The Top End has so much to explore, way more in fact than is possible in a month, let alone a weekend. If you're strapped for time however and want to head to Darwin for a whirlwind weekend escape, you can tick off a few things on the bucket list. I wrote a guide to Darwin for Flight Centre Australia that you can read here, but for a quick reference, here are my favourite spots in the NT capital.
The best coffee spot: Laneway Specialty Coffee
You could probably call this place a hipster cafe, meaning good food and coffee in a paired back industrial chic setting with a load of plants, but it's one of the only ones in Darwin.
Address: 4/1 Vickers Street, Parap, NT
The best brekky: SweetBrew &Co
Baked goods, shakshuka, eggs, excellent coffee. Just watch the chefs at work in the kitchen and you can see the love that goes into your food.
Address: 45 Stuart Highway, Stuart Park, NT
The best casual dinner: Cucina Sotto le Stelle
You have to go to this place. Bring a picnic blanket and a bottle of wine and watch the sun set while the smell of wood fired pizza wafts over. This is a food truck with a wood fired pizza oven set up in a park in Nightcliff. It's Italian all over, complete with the red and white checkered table cloths and fairy lights above.
Address: Seabreeze Car park, Chapman Road, Nightcliff, NT
Best spot for an afternoon drink: Darwin ski club
Day drinking at its finest. Pull up a chair on the grass, listen to the live music, gaze over the azure waters of Fannie Bay and down a pint of beer. That's all there is to it.
Address: 20 Conacher St, Fannie Bay, NT
Best day trip destination: Litchfield National Park
Waterfall after waterfall, swimming hole after swimming hole and a sea of termite mounds is what you'll find here. And all under two-hours drive from Darwin. Start out with a short hike around Tolmer Falls.
Best swimming hole: Florence Falls
Located in Litchfield National Park, you reach this beautiful plunge pool and waterfalls via a whole bunch of stairs that descends down beneath the tree canopy. Pack a picnic and make a day of it.
Best place to see wildlife: Fogg Dam
A 45-minute drive out of Darwin, Fogg Dam is a beautiful wetland area, with a huge amount of birdlife. Keep your eyes peeled for rare birds, as well as water snakes, and even crocs. There are a few 4x4 tracks around the area, as well as some easy walks that wind through the trees to lookouts.
Address: Anzac Parade, Middle Point, NT
Best sunset spot: Sunset Beach
On the water at Fannie Bay, where you'll find multiple boat clubs for a sunset drink, and a walking and cycle path that stretches along the coastline, this beach has an uninterrupted sunset view. What's more, it's vibrant rock cliffs add an especially warm backdrop for the fading light.
Address: East Point Road, Fannie Bay, NT
Best place to catch sunrise: East Point Reserve
The rocks along the coastline here are insane. Marbled reds, chocolates and whites move in patterns towards the water, which of course is a powdery blue in contrast.
Address: Alec Fong Lim Drive, East Point, NT
Best spot to learn about Darwin: Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory
A combined gallery and museum in one, this place has my heart. Sidle up alongside Sweetheart, once the largest crocodile ever caught, see an astounding number of wildlife and sea life, experience the fury of Cyclone Tracy in her permanent exhibit, and explore beautiful aboriginal and international art.
Address: 19 Conacher St, Darwin, NT
Best architecture: Parliament House Darwin
A fine example of cyclone-proof architecture and modern design, this impressive building was opened in 1994, making it the newest parliament building in Australia.
Mitchell Street, Darwin, NT
Best Sunday morning vibe: Nightcliff markets
The more famous Mindil Beach sunset markets visitors rave about only run during the dry season between May and August. If you're here outside of that time, or would prefer to watch the sunset rather than market shop, head to the Nightcliff Markets on a Sunday morning. These local markets have a host of food options, handmade goods and other usual market suspects.
Address: Pavonia Way, Nightcliff, NT