Vibrant, elegant and multicultural, Australia’s second largest metropolis often tops lists of the world’s most livable cities. With its warren of hidden alleyways, tree-lined promenades and grand Victorian buildings financed by the 1850s Gold Rush, the city has a distinctly European feel. Foodies will also find plenty to love. Famous Aussie chefs show off their talents here, and you can feast on everything from Greek, Italian and Indian dishes to Spanish and Vietnamese dishes.
But perhaps Melbourne’s greatest claim to fame is sport. 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 match 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 the magic of Melbourne. On top of all these exciting things to do, rewarding day trip adventures lie a short drive from the city buzz.
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1 Federation Square
When Federation Square opened in 2002 to commemorate 100 years of federation, it divided Melburnians. There were those who loved it and those who hated it. Either way, it has become an integral part of the city and a great place for tourists to start their sightseeing. The ultra-modern design of open and closed spaces opposite Flinders Street Station, a major public transport hub, contrasts with the Victorian architecture. With over 2,000 events a year, you can always find entertainment in the central outdoor performance space and intimate indoor venues. Federation Square also houses the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia , dedicated to Australian art, and the Australian Center for the Moving Images (ACMI). Also referred to as ‘Fed Square’, it is also one of the largest free Wi-Fi sites in Australia.
Location: Corner Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne
Official Site: https://www.fedsquare.com/
2 Royal Botanic Gardens
In the heart of a verdant parkland stretching south of the city’s Yarra River , about two kilometers from the CBD, the Royal Botanic Gardens are among the best of its kind in the world. Established in 1846, the gardens span two locations: Melbourne and Cranbourne. The Melbourne Gardens cover an area of 38 hectares with more than 8,500 species of plants, including many rare specimens. The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden is designed to encourage the next generation of gardeners, and the Aboriginal Heritage Walkis a popular tour that looks at the rich heritage of Indigenous Australians. Visiting the gardens is one of the best free things to do in Melbourne. In the summer, the live theater is a highlight in the gardens and a moonlight cinema has been set up under the stars. This is also a popular spot for a lakeside picnic or a traditional high tea at The Terrace cafe.
Location: Birdwood Ave, South Yarra
Official Site: https://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/
3 Melbourne Cricket Ground and the National Sports Museum
Melbourne is Australia’s sporting capital, so it’s no surprise that a sports stadium is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. With a capacity of 100,000 and a history dating back to 1853, the MCG is considered one of the world’s largest stadiums. As the main stadium for the 1956 Olympics and 2006 Commonwealth Games, the birthplace of Test Cricket, and the home of Australian rules football , the ‘G’ is woven into the fabric of Melbourne. Daily 75-minute tours take visitors on a journey down a memory lane of great moments in sporting history and take in the National Museum of Sport , including the Australian Gallery of Sport andOlympic Museum . You can also play a game of cricket in the summer or football in the winter.
Directly opposite the MCG is Melbourne Park , home of the Australian Open tennis tournament, held in January. You can rent a tennis court and many concerts are held throughout the year.
Adres: Brunton Ave, East Melbourne
Official site: https://www.mcg.org.au/
4 Southbank in Arts Center Melbourne
On the banks of the Yarra River , a short walk from Flinders Street Station , this area is packed with cultural attractions. Southbank promenade is filled with indoor and outdoor cafes, restaurants and live entertainment. An excellent arts and crafts market is held every Sunday and the area is also home to many festivals throughout the year. Easily recognizable by its spire, the Arts Center encompasses a range of theaters and spaces, including the State Theatre , Playhouse , Fairfax Theatre , and Hamer Hall , the first-class performance space for the revered Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Adres: St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Official Site: https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/
5 National Gallery of Victoria
The National Gallery of Victoria, Australia’s oldest public art gallery, has more than 70,000 works of art in two locations across the city. The International Collection is housed in the St. Kilda Road Building, originally opened in 1968 and extensively renovated in 2003. The building is known for The Great Hall , where visitors are encouraged to lie on the floor and look at the colorful stained glass -lead ceiling look. The extensive Australian collection is held at the Ian Potter Gallery in Federation Square , covering the history of Australian art from Aboriginal works to the Heidelberg School and contemporary mixed media. One of the highlights is the large triptych format, The Pioneer door Frederick McCubbin.
Adres: St. Kilda Road, Melbourne en Federation Square
Official Site: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/
6 Eureka Tower
Named after the Eureka Stockade, the 1854 gold miners’ uprising in the Victorian goldfields, Eureka Tower stands 91 stories above the ground in the heart of Southbank. The skyscraper’s gold crown and gilded windows add to the theme and literally sparkle when the sun catches the top of the building. Skydeck , on the 88th floor, offers the highest public view in any building in the Southern Hemisphere. Adding to the experience is The Edge , a glass cube that slides three meters from the building for height-free visitors.
Adres: 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank
Official site: https://www.eurekaskydeck.com.au/
7 Arcades in Laneways
Wandering the labyrinth of lanes and alleys around Span , Collins , and Bourke Streets reveal elegant, interesting and quirky Melbourne at its best. The jewel in the crown is the beautiful Block Arcade on Collins Street . With its mosaic floor, period details and unique shops, this is where late nineteenth-century gentlemen walked by and begged the phrase ‘doing the block’. It’s worth having a morning or afternoon tea at the Hopetoun Tearooms . Dating back to 1892, this Melbourne icon is today the only original store in the arcade. The opulence Royal Arcade is Melbourne’s oldest arcade, andspain and degraves lanes are also worth exploring. Several companies run guided walking tours through the lanes and alleyways.
8 Melbourne Museum en Royal Exhibition Building
The Melbourne Museum is a short tram ride from the CBD and is surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland. This modern, purpose-built museum houses a diverse collection depicting society and cultures. Highlights include Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Center ; the Phar Lap exhibit, about Australia’s greatest racehorse; and the Children’s Gallery , a series of hands-on activities designed to stimulate and engage young people.
Adjacent to the Melbourne Museum is the extensive Royal Exhibition Building. Built in 1880 to host Melbourne’s International Exhibition , the building also held Australia’s first Commonwealth Parliament in 1901. Regular tours are available and the building continues to be used for exhibitions and special events.
Adres: 11 Nicholson Street, Carlton
Official site: https://museumvictoria.com.au/melbournemuseum/
9 City Circle Tram Tour
Trams are a large part of Melbourne’s public transport system, and the City Circle Tram offers tourists a free and convenient way to see the CBD. Accompanied by a commentary, the hop-on hop-off heritage tram passes many of the major historic buildings, including Parliament House , the Old Treasury Building, Princess Theatre , and the Windsor Hotel . Trams run every 12 minutes and take about 50 minutes to complete the entire loop.
10 Melbourne Zoo
Although the 22-acre Melbourne Zoo dates back to 1862, its more than 320 species of animals have the best of modern facilities in state-of-the-art enclosures. The award-winning Trail of the Elephants is an insight into the lives of the Asian elephants in a traditional village garden setting. Another highlight is the Orangutan Sanctuary , where the animals live in their treetops. With plenty of wild encounters, including “roar and snore,” twilight music concerts, and behind-the-scenes tours of some of the enclosures, the Melbourne Zoo offers animal lovers a fun experience.
Address: Elliott Ave, Parkville
Official site: https://www.zoo.org.au/melbourne
11 Captain Cook’s Cottage, Fitzroy Gardens
Captain Cook’s Cottage was brought to Melbourne from Captain James Cook’s native Yorkshire, England and was set up in Fitzroy Gardens . The quaint cottage is an insight into the life and times of Cook’s seafaring adventures and exploration of Australia and other parts of the world.
Also in the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens is the beautiful Spanish mission style conservatory which is always filled with a vibrant floral display. Kids will love the small Tudor village and Fairy Tree .
Adres: Wellington Parade, East Melbourne
12 Yarra River Cruise
A riverboat cruise is not only the perfect way to see the sights, it is also an insight into the history of the Yarra River . Many cruise lines can be found in Southbank , and it’s a relaxed and fun way to get your bearings before heading out to explore the city on foot. As you glide down the river, keep an eye out for Birrarung Marr , originally called “Birrarung” meaning “river of mists and shadows”, a waterfront park that celebrates Aboriginal ties to the Yarra River. If you’re too late, the one-hour River Gardens Melbourne Sightseeing Cruise allows you to take a relaxing tour of the city’s main attractions, such as theRoyal Botanic Gardens , Melbourne Cricket Ground , and National Tennis Centre .
13 Shrine of Remembrance
Sitting majestically in Kings Domain gardens, the Sanctuary was built after the First World War to commemorate Victorians involved in the Great War, abroad or at home. Today it is a poignant reminder for all servicemen and women and is the focus of ceremonies on ANZAC Day, held April 25, and Remembrance Day, November 11 each year. Guided or self-guided tours are available daily, and the lighting on the building is particularly beautiful at night.
Adres: Birdwood Ave, Melbourne
Official site: https://www.shrine.org.au/Home
Docklands is Melbourne’s newest waterfront entertainment venue. With the highest concentration of green star buildings in the southern hemisphere, the satellite village is filled with cafes, restaurants, tourist attractions and parks. The view from the giant ferris wheel, Melbourne Star , is spectacular, and the area is also home to Etihad Stadium; the Junior Wonderland amusement park; and the Ijskelder , a world-class ice venue. An art and vintage market is held on the waterfront every Sunday.
Adres: Harbor Esplanade, Docklands
Official Site: https://www.docklandsmelbourne.com.au/
15 Koningin Victoria Market
Popular with locals and tourists alike, this historic icon has been at the center of the fresh market since 1878. In addition to the beautiful dining rooms, market stalls sell everything from clothes, art and toys to that hard-to-find one-of-a-kind souvenir five days a week. There are guided tours and special events such as night markets, music concerts and other events are often held in the summer.
Adres: Queen and Victoria Streets, Melbourne
16 parliament building
Parliament House is open to the public even when Parliament is in session. It is one of Melbourne’s best kept tourist secrets. Built during the Gold Rush, the interior is lavishly decorated with gold leaf, chandeliers and a beautiful mosaic floor. Free, informative tours are held Monday to Friday on days when Parliament is not in session.
Adres: Queen and Victoria Streets, Melbourne
Official site: https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/visit
17 Immigration Museum
Located in the elegant Old Customs House , the Immigration Museum tells real stories of people from around the world who now call Melbourne home. The permanent collection is interactive and engaging, and special exhibitions add to the museum’s appeal. A visit here offers a different perspective on early European settlement, as every person arriving here has to go through customs.
Address: 400 Flinders Street, Melbourne
Official site: https://museumsvictoria.com.au/immigrationmuseum/
Where to Stay in Melbourne for Sightseeing
For first-time visitors to Melbourne, one of the best places to stay is downtown or Southbank, with its restaurants, cafes and vibrant calendar of events. These tourist-friendly areas are close to top attractions such as Federation Square; the Royal Botanical Gardens; and the labyrinth of alleys and shopping arcades around Flinders, Collins and Bourke Streets. Here are a few highly rated hotels in these areas:
- Luxe hotels:Steps from St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Fitzroy Gardens with Cook’s Cottage, the plush Park Hyatt is one of the city’s finest hotels. Shops and restaurants are a short walk away and sports enthusiasts can walk to the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Melbourne Park. Located on Southbank, Crown Towers offers spectacular views of the city skyline from its great rooms, as well as an indoor heated pool, fitness center and two rooftop tennis courts. Also in Southbank, the serviced apartments of Quay West Suites are a favorite with families. For something different, St. Jerome’s – the hotel offers a popular glamping experience on the roof of Melbourne Central. The luxury tents feature pillow-top beds, air conditioning, stocked coolers and tablets with movies.
- Mid-Range Hotels: A few blocks from the famous Queen Victoria Market, the Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens has a tram stop right outside and is great value within walking distance of shops and restaurants. The Alto Hotel on Bourke is steps away from a free tram and a 5-minute walk from outlet stores. It is Australia’s first carbon neutral hotel. The modern apartments are a great choice for families. A five-minute walk from Federation Square, the boutique Adelphi Hotel surprises guests with modern style and personal touches.
- Budget Hotels: The City Center Budget Hotel is a family-run hotel located near Melbourne Park. It offers excellent value for money, with a rooftop kitchen and plenty of public transport options on your doorstep. Within walking distance of Flinders Street Station, the Ibis Budget Melbourne CBD has basic rooms but a great location. Also in the budget price range, the Tune Hotel is two tram stops from the CBD and just a five minute walk from the Melbourne Museum, IMAX Theater and the Free Tram Zone.
Tips and Tours: How to get the most out of your visit to Melbourne
- Sightseeing: Fans of the long-running Neighbors TV soap opera can take a “Neighbours” tour of Ramsay Street to see filming locations and the original Ramsay Street homes. You also have the opportunity to meet one of the cast members.
- Days out:The most popular excursion from Melbourne is to the Great Ocean Road and the site of the famous limestone stacks known as the Twelve Apostles. The Small Group Eco Tour of the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne is an easy and fun excursion. This tour includes round-trip hotel transfers, morning tea, lunch, transport in a 24 seater vehicle and parks entry fees for stops in Great Otway National Park for wildlife viewing and Port Campbell National Park to see the Twelve Apostles. You can also upgrade this tour with a panoramic helicopter flight. Another popular day trip is the Phillip Island Little Penguins Parade Evening Tour. This tour takes you to Phillip Island by bus to watch fairy penguins make their way out of the ocean and across the sand to their burrows as they come home for the night. The trip includes hotel pickup and drop-off, transportation, and a stop at the visitor center to learn about the penguins. Families and nature lovers should consider the Puffing Billy Steam Train, Yarra Valley and Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary Day Tour. This full-day tour takes you through the beautiful rowan forests of the Dandenong Ranges aboard a historic steam train, with a birdwatching stop and a traditional Aussie tea. After the train ride, enjoy close-up encounters with lovable native animals at the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary. Transport by air-conditioned coach with a live commentary,
More Travel Adventures near Melbourne
Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, rivals Sydney with its rich cultural attractions, and it is also surrounded by spectacular natural areas. Day trips include the beautiful Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges and the golden beaches of the Mornington Peninsula. Less than two hours from Melbourne, you can also delve into the rich Gold Rush history of Ballarat, Bendigo and the Macedon Ranges, and on the west side of Port Phillip Bay, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula are the gateway to the Great Ocean Road . Outdoor adventures in the region abound. Skiers will find some of Australia’s best ski resorts within a day’s drive of the city, as well as fantastic fishing and some of the best walking in the country. If you need help planning your trip,