Welcome to the world’s most liveable city! If you’re looking for unique experiences, amazing food and weird things to do in Melbourne, you’ve come to the right place. Not many cities cater to artists, foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, hipsters, sports fanatics and culture hunters… but quirky Melbourne has it all!
As The Sweet Wanderlust, I’d be failing at my blog (and life) mission to bring you the world’s best desserts if I didn’t include Melbourne’s best freakshakes at the top of the list. Sure, there’s culture, music, and history that make this city amazing, and if you keep reading, you’ll learn all about it.
The freak shake wasn’t invented in Melbourne, but it got here as fast as it could from neighboring Canberra. As I’ve eaten my way through the city, I’ve devoured countless shakes, each more creatively topped than the last. The most OTT topping: an eyeball at Sugar Buns.
Brunch is my favorite meal of the day. It’s 100% acceptable to order dessert and call it a meal and you can wash it down with alcohol. Which is ok, because it’s brunch!
And Melbourne does brunch better than anywhere else in the world I’ve ever been. Fairy floss-topped pancakes, ice cream cones garnishing waffles, and if you’re into savory foods, mac ’n’ cheese croquette eggs benedict with Bloody Mary hollandaise!
Rough week? Don’t whine about it… wine about it! Get out of the CBD and head for the Yarra Valley. Although it’s only one hour out of town, it feels like a whole new world. If you’re planning a weekend in Yarra Valley, don’t miss the cheese, chocolate, and (of course) all the wine!
Don’t drink and drive! Check into a glamping pod or belle tent for a romantic weekend (or a super fun girls’ weekend). Or hop on a tour and let someone else worry about where you’re going.
Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens
Every day, the Botanic Gardens offers free entry from 7:30 am -sunset. Explore 38 hectares of garden beds with more than 50,000 plants from around the world. Stroll past tranquil lakes and sprawling lawns in this inner-city oasis.
Take a free Garden Discovery Tour at 10:30 am or 2:00 pm to learn more about the gardens. If you want to go deeper into the culture, join a ticketed Aboriginal Heritage Walk to experience a traditional smoking ceremony with an Indigenous guide and learn the traditional uses of plants.
Get your bearings with a free tram tour
The world’s most liveable city is pretty awesome for tourists, too. Hop on one of the old-fashioned #35 trams, which runs in the free tram zone for commentary about the city. One loop of the City Circle Free Tram lasts about 55 minutes and you can hop on and off at leisure to continue exploring on foot.
Melbourne’s City Circle Free Tram runs every 12 minutes, seven days a week from 10 am-6 pm Sunday-Wednesday and 10 am-9 pm Thursday-Saturday.
Pay your respects at the Shrine of Remembrance
This war memorial, dedicated in 1934, serves to honor the service and sacrifice of the ANZACs (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps). If you happen to be in Melbourne on ANZAC Day, the dawn service is a memorable and moving way to start the day.
Explore China town for amazing food and delicious desserts. I love the Dessert Kitchen’s unique treats— from corn ice cream topping corn on the cob to polar bears in hot chocolate, this is the spot for cute sweets!
If you happen to be in Melbourne over Lunar New Year, be sure to visit China Town for parades and lion dances.
Catch a film at an outdoor cinema
If you’re looking for random things to do in Melbourne… you may need to look up! From rooftops to Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens to the ‘G, if you want to watch a movie in a quirky spot, this city has you covered!
Get the perfect Instagram shot at the Brighton Beach Boxes
The brightly colored Brighton Bathing Boxes were originally built more than 100 years ago as a private location for women to change into swimwear. Today, it’s the colorful charm of these boxes that draw visitors to these privately owned boxes without water or electricity. They’re usually passed from generation to generation but in 2018 one of the boxes sold for $337,000AUD.
On a sunny day, you’ll see tons of Instagrammers, families, and selfie-queens doing a photoshoot in front of the boxes. It’s one of the cool things to do in Melbourne!
Fall in love with the little penguins of St. Kilda
You could take a day trip to Phillip Island to see the little penguins… or you could just head to Saint Kilda! Every night, the little penguins of Saint Kilda make their way back to the rocks after a day of swimming and catching fish.
First launched in 1900, the Puffing Billy steam train was a low-cost way to open up remote areas. When a landslide blocked part of the track in 1953, a plan was made to close the line and a farewell day was organized. When 30,000 showed up to say goodbye, a dedicated group of train enthusiasts came together to save the Puffing Billy. It’s still chugging along today through Sherbrooke Forest in the beautiful Dandenongs.
Explore Melbourne’s alleyways and arcades
Melbourne is known for coffee, street art, and its adorable alleyways and arcades. Join this tour, which includes lunch, or this tour, which includes a chocolate tasting and a souvenir bag for one of the most unique experiences in Melbourne– a combination of beauty, history, and shopping!
Go for a drive down the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most stunning trips in Victoria. Take a trip on your own, or join a tour to make sure you get the chance to see the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge in person.
Eat dinner on a tram
Trams are so very Melbourne. I’m remembering how quaint the idea of tram travel was to me when I first arrived (and trying to push away memories of strangers’ stinky armpits holding the handles in the summertime).
What could be more Melbourne than to combine tram travel and good food!? Enjoy a 3, 4, or 5-course meal with Australian wines or beverages from a fully stocked bar as you’re driven around the city. I hope for the diner’s sake that these tram drivers are a little less lead-footed than the ones in charge of my morning commute!
A four-time winner of the National Tourism Award, this experience books up quickly. Make a reservation for this unique Melbourne experience far in advance so you won’t be disappointed!
Hang out with koalas and kangaroos at Healesville Sanctuary
If you don’t get out of the city, your chances of seeing some of Australia’s famed wildlife is approximately 0%. Lucky for you, Healesville Sanctuary is just over an hour away and even reachable by public transport!
Get up close with dingos, koalas, kangaroos, and wallabies. You can even catch a glimpse of the elusive platypus!
Go hipster spotting in Brunswick
Among Brunswick’s Victorian architecture, op shops, and music venues are Melbourne’s hipsters, taking part in all the alternative things to do in Melbourne. Check them out, because whatever they’re doing now is sure to be cool in a few months!
Listen to spooky stories about your favorite haunts on a ghost tour or a haunted prison tour. Is it Melbourne’s ever-changing weather or was that a ghostly presence that just sent shivers down your spine?
SEA LIFE Aquarium
Dive into an interactive ocean adventure with SEA LIFE Melbourne. A journey from the Australian waters full of crocodiles, sharks, and stingrays to icy Antarctica, where you can watch King and Gentoo penguins play in the snow!
South Melbourne Market
At first glance, South Melbourne Market is a foodie’s paradise with fresh produce, exotic cheese, and multiple choices of ice cream vendors! Every third Saturday of the month, the market offers a To Market To Market tour for $15 which includes tastings and a reusable market bag. Book early to ensure your opportunity to meet the vendors who make the magic happen!
Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find that the market isn’t just for foodies. Shop second-hand books, get your nails done or shop the latest local fashions. This market can keep you busy for hours! This half-day tour will do just that as you enjoy extensive food and drink tastings.
The South Melbourne Market is open Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday 8 am-4 pm and Friday 8 am-5 pm. From January 5- February 23, visit the night market on Thursdays from 5:30 to celebrate summer with food and music.
Queen Vic Market
Queen Vic Market saved my Friendsgiving celebration with a turkey and a recipe, but this market is more than just food!
Check out their clothing, jewelry, and souvenirs for a great way to bring Melbourne home with you. Queen Vic Market is open Tuesday and Thursday 6 am-2 pm, Friday 6 am-3 pm and Sunday 9 am-4 pm.
Join Queen Victoria Market and Carlton Foodie Walking Tour for elaborate tastings at Melbourne’s largest market.
Watch an AFL game at the MCG
Many Australians love rugby, but Melbourne is a footy town! Check out a game and cheer on my favorites: the Western Bulldogs, the Cinderella story winners of the 2016 AFL Grand Final. No games playing while you’re in town? You can still get inside the MCG with a tour of the stadium.
Visit Melbourne’s pink lake
Western Australia gets all the credit for having Pepto Bismol pink lakes. I saw a pretty awesome pink lake on Rottnest Island, but when conditions are right (warm temperatures, low rainfall, and sunlight), Melbourne’s Westgate Park’s salt lake changes color from blue to bright pink.
Shop at Chadstone
Australia’s largest shopping center has a store for every taste. If you can walk out without buying anything, you’re a better woman (or man) than me! Typically, malls aren’t known for their culinary creativity, but Chadstone isn’t like most malls.
Perch yourself on a dainty bow-backed chair at Le Mille Creperie for one of Melbourne’s most affordable high teas. Or try Scroll’d for some freshly made Thai ice cream, made right in front of you! I’m partial to the cookies ’n’ cream flavor. And DO NUT miss Dashing Donuts (one of my favorite doughnuts in Melbourne) made using traditional artisan Italian dough.
Opened in 1912, Luna Park retains the charm of yesteryear while providing modern-day thrills to adrenaline seekers. Step through Mr. Moon’s giant mouth and go for a spin on The Carousel, listed on Victorian and National Heritage Registers and built-in 1913 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.
Or take a ride on The Great Scenic Railway, the oldest continuously operating roller coaster in the world. It even rolled through World War I, making it one of my favorite unique things to do in Melbourne!
Visit the State Library
Australia’s oldest library is located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. Play a game of oversized chess before venturing into the library. Join a free tour, visit for a special talk or explore on your own. Be sure to climb the staircase to overlook the Domed Reading Room, commissioned for the library’s jubilee. The dome is 114 feet in diameter, 114 feet high, and impressive all around!
Throw some i-darts
If you’ve got poor aim, i-darts might be the darts game for you! The plastic darts are flung into the computerized dartboard which calculates your score automatically. Note: if you accidentally completely miss your board and hit the board next to you, it does not count for your score, and your neighboring players may be upset.
The i-darts pub also has beer pong. And it’s kind of hilarious. As a sorority girl, I know a thing or two about beer pong. i-darts’ version is nothing like the games we played in frat boys’ garages, but it’s probably a whole lot safer and more sanitary. This game of beer pong is played on an automated board that lights up when a ping pong ball lands in a cup. When this happens, the beer pong attendant pours a shot of beer for the losing team.
Dialogue in the Dark
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be blind? Through a partnership with Guide Dogs of Australia, Dialogue in the Dark takes you on a sensory journey as you discover the challenges of navigating Melbourne in the dark, gaining a new understanding of the challenges faced by those with vision impairment.
Equipped with a white cane and a skilled blind or low-vision guide, you’ll learn to navigate the city in a simulated environment, promising one of the most unique experiences Melbourne has to offer. Expect to see nothing, but learn a lot!
Picnic at Hanging Rock
If you’re into the macabre or looking for strange things to do in Melbourne, try a picnic at Hanging Rock. For a fictional group of schoolgirls, this didn’t work out so well. In the 1967 novel by Joan Lindsay, a group of girls disappears from their Valentine’s Day school outing. Some reappear under mysterious circumstances and others remain missing. Now, there’s a creepy visitor center that explains the story and adds to the mystique of the area.
Explore Melbourne’s best street art
Want to make a splash on Instagram? The colorful laneways of Melbourne are the perfect spot to get your next profile photo while exploring the best street art in Melbourne.
Local artists and worldwide legends, like Bansky, have made their mark on the streets of Melbourne. It’s a different experience every time you go!
Party with the bands at Cherry Bar
ACDC Laneway, named for the Australian rock band, is among the best street art in Melbourne. It’s important for another reason, too, though. Cherry Bar, founded by former Cosmic Psychos drummer Bill Walsh, is an institution in the rock community, and it’s not uncommon for arena-headlining acts to make their way to Cherry Bar after the encore.
You never know who you might find at Cherry Bar… In the past, it’s welcomed Axl Rose and The Black Keys and Jack Black is said to have danced the night away at this 200-capacity dive bar.
Go out on Chapel Street
Chapel Street is known for its late-night party antics and amazing food. My favorite is Mr. Miyagi’s sushi taco paired with a Hello Kitty Sour. Be sure to arrive early or prepare to wait in line!
Check out an exhibit at ACMI
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image pays homage to film, tv, video games, digital culture, and art. Most of the exhibits are free and open daily from 10 am-5 pm, but some, like the recent Wonderland exhibit, are ticketed entries.
Go take a bike!
Melbourne’s Bike Share service provides 50 bike share racks around the city if public transportation isn’t your thing. Rent a bike for as little as $3/ day or $8/ week (which covers unlimited 30-minute trips). Be sure to wear a helmet!
Rub elbows with the tennis pros at the Australian Open
Every January, tennis pros from around the world gather to compete at the Australian Open. Coopers Saturday is a favorite for people who like tennis a little and partying a lot.
Night Noodle Market
Make the most of summer weather in November at the night noodle markets in Birrarung Marr. Restaurants from across the country dream up innovative Asian-themed dishes for this hawker market. Past markets have offered unicorn buns, floating noodles, and matcha ice cream.
Visit the Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Melbournians may be known for their all-black ensembles, but they love to laugh! From the end of March to the end of April, comedians from around the world flock to Melbourne to perform. Get in early and take a chance on some lesser-known talent for more affordable tickets.
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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Melbourne
Vibrant, elegant, and multicultural, Australia’s second-largest metropolis frequently tops the list of the world’s most liveable cities. With its tangle of hidden laneways, tree-lined promenades, and grand Victorian buildings funded by the 1850s Gold Rush, the city has a distinctly European feel.
Foodies will also find plenty to love. Famous Aussie chefs flaunt their talents here, and you can feast on everything, from Greek, Italian, and Indian cuisine to Spanish and Vietnamese fare.
But perhaps Melbourne’s biggest claim to fame is sports. The famous Melbourne Cup horse race held on the first Tuesday in November brings the entire nation to a standstill, and Australian Rules football elicits an almost religious reverence here.
Catch a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground; explore the city’s diverse galleries, chic cafes, and shops; stroll through beautiful botanic gardens; cruise along the Yarra River; or hop aboard a heritage tram to discover Melbourne’s magic. On top of all these exciting things to do, rewarding day trip adventures lie a short drive from the city buzz.
When Federation Square opened in 2002 to commemorate 100 years of federation, it divided Melburnians. Some loved it and those who hated it. Either way, it has become an integral part of the city and a great place for tourists to start their sightseeing.
Located opposite Flinders Street Station, a major public transport hub, the building’s ultra-modern design of open and closed spaces contrasts with the surrounding Victorian architecture. With more than 2,000 events annually, you can always find entertainment in the central outdoor performance space and intimate indoor venues.
Federation Square also houses the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, dedicated to Australian art, and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). More commonly called “Fed Square,” it is also one of the largest free Wi-Fi sites in Australia.
Location: Corner Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne
Royal Botanic Gardens
the heart of green parkland extending south of the Yarra River, about two kilometers from the CBD, the Royal Botanic Gardens are among the finest of their kind in the world. Established in 1846, the gardens encompass two locations: Melbourne and Cranbourne.
The Melbourne Gardens cover an area of 38 hectares with more than 8,500 species of plants, including many rare specimens.
The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden is designed to encourage the next generation of gardeners, and the Aboriginal Heritage Walk is a popular tour that looks into the rich heritage of indigenous Australians.
Visiting the gardens is one of the best free things to do in Melbourne. In summer, live theater is a highlight of the gardens, and a moonlight cinema is set up under the stars. This is also a popular spot for a picnic by the lake or a traditional high tea at The Terrace cafe.
Location: Birdwood Ave, South Yarra
Melbourne Cricket Ground and the National Sports Museum
Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia, so it’s no surprise that a sports stadium numbers among the city’s top tourist attractions. With a capacity of 100,000 and a history dating back to 1853, the MCG is considered one of the world’s greatest stadiums.
As the main stadium for the 1956 Olympic Games and 2006 Commonwealth Games, the birthplace of Test Cricket, and the home of Australian Rules Football, “the ‘G” is woven into the fabric of Melbourne.
Daily 75-minute tours take visitors for a trip down a memory lane of great moments in sporting history and incorporate the National Sports Museum, including the Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum. You can also catch a game of cricket in summer or football during winter.
Directly opposite the MCG is Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open tennis tournament, held every January. You can hire a tennis court, and many concerts are held here during the year.
Address: Brunton Ave, East Melbourne
Southbank and Arts Centre Melbourne
On the banks of the Yarra River, a short stroll from Flinders Street Station, this area is packed with cultural attractions. Southbank promenade is filled with indoor/outdoor cafés, restaurants, and live entertainment. An excellent arts and crafts market is held every Sunday, and the area is also home to many festivals throughout the year.
Easily recognizable by its spire, the Arts Centre incorporates a range of theaters and spaces, including the State Theatre, Playhouse, Fairfax Theatre, and Hamer Hall, the premier performance space for the revered Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Address: St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
National Gallery of Victoria
The oldest public art gallery in Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria holds more than 70,000 works of art in two city locations. The international collection is housed in the St. Kilda Road building, originally opened in 1968 and extensively renovated in 2003.
The building is renowned for The Great Hall, where visitors are encouraged to lie on the floor and gaze at the colorful stained glass ceiling. The extensive Australian collection is held in the Ian Potter Gallery in Federation Square, featuring the history of Australian art from Aboriginal works through to the Heidelberg School, and contemporary mixed media. One of the highlights is the large triptych format, The Pioneer by Frederick McCubbin.
Address: St. Kilda Road, Melbourne and Federation Square
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