Drift away: the best of Darwin

The tropics meet the city in relaxing Darwin, where unforgettable sunsets frame an unforgettable destination.

Two women jumping out of the water on the beach at Casuarina at sunset, Darwin, Northern Territory. Image credit: Tourism Australia/Allan Dixon
  • Jetstar
  • August 2021

A magical mash-up of tropical wonder, natural beauty, waterfront restaurants and amazing art, Darwin is one unique city. The laidback CBD hums with award-winning restaurants from every corner of the globe and buzzing sunset markets sling street food and good times. The galleries showcase stunning Aboriginal art. The waterfront is lined with cafes to have breakfast at while the kids splash around in the Wave Pool. Then, on your doorstep, are some of the most breathtaking national parks in the country. Sounds good, right? Here’s where to start.

Meander the markets

Darwin has a brilliant market scene, buzzing with atmosphere and live entertainment. Join the locals for a sunset beach picnic at Mindil Beach Sunset Market, every Thursday and Sunday during the dry season. It’s an aromatic wonderland of almost 60 food stalls cooking up dishes from all over the world. You’ll also find stalls showcasing local arts and crafts, as well as masseurs, tailors and tarot readers. Other markets in Parap, Nightcliff and Rapid Creek run every weekend, all year round.

A blur of people at food stalls at Mindil Beach Sunset Market with palm trees in the background, Darwin, Northern Territory. Image credit: Tourism NT/Helen Orr
Mindil Beach Sunset Market is an iconic Darwin experience. Image credit: Tourism NT/Helen Orr

Explore national parks

Being in the NT, Darwin has some mindblowing landscapes to explore. Litchfield National Park is just 90 minutes from Darwin, and it’s a jackpot of waterfalls, swimming holes, walking tracks and magical natural wonders. If you’re short on time, this (or Berry Springs, just 47km from Darwin) is the one to visit. If time is on your side, World Heritage–listed Kakadu is a few hours away. It’s a phenomenal ancient wonderland of wilderness, waterfalls, rock art and rivers.

Aerial view of Wangi Falls in Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory. Image credit: Tourism NT/Dan Moore
Wangi Falls in Litchfield National Park. Image credit: Tourism NT/Dan Moore

See a moonlit movie

Make the most of Darwin’s balmy evenings and spectacular sunsets by heading down to Deckchair Cinema. This open-air cinema on the Darwin Waterfront operates every night of the week during the dry season. The program includes a wide range of movies, from blockbusters to family favourites to foreign independents. But don’t just come for the movie. Make a night of it by getting dinner and drinks from the local eateries on-site or pack your own pre-movie picnic.

People at an outdoor movie screening at Deckchair Cinema at sunset. Image credit: Tourism NT/Friederike Franze
Grab a drink and a deckchair and watch a movie under the stars. Image credit: Tourism NT/Friederike Franze

Check out the art

Darwin is a creative city with a big arts scene. Cultural festivals pepper the calendar and expansive street art peppers the city walls. The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory has an impressive collection of Aboriginal art, a Cyclone Tracey exhibition – and the local celebrity, Sweetheart (a taxidermied, 5-metre, 780-kilogram saltie!). Darwin City and nearby Parap have some knock-out galleries, including NCCA Art, Outstation Gallery, Readback and the Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery. And don’t miss Kakadu’s rock art. The ultimate gallery.

A close up of a spiral weaving in yellow, orange and brown. Image credit: Tourism NT/Mason Art Gallery
Darwin’s art scene is irresistible. Image credit: Tourism NT/Mason Art Gallery

Photograph a sunset

Darwin’s famous tropical sunsets will have you blissing out every night. They never, ever get old. Check them out at Mindil Sunset Markets, or on a Sunset Fish & Chips cruise. Cruise Darwin Harbour then drop anchor at Cullen Bay for wild-caught fish and even wilder sunsets. Darwin’s waterfront venues really maximise the epic sunsets – head to the Darwin Ski Club and the Darwin Trailer Boat Club among many others for peak ‘sets. East Point Reserve and the Nightcliff foreshore are also popular spots for picnics and pictures.

A bright orange sunset over still waters at Darwin Harbour. Image credit: Tourism NT/Jules Ingall
Darwin sunsets are legendary. Image credit: Tourism NT/Jules Ingall