Canberra is Australia’s best city?

I’ll be honest: when I heard that Lonely Planet had listed Canberra as the third best city in the world to visit, I thought it was a joke.

Then when I heard that Detroit was listed at number two, there was little doubt in my mind that it was a parody perpetrated by some funny travel writer with a lot of time of their hands. You know, the type that lists 10 towns of which no one has heard but everyone should visit?

Well, then I went to the Lonely Planet website and saw it with my very own eyes.

And I still thought the travel gurus must have been drunk.

Okay, so I’ve only been to Canberra for work. Riding from the airport to Parliament House to be locked with Yellow Pages-sized Budget Papers in a room full of journos, who get a bit on the nose after six hours with no light or fresh air, does not give one the best aftertaste of Canberra.

It’s unfair, I know. The town sure looks pretty from the cab window.

Lonely Planet has written a very kind assessment of Australia’s capital:

Criminally overlooked Canberra packs a big punch for such a small city. National treasures are found round almost every corner and exciting new boutique precincts have emerged, bulging with gastronomic highlights and cultural must-dos. This is the first year that Canberra will host a Test cricket match at the picturesque Manuka Oval, and later in 2018 the Australian War Memorial will take centre stage as it hosts the 100th anniversary of the WWI Armistice. Significantly, Canberra is establishing a permanent Reconciliation Day into the state’s holiday calendar from 2018 onwards, to symbolise commitment to tolerance between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

To be fair, they probably nail it. I think I can count on two hands the people in my close circle who have visited Canberra. Criminal, I know.

And it’s likely it does “pack a big punch for a small city”. One need only look at the list of Canberra’s cultural sites to realise that the town pretty much consists of all things ‘National’. There’s every museum, memorial, archive and gallery you can conceive. The city even boasts two National Barista Champions (and one World Champ) all from the same café (no, Canberra has more than one café, cheeky!), so the coffee and food culture is burgeoning.

Earlier this year, we spruiked Canberra as the perfect place to spend 48 hours. Which may be all you need to witness the wonder of the capital. However, many say you can get lost in Canberra, but I imagine their GPS would be to blame.

Anyway, I am planning a trip there very soon, because I want to see what Lonely Planet is on about, and because I think every Australian should spend at least one weekend in our capital. And I tip my cap to the capital – congratulations Canberra!

Read the rest of the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2018 lists.

Have you visited Canberra recently? Or have you never been?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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