Scenic view of Rainbow Valley, Northern Territory

Things to do in  Northern Territory

As wild as the Aussie Outback gets

The Top End was made for adventures. This vast, desert-cloaked Aussie territory is best explored on an epic road trip, and Uluru and the Red Centre are top of the list of things to do in the Northern Territory. Once you’ve hiked the red cliffs of Kings Canyon, cruised by dozing crocodiles at Kakadu National Park, and swam beneath waterfalls at Nitmiluk National Park, head up to the coast to hang out at Darwin’s sunset markets and lounge on the white-sand beaches of Arnhem Land.

Top 15 attractions in Northern Territory

Uluru (Ayers Rock)

A gigantic monolith of rust-red rock looming over the desert plains of the Australian Outback, Uluru (Ayers Rock) is more than just a postcard icon—it’s the cultural, spiritual, and geographical heart of Australia, one of its most impressive natural wonders, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.More

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

The UNESCO-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is an iconic Australian destination with two of the country’s most striking natural landmarks: Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta). A sacred site, the park is co-managed by the Anangu and the government. Watch the sun come up, and learn about Anangu culture and traditions.More

Edith Falls (Leliyn)

Cascading down a red rock gorge and filling up a series of rockpools before emptying out into Sweetwater Pool below; Edith Falls (Leliyn falls are among the most visited attractions of the Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge. With its freshwater pools and impressive natural scenery; it’s a popular spot for hikers and swimmers.More


Ubirr is one of the most famous and significant Aboriginal rock art sites in the Kakadu National Park. A 0.6-mile (1-kilometer) circuit track leads visitors past the rock art galleries, where local people painted fish, turtles, goanna, and other essential food animals up to 20,000 years ago. Ubirr is especially popular at sunset.More

Magnetic Termite Mounds

In Litchfield National Park in Northern Australia, you’ll come across a strange sight. Hundreds of 6-foot (2-meter) flat, broad structures clutter a wide, bare plain. The monuments are not man-made—they belong to Magnetic Termites, so named because the construction of their mounds aligns with the compass.More

Darwin Waterfront Precint

At the southernmost tip of Darwin, fronting the Beagle Gulf, Darwin Waterfront Precinct is the first port-of-call for cruise ships and a buzzing hub of city life. Seafront parks, a swimming lagoon, and a man-made beach draw city-dwellers to the waterside, while the many bars and restaurants tempt visitors to stick around after sunset.More

Cullen Bay

Yacht-filled Cullen Bay attracts landlubbers with its collection of shops, restaurants, bars, and day spas in one of Darwin’s sleekest neighborhoods. The marina has space for 250 vessels, as well as an assortment of upmarket accommodations where visitors enjoy sea views and easy access to the ferry terminal.More

Royal Flying Doctor Service Alice Springs Tourist Facility (RFDS Museum)

The Royal Flying Doctors Service is the largest air medical response team in the world. The doctors fly an average of 40,000 miles (65,000 kilometers) a day attending to sick people in the remote outback of Australia. They have 53 aircraft operating out of 21 bases and 964 staff members who attend to around 750 patients a day.More

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT)

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) showcases a collection of more than 1.2 million natural history specimens and 30,000 art and cultural works. In addition to its seven galleries, MAGNT has a family-friendly Discovery Centre, providing visitors of all ages with fascinating insight into Australia’s history and heritage.More

Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

Often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, the mighty Ayers Rock (Uluru), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park. This natural wonder, comprising 36 domed red rocks looming up from the desert plains, is a spectacular sight and one of the highlights of Australia’s Red Centre.More

Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge National Park)

Nitmiluk National Park (formerly Katherine Gorge National Park) offers vast sandstone cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and a series of 13 gorges carved out by the mighty Katherine River. All of this dramatic scenery is located on the ancient lands of the Jawoyn people and is home to some impressive Aboriginal rock art sites.More

Charles Darwin National Park

Just outside busy Darwin, Charles Darwin National Park is a natural treasure. The park includes part of the Port Darwin wetlands and is home to 36 distinct mangrove species. Walk by shimmering waterfalls and bask in eucalyptus-scented shade. It’s the perfect getaway from the city, whether you want to picnic, hike, or mountain bike.More

Defence of Darwin Experience

The Defence of Darwin Experience chronicles the Northern Territory’s role in World War II through a number of powerful exhibits that educate visitors on how the war deeply affected the region and its residents. This multimedia museum offers fascinating insight into the fateful events leading up to and on Feb. 19, 1942, when the Bombing of Darwin took place, killing over 250 people, sinking 10 ships, and kicking off a period of nearly two years of bombings in the Northern Territory. Guests can view historic equipment and artifacts from the war and listen to somber stories of locals’ whose lives were changed forever, as well as firsthand accounts of those who went off to war to avenge the lives that were lost.Immersive exhibits include the Bombing of Darwin Gallery with its 3D helmets and sensory footage illustrating what it would have been like to witness the bombings, plus StoryShare, where locals record their own stories to be shared with museum visitors. Travelers can also record their responses to all they see and learn at the museum. As one of Darwin’s most significant historical sites, the attraction is often included in guided tours of the city.More

Standley Chasm (Angkerle Atwatye)

Soaring 260 feet (80 meters) high and narrowing to just 10 feet (3 meters) wide, the red sandstone Standley Chasm is one of the West MacDonnell Ranges’ most striking features. A sacred site known to the Arrernte people as Angkerle Atwatye, it’s a trailhead on the Larapinta Trail with various hiking (bushwalking) options.More

Parliament House

A light, modern, tropical building with an airy, ocean-view setting, Darwin’s Parliament House is quite the contrast to the heavy, neoclassical style of so many state legislatures. The seat of government of the Northern Territory, Darwin’s answer to a state capitol, it opened in 1994 on the site of a famous World War II Japanese bombing attack.More
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All about Northern Territory

When to visit

Aussie weather is hot, but the Northern Territory turns up the heat even higher, especially in summer. Temperatures can easily climb over 100°F (38°C) from December through March, and this is also the wet season, when flooding can limit road access to the national parks. A smarter choice is to plan your trip between May and September when the (comparatively) cooler, dryer weather is ideal for hiking and exploring.

Getting around

Both planes and long-distance buses connect Darwin and Adelaide with the Red Centre. Once there, you’ll need your own transport—or to join a tour—to explore the remote Outback region. Further north, Darwin is easy to get around on foot or by public transport, but the only way to get to the Northern Territory’s national parks is by car. Consider a 4WD, especially if traveling in the wet season.

Traveler tips

One of the Northern Territory’s most impressive wildlife encounters takes place on a 1.5-hour speedboat ride from Darwin to Bare Sand Island. Head there at sunrise or sunset to spot flatback and olive ridley turtles nesting and hatching on the island’s protected beaches.

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People Also Ask

What is the Northern Territory best known for?

The Northern Territory is home to Australia’s most iconic natural landmark—Uluru or Ayers Rock—which lies at the heart of the Red Centre. Along with nearby Kings Canyon and the Olgas, other Top End must-sees include the Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk National Park, and the state capital of Darwin.

Why do people visit Northern Territory?

Travelers venture into Australia’s Red Centre to marvel at the natural wonders of Uluru, Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), and Kings Canyon. In the state's north, Darwin is the gateway to Kakadu National Park (the largest in Australia), Litchfield National Park, and the Katherine Gorge at Nitmiluk National Park.

Is Darwin worth visiting?

Yes. Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and the gateway to Kakadu National Park. The coastal city is known for its saltwater crocodiles, rich Aboriginal heritage, and lively cultural scene. For fun, watch the sunset at the beach, browse the night markets, and explore Darwin’s foodie hot spots.

How long do you need in the Northern Territory?

For a weeklong trip to the Northern Territory, it’s best to choose one or two destinations—either Darwin and Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks or the Red Centre, Uluru, and Nitmiluk National Park. To see it all, plan a 2-week trip and include the beaches of Arnhem Land.

What is the best month to visit the Northern Territory?

Dry season (May through September) is the best time, as it's when the Outback heat is most manageable, and you’ll have full access to the national parks. Visit in May or June to avoid the crowds, or in August for seasonal events like the Darwin Festival and Uluru Camel Cup.

Is 2 nights in Uluru enough?

Yes, two nights is ideal for a Uluru visit. You’ll be able to watch the sunrise and sunset over Uluru, hike the base walk, and explore neighboring Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). Consider spending three or four nights to include a visit to nearby Kings Canyon.

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