Darwin Budget Holiday Guide

Darwin is a haven for backpackers and budget conscious Aussies who want to have a fun holiday, experience the outback, but not pay through the nose to do it. There’s a motza of cheap and free activities and entertainment around town. And while food can be a little more expensive than in most other cities, there are bargains for the frugal and plenty of variety to choose from.

Day 1: A dash of culture, dollop of adventure on top of a big slather of bargain hunting:

  • Add a little complimentary gore to your day with a visit to Fannie Bay Gaol Museum, which housed prisoners from 1883 to 1979 in cold stone cells (at least they were out of the heat!), and executed some in the gallows (ok, perhaps not so great after all).
  • Take in the collections of Aboriginal Art, maritime archaeological history and plenty more at the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT. There are five major permanent galleries filled with ancestral carvings, intricate beadwork and Sweetheart the 5 metre crocodile. And it won’t cost you a cent.
  • For a beaut pie, sanger or sausage roll at a bonza price duck into Ben’s Bakehouse for lunch—maybe even indulge in an éclair or two.
  • Rummage around the 200 odd stalls at the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets for exotic food, arts and crafts, puppets, soap (not that you need it) and more.

Day 2: Spend the day splashing around, pondering and safely prowling through exotic landscapes:

  • Hire a bike and go for a leisurely ride along the Esplanade, stopping at the Cenotaph – Darwin’s official war memorial, Government House aka The House of Seven Gables, and memorial to the Officers and Crew of the USS Peary, which was attacked and sunk during the first air attack on Darwin by the Japanese during WWII.
  • Find out more about the mind boggling ecosystem at Windows on the Wetlands, overlooking the Adelaide River floodplains - touch screens, interactive displays and other red button pushing technological wonders (free entry).
  • Escape the heat of the street at Leanyer Recreation Park. A very welcome water park where the only crocs you’ll ever see are sizzling on the BBQ facilities.
  • Why fly to Bali when you can get a taste of Indonesia’s best cuisine at Sari Rasa, a local favourite not just for the delicious beef rendang and spicy eggplant, but the appetising bill as well—all meals under $10.

Day 3: Explore the natural surrounds, including the local drinking holes:

  • Start your day with an early morning bushwalk and BBQ brunch at the Casuarina Coastal Reserve, where you can see old WWII artillery observation posts, wildlife galore and curious creatures in the rock pools at low tide.
  • Splash around at Lameroo Beach, once the place for hippies. Slip back into your formal wear - thongs, shorts and singlet - and grab a beer at the nearby pubs and bars.
  • Power up with a hearty buffet lunch at the Sunset Restaurant, where for $12.95 you can have unlimited soft drinks, tea and coffee, soup, bread, salad and more.
  • Sing, dance, and show off your city slicker moves at the Parap Village Tavern, which holds regular trivia nights, karaoke, pool comps and sport on the big screen.

Recommended Darwin Budget Hotels:

  • There’s a choice of accommodation at the Cavenagh Hotel, which has motel rooms shared rooms and dormitories. Out of sleeping hours you can lounge around the pool and have a BBQ with fellow travellers.
  • Practice your pool sharking skills with a game of billiards at the Melaleuca on Mitchell, then head out to the nearby pubs and clubs challenge the locals and pay for your night.
  • For basic accommodation with de-sizzling benefits such as air-conditioning and a pool, relax at the contemporary Value Inn Darwin.

See the list below for more Darwin Budget Hotels.


4 star
88 The Esplanade Darwin 0800 Australia

Mantra on the Esplanade is in Darwin city centre, overlooking Darwin Harbour, just a short 2-minute walk from Mitchell Street. It features panoramic views from most rooms and apartments. Accommodation...more

3 self rated
64 The Esplanade Darwin 0800 Australia

Located on the beautiful Esplanade, Palms City Resort offers you a relaxing oasis surrounded by lush tropical gardens in the heart of Darwin’s central business district. The centrally situated Palms C...more

3 self rated
50 Mitchell Street Darwin 0801 Australia

Located in Darwin, Value Inn is minutes from Crocosaurus Cove and Smith Street Mall. This inn is within close proximity of Darwin War Memorial and Darwin Entertainment Centre.Rooms Make yourself at ho...more

3 self rated
3 Buffalo Court Darwin 0800 Australia

Located in Darwin City, the Frontier Darwin Hotel is a 3.5 star property offering a variety of spacious rooms featuring views over the lush tropical landscape and sweeping city views. It boasts an out...more

4 self rated
64 Cavenagh St Darwin 0800 Australia

Surrounded by tropical gardens, with swimming pools and a waterfall at its centre, Travelodge Resort Darwin offers a tropical oasis in the heart of Darwin city centre. Free WiFi is provided. All rooms...more

4.5 star
901 Stuart Highway Holtze 0829 Australia

Located in Holtze, Darwin FreeSpirit Resort is in the suburbs and within the vicinity of Crocodylus Park and Hidden Valley Raceway. This 4-star caravan park/campground is within the region of Australi...more

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