Your Ultimate Guide to Melbourne
1st August 2023
Melbourne in a nutshell
Welcome to Australia’s cultural capital! Heading to Melbourne for a weekend of merriment? We’ve put together some information which you’ll find useful. Read on to find out about all the things to do in Melbourne during a visit to Australia’s funkiest city. You’ll never be able to see it all, but with the help of this blog, you’ll get pretty close!
With the Yarra River running through it and glistening towers in all directions, this Australian city – and all that surrounds it – was made for exploration.
Melbourne is the state capital of Victoria. It’s one of the most liveable cities in the world, has a comfy climate, offers some exquisite dining and puts on a good show when it comes to all things arts and culture. When the sun goes down at night, the city comes alive with music and local crowds wander the streets looking for buzzing bars. Only a stone’s throw in any direction and locals and tourists alike will find themselves in thick nature, comprised of forests, mountains and rolling hills sprinkled with vines.
Things to do in Melbourne
And the rumours about Melbourne are true; it’s pretty cool. Littered with trendy shops, bustling laneways, chic neighbourhoods and sophisticated foodie spots, this place was made for the weekend getaway. Searching for the perfect itinerary? Or perhaps just in need of a little inspiration? Read on to discover endless things to do in Melbourne; the best places to eat, the best experiences to book, the best coffee spots to sample and the most incredible sites to visit.
Jam-packed with weekend potential, Melbourne has got what it takes to host the perfect getaway. All you need is a little help. Let’s go!
Wander through Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Melbourne is a pretty big city, so why not escape the hustle and bustle for the afternoon and visit the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria? These beautifully lush gardens were founded in 1846 when land was reserved on the south side of the Yarra River for a new botanic garden. Spread across 38 hectares and comprised of a river, trees, garden beds, lakes and lawns, this quiet spot is great for a stroll. As you walk, you’ll find 8,500 species of plants including collections of camellias, rainforest flora, cacti and succulents, roses, Californian species, herbs, perennials, cycads and more.
Visit the National Gallery of Victoria
Founded in 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is home to some of the most significant collections of art in the region. More than 76,000 works portray a wealth of ideas, disciplines and styles here. Head on over, it’s totally free (unless you’re looking at entry for a specific exhibition and this might cost you a little extra).
Enjoy a day at Ricketts Point
Immerse yourself in the wonders of Port Phillip Bay at Ricketts Point, where crystal clear shallow waters, sandstone reefs, sea caves, and rockpools await. Explore the marine life with your snorkel, encountering zebrafish and even Port Jackson Sharks. Join the Junior Ranger program to learn about the diverse underwater ecosystem. Accessible by public transport, Ricketts Point offers a safe swimming beach patrolled by Beaumaris Life Saving Club. Experienced divers and snorkelers can venture into the unique offshore sandstone reefs and sea caves. Remember to follow water safety guidelines for a safe and enjoyable experience at Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary!
Take a trip to Federation Square
A great place to start during your getaway to Melbourne is Federation Square. Located in the heart of the city, this iconic location is where you’ll find world-class art galleries and exhibitions, a diverse range of food and drink options as well as events that capture wide audiences throughout the year. Some pretty famous cultural attractions such as the National Gallery and the Koorie Heritage Trust are found right here, so you could really spend all day in this one square without a moment of boredom!
See Melbourne from the Eureka Skydeck
There’s no better way to see a city than from above. That’s why when you visit Melbourne, you should head to Eureka Skydeck. The world’s tallest residential skyscraper, Eureka Tower makes for an unbeatable experience. Get in the elevator, arrive at the observation deck and you’ll find yourself 300m above ground level. Don’t forget to bring your camera, because the views at the top are incredible!
Head to a rooftop bar
Elevate your Melbourne experience at Curtin House’s rooftop bar. Located in the heart of the city, this popular destination offers breathtaking views of the iconic skyline. Sip on handcrafted cocktails and indulge in delectable bites as you soak in the vibrant atmosphere. With stylish decor and cozy seating, it’s the perfect spot to unwind and socialize. Whether you’re enjoying a sunset with friends or dancing under the stars, Curtin House rooftop bar guarantees a memorable night out in Melbourne’s bustling cityscape.
Explore Queen Victoria Market
There’s no way you can visit Melbourne and not visiting Queen Victoria Market. Opening on the 20th of March 1878, Queen Victoria Market has been serving the people of Melbourne for more than 140 years (it’s actually on the National Heritage List). Open five days per week – Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday – you’ll find all kinds of bargains here. There’s also a market tour available for those who’d like to learn a little.
Learn a little at the Chinese Museum Melbourne
Cruise down the Yarra River
The Yarra River slices right through Melbourne, making for stunning sites all round. Grassy riverbanks and glistening towers line the river and a walkway along its side is perfect for morning strolls. If you’d rather put your feet up and enjoy the river in style however, you might like to take a river cruise. Whether you’re seeking a bottomless brunch cruise, a sightseeing trip or a cocktail cruise, you’ll never regret seeing Melbourne from the comfort of a boat!
Take the kids to Melbourne Zoo
Taking the kids on a trip to Melbourne is easy, because there’s so much entertainment available to occupy the littlest members of your family. One of those spots is Melbourne Zoo. Dedicated to fighting wildlife extinction, Melbourne Zoo inspires animal lovers of all ages and there are plenty of of animals to discover. Wildlife encounters at an extra cost will see you mingling with reptiles, giraffes and koalas – amazing experiences for the kids!
Visit Melbourne Cricket Ground
Ask any Victorian and they’ll be aware of the Melbourne Cricket Ground’s status as the home of sport. Established in 1853, only 20 years after the founding of Melbourne itself, there’s no better place to get a taste for Melbourne’s history. Sports lovers should lap up the opportunity and embark on a behind the scenes tour, otherwise, visit the Australian Sports Museum where you’ll learn about 95+ different sports.
Don’t miss the thrill of an AFL footy game in Melbourne! Walk to the iconic MCG and immerse yourself in the electric atmosphere. It’s a fantastic activity for families, with kids getting to experience the excitement of live sports. The convenience of walking to the stadium adds to the overall experience, and the largest stadium in the southern hemisphere ensures great views for all. Witness the passion of Australian Rules Football and create unforgettable memories in the heart of Melbourne.
Explore Dandenong Ranges National Park
The Dandenong Ranges National Park is an awe-inspiring national park located in the Greater Melbourne region of Victoria. Known for its forests of towering mountain ash, the landscape here is mystical, relaxing and totally luscious. Nestled in the picturesque suburbs of the Dandenong Ranges in Melbourne, the National Park is only 39km east of the CBD, so there’s plenty of opportunity for a quick day trip. Hiking and mountain biking are well-catered for here and a number of sleepy hilltop towns make for great coffee or lunch stops.
Discover a tranquil oasis in the heart of Melbourne at Alexandra Gardens. Nestled along the banks of the Yarra River, this picturesque park offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Stroll along the winding paths, surrounded by lush greenery and vibrant flowerbeds. Breathe in the fragrant scents of blooming roses and admire the stunning views of the city skyline. With ample picnic spots, playgrounds for kids, and a serene lakeside atmosphere, Alexandra Gardens is the perfect place to unwind, connect with nature, and create lasting memories in Melbourne.
Visit Melbourne Gaol
Step back in time and uncover the dark history of Melbourne Gaol! This iconic landmark stands as a reminder of Australia’s convict past. Explore the eerie cells where infamous criminals were once held, including the notorious bushranger Ned Kelly. Hear chilling tales of the gaol’s haunted past during a guided tour. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this historic site as you learn about the harsh conditions endured by prisoners. Melbourne Gaol offers a fascinating and spine-tingling journey into the city’s convict heritage.
Walk through Hosier Lane
Hosier Lane is a rather famous laneway in the central business district of Melbourne. Washed with blues and covered in all kinds of arts and graffiti, this iconic street is known not only in Australia but across the world. The dizzying array of colours, the shapes and masterpieces created by artists far and wide are absolutely worth visiting. All you need is a few minutes, but you’ll certainly be glad you came!
Explore Melbourne Observatory
With a rich history dating back to 1863, the Melbourne Observatory stands as a testament to Victoria’s past. Once a hub of scientific discovery, it played a vital role in shaping the state’s development. Although its official government duties ceased in 1945, the observatory’s significance remains undiminished. Under the care of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria since the 1990s, it has been recognized for its cultural importance and included in the prestigious National Heritage list. Exploring the Melbourne Observatory is not only a chance to step back in time but also an opportunity to cherish a cherished national gem.
Visit the best wineries near Melbourne
There are plenty of things to do in Melbourne, but why not step outside the city for a day, enjoy the fresh air and taste some local wines. Whilst there are a number of wine regions near Melbourne, two more famous locations stand out and attract crowds throughout the year:
Beloved for its pristine beaches and wonderfully green hinterland, it’s only an hour’s drive from Melbourne and is home to more than 50 boutique cellar doors. Renowned for its pinot noir and chardonnay in particular, you can taste your way around the region all weekend, if you like.
Yarra Valley does it all – rustic tin sheds hidden among the vines and architectural masterpieces amongst swathes of greenery. Just a stone’s throw from Melbourne, you’ll find 70 wineries here and a great deal fantastic restaurants too.
Experiences in Melbourne
So, you’re now ready to explore Melbourne; equipped with ideas for things to do and places to see. But when you’re making a trip to one of Australia’s best cities, you might like to book something a little more unique; something to help you gain a truly unique perspective of the city. Below, we share three amazing Melbourne experiences that will wow you and send you home with some unforgettable memories.
See the city from a hot air balloon
Surrounded by rolling hills and vast oceans, Melbourne is best seen from above. Treat yourself and your loved ones to a hot air ballooning experience over Melbourne and watch the CBD illuminated at sunrise. Watch as the glistening CBD, its parks and gardens and Port Phillip Bay take on a new form as the sun sends rays across them.
Skydive over St Kilda
Another (and far more terrifying) way to see the city from above, is to skydive above it. Following 60 minutes of incredible freewill, you’ll glide above the coast with uninterrupted views of Melbourne. Catch a glimpse of Mornington Peninsula in the distance. There’s no more refreshing way to spend a morning!
Enjoy a High Tea
At the National Gallery of Victoria, once you’ve admired the vast array of art and exhibitions, devour a high tea paired with champagne on a three-tired stand. Served in the venue’s Tea Room, your experience here will see you tasting a tantalising selection of sweet and savoury treats. Some like to skydive, others like to sip on sparkling wine. You take your pick!
Restaurants in Melbourne
Food and Melbourne go hand in hand and the city is absolutely littered with spots that serve up tasty bites. Consequently, you’ll need some help picking a place to enjoy a long lunch or devour a delicious dinner. After all, when it comes to things to do in Melbourne, eating is one very integral component of a visit. Check out our recommendations below:
Got something to celebrate? Attica is just the ticket. Whilst it doesn’t really need much of an introduction, we’ll mentioned a thing or two. It’s got three hats and regularly features as one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. It’s all about beautiful, rare and unique ingredients, so imagine things like bunya nuts, murnong or marron rather than foie gras, caviar or lobster. Expect the unexpected with dishes like whipped emu egg and black ant lamington on offer. Just be warned, eating at Attica is a commitment of time and money and you have to book well in advance to get yourself a table!
Looking for something a little more casual? Try Delhi Streets. With the help of authentic flavours, this cosy spot cooks up Indian street food that will knock your socks off. A vibrant energy is served on the side. According to the owners “India lives and eats on its streets, and our cooking and energy pays homage to that, bringing the flavours that we miss from our hometown to our new home to share.” Sounds pretty good to us!
Try something different during your trip to Melbourne – try Easey’s. A celebration of quintessential Melbourne; this spot is the combination of the best things about the city; its art, music, transport, people, food and drinks. Burgers & beers here are served five stories up in a rooftop train carriage overlooking Melbourne City. We told you it was unique!
Cutler & Co
Simple, bistro-like food done in a fine dining setting – that’s Cutler & Co. Set in an old metalworks, this quirky spot serves upscale modern Australian fare and there’s a tasting menu for those who can’t quite decide what they want.
Grill Americano, located in the heart of Melbourne at 112 Flinders Lane, offers a sophisticated dining experience that captures the essence of classic grills and brasseries from the ’60s and ’80s. The opulent interior design blends New York’s energetic ambiance with Venetian charm, featuring silver table lamps, a marble bar, and plush banquettes. Attentive waiters in crisp white jackets provide tableside theatrics, enhancing the lavish atmosphere.
Indulge in exquisite dishes made with the finest Australian produce, including the impressive bistecca alla Fiorentina—a 1.2-kilogram T-bone cooked over charcoal and seasoned with sea salt and rosemary. Save room for desserts like tiramisu and vanilla-meringue cake, and enjoy their quintessential Italian cocktails and extensive wine cellar selection.
Indulge in an authentic Japanese culinary journey at Yakimono, a hidden gem in the heart of Melbourne. With its meticulous attention to detail, exquisite menu, and warm ambiance, this restaurant offers an unforgettable dining experience. From the moment you enter, you’ll be enchanted by the tantalizing aromas of sizzling yakitori and the delicate flavors of fresh sashimi. The menu boasts a wide array of traditional dishes, including vegetarian options, ensuring a delightful experience for every palate. The elegant and authentic Japanese décor, accompanied by friendly and knowledgeable staff, create a cozy atmosphere that immerses you in Japanese culture. Yakimono’s commitment to using only the freshest ingredients and their careful presentation of each dish exemplify their dedication to excellence. Conveniently located and easily accessible, Yakimono is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a taste of Japan in Melbourne.
Cafes in Melbourne
When in Melbourne, it’s almost impossible to ignore the abundance of cute little cafes which line the city’s laneways and streets. Whilst there are heaps to choose from, there are certainly some worth making a trip for. Take a book, your iPad or just yourself and grab one of Melbourne’s best coffees at one of the following havens:
One of Melbourne’s best known CBD cafes and bakeries, Brick Lane is set within a beautiful brick facade and is decorated with neon signage. Seasonal food with a menu that changes throughout the year, is the name of the game here. Sustainability rules and everything is fabulously fresh. A morning visit to Brick Lane will certainly make you feel like a local.
Fresh, colourful food packed with flavour is what you’ll find at Auction Rooms in North Melbourne. Located in a sweet old building and with seating available outside under white parasols, this gorgeous spot will make you feel right in the depths of cultural Melbourne.
ST. ALi was one of the first providers of incredible coffee in Melbourne, and its beans can be found across the country. Since inception in 2005, ST. ALi has been an industry leader in in-house roasting and expert coffee brewing and it boasts an incredible food menu too. With a location on one of South Melbourne’s sweetest laneways, this cool cafe is just about as ‘Melbourne’ as they come.
Bars in Melbourne
A must-try bar is the 19-year institution that offers a cosy and inviting atmosphere —the Black Pearl. They offer a wide variety of drinks that suit every taste. If you are unsure what to order, ask their talented bartender; they will know exactly what you want and what to serve you.
The pub at Garden State Hotel
Looking for an authentic and lively pub experience in Melbourne? Look no further than the Garden State Hotel. This vibrant multi-level venue offers a casual and welcoming atmosphere perfect for a relaxed dining and drinking experience. Grab a seat in the bustling beer garden and enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by your favorite local craft beers or refreshing cocktails. The pub’s historic charm and unique spaces, such as the basement cocktail bar, add to the overall ambiance, inviting you to explore and unwind. Whether you’re catching up with friends or immersing yourself in the local pub culture, Garden State Hotel promises a memorable and enjoyable experience that embodies the spirit of Melbourne’s vibrant hospitality scene.
Experience the 1920s at The Everleigh. This luxurious cocktail bar not only serves the drinks you are familiar with but also an array of choices you may never have heard of before.
Johnny’s Green Room
Are you looking to party hard while enjoying a breathtaking 360-degree view of Carlton? Johnny’s Green Room is the perfect place for you. Since they came back in 2018, Johnny’s has been serving party must-haves—from cool concoctions and beers on tap, to easy-drinking wines.
AUS Weekend Escapes’ Top Hotel Picks!
Mantra 100 Exhibition
Planning a trip to Melbourne’s CBD? Look no further than Mantra 100 Exhibition for a premier stay. Our fully equipped apartments redefine comfort, offering spacious living areas, well-appointed kitchens, and all the amenities you need. Our friendly staff is dedicated to ensuring a seamless experience, from arranging transportation to providing 24/7 support. With a prime location just minutes away from shops, restaurants, and attractions, explore the vibrant city at your own pace. Choose Mantra 100 Exhibition for luxury, comfort, and convenience, whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure.
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Check out the Mantra 100 Exhibition here.
Quality Apartments Melbourne Central
If you’re searching for the perfect accommodation that combines convenience, charm, and affordability, look no further than Quality Apartments Melbourne Central. Nestled in the heart of Melbourne’s bustling CBD, this delightful heritage hotel is surrounded by an array of renowned attractions. Immerse yourself in the city’s lively atmosphere by staying just moments away from the iconic Emporium, a haven for fashion enthusiasts boasting Australia’s largest designer shopping precinct. Experience the pulsating energy of Bourke Street Mall, where the pulse of Melbourne can be felt at every turn.
Quality Apartments Melbourne Central offers a boutique ambiance with stylish, contemporary furnishings in their spacious 1 and 2 Bedroom Apartments. Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or with family and friends, these accommodations provide comfort and convenience during your city exploration.
For more information, or to book your room, click here.
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If you’re seeking an extraordinary stay that exudes opulence and sophistication, look no further than Sofitel Melbourne. This premier five-star hotel offers an unmatched level of luxury, ensuring a remarkable experience from the moment you step foot through its doors. From the elegantly appointed rooms and suites to the impeccable service provided by the attentive staff, every detail is carefully curated to create an atmosphere of refined indulgence. With its prime location in the heart of Melbourne’s vibrant city center, Sofitel Melbourne is the perfect choice for those seeking the ultimate in lavish accommodations.
Sofitel Melbourne captures our hearts with its timeless sophistication, impeccable service, exceptional dining, serene retreat ambiance, and prime city center location. The blend of elegance and contemporary design creates a luxurious and inviting atmosphere. The staff’s warm hospitality and attention to detail leave a lasting impression. Culinary excellence delights the senses with delectable options. The hotel offers a peaceful sanctuary with beautifully appointed rooms and suites. Its prime location provides easy access to iconic landmarks and cultural attractions. For an unforgettable experience encompassing luxury, elegance, and convenience, Sofitel Melbourne is the perfect choice.
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Find out more here.
Urban Apartments Melbourne on Elizabeth
Discover the epitome of urban living at Urban Apartments Melbourne, ideally located at 250 Elizabeth Street in the bustling heart of Melbourne CBD. Urban Apartments Melbourne offers a perfect blend of comfort and convenience for both business and leisure travelers.
All apartments at Urban Apartments Melbourne are fully self-contained, providing spacious living spaces, well-equipped kitchens, and convenient laundry facilities. Whether you’re planning a short one-night stay or indulging in a two-night splurge, our accommodations are designed to cater to your needs. With plenty of room to relax, the apartments are perfect for families seeking a homely atmosphere in the heart of the city.
Explore Melbourne’s vibrant city life just steps away, with easy access to its finest attractions, dining, and entertainment options.
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