Things to do in Melbourne, Australia

Things to do in Melbourne, Australia

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Photo: Tourism Australia / Time Out Australia

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. Victoria is Australia’s smallest mainland state. 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.

1-Go shopping

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Photo: Tourism Australia

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

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Photo: Tourism Australia / Time Out Australia

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-Explore the laneways

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Photo: Tourism Australia

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-Sporting events

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Photo: Tourism Australia

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

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Photo: Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

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

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Photo: Tourism Australia / Time Out Australia

Seeing Melbourne from the sky offers a whole new perspective and floating above the city at sunrise is an activity to remember.

7-Go café hopping

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Photo: Tourism Australia / Time Out Australia

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

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Photo: Tourism Australia / Time Out Australia

Located at the Melbourne’s Eureka Tower, the Eureka Skydeck 88 is the place for a bird’s-eye view of the city. Certainly a one of the best things to see in Melbourne.

9-Flinders Street Station

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Photo: Tourism Australia / Time Out Australia

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

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Photo: City of Melbourne

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

More things to do in Melbourne and beyond

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.

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Photo: Tourism Australia

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.

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Photo: Tourism Australia / Time Out Australia

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.

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Photo: Tourism Australia

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.

Where to eat and drink

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.

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Photo: Tourism Australia / Time Out Australia

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.

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Photo: Tourism Australia

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.

Love a party?

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 (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 (March) tickles the taste buds with over 300 culinary events throughout Melbourne’s maze of hidden laneways as well as regional Victoria.

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Photo: Tourism Australia

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.

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Photo: Tourism Australia

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.

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Photo: Australia’s Coral Coast

Where to stay?

Tune Hotel is trendy and affordable. Mercure Hotels has several properties in Melbourne and throughout Victoria.

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I'm a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia, when I'm not on the road. I've lived in three continents and my career as a travel journalist has take me to all seven continents. Since 2003, I have contributed travel stories to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. I have won many travel writing awards and I'm a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.


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