Whether you like the finer things in life or you’re backpacking your way around the world, Melbourne caters to every kind of traveler. There are heaps of attractions, museums, food, nightlife, and outdoor activities in this city—it's impossible to get bored here. Instead, you might get overwhelmed with the number of things to tick off the bucket list. That’s not a drama, mate. To help you with your itinerary, we've made a list of the top 20 things to do in Melbourne.
Learn About Melbourne’s Famous Arcades and Laneways
Melbourne is known for its underground street art—in fact, the city has 40 laneways and arcades practically dedicated to the craft. Take a stroll around Melbourne Central Business District to get a glimpse at this artsy scene, or better yet, hop on a tour. You’ll be guided through Hosier Lane, ACDC Lane, and Hardware Lane—among others—to learn all about Melbourne’s artistic personality.
Shop for Souvenirs at Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market is a significant landmark in Melbourne. It opened in 1878 and has turned into a prime center for food and shopping in the city. Known as “Queen Vic” or “Vic Market” by locals, it’s the place to go if you want to purchase Australian fruits and vegetables, local and imported gourmet foods, or clothing and souvenirs. To learn more about the market stalls, hop on a food tour. It’s open until 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and until 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. In the summer and winter, Queen Vic hosts Wednesday Night Markets, during which it transforms into a lively spot for street food, drinks, and live entertainment.
Wander Through the Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens offer a quiet escape from the noise of the big city center. Featuring nearly 50,000 plants—both native and non-native—it stretches across 94 acres. You can take a walk along a path called The Tan or throw down a blanket and breathe in the fresh air. There are usually events happening in the gardens, such as heritage walks, wellness experiences, and movie screenings. You’ll find the Royal Botanic Gardens on the south side of the Yarra River.
Ride the Roller Coaster at Luna Park
An amusement park in St Kilda, Luna Park is home to the oldest, continually operating wooden roller coaster in the world. While you’re there, try fairy floss if you haven't already; it’s Australia’s version of cotton candy. And don’t forget to take a picture in front of the open-mouthed, colorful entrance. Luna Park is only open Friday through Sunday and costs AU$5 for a single entry ticket into the park. Once you’re in, you have to purchase a separate ticket for each ride.
Relax at the Peninsula Hot Springs
Take a day trip down the Mornington Peninsula to visit the hot springs. It’s an indoor and outdoor spa with thermal hot baths that reach up to 107 degrees F. For a social experience, visit the Bath House, where you’ll share the naturally-heated pools with other people. There’s a shuttle service that will take you to and from the Peninsula Hot Springs on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Otherwise, it’s an hour and a half drive from Melbourne CBD.
Hop on a Winery Tour of the Yarra Valley
The Yarra Valley is an Australian wine region that’s an hour’s drive west of the city. The cool and wet climate makes it a prime area for producing wine, particularly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The best way to experience the Yarra Valley is to hop on a winery tour or hire a car service. Not into wine? Yarra Valley is also known for its artisanal cheese, rich chocolate, and craft beer. If you’re in the area during the end of March, there’s a fun music festival in the vineyards.
Go to a BYOB Restaurant in Chinatown
Melbourne can be an expensive city to visit, so to make things a little cheaper, head to a BYOB restaurant in Chinatown. You have your pick of options here. Shanghai Village Dumpling is a no-frills spot that serves 15 dumplings for AU$7—it's the perfect place for large groups. If you’re looking for a cheap date night option, Juicy Bao provides a more intimate setting with a menu full of pork belly, salt and pepper squid, and bao buns.
Spend Time With Australian Wildlife
Although Melbourne is a big city, there are plenty of opportunities to spend time with Australia’s quirky wildlife. Moonlit Sanctuary is the best way to see wombats, dingoes, Tasmanian devils, potoroos, and pademelons. Not sure what most of those mammals are? Attend a Keeper Talk to learn more about these native animals. Here, you can also feed kangaroos and wallabies, pet koalas, and look at rare birds and reptiles. Since most of the animals here are nocturnal, take a night tour to get the most out of your experience. Moonlit Sanctuary is about a 50-minute drive southeast of central Melbourne, toward the Mornington Peninsula. If you’re unable to rent a car, some tours depart from Melbourne CBD.
Dance the Night Away
From casual bars and live music venues to upscale clubs, Melbourne nightlife is impressive. If you’re looking to dance, New Guernica is a fun spot to go, where you can groove to music spun by some of the country's hottest DJs. When it hits 5 a.m. and you want to keep going, Revolvers Upstairs is a 24-hour nightclub that’s open six days a week. Remember: The drinking age in Australia is 18, and you need to bring your passport if you’re going clubbing. Oddly enough, most places don’t accept a foreign driver’s license.
Watch an AFL Game at Melbourne Cricket Ground
Also known as "Aussie rules football" or "footy," AFL is Australian Football. It’s not quite the same as American football or even soccer, which is why it’s worth it to attend a game. Although the rules may be confusing to a foreigner, it’s exciting to watch—especially in the impressively large MCG arena. As 10 of the 18 teams are from Melbourne, it's safe to say that Melburnians are super into AFL. The season runs from March to September; you can find tickets to competitions on the MCG website.
Watch Fairy Penguins at Sunset
Every sunset, a colony of tiny fairy penguins migrates from the waters of Port Phillip Bay to the shores of St Kilda (their nests are tucked into the rocks of the breakwater all year-round). As the sun goes down, walk up St Kilda pier to catch a glimpse of these little creatures. A team of volunteers from Earthcare St. Kilda monitor the colony each night and are happy to answer questions about the species. Turn the flash off your phone if you want to snap a picture, and take care to keep your selfie stick packed away.
Road Trip to the Snow
Skiing in Australia spans across four states, including Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, and Australia Capital Territory. The closest resort to Melbourne CBD is Mount Baw Baw, which offers easy downhill runs, two terrain parks, and cross country trails. It’s a quick two and a half hour drive from Melbourne, and lift passes are relatively cheap compared to other resorts in Australia. The ski season runs from late June to early October. You can get to Mount Baw Baw by bus and rent all your gear once you get to the mountain.
Skydive Over the Beach
Skydiving over St Kilda beach is a total bucket list item for travelers. What better way to see the city than by free falling from 15,000 feet? If you’re feeling like a spontaneous daredevil, the Skydiving Melbourne kiosk is located on the boardwalk, next to St. Kilda Marina.
Embark on a Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride Over the City
If you want an incredible view of the city and skydiving isn’t your thing, a hot air balloon ride might be the answer. This mellow journey departs before sunrise every morning and finishes up by 9 a.m, just in time for breakfast. While you're up in the air, you’ll get a view of the Yarra River, the Eureka Skydeck, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Bring a sweatshirt for this experience as it’s a bit chilly in Melbourne during the early morning.
Ride the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
The Melbourne Star is one of the top 10 tallest observation wheels in the world. It reaches 394 feet—the height of a 40-story building—and provides an epic view of the city skyline from the Docklands. You’ll be in an enclosed cabin that provides audio commentary about the history of Melbourne as well as giant observation wheels in general. Each rotation takes about 30 minutes, so you’ll have enough time to relax and take in your surroundings. You can opt to upgrade your experience with some bubbly if you’re feeling fancy.
Laugh at a Comedy Show
Melbourne throws a massive international comedy festival from March to April each year—but if you’re not in town during that time, stop by a comedy club. The Comic’s Lounge in Carlton hosts performers six nights a week. It’s an-old school venue where local and international comedians have practiced their craft over the years.
Watch a Performance at Princess Theatre
A Melbourne landmark, Princess Theatre is an old-school performance theatre that dates back to 1854. While its performance schedule is ever-changing, it has shown such shows as "The Phantom of the Opera," "Les Misérables," and currently, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child."
Browse Through Modern and Contemporary Art
The National Gallery of Victoria is the oldest and most visited art gallery in Australia. It’s a huge building that hosts a variety of local and international exhibits, artists, and programs. There are about 75,000 pieces of old and new art on display in the gallery. General entry is free, but if you want to see a specific, current exhibit, you’ll have to book tickets in advance. To make this museum experience a little more fun, you can enjoy live music in the Great Hall when you tour NGV after-hours on Friday nights.
Participate in Brunch
Melbourne recently jumped on the bottomless brunch bandwagon, catching up to New York City’s boozy scene. Locals usually book a table for two hours and enjoy a leisurely afternoon brunch with friends on the weekend. For about AU$55–65, you can get bottomless drinks plus a main meal at select restaurants in the city. Lona St Kilda, Drumplings, and Holla Coffee Roasters offer top-notch brunch deals thanks to their creative food and drinks menus. Just make sure you book ahead of time.
Have a Night Out at the Casino
Crown Casino is a massive highlight of Melbourne. Walking through the casino is a sight in itself as it's not just about the games—it's also the dining, nightlife, and live entertainment. It’s open 24 hours, so it’s a fun spot for a nightcap and a little people-watching. You can get there by water taxi or by walking across the King Street Bridge from CBD.