melbourne things to do

Here are our 22 best things to do in Melbourne.

The city of Melbourne is a great place to visit, and this blog post will share some of the best things to do in Melbourne.

1. Federation Square

federation square

Federation Square is an artistic and creative hub of Melbourne not to be missed. It hosts over 2000 events a year! These include cultural festivals, event launches, exhibitions, performances, forums, films, concerts, and fashion shows – and most are free.

Take in the architecture of the precinct. Visit one of the cafes or eateries and enjoy the ambience of multicultural Melbourne.

Visit the galleries including Ian Potter Centre and the Australian Centre For The Moving Image, a world-leading centre for experiencing the moving image in all its forms.

Enjoy the many events often held in Federation Square! Sit and watch films on the massive screen. It’s become a Melbourne thing to watch major sporting events on the big screen. Wander around the corner and enjoy the Yarra River.   

Check out the view from St Paul’s Cathedral steps – undoubtedly one of the best views in Melbourne!

Walk around the corner for a meal at Gazi, visit restaurants on Flinders Lane, or check out the restaurants on nearby Flinders Lane. Check out Flinders St Station as iconic Melbourne architecture. 

2. St Kilda

st kilda

St Kilda is an eclectic place with many attractions. Check out the Esplanade (while taking in the markets on a Sunday). Stroll along the Pier and grab an ice cream.

Take in Acland Street and the fine European cake establishments.  Many of Melbourne’s finest restaurants are in St Kilda, with many in Fitzroy and Acland Streets. Enjoy fine dining at great restaurants like Donovan’s and The Stokehouse. Sit outside and take in the ambience at Cicciolina on Acland St.

Nearby Prahran Market is world-class.

Travel nearby to Chapel St with fantastic shopping, op shops and restaurants and cafes. Chapel St is one of the hottest food and fashion precincts in Melbourne. It is also a popular spot for op shoppers! You can shop for about 3 km! Check out great designers here, including Allanah Hill and Collette Dinnigan, not to mention Ksubi.

Another attraction is the Prahran Market, open Tues – Sunday except for Wednesday. Here you can grab a great coffee at Market Lane Coffee. 

3. Crown Melbourne Casino

crown melbourne

Crown Melbourne is a popular Melbourne destination and a massive, massive complex! Parking is reasonable and available in the vast car parks. Along with gaming, the complex offers first-rate restaurants and cafes and designer shopping.

This is a great place to come for fine dining with acclaimed restaurants like Rockpool Bar and Grill, The Atlantic for seafood, Rosetta for Italian, Nobu for Japanese/Korean fusion, Bistro Guillaume and Spice Temple, to name a few!

Spice it up at Spice Temple.

You find here a concentration of fine hatted dining and casual eateries that are also impressive. Crown Casino is a popular destination for entertainment events. The Palladium hosts many high profile events.

Accommodation is world-class with impressive rooms and suites, including Crown Metropol and Crown Towers. Many of Melbourne’s glamour events on the social calendar are held at Crown Casino.

 4. Southgate and Arts Precinct

southgate arts

Southgate is an excellent precinct to enjoy the Yarra River, fine shopping and great restaurants and cafes. One can walk back and forth across the various bridges over the Yarra to enjoy a splendid city ambience. Stroll along the promenade in Southgate. Stop and enjoy a coffee. Enjoy fine shopping. Then step into a fine restaurant for a gourmet experience.

Southgate is also the home of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition. Around Southgate are Arts venues such as Hamer Hall, The Arts Centre, and NGV.

Melbourne’s best restaurants are to be found in Southgate, including Pure South, Melba Brasserie, Hophaus Bier Bar Grill, The Meat and Wine Co., Koko, Tutto Bene, Red Emperor, World Restaurant and Bar and many others.  

 5. Yarra Valley

yarra valley

Allocate a day to spend in the glorious Yarra Valley! Just a short drive from Melbourne  (under an hour), the Yarra is full of amazing lush scenery, world-class wine centres, outdoor activities and great cafes and restaurants. See our Best Yarra Valley Wineries article…

Head out to Healesville and call into Domain Chandon to see how the Moet and Chandon French connection does it in grand style! Sweeping views, spectacular grounds and facilities and excellent tours.

Then travel a short distance to Oakridge Winery and Restaurant for some of the best winery dinings in Australia. You have to love a winery with spectacular views! 

Check out the fantastic foodie haven at Innocent Bystander in Healesville, which features amazing wood oven pizzas, wine, cheeses, gourmet pieces of bread, and the sourdough fruit bread is a killer! Sit out on the deck or in the restaurant next to the winery. Even the menu for kids is gourmet!

Head to Levantine Hill for luxe dining or Bella Vedere for some fine Italianimpressive dining. Check out Punt Road Wines along the way to the Yarra Valley Dairy – another foodie haven. Grab yourself a cheese tasting plate and enjoy the views.  Head out to Yering Station, a massive and impressive winery – which also offers foodies fine dining, wine and much more.

Yarra Glen is another great stop, and it’s worth checking out De Bortoli winery. 

6. Adventure Clues – Street Art Scavenger Hunt

adventure clues street art melbourne feature image feat block

If you’re visiting Melbourne for the culture, then you won’t want to miss out on all of the fantastic street art on offer. Some pieces are a little hard to find but well worth discovering. Adventure Clues has a dedicated cryptic street art tour that leads you straight to all of the most famous pieces without wasting time. 

Adventure Clues tours are self-guided on your mobile and set out in scavenger hunt style, so you get to solve fun clues and learn more about each destination without the tour guide. There’s also a trail set in Fitzroy and Collingwood that leads you to hipster bars and excellent locations – so there’s something for everyone here. Reasonably priced at $25 per person, be sure to check Adventure Clues out if you’re looking for something fun and different.  

7. Brunswick St 

brunswick

Iconic Melbourne precinct! The best thing about Brunswick St is the people. Here you will see people from all walks of life. Appreciate the social ambience even before you hit the shopping. 

Take a long stroll down Brunswick St, full of exciting and cool establishments, such as jazz, bookstores, cafes, giftware and alternative shops! On a recent visit here, this place rocks a group spent the whole day just visiting shops and restaurants over only a few hundred metres!

Check out cafes like Stagger Lee’s, Industry Beans (just off Brunswick St), and Madame Sousou. Not to mention internationally acclaimed bar Black Pearl, Indian eatery Mukka and vegan delight Smith & Daughters.

Brunswick St is a great place for vintage clothing. Relive the 80s! It’s also great for op shops.  A popular stop is the factory outlets – get yourself some bargain Allanah Hill.

Brunswick St has been used as a location to film Australian television series such as Offspring and Rush.  

 8. Smith St, Collingwood

colingwood

In recent years, Smith St has been transformed to be a trendy precinct full of fashion, great cafes and restaurants, and boutique stores.

 Check out Lost and Found, a fantastic second-hand store with several levels of wares where treasures can be found.

 A must is to divert to nearby Proud Mary, one of Melbourne’s finest cafes in a renovated warehouse.

 For delicate dining, check out  Saint Crispin, also a hatted sensation. Or grab a gourmet burger from Huxtaburger (one of Melbourne’s best), pizza from Bontempo, and savour the vegetarian delights of Smith & Daughters and Vegie Bar.

 Further down Smith St are some factory outlets including Nike and Adidas. Also, cool to duck out to the Abbotsford Convent nearby and check out the architecture and cafes.  

 9. SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

sea life

SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, along the banks of the Yarra River, is one of the best-loved destinations in Melbourne! It is a world-class aquarium!

 Not just for kids, but kids love this place! It’s easy to spend several hours here! Image: Sea Life Facebook.

 A striking exhibit is the penguin display – including large King Penguins and the Gentoo Penguins. To see these animals swimming is fantastic. To watch events at feeding time is breathtaking!

 Other highlights include displays such as River to Reef, Rockpool, Mangrove and Billabong. Some shows are interactive and creatively put together!

 The upstairs Deck Café is a pleasant way to enjoy refreshments along the way!  The main exhibit is the immense oceanarium which features sharks, including the Grey Nurse! It is a magnificent exhibit and bound to enthral. 

10. Bourke St Mall and Melbourne Central

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Bourke Street Mall and Melbourne Central are two of the major shopping hubs of Melbourne. Enjoy the Bourke St Mall – a bustling and attractive precinct. Plenty of designer brands here, including popular Myer and David Jones and overseas retailers like Zara.

Bourke St Mall has one of the best vibes in Melbourne, and at lunchtimes, it is usually packed with people and eclectic. Even then, you can duck into a laneway cafe and escape the crowds.

The GPO precinct along Bourke St showcases some great upmarket shopping and houses the iconic Federal Coffee Palace. There is also great coffee nearby in Little Bourke St and surrounding laneways.

Melbourne Central is only a short distance away and offers outstanding shopping and dining experience. Once again, there is excellent parking, especially if you can score an early bird park. Not only that, you can travel down to the train station with lines out to most of Melbourne – so convenient! So many shops. So many eateries. And a big clock!   

 11. City Circle Tram / Free City Trams

The City Circle Tram is an excellent free service that is a unique way to see and move around the city. It’s one of the great attractions of the CBD. For a start, these trams are historical themselves and exude a charm.  They travel around the CBD and take in some great views of Melbourne. You can get on and travel a couple of stops, then get back on again later.

The City Circle Tram enables you to visit some of Melbourne’s best-known attractions, including Old Melbourne Jail, the Melbourne Aquarium, Parliament House, Federation Square, the Immigration Museum and Marvel Stadium.

The City Circle Tram runs every 12 minutes between 10 am, and 6 pm on Sunday to Wednesday and between 10 am and 9 pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday (except Good Friday and Christmas Day). 

12. Melbourne Zoo

Melbourne Zoo is a world-class Zoo and an exciting place to visit! It’s also Australia’s oldest zoo.  It’s easy to spend several hours there wandering around the various precincts. Upon arrival, grab a map of the zoo, then plan your visit. There are regular feeding times and other attractions.

You can appreciate 320 species at the Melbourne Zoo and enjoy several hours of fascination and excitement! A highlight is the Butterfly House – a tropical enclosure full of butterflies that fly all around you, and some may settle on you! There has been a move for kids for free on weekends.   Image: Melbourne Zoo Facebook

 13.  Rod Laver Arena

rod laver arena

One of the best complexes in Australia! Famous for sporting events like The Australian Open as well as for concerts and significant events! Arrange to attend an event here or go on a tour! Check out the tournament control room, players change room, inside the arena, the super box, the Davis Cup room and Media Theatrette.

Rod Laver Arena comes alive in January during the Australian Open Tennis Tournament. The event is one of the hottest on the international sporting calendar, and tickets sell out fast.  

 14. Great Ocean Road

great ocean road

The Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage listed 243-kilometre (151 mi) stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the road is the world’s largest war memorial. Winding through varying terrain along the coast and providing access to several prominent landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations, the road is an important tourist attraction in the region. In December 2020, legislation went into effect to legally protect the Great Ocean Road – called the “Great Ocean Road Environs Protection Act 2020”.

The Great Ocean Road starts at Torquay and travels 243 kilometres westward to finish at Allansford near Warrnambool, the largest city along the road.The road is two lanes (one in each direction), and is covered by a speed limit changing between 50 kilometres per hour and 100 kilometres per hour.

Within striking distance of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is another fantastic day trip! You can wind your way through some legendary town and stop at some great beaches, such as Bells Beach (famous for pro surfing) and Torquay. Image: Visit Great Ocean Road Facebook.

 15. Phillip Island

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An absolute favourite is Phillip Island! Known for its unique Penguin Parade Visitor Centre and racing with the Moto GP every year, there is plenty to offer on the island! There are some great tourist destinations like Nobby’s, which showcases some spectacular coastline. You can also enjoy the world-class Penguin Parade! Some fantastic little beaches are to be discovered. In Cowes, you find great dining and shopping.

16. MCG

mcg

The MCG is one of the world’s most famous sporting grounds! Take in a game of local football, the AFL, where the matches are fierce and the crowds enormous! Or there may be cricket on display! Excellent museum to check out. The MCG is close to the CBD and is often called the “people’s stadium”. Do the MCG Tour – highly recommended.

17. Eureka Skydeck 88 

eureka sky

This place has the wow factor! On a good day, this incredible 360-degree view on the 88th floor is excellent! See if you can point out various landmarks around the city!

Eureka Skydeck 88 has the best views of Melbourne, by day and by night. During the day, you can see out to the Dandenong Ranges.

There is also “The Edge”, an experience of being in a glass cube 3 metres out from the building and 300 metres suspended above the ground.

You can also step out onto “The Terrace”, exposing yourself to the elements.

There are 30 viewfinders around the Skydeck floor so you can point out landmarks! See how you go! There a kid-friendly heights with viewfinders to assist kids.

It gives kids (and adults, of course) a great perspective of Melbourne! Opening hours are 10 am to 10 pm, with Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve close at 5.30 pm (last entry at 5 pm).  Image: Eureka Skydeck 88 Facebook.

18. Docklands

docklands melbourne

Attractions include the Melbourne Star, urban art sculptures, cool bridges, restaurants, cafes and shopping. A great place to shop and dine, including factory outlets and The District precinct.  Popular restaurants include Berth, Pok Pok, Kobe Jones, Byblos and The Hoff. Check out Marvel Stadium with the roof that closes!

Harbour Town Shopping Centre is famous for discounted shopping as well as specialty shopping. It also has a place to drop off the kids to have fun while you do your shopping.

Costco is also a popular retail establishment with a massive shopping complex. Or check out the DFO South Wharf for bargains. South Wharf nearby has some great restaurants, including Munich Brauhaus, BangPop, and The Boatbuilders Yard. 

19. Old Melbourne Jail

old melbourne jail

Step into the history of crime and justice, with some of Australia’s most notorious criminals having spent time here since the 1840s. The Old Melbourne Jail is on the edge of the city near the State Library of Victoria. 

Home to Melbourne’s oldest prison, historic Magistrate’s Court and former Police City Watch House, Russell Street has been the heart of crime, law and order in Melbourne since the 1840s.

Most of Australia’s infamous characters, including the iconic bushranger Ned Kelly and notorious gangster Squizzy Taylor, have spent time within the walls of this unique precinct. Today the award-winning tourism attraction is an opportunity to step back in time and walk the road to the gallows in a 19th-century prison; or be arrested in a modern-day Police Station and put yourself on trial in court.

A ticket to the Old Melbourne Gaol, Crime and Justice Experience grant you visiting rights to the past, present and future of crime and justice in Australia. 

 20. Queen Victoria Market

queen victoria market melbourne

One of the world’s best markets and a must-visit in Melbourne. Highly recommend the tour! Great value and a perfect way to connect with Queen Victoria Market, the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere. 

Popular with locals and tourists alike for bargains! It also boasts quality fresh produce in abundance. I love the buzz early in the mornings! This is a Melbourne institution, and I know people who’ve been coming here for decades.

Many come for the stalls and bargains on belts and leather jackets which is fantastic. All kinds of unique products are sold here! Something for everyone!

Frankly, I’m also a big fan of the gourmet offerings here. It’s not hard to part with lots of cash when you see all the cheeses and meats and olives and specialist coffees… And so it goes on.

A large parking area is excellent, or simply catch a train to Melbourne Central or Flagstaff and walk.

Also, check out the fine establishments serving great coffee, including Market Lane Coffee who opened up across the road. I had one of the best coffees in my life there sourced from a farm in El Salvador.

21. Heidi Museum of Modern Art & Garden

A great place to visit for a cultural and culinary fix. Heide Museum of Modern Art is a popular attraction, and it takes several hours to wander the galleries and grounds. Admire the sculptures and the gardens, including the herb garden. Take in the three sites of the gallery and its exhibitions. This place has a great history concerning the formative days of Australian art. Then when you’ve enjoyed a cultural feast, visit the Cafe Vue Heide for a classy gourmet meal and a drink. Heide Museum of Modern Art is also famous for a picnic on the lawns. And it’s only a short drive along the Eastern freeway to get to the Heide Museum of Modern Art.

 22. National Gallery of Victoria

national gallery victoria international

Incredible place to spend a day! Open in 1861; this is Australia’s oldest art gallery. NGV is full of exceptional art and excellent exhibitions. It one of the best galleries in Australia! I’ve been known to spend hours here with my family. Features arts covering the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Ancient and modern! The fine arts and applied decorative ones! Spend time both on St Kilda Road for the European collection and Federation Square for the Australian group.

Most of the gallery is free, with some exhibitions incurring a charge (often unlimited access).

http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/  

A favourite place for children in Melbourne! Learning about science and technology! Scienceworks is only 5km from Melbourne in Spotswood! Hands-on participation is the order of the day! Live demonstrations, shows, guided tours and special activities! Speak to kids all over Melbourne, and they love coming here! It’s fun! It’s educational! It’s clever! It’s interactive! Scienceworks itself is excellent, but there’s always added exhibitions next door. Plus, the Planetarium is a big hit! There’s also shows and events in the round outdoor theatre.  Image: Scienceworks Facebook.

Excellent catering at the venue, but personally, I love to go to nearby great cafes like Duchess of Spotswood and The Cornershop in Yarraville.

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