DIY Travel: Short Break in Canberra, Australia

I’ve been my own travel agent for years, and often help friends out too. If you have a particular question about travel get in contact or a ask a question in the comments

Yeah I know – who goes to Canberra for a short-break? Well I do on a fairly regular basis because I go and compete there. Canberra has some of the best sports facilities in Australia, so I guess I’m not the only one who goes there from time-to-time.

So what’s the trick with getting the best deal for Canberra, Australia?

Canberra is a business travel hub – businesses travellers commute for a Monday to Friday for a work week – so travelling for the weekend to Canberra is a great deal cheaper than travelling at any other time.  Similarly you will get better hotel deals for weekends and holiday periods particularly Christmas through January.

Jump to:
Getting To/From Canberra
Accommodation in Canberra


Canberra War Memorial photo courtesy FDW via

How To Travel To Canberra

Accommodation in CanberraBest Way To Travel To Canberra from Sydney

As I travel from New Zealand I normally fly to Sydney – pick up a hire car – drive the 288km down the Hume Highway – turn right out of the airport, follow the signs to Melbourne, no you don’t need a GPS. It takes around 3 hours and avoids both the expensive flights to Canberra but also the expensive hire cars there too!

Also a car is VERY useful for getting around Canberra – Canberra is basically a big spread out country town – covering the area of a city but without the population to justify a decent public transport system. The cycling is good – but most people will need transport if they want to get around.

If you are not in a hurry its far more scenic drive to go down the Princess Highway which hugs the coast, but be warned it will take you at least double the time, the last time we did it we cut it very fine to get to the airport!

But if you insist other options include:


From Sydney – its a 50 minute flight: prices range from $60-$480 one way.

From Melbourne – 1hr5min flight from Melbourne. Prices range from $99-$565 one way.

Airlines: Qantas and Virgin Australia

Best deals: flights that arrive/depart in the middle of the working day, flights later in the week, weekend and holidays. Most expensive fares: early Monday to Canberra, late Friday return.

My pick: for a short break I would chose to travel to Canberra from Melbourne by flying – unless I was flat broke and hardy – then I’d get the over-night bus


From Sydney – there is a daily connection which takes around 5 hours and costs from $40.

From Melbourne – you’ll need to change at Yass so there are probably more practical ways to get to Canberra

Book via CountryLink


From Melbourne – its an 8-9 hour trip – the cheapest fares dodge the traffic by leaving Melbourne at 8pm and arriving at 4am – from $53. More civilized timings will be more expensive – but this does save the night’s accommodation costs!

From Sydney – a 3.15 hour trip with multiple departures. If you are familiar with Sydney’s traffic you will know to maybe consider starting the trip from Sydney airport or nearby – to avoid the worst of the gridlock.

Book via Greyhound amongst others

 Accommodation in Canberra

As I mentioned – Canberra is incredibly spread out. If you are going to Canberra for a particular event – look at a map and make sure you don’t book accommodation on the other side of town!

Australian Institute of Sport, University of Canberra: nearby suburbs: Bruce, Belconnen, Lyneham, Downer, Mitchell

Australian National University: Braddon, Acton, CBD

My pick: a good deal on a 3-star business hotel in Canberra

There is of course a huge number of business hotels in Canberra – and at weekends and during holidays you will find good deals. I use and recommend HotelsCombined to search for deals – because I’ve got some quite spectacular ones from time-to-time. At least with the generally spread out nature of Canberra you don’t have to worry about being charged extra for parking!  Also as a fairly modern, planned town, there are few rough or run-down areas, pretty much everywhere is as safe as the next suburb.

Alternatively – there are some hostels, though if you have transport the holiday parks are probably a cheaper option. Remember though that Canberra gets seriously (sub-zero) cold in the winter – you will be wanting a cabin not a tent site!

Particularly for the solo traveller on a budget I would look at either couch surfing the or the central YHA

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  1. Faylinn on August 19, 2016 at 2:10 am

    Next month, I am planning on taking two of my kids to Australia to meet up with my cousin who lives near Canberra. We will be using her car to get around, but I’m curious as to what you said about the cycling being good there. Are there places in Canberra for us to rent bikes?

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