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Best Places To Explore In Melbourne

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    Melbourne is a city with surprises around every corner; discreet alleyways are home to renowned street art, quirky bars lie behind innocuous doorways, and the multiculturalism that gives zest to the city is celebrated in its festivals, museums, and most importantly – food! There’s a buzz of creativity and culture that permeates the city. 

    Of all the cities in Australia, Melbourne is seen as the cultural one. It is full of international visitors and residents, which is surely a testament to its attractive vibe. Patriotic Melbournians equally adore the city; they will be the first to tell you how amazing it is, and they are usually happy to impart details of their favourite spots.

    While Sydney attracts more visitors, it’s actually Melbourne that ends up winning tourist’s hearts. There are an unfathomable amount of things to see in Melbourne – it would be a real challenge to get bored!

    Although there is plenty to spend money on, it’s also totally possible to have a wonderful experience in Melbourne without touching your purse.

    The Best Free Things To Do In Melbourne

    The beaches are world-famous, as are the National Galleries, specific markets, parks, and of course the Yarra River, to name a few.

    Hang Out In Federation Square

    No Melbourne sightseeing would be complete without a visit to the famous Federation Square. The square, affectionately known as ‘Fed Square’, is the city’s main meeting point and is bustling with all kinds of free events all year around.

    There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars to hang out in, and if you do want to put your hand in your pocket, you’ll find some very cool shops here.

    Tour Melbourne’s Spectacular Churches

    This is another one for architecture lovers; Melbourne has some seriously beautiful churches to explore, and taking a look around these can transport you out of the city atmosphere and into a spiritual realm! First on your to-do list should be St Paul’s Cathedral, designed by William Butterfield and English architect. You can find this neo-Gothic style cathedral in the centre of Melbourne’s central business district.

    Close by there is St Patrick’s Cathedral, too; this beautiful medieval-style building is well worth snapping. Another couple of impressive churches worth putting on your list are the St. Mary Star of the Sea Church and St Michael’s Uniting Church.

    View World-Class Artwork

    Victoria has so many galleries. A good port of call is NGV International (National Galleries of Victoria), which houses international art exhibitions. You will find world-famous artists’ works of all kinds here. It won’t cost anything to view the permanent collections, and it’s often free to view some of the temporary ones. Head down to St Kilda Road on any day except Tuesday, between 10 am and 5 pm .

    Another great free art gallery is the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) in Southbank, which exhibits some very special contemporary and innovative art. As the gallery commissions the art, it is pretty unusual! Even the building is a work of art in its own right.

    Relax In The Green Gardens And Parks

    If you’re wondering what to do in Melbourne, head to some of its amazing parks and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in nature! Melbourne is home to some of the finest gardens and parks in the whole country. You can’t go wrong with visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens, situated close to the CBD and the Yarra River.

    Here you can immerse yourself in beautiful nature, relaxing amidst the many different trees, plants and flowers. There is a whopping 38 hectares to cover, so you can easily spend an entire day here if you wish.

    There is also the Royal Park, a huge park spread out over 180 hectares. You can get around it by train or tram and hang out in the Zoological Gardens. Other gardens worth your time are Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury Gardens, which are more or less next to each other.

    Delve Into The History Of The Aborigines

    Aboriginal history is quite interesting, to say the least. If you head down to the Koorie Heritage Trust Cultural Centre in Federation Square, you will get to find out what Melbourne was like before the British colonisation of two centuries back.

    The Wurundjeri people were the original custodians of the land, and you can learn all about them at this centre; you’ll also learn about the fascinating Koorie culture and history. There is a social history exhibition that is always there, and there are plenty of other exhibitions by aboriginal artists. These change from time to time, so you’ll need to check the website to see what’s on.

    Walk Along The Yarra River

    yarra-river

    The Yarra River is seen as the social heart of Melbourne, and it would be a shame to miss out on a stroll along its banks. In the daytime, you can see beautiful street art and unusual buildings. In the evening, lights bounce off the water, painting a very colourful scene.

    A Yarra walk is ambient and relaxing at any time of day. Along the riverbanks, you can find barbecue and picnic facilities, as well as jetties and fishing platforms. There are also paths and trails for those who want to take a jog or bike ride along the water’s edge.

    You can hop onto any of the river crafts at Southgate or Princes Walk or even take your own boat down the Yarra. That’s a good way of getting to attractions like Melbourne Park, the Royal Botanical Gardens, or Herring Island Park. This river is also the site of various festivals and events throughout the year. It’s one of the best places to visit in Melbourne!

    Explore Melbourne’s Town Hall

    If you love history and architecture, don’t miss a visit to the town hall on Swanston Street while you’re in Melbourne. This is one impressive piece of architecture; it is made of bluestone and Tasmanian freestone, and it’s quite a sight.

    Plenty is going on inside, too; the Town Hall hosts all kinds of concerts, comedy acts and public talks throughout the year, so if you’re lucky, there may be something happening during your visit.

    Even Abba and The Beatles have played here! There is the main auditorium and a number of smaller chambers, all of which are used for such events. Don’t forget to take a look at the old Grand Organ from 1929 while you’re there.

    Tour The City On The City Circle Tram Or Tourist Shuttle Bus

    Hop on a tram – it’s the best way to check out all sights on your what to see in Melbourne list! The tram is a very cool way of travelling between the major Melbourne attractions. It will drop you at sites such as Fed Square, Parliament House and the fascinating Melbourne Aquarium.

    Trams run every 12 minutes, but the hours vary dependent on the day. Between Sunday and Wednesday, you can jump on from 10 am until 6 pm. From Thursday to Saturday they go on until 9 pm.

    There is also a free tourist shuttle bus every 30 minutes between 9.30 am and 4 pm, and this will take you to attractions like the Queen Victoria Market and Chinatown. If you stay on board, there will be a guide on the bus to educate you throughout the 1.5-hour route. Definitely one of the best things to do in Melbourne.

    Get The St Kilda Foreshore Experience

    The St Kilda beach area is another one of the top Melbourne tourist attractions. A lot is going on here, which means great people-watching opportunities – especially on Acland Street, a favoured spot for pavement café lounging, window shopping and cake quaffing.

    The busy, vibrant beach area attracts everyone from fishers to kite surfers, and the promenade and pier make for a lovely walk and epic views. Luna Park is another interesting spot with its archaic amusement rides, but those aren’t free to ride. Every Sunday, you can find a craft market on the Esplanade; incidentally, the Esplanade Hotel is a go-to venue for awesome (and often free) live music gigs.

    Explore The Melbourne Markets

    Melbourne has many a market, and each has something different to offer. You’ll find everything from local produce to gourmet street food, crafts and secondhand goods. Even if you don’t want to spend anything, the atmosphere is exciting, and there are plenty of free food samples on offer.

    The biggest and best-known market is Queen Victoria Market, but if you prefer the quieter and less ‘touristy’ markets, you can check out Camberwell Market or the Rose Street Artists Market in Fitzroy. To combine live music fun with a market vibe, try the summertime night market at Victoria Market. It’s a Melbourne must see!

    Meander The Lanes

    The city centre is made up of an intricate network of lanes, alleys and arcades. It can be hard to know where to start, but you can pop down to the Fed Square visitor centre for a map. One good starting point would be Degraves Street, which is off Flinders St. It’s a relaxing spot with great coffee options, so you can sit and watch the city go by before you set out to explore the rest of the lanes.

    Opposite Degraves Street, you will find Centre Place, another interesting alley with fantastic boutique stores and bars. You could spend hours and hours taking in the sights and vibes of Melbourne’s lanes and paths, so make sure your schedule accommodates! With the help of this guide, you should quickly fill your trip with meaningful and memorable activities without denting your bank balance too much.

    Things to do in Melbourne

    Get the Best Melbourne View from Eureka Skydeck

    The Eureka Skydeck boastfully claims to be the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere – and, as such, it is one of the top Melbourne points of interest! Visitors have whisked up 88 floors in less than 40 seconds to an observation room that offers a 360-degree view of the city and beyond. Tickets are required to visit the Eureka Skydeck viewing platform, which can be purchased in advance. 

    A must-do Melbourne sight, visiting the Eureka Skydeck should be one of the first things visitors do when they get to the city. The 88th-floor observation deck (975 feet) is enclosed with floor-to-ceiling windows for Port Phillip Bay and the Dandenong Ranges views. Viewfinders are free to use and help pinpoint Melbourne landmarks. General admission tickets are not time-stamped, so visitors are free to stay as long as they want once inside the observation deck.

    We took our time during our visit and lingered to enjoy the unique vantage point. We highly recommend stepping outside onto the small Terrace, which allows guests to feel the rush of the wind (the views, however, are obstructed with fencing). 

    Top Tip: Thrill-seekers should also put The Edge Experience on their Melbourne To-Do List. The all-glass box moves on a track to hover outside the building – and is one of the most hair-raising Melbourne activities. Lasting five minutes, The Edge enables visitors to see straight up to the sky, out to the sea and down to the city streets. Visitors who want to experience The Edge can purchase the upgraded option when buying advance tickets. 

    Watch a Footy Game at the MCG

    afl-players

    For sports fans, attending a Footy game at the MCG might very well be one of the absolute best things to do in Melbourne, Australia. It was undoubtedly a highlight for us (so much that we attended multiple AFL games while visiting the city!). 

    Australian Football, Aussie Rules Football, Footy, AFL – figuring out what to call it is as tricky as figuring out how the game is played. However, Melbourne was the sport’s birthplace (with the first game played in 1858) and watching a match is one of the top Melbourne things to do! 

    The place to watch AFL is at the MCG (which stands for Melbourne Cricket Ground but is often shortened even further to simply ‘The G’). The historic stadium is one of the largest in the world and dates to 1853. Home of the Melbourne Cricket Club (another favourite Melbourne game, which we don’t find nearly as thrilling), the MCG hosts numerous games, events and concerts. If there are no events during your Melbourne visit, consider taking a tour of the MCG. 

    Basic Rules of Australian Football

    Each team has 18 players on the field (and their uniforms consist of incredibly short shorts and no pads or helmets). Players can tackle and shepherd (push, bump or block) the opposing team members in an attempt to keep or gain control of the ball. A player is awarded a Mark if they cleanly catch a ball that has been kicked at least 15 meters. A Mark grants the player a five-meter protected radius, allowing them time to set up the next play. In almost all other cases, the ball is live, and the players ‘Play On.’

    Points are scored with Goals and Behinds. Four posts stand at each end of the field, the middle two taller than the outer two. A player must kick the ball through the two middle posts to score a Goal, which earns their team six points. A Behind is scored when the ball goes through the middle and outer post, scoring the team one point. The player can only travel with the ball for a distance of 15 meters before kicking, tossing or hand-balling (punching the ball as a type of pass) to another player or bouncing the ball on the ground as a way of passing it to themselves.

    Go on a Fitzroy Pub Crawl

    Exploring the historic districts is one of the best things to do in Melbourne – and Fitzroy is one of our favourites! Located northeast of Melbourne’s CBD, Fitzroy has been around since 1839 and features some of the best-preserved Victorian-era architecture in the city. The neighbourhood also boasts a dizzying number of bars – and, as such, is one of our top picks for fun Melbourne places to visit. A leisurely walk from the city (or a quick ride on the tram) puts this area within easy reach for visitors.

    Recommended Fitzroy Bars

    The working class founded Fitzroy – and there is no bar that better embodies the district’s spirit than The Workers Club. The cozy corner pub is sure to have footy on the telly and live music in the back. Hipsters huddle around the worn wooden tables, and graffiti-style art covers the walls, making the place feel a little edgier than some of Melbourne’s classic and historic pubs. With a regular lineup of events and specials (check out the Monday beer and burger deals), it’s easy to understand why there is always a crowd.

    Veer off the main drag, Brunswick, to find a pub gem: The Rainbow Hotel. The Rainbow Bar Fitzroy has been around almost as long as Fitzroy itself and features more than 100 brews (in both bottle and draft). The tap selections include a rotation of the best local beers. With so many choices, we relied on the friendly bar staff’s suggestions and weren’t disappointed. Even though it’s just a block from the main street, it is undoubtedly a neighbourhood joint.

    Tour the Shrine of Remembrance

    The Shrine of Remembrance is one of the top things to see in Melbourne. Built in 1934 to honour the Victorians who served in World War I, the Shrine of Remembrance has evolved and expanded to include an intriguing Melbourne museum featuring artifacts from all Australian conflicts.

    One of the most exciting and informative things to do in Melbourne for free is visiting the shrine and on-site museum. Visitors who want more detailed information can join one of the two daily tours; guides share intriguing information on one of Melbourne’s most important places. 

    As one of the best sights in Melbourne, be sure to take your time visiting the thoughtful displays. 

    The Beam of Light illuminates the word ‘Love’ on the plaque every half hour. (On Remembrance Day, which is celebrated on November 11, a beam of sunlight filters through the glass roof and hits the word ‘love’ at precisely 11 a.m. to mark the day and time in 1918 that the war ended.)

    On the walls are the national flags, and below them are handwritten books including the names of every Victorian who served abroad in World War I. Also not to be missed is The Reserve that encompasses 32 acres of land on which monuments, fountains and trees commemorate the Victorians who have served. A memorial to those who served in World War II, accompanied by an eternal flame and flags, stands at the Shrine’s front.

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