Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city and is packed to the brim with things to do. Although it is not the nation’s political capital, Melbourne has carved out a reputation as Australia’s food, culture, and caffeine capital instead. Not a bad trade off if you ask me. Once you have experienced the best that Melbourne has to offer, it is very hard to argue these titles.
A lot of Melbourne’s charm lies in the details. The specialist coffee shops, ever-trendy boutiques, constantly evolving street art, and atmospheric suburbs, make Melbourne feel youthful, exciting, and modern. Three years ago I moved to Melbourne from Tasmania, so I am somewhere between a tourist and a resident in the city. After all these years of trying out the activities on offer, I would love to share my top Melbourne Things To Do with you to help you get the most out of this wonderful corner of the world.
Wander Through the Botanical Gardens
Make sure you check the Melbourne weather forecast before you set off for a wander through the Royal Botanical Gardens. Extremely close to the city centre, the Botanical Gardens is an oasis in this bustling metropolis. With many different sections including cacti, ferns and lakes, there is something for everyone here.
Stroll By The Yarra River
The Yarra River flows through the Victorian capital and although not the most visually pleasing river, it does make for a nice backdrop for a walk. With a gentle path along the side of the Yarra River, you will meander through the city and marvel at the skyline, and then past the boat sheds and the Botanical Gardens before heading into the Richmond and South Yarra area via the famed sports arenas.
Visit the National Gallery of Victoria
The National Gallery of Victoria, or “NGV” as it’s affectionately known, is an awesome place to spend a day in Melbourne. The main galleries are free of charge and there are plenty of interesting exhibits to check out.
Queen Victoria Market
The Queen Victoria Market, or “Queen Vic” or “Vic Market” (which took me a long time to figure out were all the same thing), sits north of the Melbourne CBD. The market is mainly full of beautiful stalls selling high-quality foods, but there are also ample opportunities for buying clothes, jewellery and caffeine.
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Brunch at any of Melbourne’s superb cafés
If Melbourne has perfected one thing, it’s brunch. There are hundreds of Melbourne cafés and restaurants serving up brunch for a range of budgets. If you want to live like a local, have a lazy weekend brunch in one of Melbourne’s suburbs; I would recommend Brunswick which is teeming with cafés.
Walk up Ruckers Hill at sunset
Ruckers Hill in Northcote is only 6km from the CBD and is an amazing place to watch the sun set over the city. A visit here in golden hour will not let you down.
Visit St. Kilda’s Luna Park
The suburb of St. Kilda, just South-East of Melbourne’s CBD, is constantly evolving and gentrifying. The most iconic part of the suburb, something that has remained steadfast during the changes seen, has to be Luna Park. This colourful place full of rides, food and fun will release your inner kid. There is nothing more fun than getting your adrenaline pumping on one of the rides, and not to mention, the views from the top are fantastic!
And while you’re there, check out St. Kilda Pier
St. Kilda is not only famous for Luna Park but also for its beach. The long sandy stretch is so close to the city it feels almost unbelievable. With Luna Park in the distance and pastel-coloured buildings, it almost feels like you’re in California in the 1950s. Emerging from the shores is St. Kilda Pier which culminates in a lovely yellow weatherboard building which now serves as a restaurant. The pier is fantastic to walk along and it’s actually longer than you might think. There are plenty of people fishing off the sides which adds to the atmosphere.
Wander through China Town
China Town in Melbourne’s CBD is always buzzing with people. The hugely atmospheric area is a mecca for food lovers and bargain hunters alike. With an overwhelming number of Chinese restaurants, you a spoilt for choice here. Even if you’re not after a feed, it is still well worth strolling through.
Spend an afternoon at the State Library
The State Library is a joy for both lovers of books and lovers of aesthetically-pleasing libraries. With lots to read and stunning areas to read in, the State Library is a haven in the bustling city. If you aren’t in the a big fan of reading, it is still good to see the State Library and admire the beautiful reading rooms.
Enjoy a cocktail at a rooftop bar
Rooftop bars are cropping up left, right and centre in Melbourne and it is for a good reason. There is no better way to enjoy a view of the Melbourne CBD than with a famous Australian beer or a trendy mixologist-designed cocktail. With plenty of different bars catering to different styles, you are bound to find something that suits you. My personal favourites are Bomba and Naked for Satan.
AFL at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
AFL is “Australian Rules Football” and it’s pretty popular in Australia, especially in the founding city of Melbourne. Although you may never have heard of it before, trust me when I say the Australian people go totally nuts for this sport. The MCG is the mecca of AFL and if you’re in Melbourne during the football season you simply *have* to go to a game. Tickets aren’t too expensive and the atmosphere is unrivalled. It is definitely the Aussie idea of a cultural experience.
Shop the boutiques on Chapel Street
Chapel Street is a well known Melbourne street which is teeming with boutiques, restaurants and nightlife. It’s a more unique shopping experience than the CBD or a mall like Chadstone, and there are many local brands on offer. Chapel Street is in an affluent area of the city so you can do a spot of people-watching on the side. If you stay on until night time, there are numerous bars and clubs to sample.
Explore the city’s arcades
The arcades are a lovely addition to the Melbourne CBD. There are loads dotted throughout the city. Some are up-kept really well and others have a more shabby feel, but each is uniquely beautiful. The most well-known arcade has to be Royal Arcade which is just off the famous Bourke Street Mall. Whether you’re after an unbeatable hot chocolate, a spot of op shopping, or some high quality accessories, the arcades have it all.
See the street art on Hosier Lane
Melbourne is famous for its street art and there are displays of creativity around every corner. But the one place where it covers every surface is Hosier Lane. Just across from Federation Square, this laneway is covered from top to bottom in creativity. I love visiting here because every time I come back the art is completely different!
Bathing Boxes at Brighton Beach
The affluent beach-side suburb of Brighton is a lovely change from the intensity of the city. The highlight of Brighton (aside from the sand, the cafes and the sea baths)? The brightly coloured beach huts. These beautifully decorated bathing huts are uniquely patterned and a lovely addition to the beach. They’re beautiful all year round!
Admire Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Station is hard to miss. The brightly painted facade stands proud on the banks of the Yarra overlooking Federation Square. As the epicentre of Melbourne’s public transport, you will bound to end up here at some point if you are exploring the city. For 150 years, Flinders Street Station has been an iconic part of the city and is one of the most well-known attractions.
Watch a movie at the Astor
The Astor Theatre is an old-school way to see a good movie in Melbourne. Built in the 1930s, there is a real sense of history here compared to modern theatres. The facilities are top class!
Enjoy incredible Italian food on Lygon Street
Lygon Street is Melbourne’s Italian precinct. This is where Melbourne’s famous cafe culture supposedly started. So whether you’re after coffee, gelato, or world-class Italian food, you will not be short of options here. The atmosphere along the leafy street is unparalleled.
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