Top 25 Things To Do In Melbourne
After staying for two short years in Melbourne, I tried to be thorough in exploring the ins and outs of what this city has to offer. I am excited to be sharing the Top 25 Things to Do, or rather; best places to visit in Melbourne. Sure, a Melbourne itinerary has been done for by many, but my goal is to provide a more complete view of places that are often overlooked when visiting this beautiful city. Melbourne has been rated as the best city to live in for two consecutive years now and I couldn’t agree more. I hope this review gives tourists, expatriates, students coming in to study some pointers.
1. Explore The Rectangular City
Melbourne’s main CBD is very well structured and easy to navigate around. The city is mostly infested with students because two universities are located just outside the rectangle. Trams started running free within the CBD not too long ago to encourage tourism.
Feel free to take a day to explore just the city alone because there are multiple places here you can’t skip. Be enchanted by the iconic State Library, the central library of the state of Victoria. Daily it is always filled with students doing reading and revisions. Enter in and do not forget to visit The Dome, as it houses a classical interpretation of an olden day Victorian library.
Flinders Street Station, is Melbourne’s train station landmark, and we are pretty sure no one leaves here without taking at least one photo
Graffiti artists are always welcome to express their inner creativity on the walls along Hosier Lane and this picturesque lane is not to be missed. Tower Clock at Melbourne Central shopping center is also charming; the Largest H&M Store in the world that opened fairly recently occupies almost 5000m², is quaint and it feels like you are shopping in a castle. Well of course you don’t have to shop if you don’t want to, you just have to admire its classical white facade; Also try to visit a heritage-shopping arcade called the Block Arcade; Degraves Street, a famous alleyway with a French vibe and famous for a quick grab and bite; Sit down on the steps of the Parliament House, reminds me of the Gossip Girl’s ‘you can’t sit with us’ moment. Watch street performances or attend an event at the Federation Square. There’s also Chinatown that has lots of great Chinese eateries. Shop at the new Emporium Mall, Bourke Street shopping street, or on the east side of Collins Street for more up market fashion products.
2. Brunch & Coffee
Melbourne is often called an artsy city. The government prohibits many of Melbourne Victorian Heritage buildings to be torn down. Hence, the cultural aspects of the Victorian legacy still remain intact today. Its no wonder most of the buildings take in a classical, rustic approach, taken from its cultural, artsy side. Brunch places here are no exception, we share the love for a good cup of coffee daily and the grungier or the more unique the brunch location is, the more they are appreciated. You can almost be assured that most of the brunch places here offer solid quality of food. Trust me I have been to many. Visit the directory to see a list of food places in Melbourne. Here’s a list of places that are great: Rustica Sourdough; The Kettle Black; Breakfast Thieves; Operator 25; The Grain Store; Stagger Lee’s; Axil Coffee Roasters; The Vertue of The Coffee Drink; Top Paddock; The Petty Officer; Barry; Hobba; Le Miel Et La Lune; Manchester Press; Oscar’s Cooper; Tall Timber; Auction Rooms; East Elevation and many more. The list here is barely all that I have to share, so make sure to check the directory because I don’t want to spam, even though I might have had.
Cities all over the world adopts its flair for hipster coffee and brunch spots, and you have Melbourne to thank for – a place of inspiration.
3. Queen Victoria Market
Open markets are famous in Melbourne, especially this one. The Market has been there for more than a century. Locals who stay in the city do most of their market shopping here because they offer a fresh array of local produce. The market has more than 600 stalls and you can be assured to get your fresh produce at a competitive rate. Don’t forget to stop by Market Lane Coffee if you are there, it is one my favorites and the city agrees.
Often times the market is open on Wednesday nights during winter and many restaurants and knick-knack vendors would rent a space to have a pop up store here. We love to visit the night market and stuff our faces with good food. Other than visiting bars, go to the movies or just plain old shopping, this is another great option to hang out with friends.
4. Royal Exhibition Building
Royal Exhibition Building is located at Carlton Gardens, the Central Park of Melbourne some might call it. The University of Melbourne students take their head wrenching examinations in this beautiful venue. The building is also often used to hold bazaars and other events. You can spot couples taking wedding shoots at the garden against this world heritage building almost weekly.
5. Shrine Of Remembrance
The shrine was built as a memorial venue for soldiers who lost their lives in service during the World War I. We commemorate the loss of 60,000 Australian and 18,000 New Zealander soldiers on Anzac Day (National day to commemorate all those who died in the war), and soldiers would march at the shrine to show respect.
6. Fascinating Museums
The city of the arts needs its museum. We recommend the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), which showcases modern and contemporary local art pieces. The last time we came here we attended the iconic Jean Paul Gaultier’s exhibition and spent hours being mesmerized.
Melbourne Museum on the other hand, focuses its exhibits on nature, history, science, art and culture. There is also an exhibition that shows how Melbourne evolved from its colonial days up till today. Do you know what Melbourne Museum is currently the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere?
7. Enchanting Gardens
Take a peaceful walk and enjoy the greenery and fresh air in Melbourne’s gardens. Melbournians appreciate nature and health like no one else. Locals love taking a slow walk or a quick jog at these gardens. The Royal Botanical Gardens has a stunning lake view in the middle of it.
Fitzroy Gardens is a more open environment and they have a glasshouse that contains various and different fanciful flowers depending on the season. Outside of it is a garden, and university students love having to do their activities in this area.
8. Pristine Beaches
I think most Australians would agree with me that they love the beach. Here’s a list of beaches that are worth a visit.
Brighton Beach is famous for its bathing boxes. Each box costs by the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, crazy right? They are just ordinary boxes locked up, but because of its colorful exuberance, tourists just can’t seem to get enough of it. Um.. a picture please?
St Kilda Beach is always lively because it has lots of cafes and bars, a street of houses, and the family friendly amusement park – Luna Park is right there too. For a great brunch place here, visit Fitzrovia. We also recommend Claypots Seafood & Wine for a seafood feast, or Miss Fitzy’s for amazing cocktails.
Sorrento Beach is one of our favorites because instead of watching the sunset, we get to see the back of a sunset. The resulting colors are a mix of violet, pink and orange hues.
You can literally hear squeaky noises when you step on the sands of Squeaky Beach. Sunset views are amazing here, but out of the four, this beach is really the furthest one from civilization.
9. Eureka 89 – Tallest Building in Melbourne
Most cities develop the tallest monument and call it a landmark. Melbourne’s version consists of 89 floors and there is a 360-degree view of the city at the sky deck. I’d recommend to make reservations for lunch or dinner at Eureka 89 and that way you don’t have to pay entrance fee and enjoy a five star meal with a view of the skyline. I had my Birthday celebration there too, read it here if you want to have an idea what the restaurant is like.
10. Crown Promenade – Gamble at The Casino
If you are above 18, and are up for the fun, feel free to gamble your pockets out at this sophisticated and vibrant locale.
The crown shopping mall also features middle to upper market fashion tenants just in case you win big, and it would be a polite gesture to return your winnings back to the casino. If you are here and hungry, we recommend trying out these restaurants: The Conservatory / The Atlantic / 400 Gradi.
11. Majestic Cathedrals
St Paul’s Cathedral is an Anglican church strategically located in the CBD. Be impressed with all fragments of the stained glass windows inside.
St Patrick’s Cathedral is a church we go to from time to time. This beautiful structure was built almost a century ago and is every Catholics’ safe haven. Every Sunday at a certain mass hour, the bishop would be the one giving the mass. Once ended, locals and visitors would be outside taking pictures with him.
12. Mysterious Pink Lake
Yes, it is absolutely pink, a scene you would see straight out of a fantasy film. The lake is located at Westgate Park, not very far off the city. The colour forms with the presence of a certain algae known as dunailella-salina. The liquid texture is almost as dense as milk. This picturesque location should be on your bucket list, it is exquisitely bizarre and well deserved a visit. More pictures here.
13. Melbourne Suburbs
Melbourne suburbs have different niche they are proud about, and the ones listed below are the more popular ones amongst tourists. You never really experience Melbourne if you haven’t been out of the CBD.
The most livable suburb is South Yarra. The area is famous for a long stretch of street filled with local designer boutiques, brunch cafes and bars of course. This street is called Chapel Street, and I am so privileged to have stayed at this region for the past two years. This area is often the designated place to live in. People who live here are generally expats, young working adults and families, with pets.
You can also visit Richmond, a Vietnamese and Thai suburb filled with countless pho joints that are not to be missed. Yes, Melbourne has one of the best phos!
The hipster community is situated at Fitzroy, Brunswick & Collingwood. We love coming here to find the hippiest café, restaurants, bars, graffiti arts, and just unique shops that sell the coolest and most outrageous stuffs.
For shopaholics who love good deals, visit the factory outlet at Southbank’s DFO South Wharf.
14. Renowned Universities
Melbourne has three universities well-known throughout the world; The University of Melbourne; RMIT University; and Monash University. In the course of my study here, I have seen many tourists come by to take pictures of the beautiful classical and modern buildings these universities have. Even university gift stores are usually more of a hit with tourists. Yes we all need that university hoodie don’t we?
15. Wine Tasting At Yarra Valley
Famous for its selection of fine wines, Melbourne has lots of land to grow grapes in various parts of the state. Yarra Valley is the main touristy destination for wine lovers to sample some of the finest wines. The soils are fertile here due to the mountainous region, and a cool climate also allows grapes to be grown under favourable conditions. If you’re buying, don’t forget to check the amount of bottles you can bring back to your country. Some of our favourite wineries include Domaine Chandon; De Bortoli; Yerring Station, and Coldstream Hills. Unless someone isn’t drinking, we also recommend that you attend a Yarra Valley tour because drink driving penalties are not to be messed with here.
There is also an Alpaca Farm, Gerbera Farm, and Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery Chocolate Factory if you happen to be interested in visiting.
16. Coastal Drive Through The Great Ocean Road
Take a drive along The Great Ocean Road and be enthralled with breathtaking coastal views throughout the journey. It is a half day drive to make it to these pit stops worthy of going to: The Twelve Apostles; Loch Arch Gorge; and London Bridge. You can also take a helicopter ride to see The Twelve Apostles, we meant 8 apostles, because 4 of them had collapsed throughout the years and years of corrosion. An insider tip: Time your journey well and make it to these pit stops just before the sunset, just trust us on this. This road trip must be in your bucket list!
17. Trekking At The Grampians
For those who are more adventurous, spending a few hours trekking at The Grampians can be very therapeutic. Our favorite go-to trails are as follows. The Pinnacle lookout has two routes, the first is an easier walkthrough and you start the trek via the Sundial Car park. The second route is more challenging but fulfilling because steps are steeper and it walks through the Grand Canyon walls. We call it the mini version of the American Grand Canyon. We have done both treks and prefer the latter. For this route, park your car at the Wonderland Car park.
The Balconies, or what locals refer to, as the Jaws Of Death is one of the most spine-chilling experiences if you stand on its peak. The name speaks for itself as the cliff is structured to scare, shaped like an alligator’s chops.
Another spectacular scenery not to miss out on is the McKenzie Falls. It is the most quaint and largest waterfall in Victoria.
It is also advisable that when you take a daytrip to the Great Ocean Road, take a night stay around the region, and visit the Grampians the next day. Some companies also offer a 2d1n Great Ocean Road and Grampians tour. This is absolutely time saving if you have a short trip stay.
18. Mornington Peninsula
There are quite a few things that you can do at the peninsula. The hot springs are especially curative for the mental state of mind. This is a popular destination for not just visitors but also locals, as there are great deals of health benefits just from soaking in these naturally mineralized waters. What makes it special for the locals is that Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs is the only venue in the country that is able to provide thermal mineral spring waters naturally.
Spend the morning picking fresh strawberries straight out of the farm at Sunny Ridge. They grow the sweetest strawberries we have ever eaten! Thrill-seeking venturers might also be interested in horse riding along the beach, or get fit and fun playing indoor and outdoor mazes at the Enchanted Adventure Garden. You can also visit the Farmers Market and purchase all that knick-knacks, fresh produces and what not. Finally, spend the evening waiting for the sunset at Arthur’s Seat, which gives you a good view of the beautiful coastline. For a restaurant recommendation, we would recommend The Baths, and take a visit during the daytime, because when sunlight hits the sands its just gorgeous.
19. Canola Fields In The Spring
We just missed this year’s Canola season because we flew back in winter. This is a romantic spot for a picnic and to get lost in fields and fields of canola. Geelong has a perfect spot that grow fields of canola. Trust us, and just Google it.
20. Visit One Of The Snowy Mountains During Winter
There are several mountains you can visit during the wintertime whether to ski, toboggan, build a snowman or just simply play with the snow. Out of all the mountains in Victoria, we recommend Mount Hotham, which is about a 5-hour car ride from the city. It is a mini town of its own with restaurants and different areas for different snow activities. There is even a husky sleigh ride, I mean, how often can we get a chance to do that?! Mount Hotham also has spectacular views with abundant snow covered terrain. We love scenic views and the ride up and down of the mountain was one of our favourite moments of the trip.
21. Admire The Red Autumn Leaves At Daylesford In The Fall
Daylesford is a spa town. It is a great place to visit during autumn to enjoy a good spa while the weather hits 10-20 degrees outside. Red autumn leaves are usually at its most flaming red this season (well.. not the picture below, not in this area). Lake Daylesford is a whimsical rendezvous arena for couples. Surprise your loved one with a romantic canoe ride at the lake. Swans aren’t as abundant as what you see out of The Notebook scene, but it is definitely an enough romantic gesture for your significant other. There’s also a forest with super lanky trees and fallen leaves all over.
22. Phillip Island
Phillip Island is known as the habitat of nature and wildlife. You can visit the wildlife parks to see kangaroos and koalas. Visitors also usually wait out to watch the penguin parade as these penguins swim up ashore and waddle inland back to their homes ashore after sunset. You should also visit the Nobbies Centre, which overlooks the Seal Rocks; a place where colonies of seals love to bask under the sun.
23. Old Town Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill brings you back to the 1850s golden era, literally. There was a gold rush at the suburb of Ballarat at that point of time, which sends many people to come in search for that luster of hope. The place is now an open-air museum, where people still dress up in Victorian gowns and dresses. That we presume brings out the fun in this whole idea of a museum; or theme park as we call it is more accurate. You can also take a railway down the tracks to the ground mines where workers used to work at in search for gold. In there they teach you the history of gold mining and stories of where gold is found; how the gold is extracted; and horrific stories of people getting trapped in caves.
Dandenong is another Victorian suburb that is great for a quick escape. People love coming to visit the Tessellar Tulip Festival when the season arrives. Although we have to admit the expanse of these tulips aren’t as extensive as the ones in Skagit Valley of Washington. But if you are from the city, a break to see a field of tulips can perhaps give you some sense of liberation and fulfillment.
There is also a fun Maze Garden where you can pair up with friends to see who’s the fastest maze runner. I may have severely intended that pun but really, it was a lot of fun with mixed feelings of contrition when we tried it in the pouring rain.
If you love the traditional, Dandenong still has a steam train preserved that goes by the name, Puffing Billy. The train is finely maintained and it is over a century old. Taking a ride allows you to view scenic forests and helps you reminisce of what it might be like traveling in the past.
We urge you to visit Miss Marples Tearooms for a quick tea break aside all of these activities. Have some teas and scones. Its simple and traditional, but the best yet we’ve eaten in Melbourne. This place in itself is one of the main attractions to visit. Plus, the place is really cute, adorable, homey, and all the characteristics that of a traditional English teahouse.
25. Melbourne Zoo
Australian wildlife parks is one of the most sought out places by tourists because many of these animals symbolize the uniqueness of this country and you cannot find them elsewhere in the world. Visit Melbourne Zoo to see Australia’s iconic animals such as kangaroos, koalas, penguins, emus, possums, Tasmanian devil, quokkas etc.
And there you have it…
25 things to do when you visit Melbourne. Aside of brunches, feel free to also check out the restaurant list that I have (Food & Drink> Australia> Melbourne). I have a whole long list that you can check and maybe try out. If you like this article and find it useful, please give it a shout out or share it amongst your friends and families. Thanks for reading everyone, I hope Melbourne is that one place where you go to and have an everlasting memory of. For me, I know I did.