Best Things to See And Do In Melbourne

by | Apr 29, 2019 | LiveWorkPlayAustralia, Melbourne, Victoria | 4 comments

Are you planning a visit to Melbourne? Melbourne has been my home town for nearly 25 years so I think I can give you a great insight to this city. Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria and is well known for its sporting events, street art and cafe culture. It is well worth a few days’ visit, even longer while you live, work and play around Australia. If you need some inspiration as to how to spend your time in Melbourne, here is my list of suggestions of the best things to see and do in Melbourne.


A Brief History of Melbourne


Port Phillip Bay was discovered in 1802. It is shaped like a pear and its shoreline is around 265 kilometres in length. Melbourne was founded on the Yarra River in 1835 after other attempts to settle it in the Port Phillip Bay Area were aborted. It is said John Batman came to Port Phillip Bay and ‘paid’ the local Aboriginal people in blankets and trinkets for many acres of land. This land included what is now Melbourne. It was called Melbourne after the British Prime Minister at the time.

Melbourne gained its independence from New South Wales in 1850 just before the gold rush which saw Melbourne and other parts of Victoria boom. The gold rush saw the development of houses, schools, churches and other public buildings. From its humble beginnings of a few tents, today it is one of Australia’s financial centres and is home to around 5 million people.

Many nationalities call Melbourne home particularly from Italy and Greece. Melbourne has the largest population of Italians outside of Italy. This explains why Melbourne has some of the best Italian cuisine. The city is also well designed and easy to get around. It has been designed in a grid, known as the ‘Hoddle grid’ after Robert Hoddle, a surveyor who designed it. 


FAQs on Melbourne


When planning your visit to Melbourne you will have a number of questions you need answered. Hopefully, you will find your answers in the following.


When To Visit Melbourne


Is there a best time to visit Melbourne? I think any time is a good time to visit Melbourne. However, your visit may be governed by the four distinct seasons and sporting events that may be happening.

Summer in Melbourne is the months of December, January and February. Temperatures during the summer months can be very hot, extremely hot some days with high fire danger.

Autumn in Melbourne are the months March, April and May and they can be lovely warm days with cool mornings. The trees are dropping their leaves.

Winter in Melbourne are the months of June, July and August and these months can be very cold and wet. It doesn’t snow in Melbourne but it does snow very close to Melbourne in the surrounding mountains, particularly The Dandenongs. The winter months are a great time to see an AFL game.

Spring in Melbourne are the months of September, October and November and these months see the days warming up.


How to Get to Melbourne


There are many ways to get to Melbourne. You can arrive by air at Tullamarine or Avalon Airports. You can drive on a road trip such as on the Hume Highway which links Sydney and Melbourne. Or there are bus services and train services from other cities.


How to Get Around Melbourne


Free Red City Circle Tram, Melbourne.

Take The Free Melbourne Circle Tram


There are various ways to see Melbourne. You can walk to many of the sights because of the Hoddle Grid design. The local transport of trains and trams are very good and easy to use. If it’s your first time in Melbourne you may want to ride aboard the free burgundy and gold ‘Circle Tram’. You will travel in one of Melbourne’s iconic W-Class trams, with an audio commentary providing details about the city and the landmarks it passes. Trams operate every 30 minutes moving in both directions around the city.

If your time is limited, or you want to see the city while sitting down, then take a trip on the hop-on hop-off ‘City Explorer’ bus. The bus will take you to more places than the Circle Tram because it travels through the city rather than circling it. Book your ticket for the hop-on hop-off City Explorer here.


Where To Stay In Melbourne


Federation Square with a Christmas Tree from across the Yarra River, Melbourne.

A Room With a Melbourne View


Melbourne has a plethora of accommodation ranging from hostels to 5-star establishments. Accommodation is within easy walking distance or a quick tram ride away to all the best things to see and do in Melbourne. And there is accommodation in Melbourne for every budget. Get the lowdown on the best areas to stay at in Melbourne here.


What To See and Do In Melbourne


There are plenty of things to see and do in Melbourne. It depends on how long you have in Melbourne as to what you might visit.

1 Day Melbourne Itinerary. If you only have one day to spend in Melbourne, I suggest you start your day at Flinders Street Station. Then concentrate on walking around the streets and laneways within the Hoddle Grid.

2 Days Melbourne Itinerary. If you have 2 days to spend in Melbourne, I suggest you follow my one day itinerary. Then on the second day, visit The Shrine and maybe go on the hop-on hop-off bus.

3 Day3 Melbourne Itinerary. If you have 3 days to spend in Melbourne, I suggest you follow my two day itinerary for the first 2 days. Then on day 3 visit Queen Victoria Markets before getting on a tram to St Kilda to visit one of Melbourne’s favourite beach-side suburbs. Walk along the boardwalk, maybe go into Luna Park or enjoy a coffee and cake from one of the cake shops along Acland Street. End the day watching the little penguins come home from the pier while enjoying fish and chips.

4 Days Melbourne Itinerary. If you have 4 or more days to spend in Melbourne, I suggest you do some days trips from Melbourne. Rent a car and drive through the famed Yarra Valley wine region which should include a visit to the Yarra Valley Chocolatarie. Or wind your way through The Dandenongs.


Best Things to See and Do in Melbourne


Flinders Street Station


Facade of Flinders Street Station, Melbourne with lots of people crossing the road to and from the train station.

Meet Your Friends Under The Clocks


Start your visit to Melbourne at the iconic Flinders Street Station. You cannot miss Flinders Street Railway Station. It is on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets and is so large it takes up two city blocks. Originally opened in 1854 it was a collection of weatherboard sheds known as the Melbourne Terminus. In the early 1900s the station was redeveloped and renamed and now serves the entire metropolitan rail network. It is the busiest train station in Melbourne and arguably also in Australia. Platform 1, at 708 metres, is the longest train platform in Victoria. It is the main building’s facade that everyone comes to see. It is also a great meeting point as many a Melburnian uses the station as a meeting place, either ‘under the clocks’ or ‘on the steps’.


Federation Square


Federation Square or ‘Fed Square’ as it is known, is across the road from Flinders Street Train Station. It is a large piazza that hosts world-class events and has cultural attractions along with a variety of speciality stores, restaurants and bars. It houses the National Gallery of Victoria (NG) and Arts Centre with its theatres and concert halls. Venues include Hamer Hall, Sidney Myer Music Bowl and the Playhouse. For good views over Melbourne head to the Hamer Hall balcony to see up and down the Yarra River. This vibrant area is also a meeting point and is well worth a look around. It will take a couple of hours to see most things at Federation Square.


See Street Art in Melbourne’s Laneways


AC/DC Lane sign in Melbourne where you find street art. Blue sign with AC/DC Lane written in white.

AC/DC Lane is known for its street art


Street art is popping up all over Melbourne however, there are a number of highly concentrated ‘hotspots’. The two most popular streets are Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane. Both these cobble-stoned laneways are close to Federation Square. And yes, AC/DC Lane is named after the iconic Aussie rock band. Whether or not you like street art, or believe it is just ‘hyped up graffiti’, it is very interesting to see the spray-painted murals on the walls of the laneways.


See Fabulous Views Over Melbourne From The Eureka Skydeck


The Eureka Tower is the second tallest building in Australia standing 297.3 metres high. A visit to the observation deck on the 88th floor is a must on a Melbourne holiday. It has a great vantage point offering 360 degree views over Melbourne. For those not afraid of heights there is a glass cube called ‘The Edge’ where you can step out over Melbourne. I couldn’t do it – but my kids loved it! Get your ticket to walk on The Edge here.


Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)


Next up on the list of best things to do and see in Melbourne is a visit to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Sport enthusiast, or not, a tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is interesting. This impressive structure holds many sporting events and accommodates around 100,000 people. A tour of the facilities will take you to the change rooms, the Australian Gallery of Sport, and private member areas such as the Long Room. You could peruse the cricket and AFL memorabilia and sit in the awesome Great Southern Stand which holds the capacity of the entire Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), or so I was told. Or experience a game of AFL or cricket at the ground. You can book a visit to the MCG here.

From the cricket ground, visit the National Tennis Centre where the Australian Open Tennis Championship is held every January. It is part of Melbourne’s sporting precinct.


Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance

The Flame in front of the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne just after a war remembrance ceremony.

The Eternal Flame at Melbourne’s Shrine


The Shrine of Remembrance, or The Shrine as it is often referred to, is Melbourne’s war memorial. It is not far from the city and can be reached by walking through Kings Domain or by taking a tram down St Kilda Road. The Shrine was built as a memorial to all Australians who have served in war. It is one of the biggest in Australia, apart from the National War Memorial in Canberra. Outside The Shrine is an eternal flame. Inside the sanctuary you will find the Stone of Remembrance while down in the Crypt, you will find many interesting things such as panels listing every unit of the Australian Forces. Outside the Shrine look down Ceremonial Avenue for great views of Melbourne.


Captain Cook’s Cottage in Fitzroy Gardens


Captain Cook’s Cottage, or Cook’s Cottage as it is now known, is one of the oldest buildings in Australia. It was originally built in Yorkshire in England by Cook’s parents. The cottage was taken apart, brought to Australia then put back together stone by stone as a present to Victoria from Sir Russell Grimwade. And here it has been in Fitzroy Gardens since 1934. While in Fitzroy Gardens walk around and enjoy the local flora and fauna. Maybe visit the Fairy Garden. The gardens are on the edge of Melbourne City and are an easy walk to get to. If you don’t want to walk, the free City Circle tram passes the gardens. Disembark at Spring Street/Treasury Gardens stop.


Old Melbourne Gaol


A place of interest on your best things to see and do in Melbourne could be Old Melbourne Gaol. The gaol (this is how we spell jail in Australia) was built in the mid-1800s. It  housed many dangerous criminals, petty offenders and the mentally ill. It was the scene of 133 hangings – including the infamous bushranger Ned Kelly – until it closed in 1929. Have you visited Glenrowan, known as Ned Kelly country? Today you can visit the gaol and learn about many of the men and women who were imprisoned and died there. You can go in some of the individual cells and experience what it was like to be imprisoned in them. Also see where Ned Kelly was hung and his death mask. Eerie. The gaol is open during the day and also has night ‘ghost’ tours. You can book a tour through the Old Melbourne Gaol here.


Southbank Area and Crown Casino


Southbank is a vibrant area south of the Yarra River in Melbourne with many restaurants, clubs, food courts and designer shops. It has a promenade to walk along to enjoy the atmosphere. The Crown Casino complex is in Southbank and offers accommodation, casinos, a cinema, Kingpin bowling, live theatre and concerts, nightclubs, bars, 29 restaurants and many clothing boutiques. You could spend hours or even days here! After a long day sightseeing, head to Southbank to end your day in one of the restaurants or bars. 


The Docklands Area


The Docklands area is situated at the western end of the city. It was a neglected warehouse area of Melbourne before being reclaimed with a modern harbour development dominated by high rise accommodation. It is a popular place for shopping, waterside dining and even sport with Marvel Stadium standing proudly.


Visit St Kilda Beach


St Kilda Pier at dusk. You can see the penguins come home here.

Walk out onto St Kilda Pier


St Kilda is a suburb located 5 kilometres south of Melbourne City centre. It is on Port Phillip Bay, and is a very popular place for backpackers, tourists and locals. You can catch tram 12 from Flinders Street Station down St Kilda Road to find yourself in St Kilda. You may want to enjoy a nice coffee and a cake from one of the many cake shops along Acland Street. Perhaps try some vegan food in one of the eateries. Maybe take a walk along St Kilda Beach, or if it is a warm day have a dip in the water. Many go to Luna Park to enjoy the rides and carnival atmosphere.


Shop Till You Drop In Melbourne


You can shop till you drop in Melbourne as there are many notable shopping precincts. The Queen Victoria Markets are great to visit for clothes and food, and for the interesting trinkets. Other shopping precincts include Melbourne Central, Melbourne GPO, Bourke Street Mall and Southbank. Outside of central Melbourne there is Chapel Street in South Yarra and Bridge Road in Richmond. Bridge Road is home to many fashion factory outlets and can be reached by tram 48 or 75.


Other Places Of Interest To Visit In Melbourne


Melbourne has many other places of interest to visit including:

  • State Library to see its massive reading room and domed roof.
  • Melbourne Zoo. Spend a day here seeing all the animals.
  • China Town to enjoy a meal.
  • Immigration Museum to learn about the immigrants who came to Australia to call it home.
  • Lygon Street, Carlton. Home to many Italian restaurants and cafes. The Italian community of Melbourne is the second largest ethnic group in Great Melbourne.


The Reading Room, State Library in Melbourne. A room with hundreds of bookshelves with books.

State Library Reading Room


Are You Ready to Visit Melbourne?


As you have read here, there is plenty to see and do in Melbourne. I hope you enjoy your stay in Melbourne and I would love to hear your favourite places you visited in Melbourne in the comments following.


See Flinders Street Station During A Visit To Melbourne
City Circle Tram in Melbourne Pinterest Pin


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  1. Fiona

    Enjoyed your blog. I’m looking forward to seeing the street art and enjoying many coffees!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      The street art is interesting and if you love coffee then you will love Melbourne’s cafe culture.

  2. Lisa

    I go to Melbourne a few times a year for work but haven’t had time to really explore. Hopefully will get time this year. Thanks for the list.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      There is plenty more to do in Melbourne but what I list will give you a great overview of the city. I hope you enjoy all your visits to Melbourne.


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