sets and the stars come out for the evening.

The Top 10 Things to do in Darwin, NT - Aboriginal Cultural Tours

3. Aboriginal Cultural Tours

Location: 2056 Arnhem Hwy, Lambells Lagoon NT

The indigenous Australian aboriginal culture plays a strong part in the Northern Territory's overall character, having been the focal point for many of the country's original inhabitants for thousands of years. Join an Aboriginal Cultural Tour to learn about the world's oldest living culture on a day tour to the Tiwi Island.

It's a culture that involves beliefs on the landscape, wildlife and landmarks of the area, and local operator Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours provide one of the most authentic and down-to-earth tours available for learning some of these firsthand.

With its location just on the outskirts of the beginning of Kakadu National Park, it's a great way to kick off a tour further into Kakadu, which will, in turn, give you an added sense of appreciation of many of the sights, sounds and animals you'll see during your time there.

This completely family-owned and operated business is a truly genuine experience without all the overly-commercialized and touristy frills that some “Aboriginal experiences” around the country offer – it's simply friendly and warm people sharing their culture with other interested parties.

The friendly and highly knowledgeable Aboriginal hosts with decades of personal experience have plenty to pass on and share with visitors, and their base of operations is accessible via a relatively short and easy drive from Darwin.

All of the basic staples of Aboriginal culture are covered here, from spear throwing to didjeridoo and clapstick playing to more detailed and intricate techniques such as learning what it takes to gather and prepare true “bush tucker” and medicine from natural plants and other ingredients.

Asking questions is a key part of the experience – their wealth of knowledge is there to be shared, and you can learn all sorts of interesting tidbits about the Dreamtime as well as stories about the significance of certain native animals.

The tour experience starts off with an authentic, traditional style greeting which helps to set the tone for things to come. Set amongst a lovely stretch of Aboriginal land next to a billabong, you'll also be able to learn about local trees and natural highlights of the region in general, with plenty of enlightening conversation to take part in.

Asking questions is a key part of the experience – their wealth of knowledge is there to be shared, and you can learn all sorts of interesting tidbits about the Dreamtime as well as stories about the significance of certain native animals.

Other demonstrations such as the arts behind basket weaving show more of a practical application to all this knowledge and give an appreciation for the ability to produce hand-crafted goods without needing modern technology to do so.

All of this insight and culture is capped off nicely with a lovely home-made damper and billy tea combination which is a pleasantly informal way to include things, and proof that “simple” can still be “delicious”.

With a running time of roughly 2 hours, Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours serves as a great “primer” introduction for those not too familiar with Aboriginal culture, all done with a smile and sense of enthusiasm.

f you're going to be exploring Darwin and its greater surrounds further, it's thus easy to recommend this tour. as one of your first stops when heading outside the city.

The Top 10 Things to do in Darwin, NT - Visit the Royal Flying Doctor

4. Visit the Royal Flying Doctor

Location: 45 Stokes Hill Road, Darwin NT

One of the Australian icons in the sky, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has been operating hospitals in the sky transporting patient in need from rural areas to medical centres for assistance.

The service is especially crucial in remote areas of the Northern Territory and their operations in Darwin since 1939 have become relied upon and have a special place in history.

A few years after operations began, Darwin was thrown into the depths of war in 1942.

The Royal Flying Doctor museum in Darwin serves a duel purpose in giving visitors an insight into the world class aeromedical organisation and the conditions that are faced plus an educational virtual reality experience that brings this devastating moment in history to life.

Relive the drama of the bombing of Darwin Harbour with an immersive holographic, virtual reality experience that will transport individuals back to that fateful day.

"Relive the drama of the bombing of Darwin Harbour with an immersive holographic, virtual reality experience that will transport individuals back to that fateful day and in addition explore decommissioned planes by the Royal Flying Doctor". This incredible attraction is one of the top things to do in Darwin.

With the use of state of the art technology and holograms narrating the experience, Rear Admiral Etheridge shares his experience plus watch interactive videos from the Prime Minister of the time- John Curtin and Japanese Pilot Hajime Toyhoshima.

The virtual reality is a visceral experience that really brings home the devastation and shock of the attack on Darwin in 1942. Replica Japanese aircraft hang from the museum’s ceiling and interactive storyboards help to explain the timeline of what took place.

After visiting the historic exhibit, explore the origins of the Royal Flying Doctor Service with interactive exhibits, decommissioned aircraft, life size holograms that share incredible heroic stories and daily activities from pilots, engineers, doctors and nurses.

You can even step on board one of the planes and see what the working conditions are like within one of the decommissioned planes.

The award winning museum is truly worth a visit while in Darwin with the retelling of authentic stories told in a stimulating audio-visual way. Hear about incredible moments in Australian history and stories of incredible feats and heroism.

The Top 10 Things to do in Darwin, NT - Outback Floatplane Adventures

5. Outback Floatplane Adventures

Location: 50 Mitchell Street, Darwin

The absolute vastness of the Northern Territory's untouched natural areas can sometimes be hard to grasp, however, a fun way to enjoy the scenery is an entertaining and exhilarating outback floatplane adventure from Darwin.

There are thus few better ways to gain an appreciation of this scale than heading directly into its heart, and Outback Floatplane Adventures offers one of the most intriguing and unique ways to do so, combining aerial and waterborne adventure into a single incredible sightseeing package.

It's an experience that's as diverse as it is entertaining, incorporating a number of specialised vehicles into the process – helicopters, airboats, floatplanes and off-road buggies, each of which handle a separate portion of the trip.

This is truly an adventure that covers all angles and vantage points, serving as the ideal choice for those with a limited amount of time yet still looking to see some of the NT's best, as the tour can be done within half a day.

The journey kicks off by being picked up from the airport, greeted by the friendly and passionate – and above all, humourous - staff and then boarding the floatplane for a flight over both Darwin city and its surrounding waterways, heading deeper out into the neighbouring wetlands area for some scenic views of this wild wilderness before landing on the waters of Sweets Lagoon in spectacular fashion.

Here, you'll take a break to enjoy a delicious lunch (freshly-cooked Barramundi and salad – a Darwin-characteristic dish if there ever was one) and get acquainted with more of the friendly crew before the next stage – climbing into the helicopter.

This is truly an adventure that covers all angles and vantage points, serving as the ideal choice for those with a limited amount of time yet still looking to see some of the NT's best, as the tour can be done within half a day.

The helicopter (a small yet comfortable 4-seater) takes visitors on a journey above the expansive and stunning floodplains of the region's iconic Litchfield National Park, which offers a cavalcade of the scenery of various colours and hues.

An expansive area encompassing numerous areas of untouched nature that are otherwise inaccessible to mankind – it's a tableau of geography that is uniquely Australian in every day.

After the helicopter trip is over, the next portion sees you boarding an “airboat” - a high-speed vessel ideal for traversing shallow waters propelled by the powers of air propulsion.

Traversing the channels of the rainforest and weaving its way through the wetlands, it's a great balance of natural scenery vs. adrenaline rush while giving you the chance to see crocodiles and bird life up close, as well as the likes of lizards, turtles and fish.

After this comprehensive experience is over, you board the floatplane and head back to Darwin airport to complete the tour.

It's a journey that covers a LOT of ground and viewpoints all crammed into roughly 5 hours, so if you're operating on a limited timetable or simply wanting to get as many unique viewpoints on Darwin's untamed surrounds as possible, Outback Floatplane Adventures tick all the boxes, and then some.

The Top 10 Things to do in Darwin, NT - Kakadu National Park

6. Kakadu National Park

The world-heritage listed Kakadu National Park is one of the main drawcards for Darwin visitors. Join a Kakadu tour from Darwin to experience rugged outback landscapes and culture all in a day.
The Top 10 Things to do in Darwin, NT - Litchfield National Park

7. Litchfield National Park

You may be shocked to discover lush greenery and waterfalls in Darwin but Litchfield National Park is full of hidden gems. Book a full-day tour to Litchfield National Park from Darwin to swim in secluded waterfalls.
The Top 10 Things to do in Darwin, NT - Jumping Crocodile Cruise

8. Jumping Crocodile Cruise

Adelaide River is famous for it's jumping crocs who work hard for their feed. The river is home to a mind-blowing 1600 crocodiles and you are sure to see a few come feed time on this cruise.
The Top 10 Things to do in Darwin, NT - Darwin Bus Tours

9. Darwin Bus Tours

Discover the sights of Darwin on the hop on hop off bus. The tour is a convenient way to travel around the city and tick off all the top things to do in Darwin along the way with your choice of a 24 hour or 48 hour ticket.
The Top 10 Things to do in Darwin, NT - Mindil Beach Sunsets and Markets

10. Mindil Beach Sunsets and Markets

Location: Buffalo Court, Darwin, NT

The “best things in life are free” cliché may have been around for a while, but in Darwin, one of its highlights exemplifies this to the fullest.

The city's coastal aspect coupled with a huge harbour that's actually bigger than Sydney Harbour make for a destination that is one of the most renowned in the country for the quality of its amazing sunsets, featuring long, red sun-kissed glow reflecting off the water that makes for a wonderful panorama.

Sunsets are such an integral part of the Darwin culture, in fact, that entire events are based on their occurrence, with the city's longstanding and ever-popular Mindil Markets held at a time of day designed to coincide perfectly with this beautiful natural phenomena.

The Mindil Markets are held at Mindil Beach during the yearly dry season in Darwin and allow those attending to grab some freshly-made local food or drink then kick back and enjoy the sunset from the waterfront.

Held on Thursdays and Sundays, the markets offer an enjoyable diverse range of food cuisines reflecting the cities multicultural influence – a stroll amongst its stalls will give you access to the likes of Indian, Chinese, Brazillian, Greek and numerous other food types that ensure there's a taste that will please all but the fussiest eaters.

If you're feeling thirsty, freshly-squeezed juices are the ultimate quencher, while local seasonal fruit and French desserts provide a range of ideal complements to your main meal.

Sunsets are such an integral part of the Darwin culture, in fact, the city's longstanding and ever-popular Mindil Markets are held at a time of day designed to coincide perfectly with this beautiful natural phenomenon.

Add to this a large number of stalls featuring handcrafted goods that include everything from fashion to art and homewares and it's easy to see why the Mindil Markets have been a local icon for quite some time.

The size of the markets is quite impressive, with an average of over 60 food stalls and 130 vendors selling crafts stretching out over the beachfront, creating a bustling yet laid-back atmosphere that is characteristic of Darwin as a whole.

If you're a visitor to Darwin and looking for souvenirs to take home, then THIS is the place to do so – most of the goods on sale have been produced with proper care, and are much more “authentic” than some of the more contrived items you'll end up purchasing from stores in town.

Prices here tend to be more reasonable overall, too, and with the diversity on offer you may just find the ideal keepsake to bring back.

The markets take place from 5pm to 10pm between the months of April to October and are also easy to get to, sitting on the waterfront just next to the Darwin casino and offer plenty of spacious grassy areas for which to pull up a chair and prepare for the daily sunset show as the colours of the sky begin to change.

A great way to cap off a day and enjoy an evening after a busy day of sightseeing or exploring, the Mindil Markets and sunset are an essential way to spend at least one of your evenings during your time in the city.