Some people say that Melbourne is Australia’s most European city. Victoria’s capital is sophisticated and stylish. Its hidden laneways and grand arcades are packed with shops, bars, restaurants and plenty on the cultural calendar. There are so many things to do in Melbourne.
Victoria is Australia’s smallest mainland state and one of the advantages here is that it’s small.
In a vast country like Australia, which has wide open spaces, it’s not uncommon to travel for days without seeing another soul.
So being a small state has obvious advantages for travellers wanting to explore a variety of regions.
You can go from the city to the wilderness in less than an hour, from the city to Phillip Island, where little penguins are an attraction, or along the spectacular coastal drive of the Great Ocean Road.
Here are the top 10 things to do in Melbourne.
- Top 10 things to do in Melbourne
- Melbourne Events
- Day trips from Melbourne
- Melbourne Restaurants and bars
Top 10 things to do in Melbourne
1- Go shopping in Melbourne
Melbourne has a diversity of stylish shops offering original local designs, well-known international brands and vintage items.
The best shopping locations are Flinders Lane, Emporium Melbourne and QV Melbourne.
2- Chill out at the beach
St Kilda is Melbourne’s seaside playground. It has a lovely sandy beach with an attractive palm-lined boardwalk.
The best thing about St Kilda is the choice of cake shops and the selection of mouth-watering sweet treats to try.
3- Search for Melbourne laneways graffiti
Discover history and architecture or unearth great local designers and cool shops along a warren of back lanes in Melbourne.
There’s no doubt Melbourne is a cool city with lots of cool things to do.
If you love wall art you might like to wander around the lanes of Fitzroy.
4- Attend a sporting event
Melbourne is a sports-mad city.
Venues that host sporting events are the MCG, where behind-the-scenes access to the coach’s box, member’s areas and the National Sports Museum will delight sporting enthusiasts.
The first Test cricket match was at the MCG in 1877 (Australia defeated England by 45 runs).
5- Explore Federation Square
Federation Square is Melbourne’s meeting place and cultural precinct, with museums, galleries, restaurants, cafes and some of Melbourne’s best bars.
It’s the place to head for events and social activities and is certainly one of the best things to see in Melbourne
6- Take a ride in a hot air balloon
Seeing Melbourne from the sky offers a whole new perspective and floating above the city at sunrise is an activity to remember.
7- Drink coffee in Melbourne
Melbourne is a cafe (Melbourne is considered Australia’s coffee capital) and restaurant city.
You’ll taste great coffee and learn more about coffee here than anywhere else in Australia.
8- The Eureka Skydeck 88
Located at the Melbourne’s Eureka Tower, the Eureka Skydeck 88 is the place for a bird’s-eye view of the city.
It’s certainly one the best place in Melbourne to see the city from the sky.
9- Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Station has long been an iconic Melbourne meeting spot.
It’s a great spot to people watch and the most recognisable Melbourne landmark for a selfie.
10- Go to the theatre
European settlers brought a tradition of theatrical art to Melbourne.
There are plenty of entertainment options, including comedy, jazz, opera, shows, musicals, ballet and plays.
Melbourne’s first theatre (The Pavilion) opened in 1841
Plan your visit around one of these great events
Australian Open (January) draws the world’s best tennis players, who compete for this Grand Slam trophy.
During the event, there’s a host of live entertainment at Grand Slam Oval and lots of big screen at Garden Square.
White Night Melbourne
White Night Melbourne (February) offers both free and ticketed entertainment, exhibitions, street performances, fashion, lighting installations, film screenings and concerts.
Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix (March) is when the world’s fastest racing car drivers compete in this thrilling Formula 1® race at the Albert Park circuit.
Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (March) tickles the taste buds with over 300 culinary events throughout Melbourne’s maze of hidden laneways as well as regional Victoria.
Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Week (March) is a celebration of local and international fashion across various venues.
The line-up features Australia’s established and emerging designers, workshops, seminars, forums and live entertainment.
Rip Curl Pro
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (April) is a major surfing event, the ASP World Tour.
The world’s best 34 male surfers, one Rip Curl Wildcard and one local Victorian Wildcard compete at Bells Beach.
Day trips from Melbourne
Phillip Island is a 90-minute drive from Melbourne and the place to spot Little Penguins as they waddle up the beach to their dune burrows.
The Goldfields is a 90-minute drive from Melbourne.
The main attraction is Ballarat’s Sovereign Hill.
The open-air museum is a step back into Victoria’s gold rush.
Ballarat Wildlife Park is also worth visiting.
The Mornington Peninsula is less than an hour from Melbourne.
It’s the place for orchards, olive groves and vineyards.
You can go on coastal walks, spot seals, surf and swim with dolphins or unwind in the hot springs.
The Yarra Valley is an hour’s drive from Melbourne.
Victoria’s wine country is renowned for producing Australia’s finest Pinot Noir.
Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road has beaches, historic ports, rainforests and mountain ranges along a spectacular coastal route.
The highlight is the Twelve Apostles, which are impressive limestone stacks rising from the ocean.
The Grampians is a majestic mountain range with stunning scenery.
Rich in Aboriginal heritage, it’s the place to see rock art, go fishing or canoeing and find wildlife in their natural environment.
Wilsons Promontory is a pristine National Park of beaches, granite cliffs, forests and fern gullies.
Melbourne Restaurants and bars
7 to 10 by Christine Retschlag
1. Vue de Monde on the 55th floor of the Rialto Tower has stunning city views. The Age Good Food Guide gave it a 19 out of 20.
2. Transit Cocktail Lounge is one of Melbourne’s top late night venues. It has a rooftop bar with black leather sofas, late-night jazz and sparkling city views.
3. Tonka is hidden in one of Melbourne’s laneways and has modern Indian cuisine.
4. Gazi is an inner city Greek grill run by celebrity chef George Calombaris.
5. Lagerfield Sports Bar & Beer Garden is in the Crown Complex and is the place to watch a game on one of the giant screens.
6. Captain Baxter is located on the beach at St Kilda and has lovely views of Port Philip Bay.
7. Trunk, Exhibition Street
For a bit of funk head to Trunk, just around the corner from Fraser Place Melbourne, in Exhibition Street.
This is the home of Trunk’s Bar, American Diner, Honey Garden, a private dining restaurant, and function room.
On a sunny afternoon, you’ll find beer drinkers enjoying a couple of coldies in the Honey Garden, while a crisp morning has everyone huddled inside drinking the decent coffee for which Melbourne is renowned.
Make sure you check out the daily quotes on the diner’s board as well, which sports witticisms such as: “Don’t go bacon my heart, I couldn’t if I fried.”
8. Lonsdale Street and Seamstress Bar
Fraser Place Melbourne offers a hearty breakfast but prefers to defer to its cultural capital cousins for lunch, dinner and drinks.
For these, head to nearby Lonsdale Street and Seamstress Bar.
Spread over several levels, Seamstress celebrates its past as a Chinese textile factory with colourful cheongsams swinging off coat hangers from the ceiling.
This establishment is also rumoured to be a former brothel, and a Buddhist Monastery, according to Melbourne locals.
These days you’ll find modern Asian food, great coffee and an impressive cocktail list.
9. Flinders Lane
This is more of a brisk walk over to Flinders Lane to see amazing wall art from Fraser Place than a stroll, but well worth it once you arrive at Supernormal.
For a decent handle on the kinds of Asian flavours chef Andrew McConnell has injected into his cooking, try the degustation menu boasting everything from pickled veggies, to soya sauce soaked pumpkin seeds, and lobster rolls that are so good, there’s a sign on the front window announcing they are also available for takeaway.
With diners jostling to secure a booking here, it’s easy to see why Supernormal was awarded The Best New Restaurant in The Age Food Guide.
10. Chuckle Deli
One of the newest entrants on the Melbourne food scene is the delightful Chuckle Deli.
This New York-style deli is tucked away in Hub Arcade off Little Collins Street and serves a mean corned beef sandwich reminiscent of Katz’s Delicatessen made famous in When Harry Met Sally.
Yes, the Reuben here is every bit as good as its New York cousin, it will have you screaming for more as you wander back towards Fraser Place.