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Whether you’re a local or a tourist wondering what to do in Melbourne, look no further! These are the 22 best things to do in Melbourne Australia…
Have you ever arrived in a new city and just immediately felt right at home? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me when I first stepped out into Melbourne. No surprise considering it’s regularly voted one of the world’s most livable cities.
The capital of the southern Australian state of Victoria, Melbourne is a hip and exciting metropolis with bucketfuls of charm and character. The city is known for its enchanting laneways, incredible street art, cultural diversity, and world-class food and coffee scene.
I totally fell in love with Melbourne during the four months I spent living there and did my very best to try everything the Australian city has to offer. So after a lot of first-hand research, this is my definitive list of the best things to do in Melbourne, Australia…
1. Explore Melbourne’s Laneways
One of the best things to do in Melbourne’s CBD (central business district for non-Aussies) is to explore the city’s famous laneways.
Wander down the narrow alleyways, which you’ll notice all over central Melbourne, and find yourself surrounded by colourful street art, boutique shops, hole-in-the-wall cafes with plenty of outdoor seating and hidden speakeasies – if you know where to look.
If you need help finding somewhere to start, head to Centre Place – one of the CBD’s most iconic laneways – which is sometimes referred to as ‘Melbourne’s answer to Diagon Alley’.
2. Search for Melbourne’s best street art
Another one of the best things to do in Melbourne is to explore the city’s famous street art scene.
No matter where you go in Melbourne CBD, you’ll find narrow laneways filled with impressive colourful murals. From the better-known Hosier Lane which people come from all over the world to photograph, to the more hidden alleyways where you might even be the first to discover a new piece of artwork.
Did you know that you can take a street art tour run by the artists themselves?
3. Go for brunch at a hipster cafe
Brunch has become somewhat of an institution in this hipster Australian city, and therefore sitting in a cool little cafe in the laneways enjoying avocado on toast or eggs benedict is an absolute must-do while in Melbourne.
Plus, don’t forget to order a coffee to go with it – it will probably come from one of the city’s many highly-acclaimed roasters.
Did you know Melbourne has been voted as having the world’s best coffee?
4. Stroll down the South Bank
There’s nothing quite like taking a stroll down the south bank of the Yarra River on a sunny day in Melbourne.
As well as getting some great views up at the city’s skyscrapers and being able to watch the boats sail down the river, there are plenty of restaurants and bars lining the river banks (some even floating on the river itself) to stop at for lunch and a cold beer.
5. See the city from above at the Eureka Skydeck
Close to the Yarra River on Southbank, you’ll also find the Eureka Tower which is home to the Eureka Skydeck – the tallest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere.
Sitting almost 300 meters above ground level, Eureka Skydeck boasts amazing 360 views across Melbourne’s skyline and out to the peninsula and Port Phillip Bay.
Open until 10pm, watching the sunset over the city from the Eureka Skydeck is one of my favourite things to do in Melbourne in the evening.
6. Go Shopping at Queen Vic Market
Spread across 17 acres, Queen Vic Market is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere and one of Melbourne’s most iconic landmarks.
Inside, the 19th-century market is split into several areas, including a large shopping area with clothes, homeware goods and tourist nicknacks, as well as a fresh fruit and veg market and a covered food court selling cheese, meats, bread, wines and much much more.
Queen Vic Market is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 6am to 3pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 4pm.
7. Have a night out at Crown Casino
Also on Southbank is the Crown Casino Complex, a large high-end resort consisting of three luxury hotels, a multi-level casino and numerous shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
You don’t have to be staying at one of the hotels to spend an evening at the Crown Casino. The complex is perfect for a romantic date or a fun night out with friends.
For a full night out at Crown, start with a game of crazy golf at the Holy Moly indoor mini-golf course, then head for dinner at one of the complex’s luxury restaurants (or for a cheaper night out try the Crown food court), then finally go on a bar crawl around the complex’s numerous bars and clubs which are spotted throughout the busy casino.
While you don’t have to be dressed up to get into the Crown, if there’s one place to get glammed up in Melbourne then this is it!
Check out these other top things to do in Melbourne at night.
8. Spot the little penguins on St Kilda beach
Another must-do in Melbourne is to head to St Kilda beach to try and spot some of Australia’s little penguins.
At the end of each day, Melbourne’s colony of tiny fairy penguins (the worlds smallest penguin species) waddle out of the water and on to St Kilda breakwater after a day spent hunting for fish.
Head to the end of St Kilda pier around sunset to be in with a chance of seeing some of the penguins.
Or you could take a day trip from Melbourne to Phillip Island to watch the famous penguin parade.
9. Photograph the Brighton Beach Boxes
A trip to the Brighton Beach Boxes has to be one of the most famous things to do around Melbourne.
Located to the south of the CBD, Brighton Beach has become the postcard image of Melbourne thanks to its row of colourfully decorated beach huts.
While you can’t go inside the privately-owned boxes, you can join the groups of tourists and Instagrammers snapping some fun photos outside.
10. Spend a night in Chinatown
Melbourne’s Chinatown is located in the heart of the CBD, centred around Little Bourke Street with several other lanes and alleyways surrounding it.
Chinatown Melbourne is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world and is a great place to spend an evening out in Melbourne, with plenty of authentic Chinese restaurants, cocktail bars, karaoke rooms and more.
While in Chinatown, don’t forget to try some of the best dumplings in Melbourne.
11. Take a boat ride down the Yarra River
Another fun way to explore Melbourne’s Yarra River and see the city from a different angle is by boat.
There are plenty of options to choose from, from the larger scenic river cruises to kayaking and stand up paddleboarding for the more adventurous travellers. Just keep an eye out on the weather as you’ll only want to be doing this on a sunny day.
Book a scenic river cruise here or a kayaking trip down the Yarra River here.
12. Hear scary stories at Old Melbourne Gaol
The Old Melbourne Gaol is a former jail and the site of 133 hangings between 1842 and its closure in 1929, including Australia’s most infamous citizen, the bushranger Ned Kelly.
Now the building is a museum exploring what life was like for the dangerous criminals who were housed inside. You can visit the jail buildings by yourself, take a daytime tour to discover its many stories and secrets, or for the particularly brave, take a nighttime tour which includes a terrifying immersive experience in the former Watch House.
Prebook general admission tickets here, and if you like learning about Melbourne’s frightly past, book on to a city ghost tour too.
13. Admire the architecture at Victoria State Library
Dating back to 1854, the State Library of Victoria is Australia’s oldest public library and one of the first free libraries in the world. As well as being a study space, the library is also a popular place to visit in Melbourne because of its stunning neoclassical architecture.
The impressive La Trobe Reading Room is a must-visit within the library. Once you’ve admired the room from floor-level, climb up to levels 4 and 5 which are home to permanent exhibitions spanning literature to Melbourne’s history, while level 6 is a viewing gallery where you can look down over the amazing room.
While the silence of the space may not suit everyone, getting some writing done in one of the beautiful reading rooms then taking a wander around the library’s interesting exhibitions is one of my personal favourite things to do in Melbourne alone.
14. Spend a night at the theatre
Although Melbourne doesn’t have the most renowned theatre scene in the world, the city does have an East End Theatre District with several theatres which play host to a revolving plethora of international shows and musicals.
Princess Theatre is Melbourne’s most famous due to being the oldest continuous entertainment site on mainland Australia. At the moment it is home to the stage show ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’.
15. Hunt out Melbourne’s hidden bars
Another thing Melbourne is well known for is its many speakeasy-style bars hidden down laneways in the CBD. So if you’re looking for a great night out in Melbourne, make sure you do your research in advance so you know where to find them – you’re unlikely to stumble across them by accident.
Check out the coolest hidden bars in Melbourne here.
16. Pay your respects at the Shrine of Remembrance
One of the most important things to see in Melbourne is the Shrine of Remembrance, Victoria’s national war memorial which honours the sacrifice of all Australians who have served in any war or global conflict since WWI. The memorial is free for anyone to take a look around and pay their respects.
Underneath the memorial, you’ll also find the Galleries of Remembrance, a series of free exhibitions that tell the stories of Australian service and sacrifice through historical artworks and artifacts.
Join a guided cultural tour to learn more about the Shrine of Rememberance.
17. Take a stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens
Take a long walk through the 38 hectares of lush plants, trees, open lawns and tranquil lakes on the south bank of the Yarra River known as the Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens.
The gardens are completely free and are one of the best places to visit in Melbourne on a sunny day.
Check out these other free things to do in Melbourne.
18. Go shopping inside the old General Post Office building
Sitting on the corner of Elizabeth and Bourke Streets in the heart of the CBD shopping district, the GPO building is the former General Post Office of Victoria.
The impressive Renaissance Revival building is still one of the city’s most architecturally significant buildings, however, you’ll probably be surprised with what you now find inside.
Since 2014, the former GPO building has been home to worldwide clothing store H&M… and it’s guaranteed to be the fanciest H&M you’ve ever shopped in.
19. Discover why Melbourne is called Australia’s sporting capital
Melbourne is often referred to as the sporting capital of Australia and sometimes even of the world, and there’s a good reason for this.
Sport is an essential part of Melbourne culture and something locals go crazy for, with several world-class sporting stadiums right in the centre of the city.
The Melbourne Cricket Club was formed in 1838, just three years after the city was founded, and by 1853, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (or MCG) had opened – now the largest sporting arena in Australia.
As well as cricket, Melbourne is home to the annual Melbourne Cup horse racing tournament, which is such a big deal that it has even become recognised as a national holiday.
Melbourne also hosts the Australian Grand Prix each March and the Australian Open Grand Slam Tennis Tournament every January, plus plenty more.
Book a behind the scenes tour of Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), or visit to the Australian Sports Museum.
20. Visit one of Melbourne’s many museums
Spend a day exploring some of Melbourne’s many museums.
The city is home to numerous museums, some of which you’ll need to buy a ticket for and others of which are completely free to enter.
Below are some of Melbourne’s best museums:
- Melbourne Museum – Melbourne’s natural and cultural history museum (paid)
- The Immigration Museum – explores the history and experiences of immigration and cultural diversity in Melbourne (paid)
- National Gallery of Victoria – Australia’s oldest, largest, and most visited art museum (free)
- Australian Centre for the Moving Image – museum of film, video games and digital culture (free)
- The Hellenic Museum – a celebration of the heritage of ancient and modern Greece (paid)
21. Take a hot air balloon ride over the city
If you’re looking to see Melbourne from a completely different angle and you’re not too scared of heights, splash out on a hot air balloon ride over the city skyline.
A sunrise hot air balloon ride has to be one of the most romantic things to do in Melbourne to impress that special someone.
22. Eat as much as you can!
There’s a good reason Melbourne is known as the foodie capital of Australia, so there’s no excuse not to make the most of it.
Amazing food is one of the things Melbournians pride themselves on the most, from the city’s Insta-worthy brunches to mouthwatering burgers and delicious dumplings, Melbourne has just about anything you could possibly be craving!
Need help finding the best foodie spots? Check out this ultimate Melbourne food guide or, alternatively, book on to a 3 hour foodie discovery tour here.
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