Canberra named top Aust travel destination

Perry Duffin
(Australian Associated Press)

Forget Sydney Harbour and St Kilda, only one Australian capital has made it onto Lonely Planet’s top cities list 2018 and it sits on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

Lonely Planet handed bronze to the bush capital in the Best in Travel 2018 guide while Seville in Spain came in first and Detroit in the United States took second.

Canberra’s dull reputation for politicians and roundabouts no longer fit with the attractive nation’s capital, Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeiher told AAP.

Cities were assessed on three categories; all-rounder or family-friendliness, topicality, and X-factor

The city’s cultural highlights – from the museums to art galleries, vineyards and parks – meant there was plenty for all audiences, Mr Zeiher said.

“There’s just a plethora of museums and galleries that have upped their game,” he said, adding the capital had been “criminally overlooked”.

Topicality referred to events that will allow the city to shine over the coming year.

The Cartier exhibit will bring iconic treasures, including Dame Nellie Melba’s diamond brooch and the Queen’s “Halo” tiara, to the National Gallery next year.

The Australian War Memorial will also mark a century since the Armistice and light rail will open, bringing tourists from the airport into town.

But Canberra’s X-factor, Mr Zeiher said, was the city’s investment in unconventional hotels, challenging exhibitions and attractions like the European-inspired picnic boats cruising around Lake Burley Griffin.

“The whole town has transformed in the last 18 months,” Mr Zeiher said.

He pointed to emerging suburbs like Braddon and NewActon with broad, cafe-lined, leafy boulevards, microbreweries and leading restaurants.

“Canberra is the best parts of the city and the bush combined.”

While Sydney has beaches and Melbourne has culture – land-locked Canberrans always knew they were onto a winner, even when no one else saw it.

“They’ll be proud,” Mr Zeiher said.

“They believe it’s an underrated city, I think it’ll come as a surprise.”

“Hopefully it elevates our national capital to not just be associated with politicians but a travel destination in-and-of-itself.”


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