Paul Keating has called Canberra “a great mistake”. A city with an air of unreality. But Lonely Planet thinks it is “criminally overlooked” and one of the world’s hottest destinations for 2018.
Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 has ranked Canberra third on its top 10 cities list for travellers next year, beating Hamburg in Germany and Oslo in Norway. It also beat San Juan, Puerto Rico and is the only Australian city to make the list.
Lonely Planet’s experts – using an in-house ranking system that scores cities by topicality, excitement and “x-factor” – have singled out Canberra for its revitalised precincts, its boom in restaurants and cafes, and its large collection of national treasures.
“Criminally overlooked Canberra packs a big punch for such a small city,” writes Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeiher. “It is a bit of a hidden gem that has been hiding in plain sight. Rich with history, culture and entertainment, it offers something for every kind of traveller.
“Revitalised precincts such as NewActon and Braddon best illustrate Canberra’s new lease of life. The deliciously decorated Hotel Hotel in NewActon is the epitome of new Canberra style, with materials such as reclaimed wood evoking the Australian landscape.
“NewActon is also home to A Baker, where the five-course ‘Just Feed Me’ and ‘Just Wine Me’ selections offer a perfect array of locally sourced produce and wine.
“Meanwhile, a brilliant blend of pop-up shops and lively cafes are sprinkled along Lonsdale Street in boutique Braddon.”
The ACT’s chief minister, Andrew Barr, has jumped on the announcement, saying years of Labor government have helped the city become internationally recognised. He said “Canberra” was often used as a synonym for the federal government but it was a vibrant, progressive city.
He said the ACT was the first jurisdiction in Australia to legislate marriage equality (before the high court ruled the laws unconstitutional) and to gazette a Reconciliation Day public holiday, which will be held next year for the first time.
He said Canberra was also ranked the world’s most liveable city by the OECD in 2014 and the QS World University Rankings for 2018 found the Australian National University was the highest ranked university in Australia.
“This is a significant acknowledgement of the evolution of our city in the past few years,” Barr said. “Our focus on connecting Canberra internationally, through direct international flights and attempts to attract international business to the territory, is clearly working and putting our city on the map.
“Having been the tourism minister of the ACT for over 10 years, I have seen how hard the industry has worked with the government to continually grow and attract more people to our city.”
Lonely Planet does not mention Keating’s argument that federal parliament ought to be relocated to Sydney or Melbourne, because it is too weird a city.
“I love the city here,” Keating told a Melbourne audience in 2009. “I would have been very happy for the national parliament to be here. One can conduct a proper life here. Living in motels in Canberra is no fun. Going to the Chinese restaurant in Manuka, it’s got its limitations.’’
Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities 2018 are:
- 1. Seville, Spain
- 2. Detroit, US
- 3. Canberra, Australia
- 4. Hamburg, Germany
- 5. Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- 6. Antwerp, Belgium
- 7. Matera, Italy
- 8. San Juan, Puerto Rico
- 9. Guanajuato, Mexico
- 10. Oslo, Norway
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