Melbourne, the cultural capital of Australia, is a city that never fails to impress. From its thriving city center to its charming laneways and lush green parks, Melbourne offers a diverse range of experiences for locals and tourists alike.
Whether you’re a coffee lover, art enthusiast, sports fan, or nature lover, you’ll find plenty of things to do in this hip and dynamic metropolis.
In this guide, we’ll take you through the best things to do in Melbourne, showcasing the city’s unique character and vibrant culture.
Explore the Captivating Street Art
Melbourne is considered one of the street art capitals of the world, with its vibrant and ever-changing street art scene. The city council has designated certain areas for street artists, resulting in exceptionally high-quality artwork throughout the city.
Take a stroll through the laneways and immerse yourself in the urban art that adorns the walls. If you want a deeper understanding of Melbourne’s street art, you can join a guided street art tour, where you’ll learn about the artists, their techniques, and the stories behind their creations.
For those seeking a deeper understanding of Melbourne’s underground art scene, the Melbourne CBD Street Art Tour is highly recommended.
Visit Iconic Landmarks: Flinders Street Station and Federation Square
No visit to Melbourne is complete without a visit to Flinders Street Station and Federation Square. In addition to being a transportation hub, Flinders Street Station is also a symbol of Melbourne’s culture.
Inside the station, you’ll find a small shopping area and easy access to Southbank. Just across the road, Federation Square awaits with its unique and fascinating architectural design.
Explore the Australian Centre of the Moving Image and visit the Ian Potter Centre art gallery to admire diverse art.
Wander Through the Enchanting Laneways
One of the best ways to experience Melbourne’s unique character is by taking an aimless wander through its laneways. These hidden gems are filled with intriguing shops, cafes, and street art.
Some of the most interesting laneways to explore include Centre Place, AC/DC Lane, Hardware Lane, and Degraves Lane.
As you meander through these laneways, you’ll discover a plethora of sights, sounds, and tastes that showcase Melbourne’s urban culture. Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at one of the many charming cafes tucked away in these laneways.
Immerse Yourself in Melbourne’s Live Music Scene
Melbourne is known for its vibrant live music scene, particularly in the rock genre. The city is home to numerous live music venues where you can catch both local and international talent.
The Corner Hotel, the Evelyn Hotel, and the Esplanade Hotel are just a few of the popular spots to experience the energetic atmosphere of Melbourne’s music scene.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see a show by the legendary Australian singer-songwriter-poet-author Nick Cave, who calls Melbourne home.
Indulge in the World’s Best Coffee
Melbourne is renowned for its coffee culture and has been voted as having the world’s best coffee. Baristas in the city are known for their commitment to their craft, so you won’t find a bad cup here.
Melbourne’s coffee scene is so influential that cafes in other cities proudly advertise that they have Melbourne baristas.
Immerse in Melbourne’s coffee culture with a tour or laneway exploration for great coffee. According to Yelp, Patricia on Little Bourke Street serves the best cup of coffee in Melbourne, offering a truly exceptional experience.
Find Serenity in the Botanic Gardens
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by visiting the beautiful Botanic Gardens. Within walking distance of the city center, these gardens offer lush greenery and vibrant blooms in a peaceful oasis.
Take a stroll through the garden’s winding paths and discover over 8,500 plant species from around the world. The Botanic Gardens are not only a haven for nature lovers but also a popular spot for locals and visitors to relax, exercise, and even engage in sketching the stunning flora and landscapes.
Discover the Wonders of Science at Scienceworks
Scienceworks is a must-visit destination for science enthusiasts of all ages. This interactive museum offers a wide range of hands-on exhibits, workshops, and events that make learning about science engaging and fun.
Explore the planetarium, where you can immerse yourself in the wonders of the universe, or visit the Lightning Room, where you can witness the power of electricity through captivating live shows. Visit Nitty Gritty Super City, a mini-metropolis that shows how a city works on a small scale.
Savor Gourmet Greek Cuisine in the Greek Precinct
Melbourne boasts the largest Greek population of any city outside of Athens, and the Greek Precinct is a testament to the city’s vibrant Greek community.
This cultural hub offers a wide range of authentic Greek restaurants and specialty shops where you can indulge in delectable Greek cuisine.
From traditional souvlaki to mouthwatering pastries, the Greek Precinct has it all. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Hellenic Museum, which showcases the rich history and culture of Greece.
If you’re visiting in March or September, be sure to check out the Antipodes Festival or the Greek Film Festival, respectively.
Step into History at the Old Melbourne Gaol
The Old Melbourne Gaol is a fascinating museum that offers a glimpse into Melbourne’s convict past. This historic prison operated from 1842 to 1929 and was the site of many infamous criminals’ executions, including Ned Kelly.
As you explore the museum, you’ll learn about life in the 1800s and the harsh conditions endured by prisoners. The Old Melbourne Gaol houses an impressive collection of artifacts, including death masks of executed criminals.
For those seeking a thrilling experience, the museum also offers ghost tours that delve into the haunted history of the jail.
Shop Till You Drop in Melbourne’s World-Class Shopping Destinations
Melbourne is renowned for its world-class shopping, offering everything from high-end fashion to unique boutique finds. Chapel Street is a popular destination for both locals and international celebrities, with its excellent range of high-quality clothing stores.
Bridge Road in Richmond is a great spot for outlet shopping and budget-friendly dining options. If you’re in search of vintage treasures, head to Fitzroy, where you’ll find eclectic shops filled with unique finds. Visit Highpoint or Chadstone for a wide range of Australian and international brands.
Experience the Thrill of Sports at the MCG
For sports enthusiasts, a visit to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is a must. Known as “Australia’s favorite stadium,” the MCG is a hub of sporting action.
Home to the Melbourne Cricket Club, the stadium hosts a range of events, including AFL matches, international soccer games, and rugby matches.
Immerse yourself in Melbourne’s passion for sports by attending a cricket or AFL game at this iconic venue. While at the MCG, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum, where you can delve into the rich history of Australian sports.
Experience Luxury and Entertainment at the Crown Casino Complex
The Crown Casino Complex is a world-class entertainment destination located on the banks of the Yarra River. As the largest casino complex in the southern hemisphere, it offers a wide range of gaming options for those who enjoy gambling.
However, the complex is not just about gambling; it also features luxury shopping, exquisite restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.
Explore the Atrium area, where you can marvel at stunning fountains and enjoy mesmerizing sound and light shows. Don’t miss the Gas Brigades, the largest pyrotechnic towers in the world, which shoot fireballs into the night sky.
Discover the Stories of Immigration at the Immigration Museum
Located in the beautiful Old Customs House, the Immigration Museum celebrates the diverse cultures that have shaped modern-day Australia.
Through immersive exhibitions, the museum tells the stories of immigrants and their experiences, highlighting the importance of identity and the journey to Australia.
Explore the Customs Gallery, which showcases the history of the Old Customs House as a hub for trade and immigration. The Immigration Museum provides a thought-provoking and educational experience that sheds light on the multicultural fabric of Melbourne and Victoria.
Immerse Yourself in the Vibrant Atmosphere of Queen Victoria Markets
Queen Victoria Markets has been a food hub in Melbourne since 1878, offering a wide variety of fresh produce, delicatessens, and artisanal crafts.
This iconic market is housed in a beautiful Victorian-era building, showcasing stunning architecture.
Take your time to explore the food stalls, where you’ll find delicious cheeses, olives, and smoked meats. Support local artisans and browse through unique crafts and souvenirs. Check the website for any upcoming festivals or activities at the markets throughout the year.
Appreciate the Beauty of Aboriginal Art
Melbourne is home to several galleries that showcase the richness and beauty of Aboriginal art. From small studio galleries to prestigious institutions like NGV International, you’ll find a diverse range of Aboriginal artworks that celebrate indigenous culture.
Take the time to visit the City Gallery, which is located inside Town Hall, or explore the Flinders Lane Gallery and the Ian Potter Museum of Art.
These galleries provide a unique opportunity to learn about the significance of art in indigenous culture and marvel at the stunning artworks created by Aboriginal artists.
Escape to Tranquility at Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition Building
Carlton Gardens is a 26-hectare site that encompasses the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Museum, and IMAX cinema. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed site offers a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.
Explore the meticulously maintained gardens, admire the beautiful fountains, and marvel at the stunning architecture. The gardens are a popular spot for locals and visitors to relax, exercise, and even participate in gardening festivals.
Make sure to visit the Royal Exhibition Building, which showcases the grandeur and history of this iconic structure.
Step Back in Time at the Block Arcade
The Block Arcade is a historic shopping arcade that dates back to 1892, offering a nostalgic experience for visitors. This beautiful precinct features stunning architecture and houses luxury boutiques, quirky galleries, and delightful tearooms.
Take a stroll through the arcade, soak in the ambiance, and indulge in some retail therapy. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Art of Dr. Seuss gallery and Haigh’s Chocolates to satisfy your cravings for unique art and delectable treats.
Delight in Italian Cuisine on Lygon Street
Lygon Street, also known as Little Italy, is a charming street that runs through several suburbs in Melbourne. It is renowned for its rich cafe culture and high-quality coffee.
Along Lygon Street, you’ll find world-class Italian dining establishments, specialty stores offering authentic Italian produce, and beautiful historic buildings such as the Lygon Buildings.
Indulge in mouthwatering Italian cuisine, shop for Italian delicacies, and explore the boutiques that showcase Italian fashion and style.
Explore Nature’s Beauty in the Dandenong Ranges
Located on the outskirts of Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges offer breathtaking scenery and a wealth of outdoor activities. Whether you’re a walker, cyclist, hiker, or nature enthusiast, there’s something for everyone in this picturesque mountain range.
The charming towns within the ranges provide opportunities to explore local produce and visit the famous Puffing Billy steam train. Immerse yourself in nature, take in the stunning views, and embrace the tranquility of this scenic destination.
Witness the Marvel of Penguins at St Kilda
St Kilda, a vibrant suburb of Melbourne, offers an array of attractions, including its famous beach and charming community gardens.
However, what surprises many visitors is the presence of a colony of St Kilda penguins.
These adorable creatures arrive just after sunset every night, particularly numerous in summer, and can be observed on the St Kilda breakwater. To ensure the penguins’ well-being, knowledgeable guides are available during daylight savings to answer any questions and provide insights into their behavior.
Remember to treat the penguins and their nesting sites with respect, as they are cherished members of the St Kilda community.
Embark on a Safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo
For a unique wildlife experience, head to Werribee Open Range Zoo located a short distance from Melbourne. This African-themed zoo allows you to get up close and personal with a wide variety of exotic animals.
Take a safari tour and observe giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and many other fascinating species in their natural habitat. The zoo also hosts events such as the Rhythm of Africa, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and music of Africa.
Werribee Open Range Zoo is a fantastic destination for both adults and children, offering a memorable and educational experience.
Relive the Past on a Wooden Roller Coaster
Luna Park, located in St Kilda, is a historic amusement park that first opened its doors in 1912. One of its iconic attractions is the Scenic Railway, the world’s oldest continually operating roller coaster. This wooden coaster provides a nostalgic experience harking back to the early days of theme parks.
Luna Park charges a small entry fee, which helps preserve the park’s heritage. Even if you’re not a fan of thrill rides, you can still enjoy the park’s unique atmosphere and capture great photos of the grounds.
Keep in mind that the park also offers a range of rides and entertainment options for those seeking more excitement.
Dive into Melbourne’s Art Scene
Melbourne is a haven for art lovers, with over 100 galleries showcasing a wide range of art styles and mediums. From small studio galleries to renowned institutions like the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), you’ll find an eclectic mix of artworks throughout the city.
Explore the Heidelberg style, which is iconic to Melbourne, or discover contemporary and indigenous art at the NGV International.
Take your time to visit the galleries listed on Visit Victoria’s website, each offering a unique perspective on the vibrant art scene in Melbourne.
The Immersive Art Gallery is a popular choice for those seeking a truly immersive art experience.
Cruise Along the Yarra River
The Yarra River offers stunning views of Melbourne’s skyline and is best experienced through a river cruise. Numerous operators offer cruises that allow you to take in the beauty of this important part of Melbourne.
Whether you prefer a leisurely cruise or a more adventurous kayak tour, the Yarra River provides a unique perspective of the city.
Keep in mind that the water quality of the Yarra is low, so if you choose a kayak tour, make sure to shower and change clothes afterward. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic beauty of Melbourne as you cruise along the Yarra River.
Immerse Yourself in Festivals
Melbourne is known for its vibrant festivals that celebrate various cultures and art forms. From White Night, an illumination festival that transforms the city, to the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival and the Midsumma Festival, which showcase the city’s diversity, there’s always something exciting happening in Melbourne.
Check the visitor center in Federation Square or explore online resources to find out what festivals are taking place during your visit. Whether you’re interested in art, music, food, or cultural celebrations, Melbourne offers a festival for every taste.
Melbourne is a city that truly has it all. With its vibrant culture, world-class cuisine, captivating art scene, and stunning natural beauty, there’s never a dull moment in this metropolis.
No matter what your interests may be, Melbourne offers an abundance of activities and experiences to suit every taste.
So, pack your bags and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the best things to do in Melbourne.
Posts you may be interested in: