Canberra Airport – gateway to a cool little city

An airport is often the first impression a city gets to make on us. Until recently, aside from a short-lived flirtation with Fiji, the only travellers to Canberra’s airport were domestic visitors. But change is on the horizon with Singapore Airlines commencing direct flights from Canberra to Wellington and Singapore and Qatar Airways flagging Canberra as a potential destination in the near future.

So in honour of our city’s airport stepping up to play in the international space (and if I’m totally honest, also because I had a trip to Melbourne booked so I was going to be there anyway), here is a brief run-down on Canberra Airport (CBR).FullSizeRender.jpg

The experience

Canberra Airport is pretty. It is shiny, it is new and it is full of art. Anyone who follows anyone from Canberra on Instagram would have no doubt seen some creative, bold filtered shot of any one of the artworks which call the airport home. I am guilty of posting some myself but hey, if a place which could be a bland transit hub has decided instead to elevate itself to something a bit nicer, why not share the love.

Another thing which strikes me about CBR every time I set foot in the place is that its clean. Impeccably so. The floor shines, the windows are clear and the furniture seems to be minus those suspicious stains so often found on airport chairs. Plus  the bathrooms are nice and you never have to wait.

Another positive about Canberra Airport is that wait times anywhere, be it bathrooms, check in or food are practically non-existent. Whether you self-check or queue, you’d be hard pressed to find a line at all let alone some of the horror shows found at Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith which is the nearest alternative. I haven’t flown from here on an international flight yet but I am booked for a little jaunt in the next few months so I’ll report back on whether the customs factor changes this beautiful lack of lining up.

The facilities

It has to be said that there isn’t a whole lot of choice when it comes to food in the terminal and shopping is practically non-existent. There is RELAY, a book shop/newsagent which has some toys, power adaptors and the like but its pretty slim pickings. There is a new JR duty free option for international but again, I’ll update on this once I’ve checked it out first—hand. In terms of food, there is Hudson’s Coffee, Tuk-Chop and the Limestone Café. They are not magnificent but I’m not sure too many dining options in Australian airports ever are. There is also a bar and café in the international area.

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The boring stuff – parking and transport

For an airport, parking here is reasonably priced. There are undercover or outdoor options, both an easy walk to the terminal. Very short stay parking (under ten minutes) is gloriously FREE! Rates go upward to $22 per day for outdoor parking and $30 per day for indoor parking.

Transport options to the city are taxi, Uber, bus and shuttlebus.

The Airport Express Shuttle will set you back $12 one way or $20 return and stops at Russell, the National Convention Centre, the YHA, London Circuit and West Row. These are all city-centre locations so keep that in mind – not a great option if you are heading for the ‘burbs.

Unlike many other Australian states, the ACT (where Canberra is located) has embraced ride sharing and Uber is a popular option here. Canberra Airport has followed the trend and has a dedicated Uber pick-up area where you can wait indoors – great for the extremes of Canberra weather.

There is also a taxi rank and a number of private driver and limousine services which can collect you from the airport. A taxi to the city will cost around $25-$30. If you are heading to Belconnen, Gungahlin or Tuggeranong (the other main centres of Canberra, it will be $50 and upwards.

So there you have it, my first post on this blog. Hopefully someone somewhere who is thinking about whether or not Canberra should be added to their itinerary will stop, think and book a ticket barcoded CBR – seriously, just do. Canberra is under-rated and should be explored, just remember that you need to get out of the city itself to see what all the fuss is about. But more on that later…

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