You've arrived in the city that has been voted the best place to live in the entire world. You've come to the right place if you're seeking out unusual activities, delicious cuisine, and out-of-the-ordinary sights in Melbourne. Melbourne is one of the few cities that offers something for everyone, including creative types, foodies, nature lovers, hipsters, sports fans, and culture vultures. After nearly two years of calling Melbourne home, I've compiled this list of some of my favourite offbeat activities in the city.
In case you were wondering, "marvellous Melbourne" isn't just a nickname we got for no reason. Besides our one-of-a-kind inhabitants (we have Carrot Man; what more proof do you need that we have unique attractions and experiences that you won't find anywhere else) and landmarks, our city is home to more than a dozen unique attractions and experiences.
The city's laneways and museums have made it famous worldwide. Equally limitless is our love of great coffee and delicious cuisine. However, if you really want to get a taste of Melbourne, we recommend visiting some of the more offbeat places on this list.
Unique Things To Do In Melbourne
Melbourne has earned its reputation as a "marvellous" city. More than a dozen of our city's landmarks and activities, not to mention its residents, are truly unique.
The city's laneways and museums have made it famous worldwide. The same can be said for a passion for great coffee and delicious cuisine. Nonetheless, if you really want to see Melbourne at its finest, you should check out some of the more offbeat spots on this itinerary.
Visit The City's First Axe-Throwing Bar.
Melbourne's first - and we'd hazard to say only - axe-throwing bar just opened on Elizabeth Street. From the outside, Maniax looks like a black tunnel into nowhere. But, approach the stairs, and you're met with a dazzling neon sculpture.
Head down and learn how to throw from the pros in a purpose-designed axe arena. Then refuel with pizza, cocktails and craft beer in the separate bar. Channel your inner Viking, throw some axes in a safe and purpose-designed venue, and then stay for a drink and some delicious food.
Trained axe-throwing coaches are on-site. Post-throwing, this fully licensed, family-friendly venue offers craft beer, cocktails, pizza, non-alcoholic drinks and snacks.
Anyone over 13 years can throw; an adult must accompany under-18s.
Live Like A Pirate
To get your pirate on, heave-ho to the Mission to Seafarers. Get some liquid courage under your belt and sing along to rousing sea shanties. Join the chorus or even take the lead on a rousing rendition of 'Popeye the Sailor Man'. Or be entertained by a pirate cabaret dinner brought to you by Queens of the Damned. Expect a night of swashbuckling burlesque and cut-throat comedy.
Queens of the Damned brings you a fully immersive pirate-themed dinner and show experience in the Docklands. First, have your photo taken with your fellow mates on arrival. Then, venture to the bar to order a delicious cocktail or a bottle of rum. Next, get shipwrecked by the fire as fire-breathing pirates and drunken sailors entertain you. Finally, move to the Treasure Cove to indulge in a delicious two-course meal as mermaids and sailors surround you.
Enhance your voyage by upgrading to the VIP (Very Important Pirates) package. The VIP experience includes a cocktail, early arrival, priority seating and exclusive access to the Captain's Quarters at the start of your evening.
The perfect choice for special occasions. Expect a night of cut-throat comedy, bold burlesque, and swashbuckling sideshow as these pirates bring you a cabaret show you'll never forget.
Perfect for hens, bucks, birthdays, work functions and other celebrations.
Royal Exhibition Building & Carlton Gardens
The Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens is one of the world's oldest remaining exhibition pavilions. It's the only surviving Great Hall that once housed a 19th-century international exhibition and is still used for exhibitions.
See An Eerie Exhibit In An Abandoned Ballroom.
After years in the dark, the mysterious Flinders Street Station ballroom has finally reopened to visitors. Inside you'll find an epic exhibition by renowned artist Patricia Piccinini. Wander endless rooms filled with eerie creatures, towering installations and hauntingly beautiful displays, back from 8 November.
After holding Melbourne's imagination for decades, the mysterious Flinders Street Station ballroom (and its surrounding hidden rooms) has opened to the public to become A Miracle Constantly Repeated – an ecosystem of hyper-real silicone sculptures, video, sound and light devised by Patricia Piccinini for RISING.
Piccinini has spent close to three decades exploring humanity's relationship to technology and the environment. Her work has been exhibited at major Australian and international institutions and events, including the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, and the Vancouver and Venice biennales.
For her first extensive hometown show in almost 20 years, Australia's pre-eminent visual artist will augment the ballroom's architecture with enormous dioramas, sentient saplings, nurturing marine mammals and enormous life-sustaining foliage. RISING was commissioned and supported by the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative.
Shop For Scorpions And Skulls In Melbourne's Wonder Chamber
Wondering what to buy the person who has everything? A framed set of scorpions, perhaps, or a beautiful handmade kaleidoscope. You'll find them at Wunderkammer. The many cabinets of curiosities in this unique little store are filled with weird and wonderful things. Taxidermy, skulls, fossils and archaic scientific instruments are just the beginning.
Wunderkammer means 'wonder chamber' in German, more commonly known as a 'cabinet of curiosities. This unique store is full of curiosities, selling rare and unusual items for the discerning collector.
Located in a heritage building, they stock a wide range of fossils, mineral samples, taxidermy, butterflies, insects, skeletons, skulls, antique maps, globes and scientific instruments.
They also represent several local artists and makers of fine scientific curiosities.
A Local's Guide To St Kilda
History in St. Kilda is just as colourful as the present day. From the mid-19th century until the 1950s and 1960s, it was the seaside playground of Melbourne's elite, and then it became a red light entertainment district.
The suburb's carefree bohemianism still prevails to this day, attracting hordes of backpackers every summer and people from all walks of life all year round, and it is largely responsible for the suburb's transformation into a haven for artists, musicians, and a diverse LGBTQIA community.
St. Kilda is still the proud home of the Victorian Pride, a symbol of the city's thriving culture and identity in modern times.
Centre, the country's first dedicated LGBTQIA+ community hub) and a growing reputation for a cosmopolitan urban way of life. Even though two seasons of The Block have contributed to the rapid gentrification of St. Kilda by transforming the infamous Gatwick Hotel and Oslo Hostel, many of the locals will tell you that it is precisely this contrast of character that defines St. Kilda and sets it apart from the rest of Melbourne and perhaps the rest of the world.
The 3182 area code, located just outside the central business district, has an endless supply of amenities. In a city with so many must-see landmarks, no vacation to Melbourne would be complete without checking out St. Kilda, with its palm tree-lined beaches, heritage buildings, and eclectic dining scene that feels like a blend of Venice Beach and San Francisco.
"it's really strong creative community - and not just artistically creative, but also in terms of being entrepreneurial," says Okies, the event director of the St. Kilda Twilight Market.
St. Kilda has undergone multiple waves of gentrification, but the neighbourhood has retained the edge and vitality that longtime residents cherish. For the time being, I attribute that to its ephemeral character.
For many, St. Kilda serves as a social hub. The beach is a popular destination for residents and visitors of Melbourne. The presence of Luna Park further contributes to the area's permanent carnival atmosphere.
Get Chased By Zombies.
Put on your VR headset and pick up your free-roam controller. Then be transported to a virtual world at Zero Latency. Fend off undead swarms in Zombie Survival. Or fight to the death against killer robots in Singularity, lost in the depths of space.
Choose your adventure in this huge virtual-reality gaming arena. You'll be amazed by the 'reality' of this immersive experience. Zero Latency is a warehouse-scale, free-roam, multiplayer virtual reality gaming arena. Free-roam virtual reality lets players explore virtual worlds – they are taken inside a game, where the body is the controller, and the mind believes it's real.
This allows gamers to fight epic adventures, battle each other in mind-blowing settings, experience heart-racing zombie attacks, immerse in galaxy space missions, or have family fun puzzle adventures. It's next-level social entertainment, perfect for group dates, zombie lovers, corporate parties, families, and friends.
See The Future In A Secret Magic Shop.
The Nicholas Building's most mystical hidden treasure is Muses Of Mystery. Climb the stairs (or jump in the iconic heritage lifts) to level 2 to find this world of wonders. Peruse unique items like purifying sage, obsidian hearts and even burnable 'hell money. You can also book for a tarot reading or reiki healing session.
Muses of Mystery offer services and supplies to the local and international pagan community. They specialise in spiritual tools and occult books, traditional handmade products, weekly workshops, tarot readings, palmistry and reiki healing.
They offer a safe and understanding magickal place to the curious and diverse community, with weekly meditation classes and esoteric workshops. In addition, they are stocking essential oils and herbs, candles, incense, statues, local artisanal jewellery, plus witchcraft and Wiccan products.
The store is located in the iconic 1930s Nicholas Building and shares an eclectic corner space with vintage wares Harold & Maude and the gothic art space Anno Domini Home.
Visit A Pink Lake Near The Cbd.
Located less than a 15-minute drive away from the CBD, the lake at Westgate Park has been known to turn pink in late summer. It's been doing so every year since the summer of 2012/13 when a combination of hot temperature, algae, lack of rainfall and excessive sunlight came together like a perfect pink witch's brew.
If you've seen photos of the pink lake online, it can seem surreal, almost as if someone poured the dye into the lake. We can assure you that's not the case – and you have to see it to believe it.
Leave Reality Behind In An Escape Room.
Want weird rather than everyday challenges? Find the clues and solve the puzzles posed by Melbourne's perplexing escape rooms. Bring a team along to Trapt to journey through the wonderful world of Oz. Dial-up the fear factor to explore the paranormal world of Annabelle at Lost in Melbourne. Or use your critical thinking skills to unlock the Odditorium at Escape Hunt.
Lost delivers a truly immersive experience from the moment you step in.
With engaging storytelling, authentic surroundings, and jaw-dropping special effects, you'll forget you are in a game. In addition, they have incorporated many innovative gameplay ideas that will pleasantly surprise newcomers and experienced escape room enthusiasts.
The path to escape has never been so terrifying! Enter the carefully crafted nightmares, filled with all sorts of horror and shocking elements to make for an exciting experience. What kind of horror elements? That's for you to find out.
Each game comes with a different 'Fear Factor' so that players can choose a game that suits their tolerance level the most. Then, experience it for yourself, go on a thrilling escape adventure like no other. These escape rooms are perfect for friend gatherings, work functions, and team building events. No matter the occasion, you'll be in for a good time full of adventure, mystery and fun.
Order Cocktails In Berlin
Will it be the glitz and glam of the West? Or the Soviet-style shadows of the East? The choice is yours at Berlin Bar. Start your cocktail adventure in West Berlin with its opulent decor and drinking booths. Then enter the darker world of East Berlin, with its agitprop posters and portraits of Uncle Joe. Find the door, ring the bell and fire your imagination. Welcome to Berlin.
Berlin Bar is split into two distinctly different areas like the city it is inspired by. Capitalist opulence meets communist austerity, but both sections feature old-fashioned table service, well-crafted cocktails and a relaxed atmosphere.
The west side is decked out stylishly like West Berlin once was, while the east side is bleak and grey, reminiscent of Soviet rule during the wall.
Nibble On Hot Jam Doughnuts From A 70-Year-Old Van
It's been happy to queue for them. This beloved family business has been operating since the '50s, and on many market mornings, there's a line of doughnut devotees peering through the windows of the blue and white van. Staff are busy cutting dough, frisbeeing it into the fryer and dusting it with sugar – the recipe is unchanged after almost 70 years.
What makes these doughnuts elite is the heat factor – minimal fryer-to-mouth time keeps them hot and crisp on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside. Then there's the shock of molten red jam that threatens to stain your workplace attire. The American Donut Kitchen and its products are authentic classics. May they ennoble the Vic Market for decades to come.
Discover Hidden Coin Booth Karaoke
Melbourne, there are private karaoke rooms and the odd open mic night. Mini coin-operated singing booths? Not so common. Enter Kono, a hidden gem lined with disco-lit books perfect for solo or small group singing.
Regulars can be heard singing along to BUZZ ballads in perfect Korean, but there's a bumper book of English tunes to pick from, too.
Visit A Gallery Frozen In The 19th Century.
Multi-award-winning, critically acclaimed and held at an undisclosed East Melbourne location. The Johnston Collection is quite literally a hidden gem. The home's maze of rooms is filled top to bottom with all that's gilded and antique. Think chequerboard floors, glittering chandeliers and portraits of ruffle-necked figures. The special house museum hosts exhibitions and events year-round. Like Objects of My Affection, it showcases items from the founder's amazing collection.
Located in East Melbourne, the Johnston Collection is the legacy of the late WR Johnston, an antique dealer with a remarkable eye for beauty. An independent not-for-profit house-museum, the Johnston Collection features an astonishing array of fine and decorative arts from the Georgian, Regency and Louis XV periods.
The collection curates a regular program of tours, exhibitions, lectures and special events to increase the public's enjoyment and understanding of fine and decorative arts.
Located in a residential area, the Johnston Collection cannot publish its address due to the terms of its planning permit. Therefore all visitors must arrive via the museum's courtesy bus.
Pay Homage To Elvis At The Cemetery.
The closest the King of Rock and Roll got to Australia was Hawaii. But no matter, Elvis Presley is honoured with a shrine in the Melbourne General Cemetery. It's believed to be the only authorised Elvis memorial outside the US. Commissioned by Presley's Victorian fan club unveiled the landscaped grotto by rock legend Johnny O'Keefe in 1977.
Melbourne's most iconic and historically significant cemetery is characterised by its location, notable interments and Prime Ministers' Garden. Since the first burial on 28 May 1853, there have been over 300,000 burials, including former prime ministers Sir Robert Menzies, James Scullin, Harold Holt and Sir John Gorton, and Peter Lalor Redmond Barry, John Pascoe Fawkner, Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills.
Loosely separated into denominational precincts, the cemetery is beautifully designed with landscaped grounds and meandering paths, Victorian-era monuments and statues, the historic gate lodge and Jewish and Catholic chapels. The cemetery welcomes community engagement and hosts a series of events and tours throughout the year.
Pay A Visit To Ramsay Street And The Set Of Neighbours.
Everybody needs good neighbours! Take a walk down Ramsay Street, where the dramas unfold every day on the set of Australia's longest-running soap opera, 'Neighbours.' On this official tour, see the actual houses and the street and see the exterior of the sets at the Neighbours Studios. If you're lucky, you may even see the film crew in action!
Spend The Night In A Luxe '70s Airstream On Top Of An Inner-City Carpark
We have the answers if you, like us, have wondered what those vintage caravans were doing atop a city building on Flinders Lane. Notel, the "No Hotel," parked its six Airstream trailers from the 1970s atop a downtown parking garage. Those who claimed we'd reached a maximum level of Melbourne fun could not have seen this coming.
Even with a reservation and the knowledge that it is a hotel, getting your hands on those tantalising aluminium beauties is still a challenge. Instead of using a traditional key, guests who book through this website will be required to download an app and enter a unique code to gain access to their room. The app also features a video tutorial and a note with hints for gaining access to the roof.
It's like an escape room, except you have to break into a building instead of getting out of one. The only time limit is your own tolerance for frustration. Don't read what's written on the doors, as we don't want to ruin the surprise (owner James Fry claims that being frustrated by an entry is intended behaviour). As we were saying, it's the height of Melbourne.
Fry owns the parking lot below and wanted to make use of the building's unusually flat roof (no aircon units, water towers, or lightwells mar its surface). He considered adding a swimming pool, some offices, and a larger parking lot, but ultimately decided on providing guests with something out of the ordinary. He originally envisioned a transport-oriented Australiana motif, complete with sleeping cars modelled after trains, buses, and trams. Even so, he decided that the American Airstream caravan from the 1970s was the best fit. He brought all six of them from California and had a crane lift them into place on the roof. Each one has been renovated from top to bottom and outfitted with plush amenities like new furniture and high-tech fixtures like a rainfall showerhead and Bluetooth speaker.
The rooftop was painted by street artist Ash Keating, who transformed a dull CBD office building into a riot of pink and orange using paint dispensed from fire extinguishers. You can bet that it will look amazing on Instagram.
The interiors of the pink and white Airstreams are all curves and clean lines, and the caravans look like something out of a 1960s vision of the future. There is plenty of room to move around, including on the queen-sized bed (though tall people should be careful not to bump their heads when entering). With three taller buildings shielding it, city noise is significantly reduced, and comfort is ensured by an air conditioner.
It was such a beautiful spring evening when we stayed there that we didn't even bother with air conditioning. If you need complete darkness to sleep, bring an eye mask because the curtains aren't blackout. Showers have rainfall showerheads (with 10/10 water pressure), and guests can indulge in high-end toiletries from brands like Malin + Goetz and Bar None. However, the best amenity is the complimentary minibar, which is stocked with drinks and snacks from local establishments in Victoria.
Weekday rates for an Airstream start at $395, while the deluxe "Airstream with benefits," which features a private hot tub and balcony, can be yours for $449 during the week and $700 on the weekends. It can also serve as a venue for weddings and other special occasions. Just be sure to give your guests the answers to all the puzzles they'll need to enter the building.
FAQs About Unique Things To Do In Melbourne
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. Plus, it offers an awesome arts and culture scene, first-rate universities and an easy lifestyle. 2. Melbourne is home to world-class research facilities
Melbourne is unique in that it blends culture, sport, fashion, the arts and amazing cuisine in an interesting and parochial way. Victorians are infinitely proud of their capital city, and when you spend some time there, it is easy to understand why. One of the best ways to experience Victoria is to do several day tours.
Like most cities, Melbourne has many unique neighbourhoods, but something about the ones found in Melbourne makes them better than most others. They've preserved interesting character and have an attitude about them that even a casual visitor picks up on right away.