Discover the best things to do in Melbourne city

Melbourne is one of my favourite Australian cities.  A city of style, culture, amazing restaurants and action-packed sporting events.  Come with us as we show you the best things to do when visiting Melbourne.

Considered Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne was voted the most liveable city in the world … for seven years straight.  Expect to find great shopping, an abundance of theatre and live music venues and funky rooftop bars to relax in. 

Melbourne is jam-packed with exciting things to see and do.  Discover the hidden laneways, pop-up bars and amazing street art galleries as you wander around this great city.

Melbourne really has something for everyone!

Discover the best things to do in Melbourne

Melbourne's eclectic laneways

Why visit Melbourne?

One of the richest cities in the world during the 19th century Victorian Gold Rush, with the opulent city arcades, art-deco highrise and modern skyscrapers scattered throughout the city.

Today Melbourne is known for its cultural diversity.  It’s theatre and music venues host world productions and award-winning restaurants and cafe’s offer exceptional dining choices.

Melbourne is also known as the coffee capital of the world!  What more could you want?

Shop in style

Melbourne Shopping

Melbourne is renowned for its world-class shopping.  Major department stores David Jones, and Myer have called the city centre home for over 100 years.  Chic trendy boutiques and fashionable shopping centres such as the Emporium Melbourne, Melbourne Central and QV can be found nearby.

Want somewhere a little quieter?  Head to the inner suburbs.

  • Chapel Street is popular with both local and international celebrities for its excellent range of high-quality clothing.
  • Visit Harbour Town Shopping Centre or Bridge Road for outlet shopping to snap up a great bargain.
  • Fitzroy is well-known for its eclectic and vintage finds.  There are some great restaurants and zany little bars in this part of the city too.

Make sure you spend at least one day in the city to browse the shops and enjoy the bustle of city life!  Get a feel for Melbourne!

Explore Melbourne’s laneways and arcades

Melbourne Arcades

Explore the laneways from Flinders Street station heading towards Collins Street for trendy cafés and unique boutique shopping.

Visit the Block Arcade, one of Melbourne’s oldest shopping arcades.  Built in the late 1800’s the Block Arcade links Collins and Elizabeth Streets. Its a stunning arcade with the architecture modeled on Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

Take a tour of the Block Arcade to learn about it’s history and discover treasures like Haigh’s Chocolatiers and the famous Hopetown Tea Rooms.

Stop in for breakfast at Gordons Cafe in Causeway Lane or choose an exquisite treat from Laurent Bakery.   It’s the ultimate Melbourne city experience!

Some of the most interesting laneways include Centre Place, AC/DC Lane (named after the famous Aussie rock band), Hardware Lane now brimming with sidewalk restaurants and cafes and Degraves Lane.  You will gain a new appreciation of Melbourne’s diverse culture.

Check out Melbourne’s street art

Hosier Lane in Melbourne City

Many of Melbourne’s laneways have been transformed into a street galleries showcasing colourful murals by well-known street-artists and visiting artists.  Be sure to visit Hosier Lane and follow the maze of painted graffiti laneways around Melbourne city.

To learn more about Melbourne’s street art, take a Melbourne street art tour.

My favourite thing is watching people frame themselves into the graffiti and interacting with the art.  Check out my photo essay below wandering through the Melbourne Laneways.

The street art on Amphlett Lane art is dedicated to our favourite Australian rock star Chrissy Amphlett of the Divinyls fame.  The street was renamed in her honour in 2015.  See Sydney Morning Herald article here.

The Royal Botanic Gardens

Strelitzia - Bird of Paradise

Dating back to 1857, the botanic gardens in Melbourne are the perfect place to enjoy a lazy afternoon.

The beautiful selections of plants attract the local Aussie wildlife so be sure to check out the free guided tours and enjoy all the gardens has to offer.  There’s nothing quite like an outdoor movie theatre. Bring some friends and family for a movie this summer at Moonlight Cinema.

There is plenty to see and do at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Dine at award-winning restaurants

Dessert at Annam

Melbournians head to Victoria Street in Richmond for Vietnamese food, Lygon Street in Carlton for Italian specialties and Balaclava for Jewish bakeries.   If you’re looking for Middle Eastern delicacies head to Brunswick or try Footscray for African and Chinatown for everything Asian.  How much choice is that!

Waterfront Cafe or The Meat and Meat Co on Southbank and AnNam in Little Bourke Street are my current favourite restaurants.  Delicious examples of Australia’s fine produce.

Melbourne’s city laneways are home to a number of popular restaurants.  Dine at the elegant Flower Drum on Market Lane or my all-time favourite wine and cheese bar Punch Lane on Little Bourke Street.

Enjoy High Tea at the Windsor Hotel

High Tea at the Windsor Hotel

Having served afternoon tea every day since 1883, the Windsor has perfected High Tea.  Let me tell you – there is nothing quite so posh as High Tea at the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne.

This bucket list treat was for our daughter-in-law’s birthday!

High Tea started with a glass of celebratory bubbles followed by a delicious assortment of elegant sandwiches, itty-bitty savoury pastries and petite cakes on a tiered display stand.  The afternoon tea closed with a selection of warm scones, with jam and cream.

Decide from a list of 20 different varieties of tea, or freshly brewed coffee? If you’re not in the mood for tea or coffee, might I suggest a glass of Champagne as the perfect accompaniment.

Discover Melbourne’s funky Rooftop Bars

Rooftop Bars in Melbourne

Rooftop Bars are the newest ‘go to’ venues offering spectacular views overlooking the water and city skyline.  Popping up across the city, often in unsuspecting doorways, these quaint little bars and restaurants have amazing atmosphere.

These high-altitude bars enable you to watch the sun set with a drink in hand and are a great place to have pre-theatre drinks, enjoy tapas or taste their specialty menus.  Alternatively, get comfy and settle in for the night.

We try to visit a few on every visit to Melbourne.  This time we visited the new Tempus Two at Young and Jackson, famous for it’s painting ‘Chloe’ and the Imperial Hotel Rooftop Bar in Bourke Street.

Try the views from these rooftop terraces at Naked in the Sky in Fitzroy, the elegant Lui Bar, 55 floors up in Collins Street and the very unique Madame Brussels.

Live Music

Musicians in Melbourne

Melbournians love their live music.  There are a host of live music gigs all over the city most days of the week.

If you’re in the mood for jazz, swing past Bird’s Basement jazz club for gigs from local and international musicians.  In the city Cherry Bar is infamous as a rock venue.

Many Aussie musicians have kick-started their music career through these Melbourne venues so make sure you check out the events happening nearby.  Folk, blues, jazz, pop and Australian hip-hop events are listed in Melbourne’s Beat magazine.  Pick up a copy at most bars, pubs and cafes around town.

Explore Melbourne’s Art and Theatre

Theatre

Melbourne boasts some wonderful old theatres, rich in history, fame and infamy. There is always a show to go to!  In recent times an increasing number of productions are choosing Melbourne for their premiere launch.

The National Gallery of Victoria is Australia’s oldest gallery founded in 1861, hosting a range of international and local events.

Visit the Australian Centre for the Moving Image to immerse yourself in the world of film, television and digital culture.  Visit the Heide Museum of Modern Art at Bulleen for an insight into Australian artists.

Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Markets

QV Market Tour

The QV Markets in Melbourne are great to visit, and who doesn’t love a good market!

Handmade crafts, secondhand treasures, fresh local produce, exotic cheeses and other gourmet delicacies. Queen Victoria Markets in the city is one of the oldest markets in Melbourne and the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere!

For something different, Queen Victoria Markets run Foodie tours through the market.  Make sure you book a tour for a fun morning of market history and delicious tastings.

On weekends, pick up some bargains.  Locally handmade items from emerging Australian designers can be found at the Rose St. Artists’ Market in Fitzroy, just a quick tram ride from the city centre.

Melbourne is Australia’s sporting capital

Melbourne Cup fashion

Sport is one of Melbourne’s passions. Australian Football League (AFL), cricket, horse racing and Formula One car racing are key calendar events for Victorians.

The Spring Racing carnivals herald the iconic Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse each year.

Melbourne’s World Class Sporting Arenas host tennis and cricket events throughout the year.   If you love car racing, go to Albert Park for the Australian Grand Prix when city streets are transformed into a high-speed racetrack.

Sport is the one thing that draws locals together, in a competitive kinda way!  Find out more about Melbourne’s sports events here.

Shrine of Remembrance

Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance

Off St Kilda Road, the Shrine of Remembrance was built in 1934 as a dedication to the men and women who lost their lives in World War I.

The Shrine of Remembrance is one of Melbourne’s most important military and remembrance monuments.  Remembrance ceremonies are held throughout the year.

St Kilda Beach

Melbourne's Luna Park

St Kilda is one of Melbourne’s most popular beaches.  Run barefoot on the sand and if the day is sunny, take a swim in the ocean.

Walk down the pier to watch the local fishermen trying their luck or stroll along the foreshore at dusk to see the little penguins coming in for the night.

Visit Luna Park to enjoy the amusement rides of yesteryear – the carousel and the scenic roller-coaster or enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the stunning beachside cafes.  St Kilda is a great place to hang out.

How to get around Melbourne city

Getting Around Melbourne

Most visitors base themselves in the city centre for easy access to museums, theatres, restaurants, bars and shops.  Most attractions within walking distance of the city centre. Transport options include train, tram, bus or bike.

Tram travel in the city is free.   The FreeZone allows you to travel around the central parts of the city at no cost.

Myki is Melbourne’s ticket to travel on the city’s trains, trams and buses. You can buy a  Myki card.  If you have an Android phone, download and set up the Myki app from your Play Store to use to tap on and off via your phone.

Where to stay in Melbourne city

We prefer to stay central Melbourne and on our last visit stayed at Ridges Melbourne, a nicely appointed inexpensive hotel in the centre of Little Bourke Street.  It’s close to the theatres, a number of great restaurants and wine bars and a short walk to city shopping and the trams.

Booking.com

Are you heading to Melbourne soon?  Why not pin this post for later.

 Things to do in Melbourne

If that isn’t motive enough to book your flight to Melbourne here are a whole list of reasons why you should visit this city of Melbourne at least once in your lifetime.

Here are a few posts you may be interested in.

What do you think are the best things to do in Melbourne city?  Have you got a few ‘go-to’ favourites to share with us?