Darwin in Australia’s “Top End” is a unique city in itself. You’ll also find some incredible places to visit within an easy day’s travel from the city. Here are some of my favorites…

1. Litchfield National Park

An easy reach from Darwin via car or a bus tour, Litchfield National Park boasts some of the Top End’s greatest waterfalls. What’s more, the water holes beneath those falls are swimmer-friendly – most of the time. There are some freshwater crocodiles but they tend to keep out of your way. My personal favorite is Wangi Falls with a large water hole you can swim across to get beneath the falls. If you are game you can also climb up the rocks to a little bathtub that’s been carved out by the water.

You’ll also find the spectacle of the magnetic anthills at Litchfield which make a great photo opportunity. These anthills get their name from their identitcal orientation. They point North – South, with flat faces exposed to the East and West. There has long been conjecture about why the termites build their homes this way. One thing is sure, it is definitely something worth seeing.

Magnetic Anthills at Litchfield National Park in the Northern Territory.

By now you have probably worked up an appetite. If there is one thing you have to do in Litchfield National Park, it’s trying the homemade mango cheesecake! You can head to an old homestead now known as the Litchfield Cafe. Bus tours will often stop there for lunch.

2. Adelaide River Jumping Crocodile Cruise

I’ve intentionally left Kakadu National Park off this list as I believe it needs more than just a day trip from Darwin to do it justice.

That said, if you’d like to get a little taste of Kakadu then this next day trip is a start…

From Darwin I got a bus tour down to the jumping crocodile cruise on the Adelaide River. On the way down to the cruise, the bus will stop at Fogg Dam, which is a great place to see some of the incredible bird life that you might find within Kakadu. If you drive you’ll be able to spend more time here to explore the walks that take you through monsoon and floodplain habitats. If you’re visiting the dam at sunrise or sunset, make sure you head to Pandanus Knoll Lookout for a vantage point that looks over the wetlands.

Birdlife on the Northern Territory's Fogg Dam.

Another place with a great view that most tours will take you to is Windows on the Wetlands. On the top floor you’ll have a 270-degree view of the surrounding wetlands and what you might see if you were to visit Kakadu.

Jumping Crocodile in the Northern Territory's Adelaide River.

When you arrive at Adelaide River for your crocodile cruise, the boat captain will give the safety induction and let you know where the life jackets are. He will then let you know that even though he is required to let you know about the life jackets by law, he doesn’t recommend putting them on because this River has one of the densest populations of crocodiles in the world. Wearing a red life vest will just make you look like candy for the crocodiles.

Over the course of the cruise, you will see some incredible crocodiles just launch themselves out of the water to get the food.

If you love reptiles then this is one day trip you don’t want to miss.

3. Territory Wildlife Park

On the road down to Litchfield National Park, near Berry Springs, you’ll find another great day trip activity. The Territory Wildlife Park boasts a variety of local animals that you can see all in one location. The park is typically open from 9am to 5pm. There is a trolley that goes around the park in case your legs get tired. 

Territory Wildlife Park, just a short drive from Darwin.
Territory Wildlife Park, just a short drive from Darwin.

You’ll get to experience everything from the Northern Territories cuddly mammals, to its deadly reptiles and everything that flys, crawls and slithers in between! There are daily feedings, bird shows and forest walks to excite and engage kids both young and old! I remember first visiting the park as a teenager and was blown away by how well it was put together.

These are just three quick day trips that we have enjoyed. However, the Top End boasts so much more, including hot springs, beaches and fishing adventures. What’s your favorite day trip from Darwin?