Darwin is one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities in the world to visit in 2012, and it’s clear to see why! A vibrant, multicultural and unique destination, Darwin offers a gateway to natural and cultural icons of the Top End, including the Tiwi Islands, Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks, Adelaide River, Mary River and the Katherine Region. Plus amazing seafood and ethnic eats, Aboriginal culture and the best sunsets in the world…here’s 10 reasons why you need to visit Darwin now.

1. Darwin Waterfront

Darwin’s newest hang-out is the Waterfront precinct, in the heart of the city. The wave pool and swimming lagoon are surrounded by chilled-out cafés, bars, shops and seafood restaurants. For a stroll, a drink and a choice of places to eat, the Waterfront makes a relaxed alternative to buzzing Mitchell St.

2. Mitchell Street

The pumping nocturnal scene round the clock at Mitchell Street’s pubs and bars makes this strip a hot-ticket backpacker destination or a fun place to grab a drink after dinner.

3. Parap Village Markets (Saturdays year round)

Located close to the central city of Darwin in Parap, these markets will tantalise your senses with a mixture of Asian cuisine and the aroma of freshly ground coffee. Loved by locals and visitors alike, the markets are open from 8am to 2pm every Saturday.

4. Museum and Art Gallery of the NT

The NT’s premier cultural institution, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), features the region’s art, history, culture and nature – and come face-to-face with 5 metre long stuffed saltwater croc ‘Sweetheart’.

5. Deckchair Outdoor Cinema

It’s been a Darwin tradition since the 1920s but now the secret’s out. Every evening from April to November, locals gather by the shores of Darwin Harbour to lounge in deckchairs and watch flicks under the stars.

6. Mindil Beach Sunset Markets (Thursday and Sunday nights)

Enjoy one of the best sunsets in the world, followed by a stroll through Mindil Beach Sunset Markets every Thursday and Sunday evening. The unique combination of great food and an electric atmosphere make a visit a must.

7. Art galleries

?Darwin and its surrounds boasts some of Australia’s top Aboriginal art galleries, which feature sculptures, weavings, prints and paintings.

8. Litchfield National Park

?Litchfield National Park is only an hour’s drive from the city. Crystal-clear waterfalls, swimming holes, four-wheel driving and easy-going bushwalks are just the start. ?

9. ?Adelaide River

Just 70km drive from the city centre, Adelaide River is the perfect habitat for Salties. Seeing one of these 4.5m giants jumping from the water right next to your boat is something else.

10. Barra Fishing on the Mary River or Corroboree Billabong

?A metre-long slab of silver haunts every fisho’s dreams. And in Darwin, dreams come true – on tours, in your own chartered boat and even off the shoreline or jetty. Barra action is hot in the run-off but can be had all year round. ?

To experience Darwin for yourself, check out the Darwin: Hot Right Now package on www.territorydiscoveries.com.au/hotrightnow – and go in the draw to win your holiday back free!

Have you been to Darwin or the Northern Territory?