Melbourne is a bustling city located in Victoria, Australia, known for its thriving arts scene and reputation as a cultural and economic rival to Sydney. Situated along the Yarra River and near Port Phillip Bay, the city has a rich history dating back to 1835, with a significant impact from the 1850s gold rush.
Today, Melbourne is a center for various industries including arts, commerce, education, and tourism, and is home to the Melbourne Comedy Festival, the largest comedy event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also recognized for its café culture, particularly in neighborhoods such as Brunswick and St Kilda.
Melbourne boasts an excellent public transportation system, renowned worldwide, which includes trams, buses, and trains. The Myki card, an electronic ticket, can be purchased or loaded with funds at select convenience stores and train stations.
Some of the best things to do in Melbourne include visiting Federation Square, a cultural hub that features free events and exhibitions. Take a stroll down the famous laneways and arcades, such as Hosier Lane and the Block Arcade, for a glimpse of Melbourne’s street art and shopping.
You can also visit the Royal Botanic Gardens for a relaxing stroll or picnic and explore the Melbourne Museum to learn about the city’s history and culture. For sports fans, catch a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground or Melbourne Park.
Finally, don’t miss out on the delicious food scene, with a range of options including seafood at the Queen Victoria Market, or fine dining at one of the city’s many restaurants. There is also a vibrant nightlife with many bars, and nightclubs in the city.
25 Best things to do in Melbourne, Australia
1. Try Melbourne coffee
Melbourne is renowned for its vibrant coffee culture, offering a diverse range of specialty coffees and a wide selection of milks to cater to all tastes & dietary needs.
Cafes are scattered throughout the city’s winding laneways and feature street art works created by talented local artists.
Coffee has been an important part of Melbourne’s culture for centuries, starting with the Temperance Movement in the 1830s. Coffee palaces, street stalls, and European-style coffee lounges were all established during the 19th and 20th centuries, often in response to population booms or the influx of European immigrants.
During the 1970s, espresso bars gained popularity and by the 1990s, cafes were firmly entrenched as part of the culture. Café culture has also been encouraged by the government in order to repopulate inner city areas after the recession of the 1990s.
Despite the presence of international coffee chains such as Starbucks & Gloria Jeans, the city’s unique coffee culture has endured, and is even celebrated through books, newspaper articles, walking tours and coffee-making classes.
2. Admire the street art
Melbourne is renowned for its colorful street art, created by world-famous and local artists. A mix of graffiti and laneway art, it reflects the city’s diverse and modern vibe. Visitors flock to explore and experience its ever-changing displays – from wall art to cafes – and capture the vibrancy of this unique city.
To find the best street art in Melbourne, you need to get a map or do research online. Talk to the information booth for a map or take a self-guided journey by downloading the city’s website. Keep an eye out for alleyways and laneways as you pass by for easy-to-find art.
Visiting Hosier Lane is a must for any graffiti enthusiast visiting Melbourne. Rutledge Lane, intersecting it, is especially spectacular, having been recently painted over in solid blue by a street artist. It is a great example of the city council breathing new life into the area.
You can also find street arts at AC/DC Lane, Drewery Lane, Sniders Lane (off of Drewery Lane), Union Lane, and Coverlid Place / Croft Alley.
3. Wander through laneways and arcades
Melbourne’s laneways and arcades offer a unique experience for both tourists and locals, with amazing street art, secret shops, and lively bars and cafes that are unmatched anywhere else in Australia.
Popular laneways and arcades in Melbourne are:
- Hosier Lane, graffiti and street art, cobblestone pathways, and lots of photo opportunities – just watch your step
- Tattersalls Lane, great place for foodies with Gaylords, Indian buffet, Camy Shanghai, Section-8 bar.
- Cathedral Arcade, nestled in the heart of Melbourne, full of unique stores and a stunning arched ceiling.
- AC/DC Lane, was renamed to honor the classic rockers AC/DC in 2004, after filming their 1975 music video nearby.
- Degraves Street, great spot for coffee, wine, food, and unique stores, close to Flinders Street Station. A mini French experience without leaving Australia!
- Centre Place, a hotspot for food, drinks, coffee, cocktails, desserts, and boutique stores.
- Meyers Place, a hidden gem full of bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and more.
- Block Arcade, offering unique shopping and the historic Hopetoun Tea Rooms established in 1892.
- Royal Arcade, the oldest surviving shopping arcade, connecting Bourke, Elizabeth and Little Collins Streets.
4. Flinders Street Station and Federation Square
Flinders Street Station is a historic and iconic landmark in Melbourne, boasting a distinctive yellow facade, green copper dome, and arched entrance.
Built in 1910, the station still serves as a busy hub of activity, with a hundred thousand commuters passing through each day.
Not only is the station Australia’s oldest, but it also has the fourth longest railway platform in the world. Its upper floors have seen many purposes, from libraries and gyms to ballrooms. It stands as a symbol of Melbourne’s history and bustling culture.
Fed Square is a large, modern public square located opposite the iconic Flinders St Station. It hosts a variety of cultural attractions, restaurants, bars, stores and events.
Visitors can enjoy people-watching and live performances from talented buskers, as well as films, art programmes and sports on the 5-storey LED screen. Since 2002, it has had over 100 million visits, making it a popular destination for both locals and visitors.
5. National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is one of the best free things to do in Melbourne for art lovers. It has two impressive galleries, the NGV International and the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, situated a short walk apart.
The NGV is Australia’s oldest art museum, founded in 1861 after the gold rush made Melbourne the wealthiest city. Money was set aside for a gallery, which opened on Queen Victoria’s 55th birthday and marked the start of the NGV’s history.
The National Gallery of Victoria is the most popular art museum in Australia and is the 15th most visited art gallery in the world with over two million visitors annually. This is more than the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Queensland Art Gallery/GoMA combined.
The NGV houses over 73,000 works of art, from Tom Roberts’ Shearing the Rams to old masters like Cézanne and Rembrandt. It also features an impressive collection of antiquities from Greek vases to Egyptian artifacts.
Scienceworks opened in 1992 with the vision of providing a place for young people to play with science. You can explore giant machines, Melbourne Planetarium, historic Spotswood Pumping Station, and the Victoria University High Voltage Theatre with its lightning room show.
Scienceworks offers a variety of attractions to make your visit enjoyable, including a cafe, gas BBQs, covered eating area and picnic spots.
7. Royal Botanic Gardens
Melbourne Gardens is a popular tourist destination that draws in nearly two million visitors each year. It is one of the best free things to do in Melbourne as entrance is free.
The Gardens boast breathtaking views, serene lakes, and a wide variety of plant collections, making it a place of constant exploration and delight. Visitors can embark on the Aboriginal Heritage Walk, take a free guided tour, or enjoy a leisurely ride on the Garden Explorer or Punting on the Ornamental Lake.
These activities offer a beautiful backdrop and are conveniently located just minutes from the city. The Gardens are home to an array of diverse plant collections, including plants from Southern China, camellias, and rainforest flora.
While visiting the Gardens, you must check out the Guilfoyle’s, which offers a unique and exciting exploration experience. The Gardens also serve as a natural sanctuary for native wildlife.
The Children’s Garden offers a variety of interactive activities for children, including plant tunnels to crawl through, rocks to climb, and a bamboo forest to explore.
Royal Botanic Gardens is also home to two on-site cafes and the Gardens Shop to buy botanical-inspired souvenirs. The garden hosts outdoor cinema and theater performances during summer.
8. Melbourne Cricket Ground – MCG
The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG is a sports venue that holds a special place in the hearts of Victorians. Established in 1853, it has a rich history and is often referred to as Melbourne’s beating heart.
The MCG has been the home of Australian football since 1859, and has also been the location of the Olympic Games in 1956, Commonwealth Games in 2006, and the AFL Grand Final annually.
The MCG has also hosted concerts, events, Royal visits, and has even been used as a housing for US Marines and the RAAF during World War II.
You can take the guided tour to get to know a behind-the-scenes look at MCG and to learn about its history. Open every day, the tour offers an affordable way to explore the famous MCC Long Room, MCC Library, and player change rooms.
For an even more memorable experience, combine your tour with a visit to the Australian Sports Museum.
9. Shop til you drop
Melbourne is a popular destination for shopping as the city is home to many department stores and shopping centers.
You can shop at the Queen Victoria Market, which is one of the world’s largest markets and offers a wide range of goods from souvenirs to food.
You can visit Collins Street for upscale boutiques and Collins Place for its beautiful architecture. Bourke Street Mall is home to major department stores and high-end clothing boutiques, and Melbourne Central has more than 300 stores selling a wide variety of products.
Swanston Street has bargain shops & basement stores with good deals, while Southgate is known for its restaurants, unique boutiques, and Sunday markets.
Docklands has factory outlets in its laneways, and Chapel Street offers a mix of second-hand shops & exclusive Australian designers.
10. Old Melbourne Gaol
The Old Melbourne Gaol is an incredible site to host events, boasting a capacity of up to more than a hundred guests for a banquet dinner or 350 for a cocktail reception.
Built in the mid 1800’s in the Melbourne CBD, the bluestone space contains its original cells and the walls are lined with museum features. It is famous for having held some of Australia’s most notorious criminals, including bushranger Ned Kelly.
You can choose to add a unique experience to their event with Ghost Tours, Lock-ups for a memorable experience.
11. Immigration Museum
The Immigration Museum opened in 1998 and showcases the immigration experiences of all non-Indigenous Australians through exhibitions, programs, festivals and activities.
It uses objects, audio-visuals, images, immersive experiences and interactive theater to explore global motivations for leaving homeland, ship journeys, personal stories, immigration policies, identity and belonging.
The Immigration Museum collects and displays objects to tell the stories of Victoria’s diverse population and their migration experiences. It strives to include many personal stories in its exhibitions so that visitors can have a better understanding of the impact of migration and cultural diversity.
12. Crown Casino Complex
Crown Melbourne is a world of entertainment with a casino, hotels, award-winning restaurants and shopping options. It is conveniently located on the north bank of the Yarra River.
Crown Complex is home to numerous restaurants such as the Atlantic to Rockpool, Nobu, and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, offering top-notch cuisine along the Southbank Riverwalk.
The Crown Complex in Melbourne offers a variety of entertainment, from concerts and live shows by renowned artists to a luxurious ballroom, a Kingpin bowling alley, and an indoor theme park.
The Atrium is an especially impressive spectacle, with an opulent black marble floor, a crystal ceiling, and mesmerizing light and laser shows. Movie-lovers can enjoy first-class luxury in the Village cinemas.
At Crown Melbourne, you can enjoy an unforgettable gaming experience in a luxurious, sophisticated atmosphere. They are devoted to making sure that their patrons enjoy gaming in a responsible manner.
The Crown Casino is located close to the Southern Cross Station, which is short ride by tram no 109, 12, or 96, or 15 minutes walk down Spencer Street.
13. Queen Victoria Markets
The Queen Vic Market is one of the best things to do in Melbourne as it is the southern hemisphere’s largest open air market, located in the CBD area.
Queen Victoria Market has been a popular destination for 140 years. With over 600 small businesses, you can find everything from fresh produce to specialty cheeses, cafes, coffee, art, clothing, homewares, jewelry, skincare, plants, books, pet supplies and flowers.
The market is proud to be plastic bag and straw free and offers reusable bags and shopping trolleys for hire.
The Market offers a great experience, from the friendly banter with traders, the multicultural atmosphere, special events and festivals, to the Ultimate Foodie Tour and the Night Market.
14. Koorie Heritage Trust
The Koorie Heritage Trust is the world’s oldest continuous living culture, located in Melbourne’s Federation Square.
You can enjoy a range of unique Aboriginal experiences such as a Birrarung Wilam (River Camp) walk, an extensive collection of Koorie art and artefacts, exhibitions and handcrafted gifts.
Established in 1985, the Koorie Heritage Trust is Aboriginal owned and managed, open 7 days a week and offers free entry. Explore and be inspired by the rich and complex history of Aboriginal Victoria.
15. Lygon Street
Lygon Street is a vibrant part of Carlton, offering up a unique slice of Italian life. From traditional delis and markets selling local produce, to pizzerias and wineries, Lygon Street is a haven for Italian food enthusiasts.
There’s true Italian dining experiences in intimate family-run restaurants, coffee and gelato bars, and street food festivals. It’s also home to the first pizzeria in Australia, and the La Mama Theatre and Courthouse Theatre for some evening entertainment.
For those looking to learn the secrets of Italian cooking, there’s Enoteca Sileno, a wine bar and grocery store with classes teaching pasta making and the art of Italian flavors. Lygon Street is a must-visit destination for Italian food fans and culture seekers alike.
16. Block Arcade
Block Arcade is Melbourne’s shopping precinct that has been around since 1892. It is beloved by both locals and visitors for its ornate architecture, including a glass canopy and mosaic floors influenced by Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
There is an abundance of unique shops and eateries to explore, including bespoke tailors, art dealers, spice merchants, chocolatiers, cafes & bakeries, and boutiques.
A visit to Block Arcade is a must-do for anyone looking to experience a piece of Melbourne’s rich history.
17. Carlton Gardens and Royal Exhibition Building
The Royal Exhibition Building is a remarkable piece of Australian and world history. It was originally opened in 1880 for the Melbourne International Exhibition, and continues to be an incredible event space today, hosting exhibitions, gala dinners, cocktail parties, meetings, conferences and more.
It’s a great place to hold an event, as it’s close to the CBD and provides excellent access with underground parking, coach drop-off points and public transport.
The iconic building is also surrounded by beautiful Carlton Gardens, making it a perfect backdrop for any event. It’s no wonder the building and grounds are both on the UNESCO and national heritage registers.
18. St Kilda
St Kilda is one of the best things to do and see in Melbourne as it is a vibrant and unique beachside suburb of the city, boasting two distinct shopping strips, Fitzroy Street & Acland Street Village.
St Kilda is the perfect place to explore with its beautiful Esplanade and St Kilda Beach, and array of attractions & activities. There is always something for everyone, from Luna Park and the Palais Theatre, to Linden New Art and the St Kilda Esplanade Market,
Enjoy exquisite dining experiences, discover quirky shops, spot the little penguins at the Breakwater, or take a stand up paddleboarding lesson. St Kilda is the ultimate urban playground, where you can get lost in the culture and excitement.
19. Dandenong Ranges
The Dandenong Ranges are a stunning landscape just an hour’s drive from Melbourne. An adventure awaits with Puffing Billy, Australia’s oldest surviving steam train, chugging through the rainforest.
You can visit quaint towns such as Sassafras and Olinda and browse the art and craft shops. Take a hike to the summit of Mt Dandenong for breathtaking views or stroll through the ancient rainforest at Grant’s Reserve to spot native Australian birds.
The Dandenong Ranges are a must-visit for families and couples wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and experience nature and history.
20. Werribee Open Range Zoo
Werribee Open Range Zoo is one of the best things to do and see in Melbourne for families and children. It offers a unique African adventure just half an hour from Melbourne. Visitors can embark on a guided safari, explore the walking trails and come face-to-face with African wildlife.
You can get up close to some of the most majestic animals in the world with expert commentary, and don’t forget your camera to capture the magical moments.
For a truly special experience, you can book the new Sunset Safari or Slumber Safari overnight glamping. Kids can also enjoy free entry every weekend, during school holidays, and on public holidays.
21. Melbourne’s best rooftop bars
Melbourne is a city that has something for everyone, especially when it comes to its vibrant bar scene. From cozy rooftop lounges to casual fine dining, there’s something to suit any occasion.
Popular Rooftop Bars in Melbourne are Rooftop Bar, Naked Upstairs, Loop Roof, The Rooftop At Qt Hotel, and The Emerson Rooftop.
Enjoy the elevated atmosphere and take in the city views, or relax in the temperate climate year-round. With this guide, you can easily find the perfect spot for any occasion. So take the stairs or catch the lift – it’s always more fun from up high!
22. Melbourne River Cruises on the Yarra
Visiting Melbourne is the perfect opportunity to explore the iconic Yarra River. From a leisurely sightseeing cruise to an adrenaline-filled water adventure, there is something to suit everyone.
Along the journey, you will be able to admire the stunning views of the Westgate Bridge, Crown Casino, Polly Woodside, and the Exhibition Centre. Take a cruise from the Southbank Promenade near the arts precinct and discover all that the city has to offer.
Melbourne River Cruises offers a variety of experiences for visitors and locals alike. Enjoy a sightseeing cruise along the Yarra River and take in the beautiful scenery of Melbourne.
Round trip cruises to Williamstown Ferry are also available, or enjoy a unique dining experience while cruising in style. Whatever your choice, Melbourne River Cruises provides a memorable experience of the city and its surroundings.
23. Eureka Skydeck
Melbourne Skydeck is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the city of Melbourne. With the highest observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere, the Skydeck experience is a mix of incredible views, state-of-the-art virtual and augmented reality technology and an exclusive app.
The Voyager Theatre takes guests on a journey of discovery through Melbourne and Victoria in 8K video with 6D sensory immersion.
To conclude the experience, visitors can enjoy a selection of drinks and snacks at Bar 88. Melbourne Skydeck is truly a unique experience that cannot be missed.
24. Catch a festival
Melbourne is home to some of Australia’s most vibrant and diverse festivals, from comedy to music and food. No matter what you’re into, you’ll find something to enjoy.
The Melbourne Comedy Festival is a must for anyone with a wicked sense of humor, while St Jerome’s Laneway Festival brings music, art and culture to the city’s laneways.
Then there’s the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, celebrating the best of Victoria’s food and drink. Plus, don’t forget the Melbourne Fringe Festival, the iconic 65th year of the Melbourne International Film Festival, and the Royal Show – 11 days of family-friendly fun in late September.
So get out there and experience the best of Melbourne’s festivals!
25. Day Trips From Melbourne
Looking for something to do close to Melbourne? There’s lots to explore nearby! Take a drive down the Great Ocean Road for some of the most beautiful coastline in the world.
Head over to the Yarra Valley and sample some local wines and food. Check out the Grampians National Park for stunning views & hiking trails. Or take a ferry to Phillip Island to see the tiny penguins. Whichever you choose, you’re bound to have a great time!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Melbourne best known for?
Melbourne is known for its picturesque laneways, diverse cultural scene, delicious food options for every budget, and amazing street art, as well as excellent public transport system, healthcare and education. It is also famous for being a coffee mecca and for consistently being voted as one of the best places to live in the world.
How do I spend a day in Melbourne?
Spend a day in Melbourne by discovering street arts and unique cafes along its laneways, visit popular sights such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Queen Victoria Market and the Federation Square, as well as enjoy the lively nightlife at one of the city’s many best restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
Is 2 days in Melbourne enough?
Two days in Melbourne can be enough to get a taste of the city and see the main tourist attractions, but it is not enough time to fully explore and experience everything it has to offer. It’s recommended to plan ahead and prioritize the things you want to see and do.
What are the best things to do in Melbourne for free?
Visit the National Gallery of Victoria, State Library of Victoria, meander through the Queen Victoria Market, explore the Royal Botanic Gardens, take a ride on the City Circle Tram, visit St Kilda Beach, and explore the CBD’s laneways for street arts & cafes.
What are the best things to do in Melbourne for couples?
Taking a romantic walk along the Yarra River, visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens, dining at a rooftop restaurant, going for a dinner cruise, taking a hot air balloon ride at sunrise, and exploring the street art & cafes along its laneways.
What are the best things to do in Melbourne at night?
Experience Melbourne’s vibrant nightlife by visiting rooftop bars, enjoying the night views of the city at the Eureka Skydeck, catching a comedy or live music show, taking a ghost tour at the Old Melbourne Gaol, or trying the renowned food and drinks at one of the city’s many laneway bars and restaurants.
What are the best things to do in Melbourne for young adults?
Visit the Queen Victoria Market, take a stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens, explore Hosier Lane, check out the art galleries & museums, enjoy coffee and food at one of the city’s best restaurants & cafes, and experience the nightlife in Brunswick.
See more: Where to Stay in Melbourne First Time
So there you have it, the best things to do in Melbourne, Australia for your next trip. If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment below.