The best gift experiences in Canberra

Harpist Alison Ware plays to Ruffed Lemurs

Visit the Ruffed Lemurs at the National Zoo. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Need a gift for someone who has everything? Why not give an experience gift? One they’ll never forget?

Canberra has a wide range of quality gift experiences, for all ages, personality types and interests. You’ll find gift experiences at a range of price points too. The best make memories that will last a lifetime.

Buying a gift experience is easy and can usually be done online. This means you save hours wandering from shop to shop trying to find something special to buy.

In this article, we’ll outline the qualities to consider when choosing a gift experience, and share where to find the best in Canberra.

What makes a great gift experience?

Choosing the perfect gift can be stressful and emotionally draining, but with an experience package life gets easier.

It can be helpful to keep the following in mind when choosing a great gift experience.

  • Interests. You’ll want to consider the personality of the person you’re buying an experience for. Are they adventurous? Romantic? A wine lover? Young at heart? Once you’ve nailed this, you can zero in on the types of gift experiences to consider. And, remember, it’s not about what you like, but what they like.
  • Budget. Gift experiences vary in price, with some under $50 and some costing hundreds. Consider your budget when thinking about a gift experience and stick to it.
  • Timing. It’s best to explore if the gift experience has restrictions that might prevent usage. For example, are there time restrictions that might not suit the person you’re buying for? An expiry date that won’t work with their schedule?
  • Past experience. Especially with experience gifts at the upper end of the market, you’ll want to ensure the person you’re giving the gift to hasn’t already done the same thing or something similar.
  • Limitations. You’ll want to consider how many people are included in the gift experience and what that means for the person you’re buying for. The last thing you may want is for them to experience the gift alone or pressure someone else to join them.

The best gift experiences in Canberra

Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Canberra Secrets Personalised Tours

Canberra Secrets Personalised Tours

Canberra Secrets Personalised Tours is a boutique tour business and a great gift experience. It’s owned and operated by best-selling author Marg Wade who provides a unique, high-quality, tailored tour experience of Canberra and surrounding region. Her tours expose the gems and secrets within the capital’s national icons and its lesser-known or hidden attractions.

Tours tap into the Canberra region’s very latest happenings and are a fabulous way to explore the capital’s cultural heart, heritage, natural wonders, and food and wine.

The “Canberra Secrets Highlights”, “Taste of Real Australia”, “Heritage Secrets” and “Orientation” tours are all popular.

Tours vary in length and Marg takes care of all details.

On Google, Frank Douglas wrote, “Great professional tour guide for Canberra! I had a limited amount of time and three places I definitely wanted to visit … Marg masterfully organised our plan so we could arrive at each site at the optimal time.”

GoBoat Canberra

With GoBoat Canberra, guests sail along Lake Burley Griffin and experience the capital from a different perspective. Up to eight people can fit in the easy-to-navigate electric boats. Navigation training is provided (no license or experience required) and so is safety equipment. Book a one-hour ride or stay on the lake for up to six hours. Sailing available until sunset.

Karun Sharma wrote on Google, “Absolutely amazing. One-hour boat ride and you can go up to Regatta Point. Beautiful views.”

National Gallery of Australia

Art lovers can’t get enough of the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), one of the country’s leading arts institutions. NGA gift experiences include private and special tours of the Gallery and of individual exhibitions. A perfect experience gift that lasts is an NGA membership, which gives members to free exhibition tickets, discounted tickets, invitations to opening parties and more.

On Google, Nicole Jayne, “I visited the NGA over the weekend and was thoroughly surprised by the size of its collection.”

Lake George Winery

Wine tasting and vine-to-wine tours are great gift experiences for wine lovers. Lake George Winery offers both. Wine tasting is of the vineyard’s award-winning wines. With vine-to-wine, guests join owner Sara and journey through the vineyard, then to the winery to see where it all happens. They finish in the wine cellar with a wine tasting experience.

On Google, Amber Sinclair wrote, “Had a lovely wine tasting followed by a delicious platter by the fireplace. Highly recommend.”

National Zoo and Aquarium

The National Zoo and Aquarium gift experiences include getting up close and personal with some of the world’s most amazing creatures. With the “Encounter” series, guests feed animals, including a tiger or white lion. With “Meet a Cheetah”, guests are a zookeeper for a day. Overnight packages at Jamala Wildlife Lodge are also available other experiences.

Aditya Kumar wrote on Google, “I have lived in seven different countries and visited plenty of zoos all over the world, but this is one of my favourites!”

Balloon Aloft Canberra

Award-winning Balloon Aloft has been taking guests on spectacular balloon rides over Canberra for more than 30 years. Fully qualified and certified pilots provide comprehensive training on the ground before the balloons rise and float across the capital’s amazing landscape. Breakfast flights are popular and so is the “Romantic Package for 2.”

On Google, Damien Gallagher wrote “Our group had a fantastic time on the balloon … Staff were incredibly friendly which really enhanced our overall experience.”

Peril in the Parliament

The Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) offers a gift experience called “Peril in The Parliament—the Silent Speaker”. This after-dark experience, set in the 1930s, is for groups of eight or more in the House of Representatives, Old Parliament House. Part whodunit, part riddle room, participants interact to solve puzzles, earn clues and identify a killer.

Jonathan Steffanoni wrote on Google, “The Museum of Australian Democracy is possibly the best attraction to visit in Canberra.”

Jet Flight Simulator

Thrill seekers and aviation buffs will get their adrenaline pumping by being a pilot and flying a large commercial jet with Jet Flight Simulator Canberra. Escaping into the virtual world of flight is a fabulous experience gift. No previous flight experience needed. Jet Flight Simulator is operated by qualified instructors.

On Google, Rachelle Griffin wrote, “Such a unique gift! My partner absolutely loved it. Would definitely recommend, the owners are very personable and had great stories!”

If you’re looking for more information on gift giving in Canberra, you might like our articles on the best day trips from Canberra, best skydiving and adventure activities, best tours and the best places to buy gifts in Canberra.

Your experience with gift experiences in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you bought or used any of the gift experiences listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a gift experience?
A gift experience isn’t a material or physical gift. Instead, it’s a gift that allows the recipient to experience something amazing. You’ll find many gift experiences on the market to cover all ages, interest and personality types. Examples are skydiving, food and wine tours, riding in a hot-air balloon, or taking a DIY class.
Is a gift experience better than a material gift?
Everyone is different so consider the person you’re buying the gift for. Gift experiences are great for those who have everything. They’re also great for those who are challenging to buy for and for those who aren’t fussed on material things. Gift experiences are also a perfect way to create cherished memories.
What factors should I consider when buying gift experiences?
You’ll likely want to consider, age, interests and previous experiences. You’ll also want to take physical considerations into account, with some gift experiences requiring certain levels of fitness. Also consider your budget. Some gift experiences, like a sky diving stimulator, are more expensive than, say, an organised tour at an art gallery.
Are gift experiences expensive?
Not all gift experiences are expensive, but some are. A test drive in a high-performing sports car will cost you more than organising a picnic hamper and wine for an afternoon by the lake.
What would be a good couples' gift experience?
If you're celebrating your partner's birthday, an anniversary or other special occasion, a gift experience is a fantastic way to spend quality time together. What you choose depends on who you are as a couple, and there are many options on the market. Some couples prefer intimate, romantic experiences. Others more adventurous. Still others prefer cultural gift experiences.
What’s a good way to surprise someone with a gift experience?
Some gift experiences provide a lovely card you can wrap in a box or envelope so you have something fancy to give. If you know the person you’re giving the experience to is available, you can surprise them by taking them straight to the experience site at the required time.

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