places to visit in the Northern Territory

10 BEST Places To Visit In The Northern Territory

The best places to visit in the Northern Territory include the ones you’d expect such as Darwin and Uluru but there are plenty of other great places to check out too!

The Northern Territory isn’t the most well-known part of Australia. As a result, people tend to think of it as an afterthought but that’s a mistake.

You’ll find a plethora of fantastic places to visit and some stunning scenery. Kakadu National Park is one of the best places in Australia to visit, while the Mataranka Thermal Pools are a hidden gem!

My aim with this post is to detail the amazing places you can find in the Northern Territory and convince you to visit. Most travellers tend to stay on the East Coast but exploring the Outback is essential if you visit Australia.

The Northern Territory is one of my favourites parts of Australia and below are some of my favourite destinations in this magical part of Australia!

Best places to visit in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is often the forgotten part of Australia but it shouldn’t be. You’ll find plenty of great places to see and the otherworldly nature of the outback make it a brilliant place to visit.

From tropical climes in the top end and the gigantic rock formations of the red centre, the Northern Territory is well worth a visit!

Darwin

Sunset over Darwin

Darwin is the biggest city in the Northern Territory and somewhere you have to visit while you’re there. It’s a beautiful place and there is a lot to do in a small city.

My favourite thing to do was head to the marina and lounge in the sun, swim in the water and jump in the wave pool on occasion too!

Darwin has several beaches with Mindil being the most popular. A market is regularly held there and is well worth checking out. It’s a good spot to get some pictures of the magnificent sunset too!

Darwin is a lively city and there is a decent nightlife scene here. If you like a drink you’ll have a lot of fun in the city!

With that said, you must consider when you visit. Darwin is a tropical city which has distinct seasons. I visited towards the end of the dry season in September and the weather was glorious. a friend of mine visited in March, during the wet season and didn’t enjoy it as much as I did.

My advice would be to consider this before you go to Darwin. As someone that decided to visit Cairns during the rainy season, it can ruin your experience. The dry season is definitely the best time to go!

Alice Springs

Alice Springs

Alice Springs is one of the most well-known places to visit in the Northern Territory and its one you should check out. The town has an interesting history and was founded next to the Todd River in the belief it was a permanent waterhole.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t! 

The river is no more full today than it was back then but the town is still there. If you’re visiting Uluru, it’s a good place to stop after you’ve visited. Its central location on the Stuart highway means you can carry on your journey North to visit Darwin, or south to visit Adelaide.

It’s not the biggest place but there are a few things to do here. A hike to the top of Anzac Hill is worth doing to get a panoramic view of the city. You can travel to the nearby McDonnell Ranges too if you want to admire the scenery in this interesting part of the world!

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park

Australia has plenty of national parks and Kakadu is one of the best and one of the biggest. The park is the size of Wales covering an area of 19,804 km2 (7,646 sq mi)!

You won’t be able to see everything in the park but there’s still a lot you can see. Kakadu is home to some of the oldest aboriginal artwork in Australia, some of which are over 20,000 years old!

A park this size is not short of amazing places to see. Kakadu is home to numerous waterfalls and imposing rock formations.

The park is home to a variety of wildlife too. From roaming buffalo to menacing crocodiles beneath the surface of the many rivers, Kakadu is a nature lover’s paradise!

Litchfield National Park

Litchfield National Park

Litchfield is another national park in the top end of the Northern Territory close to Darwin. It’s much smaller than Kakadu and is easier to get around as a result. 

The main attraction at Litchfield is the numerous waterfalls which dot the park.  Florence Falls is one of the most popular with two streams of water during down into a deep pool below which is ideal for swimming!

As well as the waterfalls, there are several great bushwalks you can do to get a scope for the park and check out its amazing beauty.

Some of them, such as the Tabletop Track at 39 km, are quite long, but you can do shorter ones like the 8 km Greenant track if you’re not a hardcore hiker!

These tracks allow you to see incredible sights such as the gigantic termite mounds that line the park and a variety of rock formations too!

Uluru

In front of Uluru

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is one of the most recognisable places in Australia. I believe you have to visit Uluru if you’re in Australia. It’s an incredible place and the rock is so impressive in real life.

I remember when we reached Uluru and stepping out of the car to have a look. It was hard to believe what I was seeing was real. The image of Uluru you see on postcards and photos is the same one you see when you’re there.

It’s hard to put into words just how breathtaking it is. The size of Uluru is incredible. It’s an enormous rock, walking the Uluru track takes a good 45 minutes but it’s well worth it.

You get to see it up close and appreciate its scale. Plus, you might come across some of Australia’s famous wildlife. I was lucky enough to see a couple of kangaroos bouncing across the rock when I visited!

Kata-Tjuta

Kata Tjuta

Everyone has heard of Uluru but there is arguably an even better place to visit nearby, Kata-Tjuta! It’s not as well-known but it’s a spectacular and without a doubt one of the best places to visit in the Northern Territory!

Kata-Tjuta is different from Uluru, which is a large sandstone rock. Instead, it’s a collection of large, domed rock formations which you can walkthrough.

This is what makes Kata-Tjuta so special. The ability to walk through the rock formations and appreciate their beauty. You get a sense for the scale and beauty of the place as you do the Valley of the Winds walk.

This is one of my favourite places in all of Australia. It’s hard to put into words just how amazing it is. Pictures don’t do it justice either. It’s truly an incredible place to visit!

Mataranka Thermal Pools

Mataranka Hot Springs

The Mataranka thermal pools are one of the most underrated places to visit in the Northern Territory. I discovered them while driving from Adelaide to Darwin and they are a must-visit in the territory.

The water at the Mataranka pools comes from Rainbow Springs with 30.5 megalitres of water 30-degree water pumped out every day!

If you’re doing the drive, Mataranka is a great place to stop and relax. It’s fantastic to jump in the pools and relax for a bit. The water is soothing and the beautiful surroundings make it even better.

One thing to note is that you shouldn’t dip your head below the water. Nasty bacteria live in the water and they can enter your body through your nose and cause all sorts of problems. Best to keep your head above water and enjoy the sights and relaxing nature of the pools!

Nitmulik National Park

Katherine Gorge on the Adelaide to Darwin road trip

The Nitmulik National Park is another hidden gem in the Northern Territory. I had never heard of it until we visited there during the drive to Darwin.

The park is beautiful and there is a lot to see. Perhaps the best part of the park is Katherine Gorge. Words cannot describe how scenic it is!

You can enjoy the gory from above and below. You can swim in the river that flows through it, though watch out for crocs! Or you can hike to the top of the gorge and get a spectacular view of the gorge below and the surrounding area!

If you’ve got a hefty budget, you can a take a helicopter trip around the gorge and get a birds-eye view! Not everyone will be able to do this but everyone can enjoy the beauty of Nitmulik regardless!

King’s Canyon

King's Canyon

King’s Canyon is located just outside of the Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park in the red centre. Although not as well-known as the other two sights, it’s just as incredible.

The track around the canyon offers fantastic views of the outback as you traverse up and down the canyon. I was blown away by the sights as I did the hike.

It can be difficult in places with one part of the hike referred to as ‘Heart attack hill!’ It’s not as bad as it sounds but it can get steep in some places.

However, your effort will be rewarded with the sights you will see. From cascading gorges to billabongs nestling in between them, King’s Canyon is one of the most beautiful places in the Northern Territory!

Devil’s Marbles

Devil's Marbles

Let’s just get this out of the way, the Devil’s Marbles is one of Australia’s weirdest places.

Let me explain:

The marbles refer to giant granitic boulders that appear to have been placed there by an intelligent being, hence the reference to the Devil.

In reality, they are the work of millions of years of erosion but they still seem odd. Walking around and seeing giant boulders everywhere in the middle of the outback is a strange sight.

That said if you visit the Northern Territory, you have to check the marbles out! They are a quirk of nature and there aren’t many places around the world where you can see something similar!

Where to stay in the Northern Territory

Despite being one of the least populated parts of the country, you will still find places to stay in the Northern Territory.

The main tourist hotspots such as Darwin and Uluru have plenty of accommodation to choose from. Darwin is a backpacker’s paradise and has some of the best hostels in Australia to choose from.

Alice Springs has its fair share of hostels too and you’ll be able to find some budget accommodation in Yulara, the small town near Uluru.

For other places, there are a variety of roadhouses and hotels to choose from. An alternative idea is to camp in the wild if you’re feeling adventurous. Or you can rent a campervan and use that as your place to sleep!

Below are some recommendations of places to stay while you’re travelling around the Northern Territory.

What is the best time to visit the Northern Territory?

This is one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself before you visit. The weather in the Northern Territory can vary depending on where you are and when you visit.

The bottom of the territory is mostly desert and outback, while the further north you go towards the top end and Darwin, the more tropical the climate becomes.

Darwin has distinct seasons due to it being a tropical city. The rainy season is not a fancy term, it really does rain, a lot! The weather is still warm but the deluges happen constantly.

The dry season runs from May to October while the wet season runs from November to April. My advice is to visit during the dry season. It’s less humid, drier and you can enjoy yourself much more than you can when you’re caught in a biblical downpour!

The climate in the rest of the territory and around the red centre, in particular, is more akin to the rest of the country. I visited in the middle of winter and temperatures were hot but not so stiflingly you couldn’t do anything.

This will be different in the summer months when it will be much warmer and less comfortable. If you can, I recommend you visit from May to October. The weather will be a lot cooler and you won’t have to hide away from the unbearable heat during the daytime.

Of course, it depends on what your schedule will allow, but in an ideal world, this is what I would do!

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places to see in the Northern Territory