Melbourne is a planned city located on the northern banks of the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay. It's impossible to find something that the city doesn't provide. You'll find a wide variety of things to do and see in Melbourne, from shopping at upscale boutiques to dining at trendy bistros to watching a game at a state-of-the-art stadium, from strolling along charming Victorian-era streets to exploring towering skyscrapers reminiscent of New York's Financial District. Insight into the vibrant city and exciting attractions of Melbourne can be found in this article.
The Australian Open, the Melbourne Cup, and the Formula 1 Grand Prix are just some of the major events that have made Melbourne famous. The National Gallery of Victoria and the Melbourne Museum are two of the most prestigious art institutions in the world, and the city also plays host to numerous internationally renowned festivals (Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Melbourne Fringe Festival).
The Koorie Heritage Trust, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Center, and Birrarung Marr are just a few examples of Indigenous tourism hotspots that maintain vital ties to traditional Aboriginal ways of life.
Visitor options in Melbourne are plentiful because of the city's youthful energy. It's easy to get lost and miss out on the best that Melbourne has to offer. To help you plan your trip to Melbourne, we have put together this guide. Don't forget to pick up a map of the Melbourne area; it will come in handy if you end up getting lost. Here are some suggestions for culturally enriching activities in Melbourne. Visit the Docklands Precinct and the Eureka Skydeck if you want to see more of the city.
Awesome Things To Do In Melbourne
You don’t need to be a big spender to get the best out of Melbourne. From the National Gallery of Victoria to street art in the laneways, you can get a true taste of the second-biggest city in Australia without shelling out – follow our Culture Trip guide.
Pâtisserie By Jc Christmas Pop-Up
Pâtisserie by JC has got all your Christmas sweet needs covered. They’ve opened up a pop-up pâtisserie with just a week to go before Christmas Day. So what’s on the menu? They’re baking the Christmas classics like mince tarts, shortbread and Christmas cake, as well as putting a holiday season spin on a classic with the gingerbread crumb Éclair.
So if you're looking for an early holiday treat, head over this weekend to indulge in their range of festive desserts or pick some up to save for the big day. Look here to stalk the complete offering of patisseries.
State Library Of Victoria
The State Library of Victoria is unmistakable. You cannot deny its beauty from the moment you first set eyes on it, yet the outside can’t compare to its interior. The domed La Trobe Reading Room is exquisite, with natural light pouring through the curved skylights. It does not disappoint in the evening, either, as the soft light provided by artificial means draws you in. There is no better place to read your favourite book.
And you should have no trouble finding it with more than two million books contained within the library’s collection. If that does not sate your appetite, then indulge in some of the thousands of newspapers, manuscripts, audio, video and digital material on hand that spans a century of Victoria’s culture and history. The State Library is also home to fabulous artworks and exhibitions, with free guided tours available. Regular talks on fashion to philosophy are also available, often with free or name-your-price ticketing.
Bark Ladies: Eleven Artists From Yirrkala
The NGV International unveils a major ground floor exhibition to celebrate its incredible collection of bark paintings and Larrakitj by female artists working out of the Yolŋu-run art centre, Buku Larrnggay Mulka Centre, situated in Northeast Arnhem Land. You can view the works by these extraordinary artists from this weekend that the NGV has spent nearly three decades acquiring. To admire the truly breathtaking display, organise your visit.
Enjoy Yourself At A Festival
Throughout the year, Melbourne hosts a plethora of festivals that not only draw large crowds but also provide a wide variety of free and low-cost activities for attendees. Moomba is Australia's largest free community festival, and it takes place in March.
Every night there are fireworks, there is a parade with famous monarchs, and there are carnival rides and games galore. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne Writers Festival, Melbourne Fringe and Melbourne Festival, and Midsumma, the city's LGBTQ pride festival, are just a few of the other well-attended festivals held in Melbourne.
Wander Through The Royal Botanic Gardens
Escape the buzz of Melbourne’s city streets in the tranquil sanctuary of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Spread across 94 acres (38ha), the sprawling gardens contain a collection of 10,000 plants – both native and exotic. With 11 lawns, there’s ample space to relax, unwind and decide what to do in Melbourne next.
There’s also a 3.8km (2.4m) walking and jogging track known as The Tan that circles the garden, which runs past the gardens’ main entrance and the Shrine of Remembrance war memorial. Reward yourself for completing the loop with a coffee from one of the cafes on Domain Road.
Jazz Sundays At Lui Bar
Jazz Sundays at Lui bar are back, and so is socialising. Adding live jazz to the sky makes one of Melbourne's best bars even better. Join us for a lively Sunday night of jazz and speciality drinks. If you want to see the city from 236 metres above ground, head to the Rialto's Lui Bar on the 55th floor.
Make a reservation for a small-venue afternoon concert. The Lui Bar, located on the 55th floor of the Rialto and exuding class and cool, is rumoured to serve the best cocktails in Melbourne. The Lui Bar, which is connected to Vue de Monde, offers the same high-quality service as the fine dining establishment, as well as an extensive drinks menu and tasty bar bites. Enjoy the stunning scenery as you sip a Lui martini and nibble on some of their famous (and adult-only) cheese and Jamon toasties.
Take a day’s trip to the Yarra Valley, with its moving green slopes, vineyards and old farmhouses. The cellar doors of the district’s popular wineries are open at the end of the week. While you are there, try out glamping at the historic Balgownie Estate.
Chandon’s Garden Summer Spritz
Summer sessions in the Yarra Valley just got a whole lot better, and the Chandon winery has just launched their very own Garden Spritz terrazzo running from December until February. The summer-long pop-up will transform the winery’s outdoor terrace bar and sprawling lawns into a chic garden party, loaded with Chandon’s sparkling wine mixed with local citrus and bitters to create a zesty spritz as well as a menu full of sharing plates. Providing a grooving atmosphere will be a rotating selection of Melbourne-based talent from WAT, including Wax’o Paradiso and more.
Chandon now calls four continents home. Each of our terroirs has posed its challenges – but Chandon loves nothing better. We are a worldwide family, together, yet separate, sharing our knowledge and united by inspiration. Yes, the accents might be different, but we speak the same language.
Since sparkling wine was taken from its homeland to the rest of the world, others have followed suit. He had a saying he lived by: Faut Toujours avoir un petit quart their d’avance”, which means “we should always be a quarter of an hour ahead.” It served him well. And you might say that there was more than just a quarter of an hour between him and the rest. There was – and still is – a world of difference.
Moonlight Cinema Melbourne
Since it is now summer, the city's annual season of outdoor movies has resumed. To get you in the holiday spirit, Moonlight Cinema will be showing both new releases like "A Quiet Place: Part II" and "Shang Chi" and classics like "Home Alone" and "Elf" this year. Get a regular ticket, bring a blanket and some snacks, and relax. Alternatively, you could spring for a Gold Grass pass and have espresso martinis delivered to your bean bag chair.
Get Inspired At The Wheeler Centre
The Wheeler Centre on Little Lonsdale Street, founded in 2008, celebrates and explores Australia’s literary scene. Visitors can engage in programmes and listen to guest speakers.
Every Thursday at lunchtime, you can catch the free Lunchbox/Soapbox series, which provides a platform for curious minds to share stories and ideas – previous speakers have addressed diverse topics ranging from offshore detention to the environment, promiscuity and the viola.
Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market is boisterous and delightful, with a colossal number of stalls offering garments and other Bric a Brac. Mosey through the historic sheds of Queen Victoria Market and discover fresh produce, hot doughnuts, souvenirs, homewares and much more scattered throughout the market’s many diverse precincts.
There’s also an after-hours market every Wednesday night, which runs between November and April. After nightfall, the marketplace comes alive with live music, delicious food stalls, cocktails and late-night shopping. By day, look out for the art trails, as well as thought-provoking exhibitions and the Mini Market series, which focuses on a particular group of stallholders, such as those selling garden and outdoor goods or toys and kids’ clothes.
Black Star Pastry 2.0
We at The Well Baked Cravings are over the moon that Melbourne's own Black Star Pastry is opening a flagship store at Chadstone Shopping Centre. Those in the know will recall that Black Star Pastry first gained prominence in the desert thanks to its Watermelon Strawberry Cake in 2013.
As if opening a luxury cake shop in Australia's fashion capital in time for Christmas shopping wasn't exciting enough, they're also unveiling a re-branding and a selection of new cakes that will make your mouth water. Find out where they are and when they are open by visiting.
Explore Melbourne's Southbank
The Southbank entertainment precinct includes some of Melbourne's finest eateries, boutiques, and the Crown Casino, and stretches along the Yarra River between Princes Bridge and the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Walk along the promenade and take in the sights of the departing river cruise boats and buskers as you take in the sights of Melbourne. Every hour, at the stroke of the clock, the Gas Brigades at Crown Casino launch fireballs into the night sky, providing a spectacular sight for visitors. Queensbridge Street is home to a variety of historic structures in addition to contemporary office and apartment complexes, including the 19th-century Victoria Barracks and the former Castlemaine Brewery.
Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Bunjilaka is about acknowledging and respecting the Boonwurrung and the Woi wurrung language groups, the original Melbourne owners from the great Kulin region.
Bunjilaka enables people to decipher the special social legacy of the Aboriginals for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals. They showcase the story of the Aboriginals through various performances, art pieces and storytelling on the land they had once inhabited.
The Australian Ballet Celebration Gala
In honour of theatres reopening and the revival of the arts community, The Australian Ballet is hosting a Gala as you've never seen before at the Arts Centre Melbourne. They’re showcasing excerpts from the shows we missed out on from this year's season due to lockdowns.
You can expect great classical pieces from Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, as well as thrilling contemporary pieces from Chroma and Watermark. If you’ve missed the ballet and are looking for a fix before The Australian Ballet commences their highly anticipated 2022 season, book your Gala tickets.
Explore ACMI's Screen Worlds
Located inside ACMI (the Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Federation Square, Screen Worlds is a free permanent exhibition that tells visitors the ever-evolving story of the moving image.
The interactive exhibition features objects, props and memorabilia. Displays explore the origins of cinema and where it’s headed, Australian culture and, more widely, how people are influenced by all things screen-related, from smartphones to video games. Props on show include the original clock from the children’s TV show Play School (1966-present), Cate Blanchett’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in The Aviator (2004), and Australian stars wearing costumes.
Take A Ride On The City Circle Tram
Many of Melbourne's free attractions require some footwork, but you can give your feet a rest by riding the city's ubiquitous trams. Visitors and locals alike can ride the City Circle Tram for free and hop on and off at their convenience to explore the entirety of Melbourne.
Melbourne's CBD is served by a fleet of historic W-class trams, which have been operating since 1923. These trams run along La Trobe, Flinders, Spring, Nicholson, and Victoria Streets. There's also an audio commentary that describes the sights at each stop and provides trivia about the route.
National Gallery Of Victoria
As you head up St Kilda Road, you will come across a monumental 1960s bluestone building on your left – NGV International, designed by Sir Roy Grounds. This and its other building, Ian Potter Centre: NGV International, make up the National Gallery of Victoria, with its collection of more than 73,000 works of art.
Make your way through the arched entrance, behind the wall of water and towards the Great Hall to see the world’s largest stained-glass ceiling, which casts a kaleidoscope of colours onto the gallery floor. Aside from its permanent collection, NGV also holds exhibitions and special events such as the annual Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series and the Triennial, which features contemporary work worldwide.
Head To St Kilda
Located 6km (3.7mi) southeast of Melbourne, the suburb of St Kilda is an idyllic seaside escape from the city. Stroll down the shoreline to St Kilda Pier to spot members of the little penguin colony that calls this place home and admire the skyline views.
The bustling Acland Street nearby is a great place to grab a bite, and on Sundays, there’s a beachfront market too – or you can relax beside the avenue of palm trees in Catani Gardens. You can also walk around Luna Park for free, but, of course, the activities cost extra.
Sketch The City
Spend this weekend rediscovering Melbourne’s CBD while you learn to sketch from scratch. Laneway Learning is leading free tours of the city and an art class all in one. You will leave this tour like no other with an understanding of urban sketching and a collection of drawings to remember your adventure by. So to appreciate Melbourne from new angles and lights, book your tour.
Find Refuge In One Of The City's Churches
Churches and cathedrals are some of the more serene places to visit in Melbourne, whether you're looking for a quiet place to rest or simply want to take in the stunning architecture. Built in the 1890s, St. Paul's Cathedral is located in the middle of Melbourne's bustling CBD.
The cathedral, which was designed by an English architect, exemplifies the neo-gothic transitional style. St. Patrick's Cathedral, a nearby church with a mediaeval appearance, was constructed between 1858 and 1939. Saint Michael's Uniting Church and Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church can also be found in the area. Inspiring and beautiful, these religious buildings are worth the trip.
Listen To Live Music
The citizens of Melbourne regularly attend concerts. That's great news, because it's also one of the top free activities in Melbourne (aside from the cost of a beer). A local establishment on the city's ACDC Lane is proud to call itself "pretty much the best rock 'n' roll bar in the world" (Cherry Bar). There are a lot of free concerts there, and it frequently plays host to after-show parties with famous musicians. The Basement bar at The Esplanade in St. Kilda is a great place to see up-and-coming rock bands, and it's open for free most nights. The beer garden at The Brunswick Green, located on Sydney Road, is another option.
Go On A Hunt For Public Sculptures
Deborah Halpern, who studied in Melbourne and has strong links with the city, is Australia’s most celebrated sculptor. Three of her colourful mosaics are on display in the city – Angel (1987)at Birrarung Marr, Ophelia (1992)at Southgate, and Portal to Another Time and Place (2005)at Werribee Mansion.
Other public sculptures to fit into your Melbourne sculpture trail include Bruce Armstrong’s Eagle (2002)and John Kelly’s Cow up a Tree (1999)in Docklands, Simon Perry’s The Public Purse (1994) outside the GPO building, and Petrus Spronk’s sinking building known as Architectural Fragment (1992) outside the State Library of Victoria.
Stonnington’s 12 Days Of Christmas
Stonnington’s City Council transforms Prahran Square and Central Park Malvern into a Christmas wonderland. The festive pop-ups are designed with community in mind and want to bring people together to enjoy live music, light installations and performances to get in the holiday spirit. So if you’ve been feeling a little bah humbug and Scrooge-like this holiday season, Stonnington’s 12 Days of Christmas will be sure to get you in the festive mood. You can check out the full itinerary.
Learn More About Indigenous Culture At The Koorie Heritage Trust
Located in the Yarra Building on Federation Square, not far from Flinders Street Station, the Koorie Heritage Trust is a genuine and engrossing Aboriginal centre. The group was founded in 1985 after activists successfully sued the University of Melbourne and the Museum of Victoria to recover Indigenous artefacts held by the institutions.
To preserve Aboriginal history and culture and to educate visitors about Indigenous art is the mission of this centre. The Koorie Heritage Trust is a free museum that displays the work of modern Indigenous artists working in a wide variety of mediums. Except for federal and Victorian state holidays, it's open every day of the week.
Melbourne’s Chinatown goes back to the first-ever Australian Gold Rush in 1851 when miners from China touched base in the nation. Situated at the eastern end of Little Bourke Street, Chinatown reaches the edges of Swanston and Spring boulevards.
A friendly, cordial neighbourhood of laneways, backstreets, eateries, and markets, Melbourne’s Chinatown is the most established Chinese settlement in the West and the most seasoned in the Southern Hemisphere.
The area also has the Chinese Museum, home to Dai Loong and the Millennium Dragon, the biggest Chinese mythical beast on the planet.
FAQs About Awesome Things To Do In Melbourne
One of the best things to do in Melbourne. The St Kilda beach area is another one of the top Melbourne tourist attractions. A lot is going on here, which means great people-watching opportunities – especially on Acland Street, a favoured spot for pavement café lounging, window shopping and cake quaffing.
Melbourne is one of the most liveable cities in the world. Melbourne is currently the second-most liveable city globally and the most liveable in Australia! There are a few reasons why Melbourne is considered such a great place to live: there are multiple public transport options, relatively low crime rates, and plenty of jobs.
You can't go to Melbourne without experiencing its iconic laneways covered with street art, a fundamental part of the city. Tours are run by street artists themselves, with local knowledge of the hidden, underground treasures. So instead of just walking by like every other tourist, discover the real stories behind the art.