The city of Melbourne is the vibrant and thriving capital of Victoria. Consistently finding a spot in the world’s Top 10 Most Liveable Cities – there is much to love about Melbourne.
Credit: Visit Victoria
Explore the rich and diverse culture, bustling city laneways, incredible galleries, and fascinating landmarks. World-famous sporting arenas and events, plus top-tier food and wine destinations add to the Melbourne appeal.
The City of Melbourne is welcoming and laidback. The locals love to brag about being cooler than Sydney and will happily recommend their favourite hot spots for a coffee or a meal. Check out the guide below to make the most of your time in magnificent Melbourne.
Things to do and see in Melbourne
The Shrine of Remembrance
A beautiful and significant war memorial outside the city centre. Walk through yourself or join a guided tour and pay respects to those who fought and continue to fight for Australia and New Zealand.
The Royal Botanic Gardens
Stroll through the magnificent gardens and flowers, relax by the lake, or watch a movie under the stars at the summer Moonlight Cinema’s.
Flinders Street Station and Federation Square
Explore the many exhibits and interesting architecture at Fed Square, before walking over the road to Flinders Street Station – the façade is one of the most recognisable in Melbourne.
National Gallery of Victoria
A collection of contemporary international and local artwork. The NGV hosts Friday night gigs and events. Check out their website for the current exhibits.
Experience breathtaking views of Melbourne and the sprawling suburbs from 89 floors up at Eureka Skydeck.
The Yarra River
Take a cruise down the Yarra River flowing through the city, on a larger river vessel with a meal or drinks on deck. For something a little more intimate, grab a GoBoat with a few friends and have your self-appointed captain cruise you down the river.
Emporium & Melbourne Central
Imagine any store and you will most likely find it here. Though they are two separate shopping centres, the walkways connecting them make it easy to visit both at once. Emporium is the newer and fancier shopping precinct and offers high-end boutique shopping, while Melbourne Central is always buzzing with people and energy. Melbourne Central train station is directly underneath.
Emporium also directly connects to David Jones and Myer, two large department stores that lead onto Bourke St.
Bourke Street Mall
A stunning outdoor shopping precinct, easily accessible on foot or by tram. The big players H&M and Zara are found here, plus many other stores like Cotton On and Sportsgirl.
DFO South Wharf
A shopping centre of store outlets, head to DFO for a day of shopping and snag yourself a bargain.
Queen Victoria Market
The largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, the Queen Vic Market has been operating since 1878. The vendors have been keeping family business in the markets for generations, and you are bound to pick up something yummy while you’re there.
Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia, fortunate to be hosting several international sporting events throughout the year. The sports you can watch will depend on the time of year you visit the city
Australian Rules footy is a league of its own and keeps die-hard fans and visitors on the edge of their seat. The popular men’s AFL season runs from April to September, with the grand final in September drawing a crowd of 100,000 spectators to the iconic MCG. Catch a game at the MCG or at Marvel Stadium in the Docklands.
The rectangular stadium of AAMI park holds A-League soccer games and rugby matches. Home to the Melbourne Storm and Melbourne City FC.
Though the northern states are much more rugby-mad, Melbourne is home to the Melbourne Storm (league) and Melbourne Rebels (union) and a strong fan base.
One of the main events of the tennis calendar, the Australian Open is part of the Grand Slam series. Melbourne Park becomes an outdoor sporting party for 2 weeks in January. Attend a game at centre court, watch practice sessions on the outdoor courts, or enjoy the live entertainment and pop-up bars and eateries.
Formula 1 Grand Prix
The Australian race of the F1 calendar takes place around the beautiful Albert Park Lake. Drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators every year, this is an unforgettable weekend – usually in April – of fast cars, sunshine, and a whole lot of glamour.
Boxing Day test at the G always draws a local and international crowd. Test matches are also played at the G, as well as the Big Bash League where states and cities go head-to-head. Cricket is a summer sport in Melbourne.
See the Animals
Located in Parkville, Melbourne Zoo is a perfect day out for the family. Animals from all around the world are seen in Melbourne Zoo, as well as many Australian natives and creepy crawlies.
Werribee Open Range Zoo
A little further from the city, a 40-minute drive to Werribee South is worth it for this African themed zoo. You can jump on a Safari Bus and roam through the open enclosure to see rhino’s, zebras, giraffes, and antelope up close.
Sea Life in the city is found on the banks of the Yarra River. The aquarium is filled with marine life, educational programs and touch pools and experiences. From tiny jellyfish and cute penguins to large sharks, there is much to see and learn.
Where to Stay in Melbourne
This will be determined by your budget and your must-see list. The city has a range of accommodation options starting from budget-friendly hostels, all the way through to luxury hotels and self-contained apartments and Airbnb’s.
Check out Hostelworld, Booking.com or Airbnb to see the range of options.
Surrounding suburbs are great options to stay a little out of the busy city. Fantastic public transport and constant rideshare services make for convenient travel to and from the CBD. Popular suburbs to stay in are Fitzroy, Carlton, South Yarra, Southbank, South Melbourne, Collingwood and Richmond.
Where to Eat and Drink in Melbourne
Melbourne is well-known as a haven for foodies and cocktail lovers. You will find somewhere to eat and drink just about anywhere, but it’s always helpful to have some local recommendations to kick things off.
Little Bourke St boasts a fantastic and high-energy Chinatown. Choose your favourite restaurant for dumplings and noodles, BYO drinks then wrap up the night at a karaoke bar – this is one street full of good times and great memories.
Everything from fine dining to Mexican, burgers or pizza by the slice, Flinders Lane is one of the best spots for a dinner booking. Check out Cumulus Inc, Kisume, Hazel, Nomad, Chin Chin or Coda. For a quick bite grab a slice of New York style pizza from Sal’s.
The glitzy casino may be the drawcard, but the dining is in a league of its own. Nobu, Rockpool and Rosetta are phenomenal, but there is also a food court, burger joints and sports bars with more affordable options.
This lively street runs through the southside suburbs, beginning in South Yarra and ending in Balaclava. There are incredible restaurants and bars scattered along the entire stretch. Standouts are Mr Miyagi, Hawker Hall, Tokyo Tina, Entrecote (around the corner on Greville St), Chapelli’s (open 24 hours) and Caffe e Cucina.
Richmond is the thriving inner-city suburb east of the CBD. Swan St is home to many pubs and restaurants loved by locals. Make a booking at Salona or Agapi for Greek, Feast of Merit for Middle Eastern, Fonda for Mexican, Eazy Peazy for Japanese, Ho Chi Mama for Vietnamese or Untitled for upmarket dining. Enjoy a rooftop beverage at Public House, Harlow or the Corner Hotel in the warmer months.
Some of the best and most affordable Vietnamese food in Melbourne is on Victoria Street in Abbotsford/Richmond. Commonly referred to as ‘Little Saigon’ the Vietnamese culture on the street is chaotic and exciting.
This hidden bar requires you to enter through a wardrobe, but it’s all part of the fun. This quirky bar on Flinders Lane serves up delicious drinks.
The Prince Hotel
Found in St Kilda just before the Esplanade, The Prince has had a facelift in recent years. A perfect bar to start your night and have something to eat.
Up near Spring St is the rooftop pub and sports bar at Imperial – one of Melbourne’s oldest pubs. Great for those who love the simplicity of a cold beer with friends.
Garden State Hotel
This massive venue is busy most nights of the week. Popular for after-work drinks, you’re bound to make friends with some Melbourne locals here.
An iconic establishment in St Kilda, The Espy is made up of a public bar, dance room, event space, outdoor seating, and music gigs downstairs in the music room. It’s a funhouse, especially when the sun is out.
The French bistro downstairs is superb for dinner, as is the thai restaurant BKK on the 3rd floor, but the main attractions are the cosy rooftop with city views, and the music room which pumps music until 3am.
Yarra River Bars
Head to Arbory Afloat, Ponyfish Island or Yarra Botanica to enjoy a drink on the water as the sun sets behind the city.
Best Brunches and Cafes
Melbourne is known for its great coffee – the locals may be a little snobby about it and will argue they can never get a cup as good anywhere else in the world. There is a myriad of cafes to stop in for brunch or grab a takeaway coffee
Some of the best coffee in Melbourne. Locations in the city, South Yarra and Richmond.
A South Yarra favourite, Gilson is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Great coffee, great food, and a great atmosphere. Pick up a coffee and head over to the Tan Track for a walk or wander into the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The ricotta hotcake has been drawing a crowd for years, and this café in Richmond has stood the test of time. Beautiful interior and friendly and efficient staff.
Many cafes around Melbourne use the delicious Proud Mary beans for their coffee, but you can go directly to the source at their Collingwood café. Open 7 days a week.
Archie’s All Day
One of the café’s using Proud Mary coffee, Archie’s is found on Fitzroy’s famous Gertrude Street. Having recently been named one of the coolest streets in the world, stop in at Archie’s before exploring the rest of the street.
This charming laneway in the middle of the city runs from Flinders Street through to Flinders Lane. It is filled with cafes and restaurants serving up fresh and tasty food and drinks all day long.
How to Get Around Melbourne
The entire CBD is serviced by a fantastic free tram zone. Trams run frequently through the city centre, which makes getting from one end to the other a breeze. Trams venture out of the city too – just be sure to grab a Myki card and touch on if you are leaving the free tram zone to avoid a fine.
Trains run on a city loop underneath the city, and the train lines extend far into the western, eastern, northern, and south suburbs. Buses support these trainlines.
If you’re visiting Melbourne and will be using public transport, it’s a good idea to download the PTV app to plan your journey ahead of time, as well as have up to date schedules and service maps.
There are plenty of taxis around Melbourne, however these are becoming one of the more expensive ways to get around compared to rideshare services. Great for when there’s a surcharge with said rideshare.
There are several rideshare services operating throughout Melbourne. Uber, Didi and Ola all work here. Services are frequent and usually affordable. Prices surge during poor weather and when large events have finished.
Melbourne city is easy to get around without a car, but if you intend on going beyond the city limits, a car will make your life a lot easier. GoGet and Car Next Door offer cheap rental options, but the big companies like Hertz, Budget, Avis, and Thrifty all operate in the city and out of the airport.
Airport to the CBD
There is no direct trainline linking Melbourne Airport in Tullamarine to the city. A taxi or rideshare is the most convenient – but more expensive – option, alternatively you can take the SkyBus to Southern Cross Station.
The SkyBus stops at all terminals of the airport and run express to 6 separate locations.
- Melbourne City – Southern Cross Station
- St Kilda
- Western suburbs – Tarneit and Werribee
- Eastern suburbs – Watsonia, Doncaster, Box Hill, Blackburn, Ringwood and Croydon
- Mornington Peninsula – several stops from Elsternwick through to Rosebud
Melbourne Surrounding Suburbs and Hidden Gems
Many of the attractions may be in the central business district of Melbourne, but the locals will tell you it’s the suburbs around the city that are just as worthy of a visit. The suburbs of Melbourne are unique in that each carries its own particular vibe, aesthetic, and even locals to match.
Shop the stalls at the iconic South Melbourne Markets
Church and Swan Streets are a hub for bars and restaurants.
Jungle Boy in Boston Sub is a hidden treasure, while the Prahran markets are great for premium produce.
Mile End Bagels are arguably Melbourne’s best. Smith St is filled with bars and eateries.
Lygon St is lined with Italian restaurants turned institutions. Head to Johnny’s Green Room for rooftop drinks.
St Kilda Beach is always a crowd-pleaser, with Luna Park and the Catani Gardens beautiful in the summer. The shops and restaurants on the Esplanade, Acland, and Fitzroy Street are all within walking distance of each other.
Day Trips from Melbourne
There’s no shortage of ways to stay busy in Melbourne, but the location does make it a great base to head out to some of Victoria’s best spots. From Melbourne you are within 1-3 hours of:
- Phillip Island
- The Grampians
- Mornington Peninsula
- Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles
- Yarra Valley
- Ballarat and Sovereign Hill
- Wilson’s Promontory
- Mount Buller
Things You Need to Know About Melbourne
Tipping is uncommon in Australia and is not customary. You are of course still able to tip exceptional service if you see fit.
000 for emergency calls.
Country calling code
+61 for Australian numbers
Australia drives on the left-hand side, and drivers are on the right side of the car. If you aren’t familiar with this, be sure to practice on quiet roads first to get used to the opposite feeling. The speed limit in the CBD is 30-40km per hour due to the high pedestrian activity.
Melbourne is notorious for experiencing 4 seasons in a day. Spring in Melbourne is beautiful, as the locals defrost from winter and the flowers and trees begin to bloom again. Summer can get scorching hot, but usually only for a few days in a row. Winter is chilly, but it never drops below 10 degrees during the day in the city. It’s best to always have a jacket with you.
You can certainly visit at any time, but there is something seriously special about Melbourne in January through March. The weather is tantalising, rooftops are pumping, alfresco dining sprawls onto the streets, and international crowds flock in for the tennis. The city is buzzing in summer.
Melbourne has a low crime rate, however as with visiting any large city you should always exercise caution – particularly at night and in bars and clubs. Uber is great for GPS tracking when travelling at night.