The city that has been voted the world's most livable – six times – is also one of the best to visit, as it offers a diverse range of attractions. A giant observation wheel, sacred sports ground, museums, historical prisons and the oldest building in Australia are just some of the must-see 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.
Don't let the tourists have all the fun. These attractions showcase the best of Melbourne, from the sandy shores of St Kilda to the shelves of the State Library. Plus, if you're not heading away over summer, checking out our city's tourist attractions is a good way to have a fun staycation.
Flinders Street Railway Station
Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
This was the first station in Australia and in no time became the most crowded railway station on the planet. The railway station has great folks associated with it, attracting a large crowd and making it an important tourist place to visit in Melbourne.
Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market, the iconic landmark of Melbourne, Australia, was publicly opened on March 20, 1878. This marketplace has been serving the residents of the city for over 140 years. It has undergone numerous changes and, of late, been included in the National Heritage List. It's one of the most prominent places to visit in Melbourne, the capital of Australia and the country's most significant fresh product market.
Queen Victoria Market, popularly called Queen Vic or Vic Market, is a major attraction in the heart of Melbourne and stretches across two city blocks. A pulsating and lively marketplace where you can let lose your shopping spree at more than 600 small stores selling everything from fresh vegetables, fruits, local, imported epicure food, souvenirs, and garments.
As the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, Queen Victoria Market has many offer for shoppers. Wander through the historic sheds and discover fresh produce, hot doughnuts, souvenirs, homewares and more. QVM also hosts Wednesday-night markets, where the historic sheds come alive with food stalls and live music.
The market remains open five days a week, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Queen Victoria Market operates seasonally, especially on Wednesday nights. The timings being 5 pm to 10 pm when you can hang around mid-week with your family and friends to savour mouth-watering street food, beverages, as well as live entertainment.
The marketplace has taken many green initiatives to buy stuff keeping the environment and sustainability in mind. Vic Market implemented a countrywide ban on the usage of plastic bags and straws in May 2019. The shoppers have an array of choices to shop conveniently sans the use of plastic bags. These include hiring a trolley from Market Espresso, filling a cardboard box right from Pick-A-Box spots on I Shed and Queen Street, or purchasing a recyclable bag from Vic Market itself.
The best time to visit Queen Victoria Market is from March until May (Autumn) and again from September until November (Spring) because of the pleasant climate. The ideal time for you to visit the market is to avoid the crowd during the early morning hours. You can also head for Queen Vic late afternoon to grab the best discounts.
If you visit the market during the summer months of December to February, avoid noontime because the weather becomes extremely hot in Melbourne during this time.
Autumn is the perfect time to visit the marketplace due to the mild weather. Melbourne experiences glorious spring, which is the best tip for some shopping here. Avoid the winter months of June to August, as the temperature dips and gets a bit cold and chilly.
Eureka Skydeck 88
7 Riverside Quay, Southbank, Victoria, 3006, Australia
At 297.3m tall, Eureka Tower was, until recently, the tallest building in Melbourne and is currently the third-highest in Australia. After being launched to the 88th floor via a 38-second elevator ride, visitors can take in the 360-degree view on the Eureka Skydeck. Thrill-seekers can also step out onto the edge – a three-metre glass cube that suspends the bravest souls 300 metres above the ground.
Ride the fastest elevator in the southern hemisphere to the 88th floor for unparalleled views over Melbourne from the Eureka Skydeck 88. If that doesn't impress you, try The Edge, a glass-covered cube that dangles you 300 meters over the city. If you don't want to enjoy the breathtaking views while suspended in a large transparent box, there is also a nice coffee shop for a more relaxed option.
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra, Victoria, 3141, Australia
Opened in 1846 and spread over 89 acres, the Gardens offer a slice of paradise within the city and provide a home to over 8,500 species of plants and the wildlife that coexist with them. For a relaxing day out and a real feel for Australia in times gone by, the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria can't be beaten.
Obscured by Melbourne's urban jungle, Melbourne Gardens is a 94-acre sanctuary comprising of 10,000 native and exotic plant species selected for their value, rarity and diversity. Among the plants, there are sweeping lawns and peaceful lakes and two cafes to rest at after gallivanting around the vegetation.
Federation Square is a large mixed-use area in the heart of Melbourne. Packed with various cafes, restaurants, and bars, it also includes shops selling everything from groceries to souvenirs to high-end fashion. The Square makes a great meeting place in the centre of the city, and it's also home to a wide variety of pop-up shows and exhibitions. Federation Square has a creative program that showcases talent all year round.
National Gallery of Victoria
180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3006, Australia
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is Australia's oldest and pre-eminent public art museum, hosting blockbuster exhibitions and one of the world's finest art collections. The collection encompasses treasures from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the pre-Columbian period, and an Oceanic gallery dedicated to the indigenous cultures of the Pacific area.
The National Gallery of Victoria is made up of two venues - the NGV International and NGV Australia. Both are impressive spaces, filled with world-class art, so you could easily while away an entire day at each. The International's permanent collections include a Rembrandt, a Bonnard and a Tiepolo, plus a much-loved water-wall at the entrance. Over at Fed Square, the Ian Potter Centre houses Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians from the colonial era to the current day.
The collection also includes:
- Nearly 16,000 international prints and drawings.
- A distinguished array of European and Asian decorative arts.
- A gallery space dedicated to 4000 works representing the art of Asia.
You will also find an outstanding collection of European and British paintings dating from 1200 to today, fashion and textile exhibits, photography, furniture and sculpture.
Dining options include Persimmon, the Gallery Kitchen, and the Tea Room. The National Gallery of Victoria, popularly known as the NGV, is an art museum in Melbourne, Australia. Founded in 1861, it is Australia's oldest, largest and most visited art museum.
Go Retro on Brunswick Street
Melbourne's famed alternative side is in full force in Fitzroy, the city-centre hub of all things hip and kooky. Wandering up Brunswick Street, Fitzroy's main strip, you'll be confronted by everything from trendy bike shops and cool hairdressers, second-hand bookshops and hometown fashion heroes such as Gorman, Búl, Kloke and Alpha 60. It's the vintage clothes stores, though, that Brunswick is most celebrated for. Pre-loved clothing specialists like Hunter Gatherer, Vintage Sole and Yesteryear Vintage Clothing are just a few of the spots to head for that new leather bag, pair of vintage slacks or ripper denim jacket from the '80s you've been after forever.
Southbank And Arts Centre Melbourne
Instantly recognisable with its 162-meter spire, the Arts Centre opened in 1982 and is now home to Melbourne's ballet, opera, theatre, and everything else artistic and creative. The centre often holds outdoor concerts set against the skyscrapers of downtown Melbourne, with lights that dance to the music. With plenty of free entertainment and a full program of events throughout the year, the Southbank and the Arts Centre are always worth visiting.
The Melbourne Zoo is also known as the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens. It is one of the biggest zoological parks in Australia and one of the amazing tourist places in Melbourne. Located in the Royal Park premises in the Parkville region of Melbourne, the zoo is about 4 km away from the city's centre.
It is the primary serving habitat for many animals in Melbourne and is home to more than 320 species. Some of these animal species are native to Australia, but many are native to other parts of the world as well.
The Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens are an institutional member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association. The gardens are also a part of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, shortly known as the WAZA.
The London Zoo inspires a large part of the zoo. It was inaugurated in 1862 on October 6. The city donated the 55-acre land area for the zoo. Soon after its opening, the zoo became home to many animals previously living in the botanical gardens in the city.
It is set amidst beautiful gardens and picnic areas and is divided into several bioclimatic zones. The African rainforest zone, for instance, is home to many gorillas, pigmy, hippos, and parrots. On the other hand, the Asian rainforest zone houses animals like otters and tigers.
Some of the most popular exhibits in the zoo are The Trails of Elephants, Butterfly House, Orangutan Sanctuary, Australian Outback, and Predator precinct. For animals' lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, this is an unmissable destination in Melbourne.
101 Waterfront Way, Docklands, Victoria, 3008, Australia
Described as "the southern hemisphere's only giant observation wheel", the Melbourne Star is 120m high and has 21 cabins, all of which offer ever-changing panoramas. During the 30-minute rotation, passengers will see Port Phillip Bay, Mount Macedon, and Arthur's Seat.
State Library of Victoria
328 Swanston Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000, Australia
Famous for being Australia's oldest public library and one of the world's first free public libraries, the State Library of Victoria has a collection of over 2 million books. While there are seven reading rooms, the most magnificent is the octagonal La Trobe Reading Room. The library also holds the diaries of Melbourne founders John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner and the original armour worn by Ned Kelly.
18 Lower Esplanade, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182, Australia
Enter through Mr. Moon's gaping mouth, and you'll arrive at a theme park that has been delighting Melbournians since 1912. St Kilda's Luna Park features the Scenic Railway, which dates back to the park's opening and is the oldest continually operating rollercoaster in the world. Luna Park also offers many fun rides for the whole family, including the Ghost Train and the Pharaoh's Curse.
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Visit the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground, or "G" as it's known locally, and take a tour of the impressive stadium, with its vast dressing rooms and adjoining function suites. Have a look to see what's on at the G when you're there, as it might be something you'd hate to miss — tickets for many events (including cinema screenings) are easily available.
Shrine of Remembrance
Built in 1934, the Shrine of Remembrance is the Victoria state memorial to Australians who served in global conflicts throughout history. Inspired by classical architecture, the Shrine was designed and built by WWI veterans. Special exhibitions and events are held throughout the year, providing an ever-changing experience.
Arcades and Laneways
Wandering the labyrinth of lanes and alleyways around Flinders, Collins, and Bourke Streets reveals elegant, interesting, and quirky Melbourne at its best. The jewel in the crown is the magnificent Block Arcade in Collins Street. With its mosaic floor, period details, and unique shops, this is the place where late 19th-century gentry promenaded, coining the phrase, "doing the block." It's worth lining up for a morning or afternoon tea at the Hopetoun Tearooms. This Melbourne icon dates back to 1892 and is the only original shop still in the arcade today. The opulent Royal Arcade is Melbourne's oldest arcade, and Flinders and Degraves Lanes are also well worth exploring. Several companies run guided walking tours of the lanes and alleyways.
Take A Break At The State Library
The State Library of Victoria is a cultural landmark that houses an incredible amount of books and several exhibitions and galleries with a lot of history. The library was established in 1856 and is a grand presence on Swanston Street with interior spaces to match. The La Trobe Reading Room is a six-storey-high domed room that is magnificent to look at. Beautiful artworks depicting Victoria's history are exhibited in the Cowen Gallery for visitors to peruse. North and south rotundas and the Keith Murdoch gallery also hold exhibitions and artworks. The library offers everything needed for a productive workday – free wifi, printing services and plenty of seating options (our pick is the aforementioned La Trobe Reading Room).
The State Library houses thousands of heritage items, maps, manuscripts, and newspapers, along with books and artworks. Digital material is also available for readers to access. And all of this is free. You can also find people lounging on the lawns in front of the library on a pleasant day. Mr Tulk café and Guild café are close by to fuel the visitors with delicious treats while the Readings bookshop located inside the library gives them plenty to spend their money on.
Getting Around Melbourne
Once you've arrived in the city, there are plenty of affordable, reliable, and easily accessible public transportation options.
To travel on the Melbourne bus system, you'll need to purchase a myki card. These cost $6 for adults and $3 for children, and they need to keep a positive balance for you to travel. Your myki card can be topped up at over 800 retailers throughout the city. Alternatively, you can purchase a myki explorer pack that combines a ready-to-use myki card with helpful information and special offers for visitors to the city. When you leave, you can even donate your myki card to charity.
Buses run all over the city from around 6:00 am until 9:00 pm most days, and the Night Network runs all night metropolitan trains, trams, and late-night buses on weekends.
You can find more information about bus routes and timetables at Public Transport Victoria.
Trams have been an iconic sight in the city since 1885, and the network now offers over 490 trams covering 24 routes and 1,763 tram stops. It is the largest urban tramway network in the world…and better still, the City Tram Zone is entirely free to travel on! This makes it a great way to explore the inner-city areas. Trams run most days from 8:45 am until around 4:00 pm.
Again, further details on tram routes and timetables can be found at Public Transport Victoria.
Taxis and Ubers are also plentiful on the streets of Melbourne, and you can hail a car, pick one up at a designated taxi rank, or pre-book a trip online. Melbourne taxis display light on top of the cab roof and are usually painted yellow, silver, or white. Drivers are required to wear a uniform in the city and display an identity card on the dashboard at all times.
Information about taxi firms, fares, and regulations can be found at the Taxi Services Commission website.
Melbourne's metro trains run between the outer suburbs and Flinders Street Station. The City Loop is Melbourne's very own underground system; although small, it offers quick and easy access to 5 stations within the central business district. If you want to travel further into the suburbs or out into Victoria, Southern Cross Station is the main hub for both regional and interstate rail services in and out of Melbourne. You can use your myki card on trains covering the metro area, but trains into the suburbs and beyond will need additional tickets.
Also check this: 20 Must-Visit Attractions in Melbourne, Australia, The Ultimate Travel Guide to Melbourne – The Best Things To Do, See & Much More, 17 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Melbourne, 25 Melbourne Tourist Attractions That Don't Suck