Top 10 Things To Do In Melbourne
You may have heard that Melbourne is Australia’s most cosmopolitan city, or that it has the most European feel. And your ears did not deceive you! The capital of Victoria is filled with interesting Victorian architecture and trendy neighbourhoods where shops, bars and restaurants go to great lengths to stand out from each other. The city’s artists have made their mark on some parts of Melbourne’s streets, too. New skyscrapers sit side by side with 19th century buildings and create interesting juxtapositions that provide great views from aboard the trams that cross the city. If you’re currently planning a visit, don’t miss the top things to do in Melbourne.
What to do in Melbourne?
Discover the must-see tours in the most stylish city in Australia. This is a bustling place ideal for city slickers but that doesn’t mean that nature lovers, adventurers and thrill-seekers who make their way Down Under every year won’t find something for them in or nearby Melbourne too.
Melbourne offers endless tours and activities, food experiences and unique things to do. This eclectic world is home to 140 nationalities, all imbuing the cityscape and gastronomy with their own culture. The city has also preserved its own authenticity and a large number of monuments from the 19th century can still be found and are now some of the oldest in the country. Melbourne is bubbling with events and places that celebrate all arts and cultures. Crossed by the Yarra River, the city is a haven of greenery and a hotspot for culture, so here are our top 10 things to do in Melbourne to inspire your visit.
1. Immerse Yourself in Melbourne Life
The look and feel of the place go hand in hand with the culture it is known for. The beautiful Victorian-era buildings like St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Victoria State Library lend a great vibe to the CBD which is itself heaving with trendy bars and restaurants.
A must-see here is Federation Square, the cultural hub of the city that plays host to restaurants, cafes and bars as well as museums and galleries. This is where events take place, including festivals, summertime film screenings and food and craft markets. It’s also a great place to meet friends and have a good time. Getting around the CBD isn’t an issue either, with the City Circle tram doing what you’d expect, providing transport around the city’s centre, making it easy to get home after a night on the town. Make sure you know that Melbourne, too, is very culturally vibrant: not a week goes by when there isn’t a festival or a market so take advantage of it when you’re here.
2. Visit Queen Victoria Market
This place is not just an ordinary market where people come to buy their food. Queen Victoria Market, which opened in 1878, is a historical monument, a tourist attraction and an institution for all the inhabitants of Melbourne.
Every Wednesday night, it opens its doors to welcome thousands of visitors to eat, drink and listen to live music. Take this as your opportunity to taste local Australian specialities as well as those of the Italian, Greek and Indian communities that call the city home. Take care, too, to order a wine from the nearby Yarra Valley. This is a great place to eat, drink and be merry on a budget in Melbourne.
3. Stroll Around Melbourne’s Neighbourhoods
The eclectic nature of Melbourne is perhaps best expressed through the different neighbourhoods that comprise it. Accessible on foot or by tram, these neighbourhoods each have a style of their own and ensure that this is a place with something for everyone. From your starting point in the CBD, Chinatown is only a few blocks around the corner on Little Bourke Street, where some of the best Asian restaurants in Australia have their home.
To the north, the district of Carlton is historically predominantly Italian. It is a residential and popular area and a nice place for a stroll around to admire the 19th and early 20th century architecture on offer.
Also in the north, Fitzroy is perhaps the most interesting neighbourhood as it’s an extremely cultural and innovative place. Many artists live here and there are many small local designer boutiques and street art designed to keep Melbourne interesting and inspiring. The nearby Brunswick Street, too, is one of Melbourne’s busiest streets.
On the south side – the other side of the Yarra River – Southbank is ideal for walking along the shore and admiring the skyscrapers of the CBD. Some pedestrian bridges cross the waters from which rowing enthusiasts can observe from the opposite viewpoint. The area offers access to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Albert Park and the National Gallery of Victoria. It is also along the banks of Southbank that people come to play a hand at the casino of Melbourne.
Finally, the Docklands neighbourhood may not be the most glamorous or charming of the city’s neighbourhoods but has the advantage of being the site of a huge shopping mall which houses bargains and low prices.
4. Spend a Weekend in St Kilda
South of Melbourne, St Kilda is certainly the most famous seaside resort Melbourne and Victoria has to offer. Its long and beautiful beach is stormed by sunbathing enthusiasts and its boardwalk is popular for walking and running. The symbol of the city is its Luna Park, an amusement park for small (and large) children. There are many concerts here and the city also hosts festivals all year round.
The gastronomic scene is great here, too. St Kilda is one of the best places to eat in Melbourne. Try some of the best restaurants in St Kilda; Café Di Stasio, Circa The Prince, Stokehouse, Ciccolina, Donovans, Sapore and Golden Fields. These are among a long list of excellent restaurants and bars that can be found on Fitzroy and Acland Streets and along St Kilda Foreshore.
If you’re really into your food, discover many pastries, delicatessens and other caterers to taste some great cakes, dishes and drinks in a relaxed setting on the beachfront.
5. Witness the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island
A haven of peace, Phillip Island is just under a two-hour drive from Melbourne. It is an attraction not to be missed for the observation of Australia’s typical animals. Get up close and personal with kangaroos, wallabies, koalas but especially penguins. During the Penguin Parade which takes place every evening before dark, several hundred tiny pygmy penguins return from fishing to rest in their shelters. It’s possible to see them arrive from the stands provided for this purpose and then along the boardwalk too.
6. Visit the Wineries of Yarra Valley
Pick a day to discover the Yarra Valley, a wine region that produces the best Pinot Noir and sparkling wines in Australia. Discover how a vintage is harvested, fermented and made, and all the other steps along the way in the winemaking process. This region is also known for producing other exceptional products such as cheese, caviar, freshwater salmon, fruits and vegetables.
Only an hour’s drive separates the beautiful scenery of the valley to Melbourne. To get there, an organised Yarra Valley Wine Tour is your best option in order to ensure that you can sample the delights without having to drive back. Renting a car is also possible and will allow for stocking up on a few bottles to drink a bit later.
7. Enjoy Melbourne’s Top Sports
Every year, Melbourne hosts two of the world’s biggest sporting events: the Australian Tennis Open and the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix. The Australian Open takes place during the second half of January and all the best players worldwide are present. If you find yourself in the area at the time, this is an opportunity to see your favourite players in action. Access to qualifying rounds is free for all and tickets are available for the latter rounds.
The Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place in mid-March during a long weekend and spread over four days. It is one of the most affordable Grand Prix to attend and the sounds of engines roaring can be heard throughout the city. Don’t forget that during popular sporting events in Melbourne the hotels in the city will be full so be sure to make your Melbourne hotel booking well in advance.
8. Indulge in Food in Melbourne
Melbourne is very much one of Australia’s gastronomic centres and the diversity of foods on offer make it a real paradise for foodies. If that’s you, make sure you take advantage of the delights on offer. Enjoy the Hunt and Gather food tour, focused on local produce and offering its participants the chance to taste much of the speciality meats, cheeses and chocolates from Queen Victoria Market.
Indeed, chocolate is a real speciality of Melbourne. There is a vast array of chocolate shops, factories and cafes offering a diverse range of individual chocolates, different types of ganache and chocolate-based drinks. This is also a city of cafe lovers and brunch enthusiasts with heaps of hidden cafe gems offering some of the best coffee and food in the world. Make sure to plan some time in the itinerary for a great brunch or a moment for a cuppa.
9. Take the Neighbours Tour
It’s not just one of Australia’s best-loved soap operas, it’s adored worldwide! Neighbours has been on our screens since 1985 and served as a springboard for the careers of the likes of Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue.
The ‘real’ Ramsay Street is set on Pin Oak Court in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Vermont South and taking a day trip out to the location is very much the best way to see behind the scenes of this cultural icon. The three-hour Neighbours Tour includes access to the studio complex to see how filming works as well as a meet and greet with a star of the show. There’s always some free time to enjoy a wander around the set as well and a chance to get some great photos with props from the show.
10. Drive the Great Ocean Road
The best activities on offer in Melbourne are not always in the city itself. One of Australia’s most visited attractions is the Great Ocean Road. This winding, scenic coastal road of about 250km is famous for its natural beauty. The route starts around Torquay, an hour and a quarter from the city.
The most beautiful and spectacular point here is the site of the famous Twelve Apostles, the impressive rock formations jutting out of the sea just off the coast. A Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne is an opportunity to enjoy beautiful landscapes during a long weekend away from the excitement and the bustle of the city – great for a break within a break.
If you want to take things a little slower and have more time on your hands, you may want to consider a 5 day self drive holiday along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to really make the most of this area.
Melbourne is a place with something for everyone, from city beaches to international events, diverse culture to exciting food and drink. This cosmopolitan city hosts plenty of activities to take part in so make sure there’s part of your Australia holiday itinerary devoted to enjoying some of these top things to do in Melbourne.