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The best cheap and free things to do in Canberra

See the sights of the Australian capital city, without the high spend.

All it takes to have the ultimate trip without blowing your budget is a little research and planning. Here's our list of some great things you can do in Canberra on a budget, or perhaps for free!

Australian War Memorial
Australian War Memorial. Image credit: Visit Canberra.

Canberra museums, galleries, and more

Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial is one of the ACT's number 1 attractions and one of the best free things to do in Canberra. It's a shrine, archive, and one of the most significant museums in the world. At the Australian War Memorial, you'll discover everyone has their own story. 
Although entry is free, we encourage you to get your ticket in advance, as the venue is subject to capacity. 
Parliament House
One of the most obvious and iconic (but no less interesting) places to visit in Canberra is Parliament House. Visiting the hub of Australia's government and politics is insightful and informative. The best way to experience Parliament House is on a guided tour. Free tours run daily (except for Christmas Day), with the option to go on a paid tour to discover the best of the open to the public parts of Parliament House on sitting days or go behind the scenes on non-sitting days. 
Daily guided tours are free. Discover Parliament House tours are $15 and Behind the Scenes tours are $25 per person. 
National Gallery of Australia
The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) is home to an extensive collection of over 160,000 pieces of art from across the globe. Displays vary from indigenous art and Australian photography to sculptures and textiles from Asia, artefacts from the Pacific, and pieces from famous artists including Monet and Warhol. As with Parliament House, the National Gallery is open every day except for Christmas. 
Admission to the National Gallery of Australia is free. Some special exhibitions may charge an entry free from time to time. 
National Portrait Gallery
Right next door to the National Gallery of Australia is the National Portrait Gallery. Here, you'll see portraits of all kinds across various media—from traditional oil on canvas to sculpture. Each portrait is an insight into the artist, the subject, and the context of the time the portrait was completed.
Admission to the National Portrait Gallery is free. Some special exhibitions may charge an entry free from time to time. 
National Library of Australia
While wandering rows and rows of books might be enough to entice some, the National Library of Australia is so much more than that. With exhibitions, delicate treasures from history, and talks & seminars, there's plenty to excite visitors. Anyone looking for free things to do will know that the library is always available, so why not join a free tour and see what you can learn.
Admission to the National Library is free. Some special exhibitions may charge an entry free from time to time
The Royal Australian Mint
In the spirit of sticking to a budget, why not visit the very place where officials mint Australian currency?
No list of cheap or free things to do in Canberra would be complete without a mention of The Royal Australian Mint, the place where Australia's coins are made. Entry to the Royal Australian Mint is free, so you can look at money without having to spend a cent! Staff will share the stories behind various Australian coins over the years, and you'll also get to see how the Mint makes hundreds of millions of coins every single year. 
Entry to the Royal Australian Mint is free.
Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre
Whether you're travelling with kids or not, you must make some time to visit Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre. This interactive science museum is one of the most fun things to do in Canberra, with more than 200 hands-on exhibits on site for all ages.
If you do happen to be travelling with the little ones, Questacon offers a great range of school holiday activities too. Examples include Gamecraft where you can learn how to make your own video game or Robot Hack to prototype a robot that will help you get stuff done – like your chores! 
Adults $23, Concession and kids aged 4-16 $17.50, kids under 4 free, Family (2 Adults, 3 Kids) $70, School holiday workshops are $55 each.
Floriade Flower Festival
Floriade Flower Festival. Image credit: Martin Ollman Photography.

The great outdoors and more

Attend Canberra's month-long Floriade Flower Festival
Nothing says spring in Canberra like Floriade does as the nation's Capital fills with blooming flowers after winter hibernation. The annual month-long event starts around September and is free to attend. However, you'll need to buy tickets for the NightFest and certain workshops that run throughout the festival. The dates will vary year-to-year, so be sure to check Floriade website for more details.
Have a picnic in one of Canberra's picturesque parks 
Canberra is home to many beautiful parks and green spaces. Make the most of the natural beauty of Canberra by packing a picnic and heading to the park. This budget friendly fun is an excellent way to soak up the sights without splashing all your holiday cash. Visit Mount Ainslie and marvel at the views, or visit other popular spots such as Lake Burley Griffin or the National Arboretum to name a few.
Pack your favourite picnic snacks, the rest is free
If your looking for a dose of the outdoors, Canberra has it all. With an incredible wealth of outdoor activities from mountain biking, downhill cycling, bushwalks through the National Parks you won't short of an outdoor adventure which won't break the bank.
Lobby of The Sebel Canberra Campbell
Lobby at The Sebel Canberra Campbell

Finding Accommodation without the Price Tag

When planning your trip to the ACT, you'll want to find the right Canberra hotel to match your budget and style. This way, you can visit Canberra and really experience Australia's capital without going over your budget.

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