Melbourne is a hip, dynamic metropolis, with an exciting city centre, inner-city neighborhoods that are full of unique character, and lush green parks and mountain ranges where you can enjoy Australian nature at its finest.
The city is known for its many laneways, its cultural diversity, excellent dining options for all budgets, and amazing street art. It’s also known for being the coffee capital of the world, and for being regularly voted as the world’s most livable city!
Lets explore the best things to do in Melbourne
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.
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).
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 really 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.
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 great little beaches are to be discovered. In Cowes, you find fantastic dining and shopping.
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.
Eureka Skydeck 88
This place has the wow factor! On a good day, this incredible 360-degree view on the 88th floor is incredible! 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 all the way 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 that 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).
Stroll around the historic Abbotsford Convent
The Abbotsford Convent began as a convent in the late 1800s and was also a commercial laundry, orphanage and aged care facility. These days, it’s a hub for artists, makers, community radio broadcasters and teachers – as well as a beautiful place to explore.
You can feel the weight of the past as soon as you step into the grounds and look up to the gothic spires of the convent. It's also an excellent place to roam, explore or just relax on the green hills and amongst the gardens.
Checking out the work of local artists in the galleries, the gorgeous animals at the Collingwood Children's Farm, and going for a vegetarian feast at Lentil as Anything, the restaurant run by volunteers where you pay what you feel the meal is worth.
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.
If you love sports, then visiting Melbourne Park is an absolute must! It was built in 1988 to host the Australian Open, which is a Tennis Grand Slam tournament. It includes the Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Hisense Arena.
Outside of the Australian Open, which is held in January, the area is used for music concerts as well. You can walk around here most of the year and take in the surroundings. The best time to visit is definitely during the Australian Open when Melbourne Park comes alive! If you love sports, this is one of the best reasons to visit Australia.
If that’s not an option, you can experience Melbourne Park courtesy of a Full-Day Sports Tour. You even get to play on the courts!
The Penguin Parade is one of the best and unique activities in Melbourne! It is probably not as widely known as it should be and is somewhat overshadowed by the highly advertised parade on Philip Island.
However, there is a colony of penguins living in St Kilda, and the best part is that you can see them 365 days a year!
Every day after sunset, the little penguins leave their home in the St Kilda breakwater and head out to the beach! This is one of the best free activities you can do in Melbourne. If you’re spending a weekend in Melbourne, this is one activity I recommend you do. You won’t regret it!
Find a spot to see the Aurora Australis
Australia’s own version of the Northern Lights – the Southern Lights or the Aurora Australis. The best time of year to see this dramatic light display is during winter and the equinox in September, and you need to go somewhere where 1) there’s an uninterrupted horizon view and 2) a place that’s away from city lights. So try Point Lonsdale, Cape Schanck, Flinders, the south side of Phillip Island, Tidal River at Wilsons Promontory, Aireys Inlet or Anglesea.
The Aurora Australis, like its northern sister, is complicated to predict. Patience is key here. Bring your camera (human eyes often can’t see the faint colour changes that happen during an aurora show, but DSLRs can) and wait.
Westgate Park, located on the edge of the city in Port Melbourne, turns a delicious shade of pink every summer. It’s pink! And before you ask, yes, it’s completely natural. It’s been turning pink every year since the summer of 2012/13 when a collection of hot temperatures, algae combinations, lack of rainfall and excessive sunlight came together like a perfect pink witch’s brew.
It happens in late summer, and the colour can intensify as the water evaporates in the summer heat. Luckily, the pink colour has no impact on birdlife on the lake, which you’ll regularly see frolicking around the shoreline.
Day trip to the fairytale-like Alfred Nicholas Gardens
As close as you'll come to a true secret garden, the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens is located deep within the Dandenong Ranges. Take a walk through the park and see the incredible canopy of mountain ash trees or take a picnic by the picturesque lake and quaint boathouse.
The park is home to a heap of Australian native flora, which changes all year round. In spring, the park is full of colour with flowering azaleas and cherry trees, while in autumn, the park turns golden with the changing colours of the maples and beeches.
While the rest of the world knocks down history, Melbourne integrates heritage. The old Collingwood department store, Foy & Gibson, is typical. It once belonged to the big end of town but now belongs to whoever has six-figure spare cash for an integrated studio apartment. Old buildings sit in an inner-city where grandeur and gutter are dichotomous.
See Victoria’s two Californian redwoods plantations
As the name suggests, Californian redwoods are indigenous to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon in the US. Redwoods were planted down the coast in the Great Ocean National Park in the 1930s and a collection in the Warburton Valley.
These trees are distinguished by their extreme height (they can reach up to 115 metres tall) and their somewhat horizontal branches. They’re some of the oldest living organisms on Earth! Walking through these plantations makes you feel tiny. The grid-like plantation in Warburton includes over 1,400 trees, all up to 55 metres tall.
Old Melbourne Gaol
One of the more unique things to do in Melbourne, the Old Melbourne Gaol, is worth a visit if you’re a history lover. As the name suggests, it was once a jail that has now been converted into a museum. It reveals a lot about the early history of Victoria and Melbourne.
A good reason to visit the gaol is that it was the infamous bushranger Ned Kelly was hung for murder in 1880. Kelly has become somewhat of a cult figure in recent years, which is probably the best place to learn about his past! It’s undoubtedly one of the top things to see in Melbourne!
Have a gravity-defying drink up at Rooftop Bar
For a city with such temperamental weather, we sure do love a rooftop bar. They basically cover our city, but the most popular is Rooftop Bar. Once you ascend the seemingly endless flight of stairs up Curtin House (passing Cookie and the Toff in Town along the way), catch your breath and quench your thirst while taking in the heart and soul of Melbourne from above. Kick back on the fake grass or huddle under the heating and lose yourself in the spectacular view.
Getting friendly with the vertical lane that is Curtin House while you're there. This six-storey building houses some of Melbourne's most exciting tenants, from bookshops to hairdressers, restaurants, and high fashion mavens.
See the lion dance in Chinatown during Chinese New Year
Melbourne kicks off its Chinese New Year celebrations every February, which often include traditional live music, food, firecrackers, street performers, martial artists, and the traditional lion dance down Little Bourke Street, aka Chinatown.
Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year is for many a time to get together with friends and family to wish for good luck and a prosperous year ahead. As Melbourne's Asian communities celebrate, everyone is invited to join in the festivities all around the city.Tying it in with a visit to Melbourne’s best yum cha eateries. You won’t regret it.
Taste Michelin-starred food for less than $10
Singaporean street food outlet Hawker Chan landed in Lonsdale Street at the end of 2017 and has been popular ever since. Street food and Michelin stars might not seem the likeliest of bedfellows, but Hawker Chan sure makes it work. It’s not uncommon to see people queueing up outside the venue before it opens, eagerly awaiting their serve of soy chicken, rice and beans. Sounds simple, but sometimes simple dishes are the hardest to perfect.
The Michelin star rating comes from how Hawker Chan prepares its chicken: after making the soya marinade from scratch, chefs soak the whole chicken in it overnight. And it only costs $8.30.
Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Train Station is a Melbourne staple. It’s one of the most well-known Melbourne attractions, with a red and yellow facade, green dome top, clock tower, and row of train time clocks out the front. Fun Fact: the times on the train clocks used to have to be changed by hand 900 times in one day, with a long steel rod!
There has been a train station on this site since the 1850s, but the current building was completed in 1909. A famous Melbourne saying is ‘meet me under the clocks,’ meaning meet me out the front of Flinders St Station (across from Federation square before it existed)!
Bourke St Mall And Melbourne Central
There’s plenty of places to go shopping in Melbourne, but the best is perhaps Bourke Street Mall and Melbourne Central. Despite the name, Bourke Street Mall is essentially just a street with many shops on it. However, that doesn’t detract from it in any way! It’s a great place to shop if that’s your thing!
Melbourne Central is more of a mall, as it occupies multiple levels and has many shops. There’s a gym, restaurants, and shops, so it’s worth checking out!
The Immigration Museum is the place to go if you want to find out more about how Melbourne came to be the cultural melting pot it is today. The museum is located in the Old Customs House and details the history of immigration into Australia. There are several travelling exhibitions and workshops held throughout the year in the museum.
Melbourne is home to a variety of ethnicities and nationalities. It’s interesting to learn how and why all the various cultures came to be in the city and Australia. The journey to Australia is an arduous one, even with luxury flights today. Learning about people who reached the continent hundreds of years ago is a fascinating and illuminating experience!
Yarra River + Yarr River Cruise
The Yarra is Melbourne’s city centre river. There are lots of great restaurants and bars along the water in the city, with great views. But perhaps the best way to see the Yarra and view the city from a different perspective is by taking a very affordable Yarra River Cruise. You can book a 2-hour river cruise here which will take you both upstream towards the sporting parks and downstream towards docklands.
Fun Fact: It may look dirty, but don’t let that fool you – the Yarra is actually one of Australia‘s cleanest city centre rivers in the world! When they cleared waterfalls and obstacles from the river to allow boats to sail in, the seawater actually flowed UP the river instead of the opposite. Nowadays, the river is 90% saltwater in the city, and the top freshwater layer is where all the dirt and silt settles. This is why it looks dirty and why it’s known as the ‘upside-down river!’
Melbourne Town Hall
The Town Hall is one of those Melbourne tourist attractions that you have to at least lay eyes on, but don’t necessarily need to stay long. It’s another Victorian-style Gold Rush-era buildings that are worth a photo when you pass by.
State Library Victoria
Guess what – ANOTHER big Victorian-style building in the CBD! This one is very special, though – so special I recommend it as an absolute MUST-SEE of the tourist attractions in Melbourne.
The State Library of Victoria is much more than a library – it’s a museum, a study hub, and an architectural wonder. Visit the museum exhibits to learn all about Melbourne’s fascinating history and marvel at the gorgeous La Trobe reading room with four floors of bookshelves and exhibits. It’s free to enter, too!
There's plenty of things to do for the whole family in Melbourne from museums to wildlife parks. Discover clubs and bars, live music venues, comedy, jazz, cinema, cabaret and old style pubs. ... Take a heritage walk and visit cultural centres, galleries and museums in and around Melbourne.
Melbourne is known for being one of the most liveable cities on earth. Often referred to as 'the Sporting Capital of the World', besides this it is also famous for its graffitied laneways, excellent coffee, cultural diversity and bayside location. This eclectic Australian city has something for everyone.
The city's Free Tram Zone extends from Queen Victoria Market to Docklands, Spring Street, Flinders Street Station and Federation Square. Travel on the City Circle Tram is also free. Hop on and off the historic trams as often as you like.