Australia Capital Territory

Backpacking in Canberra

Located in the heart of of southeastern Australia, Canberra is one of the world’s premiere capital cities. With spectacular architecture and a lively nightlife, there’s plenty to do and see for anyone interested in backpacking in Canberra.


Canberra is 280km (170 miles) southwest of Sydney, and 660 km (410 miles) north-east of Melbourne, making it an excellent place to stop when traveling between the two cities.

To get to Canberra from Sydney, you can fly, take the train, or take the bus (about 3 hours). Melbourne is linked by bus and railway as well, but due to the distance, many people prefer to fly.

Inside Canberra itself, it’s easy to get around on the city’s ACTION bus network. You can either pay cash or buy a MyWay Card for multiple trips and reduced prices.

Where to Stay

Most locals in Canberra depend on a car, so it’s important to choose a good hostel that will allow you to explore the city on foot.

  • Canberra City YHA – Located right next to the vibrant student bar and disco area at 7 Akuna Street, rooms at City YHA start around 20 euros. The front desk will be happy to rent you a bicycle during your visit. You might be tempted not to leave as the hostel features its own underground bar on site.
  • Dickson Central – Conveniently located at 4-14 Woolley Street right near the Dickson high street and Chinatown areas, this friendly hostel is a great place to stay. Rooms start at around 20 euros per night.
  • Victor Lodge Bed and Breakfast – If you’re looking for something a little quieter, you can’t go wrong with the family-owned Victor Lodge B&B. Located at 29 Dawes Street, you can explore the city during the day and then return for a friendly chat with your hosts and fellow guests.

Canberra Nightlife

Life in Canberra isn’t just about governance and other official business. Once the lights go down, the fun begins. Don’t miss checking out some of these great establishments:

  • Wig and Pen Tavern and Brewery – Named Australia’s best small brewery, the Wig and Pen has a wide variety of drinks, including plenty of local beers. Located in Llewellyn Hall on William Herbert Street in the heart of the ANU campus, the Wig and Pen is a great place to find lively chatter and friendly service.
  • Civic Pub – Conveniently located on 8 Lonsdale Street in the city centre of Canberra, the Civic Pub is actually two bars in one. Pool tables are also available, and the on-site bistro has fabulous food.
  • Sub Urban – If you’re ready to dance the night away, Sub Urban is your place, located at the corner of Cape and Woolley Streets. Start with an authentic Italian meal at the restaurant and then get your groove on while DJs and live music acts pump up the volume.
  • Cube – The most popular gay and lesbian club in Canberra, Cube at 33 Petrie Plaza has something for everyone. Drag shows, event nights, and red hot DJs keep this club hopping until dawn.