Darwin is not only the gateway to your journey into the wild rugged Top End of Australia, it’s an adventure all on its own.
Despite its small size for a city, Darwin has its own distinct atmosphere crafted out of its tropical extremes and geographic isolation to make it an experience unlike any other major city around Australia.
The warmth of dry season makes it a great escape for Australian’s from the southern states looking to defrost during the winter, while its local wildlife and national parks (particularly Kakadu) attract visitors from around the world.
Where To Stay In Darwin?
You aren’t going to be short of options when it comes to picking somewhere to stay in Darwin.
Catering to a diverse tourist market, from backpackers through to luxury resorts, the city is well set up to accommodate all sorts of different travel budgets, all within a stone’s throw of each other so that you can make the most of your time there.
You will find a couple of concentrations of accommodation options starting with the cheaper backpacker style stays along and around Mitchell Street.
For something a little more premium, you’ll find your brand name hotel options along The Esplanade and within the Waterfront Precinct.
While your middle of the range hotel options tend to be concentrated to the northern end of the city and around the airport.
In terms of personal recommendations, here are some middle of the range places I’ve stayed during my trips to Darwin:
- H on Smith Hotel – Centrally located, modern, clean and comfortable.
- Travelodge Resort Darwin – Resort-style atmosphere with self-contained options for a relaxed holiday.
- Oaks Darwin Elan Hotel – Hotel and apartment-style accommodation in the heart of the city good for business travel.
Getting To The City From Darwin Airport
Darwin International Airport is only a 15-20 minute drive from the center of the city.
While that’s not far and Darwin is not that big, I would still suggest that you do rent a car during your time there. But I’ll get into that shortly.
If you don’t feel confident driving, looking to save some money or doing a tour from Darwin where you don’t require your own transport, there is a 24-hour shuttle bus service that operates between the airport and the main accommodation around the city which will only set you back around $30 for a return ticket.
Alternatively, taxi’s are always an option with a couple of taxi companies servicing Darwin. As a rough estimate, it’ll cost you about $25-$35 for a one-way trip to the city.
Ridesharing services like Uber also operate but not as prevalent as in other Australian cities and there is no dedicated Uber pick up at the airport.
Getting Around Darwin
Within the heart of Darwin, getting around is pretty easy. Being a small city you can walk to most of the key attractions within the CBD and Waterfront Precinct.
If it’s too hot or raining then you might want to opt for a taxi/Uber if you haven’t organised a rental car, but in reality walking around will be your best bet.
Getting Beyond The City
Once you start looking at the attractions beyond the center of the city, particularly the national parks and other natural wonders of the region, having your own transport is going to make your life so much easier. Especially if you’re the type of person who prefers to travel at their own pace.
Driving around Darwin is really straight forward, and traffic is almost non-existent given the size and diversity of the population, more like driving around a country town than city if that’s a concern to you.
That said, Darwin is well set up for tourists with a number of tour operators offering day trips out to all the key attractions. I haven’t used any of them though so I can’t offer any personal recommendations.
However, you can discover more about them when you arrive in Darwin with shop fronts for all the major ones located on Mitchell Street or throughout Smith Street Mall.
There is also a public bus service that operates around Darwin which you can find out more about here.
What Should You Do In Darwin?
Darwin has plenty to see and do, so much so, that I’ve put together a comprehensive list which you can find here.
Where To Find Food/What To Do In The Evenings?
Darwin has no shortage of nightlife… In fact its quite lively place in the evenings, particularly Mitchell Street.
The touristy nature of Darwin coupled with the relaxed casual vibe of the locals means every night is a good night to be out in the city no matter if you are just looking for dinner or to kick on further.
If you happen to be in Darwin on a Thursday or Sunday night during the dry season, then I would definitely recommend that you head to Mindil Markets for both the sunset and a good feed, but I cover that in a lot more detail in my list of things to see and do.
As I already mentioned the restaurants and pubs along Mitchell Street are always buzzing. There is a good mix of takeaway, pub and casual dining options so all you need to do is take a stroll along the street until you’ll find something that sparks your interest.
If you are after something a little more fancy, then I would suggest you head to Stokes Hill Wharf and Waterfront Precinct where you’ll find some really nice, but often pricey restaurants.
If you’d like to get some more information to help in planning your trip to and around Australia… I’ve got a whole series of blog posts with all sorts of tips and advice to you.
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