48 Hours in Melbourne: The Ultimate Itinerary

The city of Melbourne, Australia.
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Melbourne is a buzzing city filled with food, sports, shopping, and beaches. The best part? You can enjoy all four of those things in one day. While you need a few weeks to tackle all of the fun things to do in this city, it’s possible to explore the highlights if you’re crunched for time. From riding roller coasters at Luna Park, eating Melbourne’s top foods, or having an epic night out, here’s how to have an unforgettable 48 hours in Melbourne.

01 of 06

Day 1: Morning

Flat white coffee
Dana Elisa Nicolas / Getty Images

8 a.m.: As soon as you land at Melbourne Airport, grab your bags and take the Skybus into the city. It’s a direct bus service that will drop you off at Southern Cross Station, and from there, you can take a tram or taxi to your hotel. Staying in Melbourne's Central Business District is a good idea if you only have 48 hours in the city. The central location will make it easy for you to maximize your time as you shop the city's crafty markets, eat at its best restaurants, and explore its artsy lanes. Plus, you can ride the tram for free within the city limits. The Novotel Melbourne on Collins Street is a contemporary hotel with an indoor pool, fitness center, and spa in the heart of the city. 

11 a.m.: If you’re able to arrange early check-in, freshen up and grab a coffee. Melbourne is known for its (very serious) coffee culture. Brother Baba Budan is a highly rated café and just a five-minute walk around the block from Novotel. Order a flat white (an Aussie classic) and a sweet pastry to wake you up. The coffee Down Under is strong, so you’ll be ready to explore in no time.

Enjoy your morning pick-me-up in the café or take it to go as there’s a lot of exploring to be done. Stroll on over to Queen Victoria Market, an open space where you can browse Australian fruit and vegetables, local and imported foods, or clothing and souvenirs. It’s open every day except Monday and Wednesday. Make sure to grab a jam-filled doughnut from American Doughnut Kitchen while you’re there. 

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02 of 06

Day 1: Afternoon

Graffiti Alleyways

TripSavvy / Maria Ligaya

1:30 p.m.: While walking around town, you may have picked up on Melbourne's creative scene. That's because there are about 40 hidden lanes covered in street art in the city. To learn more about Melbourne’s hidden treasures, hop on a CBD Street Art Tour. You’ll follow a guide around the city who will tell you stories behind the graffiti-filled walls of the city and its artists.

5 p.m.: After all that walking, you may be ready for a drink. Red Piggy is a rooftop bar and restaurant in Chinatown that serves happy hour drinks every day from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. While you’re there, order an espresso martini. This specialty cocktail usually costs about AU$18–20, but during happy hour it’s AU$10. If you time your visit just right, you might be able to catch the sunset from the cozy rooftop.

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03 of 06

Day 1: Evening

Crunchy noodle salad

 Courtesy of The Toff In Town

7 p.m.: If you’re still in Chinatown, pop into one of the restaurants to enjoy a big dinner. Juicy Bao serves some of the best Chinese food in the neighborhood. As you walk up to the restaurant, you’ll see chefs making dumplings in the window. If that doesn’t lure you in, the menu has items like twice-cooked sliced pork belly in Szechuan chili and Shanghai noodles in spring onion oil with minced pork.

8:30 p.m.: After eating a satisfying meal, make your way over to The Comics Lounge for a fun-filled evening of stand-up comedy. No tickets available? No problem. There is plenty of nightlife in Melbourne. Cherry Bar's cool scene comes with live music, tattooed bartenders, and no-fuss cocktails. Or, check out Bartronica, an underground video arcade that has everything from old-school pinball machines to Mario Kart. Plus, it has a bar in case you get thirsty.  

11:30 p.m.: There's a whole bunch of nightclubs in the city where you can dance until the wee hours of the morning if you please. In the evening, The Toff In Town features live music, theatre, and Southeast Asian eats—but by night, it turns into a disco club. For a fancier vibe, head to Spice Market. Just be prepared: There’s a dress code to get in.

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04 of 06

Day 2: Morning

Dozens of sail boats at St Kilda Beach

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

9 a.m.: Get dressed, pack a bag, and head to the beach for brunch. St. Kilda is a 20-minute tram ride from the CBD. You can get there by hopping on the 96 tram from Southern Cross Station. You’ll know you’re in St. Kilda when you see tall palm trees lining the esplanade and Luna Park, a historic amusement park on the beach. Hop off the tram at The Esplanade stop and take a walk around the area to get your bearings.

11 a.m.: You’ll notice heaps of restaurants in St. Kilda—particularly on Acland Street—but we recommend Lona for brunch. Here, you can opt to make your meal bottomless by signing up for two hours of unlimited mimosas, champagne, beer, and wine. Otherwise, enjoy a menu full of avocado toast, chili scrambled eggs, and a classic big breakfast.

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05 of 06

Day 2: Afternoon

Luna park lit up at night

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

12:30 p.m.: After a big brunch, take a walk to the beach and check out the scene. On an extra-sunny day, Melburnians and international travelers flock to St. Kilda beach, so it might get crowded. If you packed your togs (Aussie slang for bathing suit), it’s a suitable beach for swimming, tanning, kite surfing, and people-watching. If you’re visiting on a Sunday, the Esplanade Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and sells locally-made arts and crafts, including jewelry, clothing, paintings, and homeware.  

If you’re feeling extra daredevilish, ride the roller coaster at Luna Park. It’s the oldest, continually operating wooden roller coaster in the world. Looking for something a little more thrilling? The Skydiving Melbourne kiosk is located on the boardwalk next to St. Kilda Marin.

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06 of 06

Day 2: Evening

The Infante

 Courtesy of The Everleigh

6 p.m.: It’s easy to spend all day in St. Kilda because there’s so much to see and do. Once you’ve got your sun, shopping, and thrill fix, head back into the city to freshen up before the evening's activities. Opt for an early dinner at Macelleria in Richmond. It’s a butcher shop where you choose your meat at the deli counter and a chef will cook it for you, right on the spot. These guys are super transparent about where they get their meat from, so you’ll get a little lesson in Australian farming and agriculture while you’re there. If you don't eat meat, Onda has a South American-inspired vegetarian menu. Order the chili-salted potato and cassava chips with smoked avocado salsa to start. 

8 p.m.: After a hearty Australian meal, see if there’s an Australian Football League, cricket, or rugby game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Melbourne is known as the sports capital of Australia, so watching a game at the Southern Hemisphere’s largest stadium would be an unforgettable experience. If you’re not much of a sports buff, check to see if there’s a show happening at the iconic Princess Theatre. It’s a vintage-style theatre that has hosted world-class productions such as "Les Misérables," "Jersey Boys," and "The Phantom Of The Opera."

10:30 p.m.: Afterward, enjoy a nightcap at one of Melbourne’s many cocktail bars. Known for crafting classic cocktails, the trained mixologists at The Everleigh can also tailor a drink to your taste. Just order according to the Bartender’s Choice: The mixologist will go over flavors, spirits, and style of drink with you so that you get what you’re craving. 

You can also check out Crown Casino, which is open 24 hours a day. The casino itself is buzzing with games and people, but there’s also dining, nightlife, and live entertainment throughout the space. It’s a fun spot to enjoy the ever-busy scene and people-watch before your 48 hours in Melbourne come to an end.