This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated in 2018 with the most recent information for things to do in Melbourne.
When it comes to the coolest cities in the world, Melbourne is one that always makes the list. Buzzing with festivals, culture, and sporting events, there are so many things to do in Melbourne making it a city that captivates you upon arrival. It’s also one that wins you over one day at a time.
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You can’t miss a visit to Melbourne on your trip to Australia. We’ve visited Melbourne numerous times during our time living in Australia, and with the help of local friends, we’ve gotten to know the city better than the average traveler. Here are our best tips and advice for visiting the city, and our recommendations for the best things to do in Melbourne.
Best Time to Visit Melbourne
If there’s one thing the locals will tell you about Melbourne, it’s that the weather is completely bonkers. You can experience all four seasons in one day. No matter what time of the year you choose to visit, bring an umbrella and an extra layer for exploring the Melbourne attractions.
In general, summer is the busiest and most popular time to visit Australia, which means this season is busy and expensive. Spring and fall attract smaller crowds, but these seasons also have more unpredictable weather. Winter is cool, although temperatures rarely drop below 5 to 10°C (41-50°F) during the day. That means it’s still easy to explore the city or escape into the countryside.
Top Things to Do in Melbourne
Melbourne is known as Australia’s cultural capital. It’s a city where something is always going on somewhere. You won’t find many big Melbourne attractions or major sights in the city, but you will find pockets of culture dispersed throughout and there is no shortage of things to do in Melbourne. During your trip, make some time for a few of these key places to visit in Melbourne.
Take a Walk
A quick way to get to grips with the city is to sign up to a Melbourne city tour on your first day. The Melbourne Cultural Highlights City Walk is perfect for discovering the best spots while learning about the city’s history at the same time.
Eat, Drink and be Merry
Foodies will be more than happy with the number of great places to visit in Melbourne. The food and bar scenes are unlike anywhere else in Australia. Don’t miss weekend brunch or the street cafés on Chapel Street, in South Yarra, or in Fitzroy.
Explore Melbourne’s Colourful and Vibrant Laneways
Wander through the myriad of shops, cafés, and art displays that line the streets, and shop till you drop in Melbourne’s boutiques and markets. Little Collins Street and Collins Street in CBD are the places to go for the world’s top designers and brands.
Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street and the southern end of Chapel Street are all about vintage, unique, and alternative shops. Queen Victoria Market is the spot for Australian goods and souvenirs, and Rose Street Artists Market and the South Melbourne Market are popular on weekends.
Attend One of the City’s World-Class Sporting Events
The city is a sports lover’s paradise, with so many international events and sporting things to do in Melbourne. Melbourne hosts Formula 1, MotoGP, Melbourne Cup, and Australian Tennis Open events. In addition to those, check out Australian football games, cricket games, rugby league games, horse racing, dog racing, and more.
If you want a closer look, sign up to the Melbourne Sports Walking Tour and discover the cities sporting past.
Get Out of the City and Explore the Region’s Countryside
Spend a day wine tasting in Yarra Valley, take a road trip along the Great Ocean Road, visit Mornington Peninsula, witness the penguin parade on Phillip Island, or take on the summit of Mount Dandenong. Spend an afternoon in bohemian St. Kilda, where you can eat, shop, meander, and take in the atmosphere of this vibrant suburb.
One of the best things about Melbourne is its location. It’s a perfect base for exploring the region with so many great day trips from Melbourne.
Sustainable Things to do in Melbourne
For any eco-conscious travelers wondering what to do in Melbourne, there are a number of options. You can have a Melbourne city tour that doesn’t harm the environment, with a Melbourne City Bike Tour.
Another eco-friendly way to view Melbourne is to take a City Sights Kayak Tour. After a quick safety briefing, you’ll head off for a 1.5 hour guided tour to explore the city’s sights from the Yarra River.
If you happen to be in the city in February, then check out the National Sustainable Living Festival. Melbourne has been home to the month long festival for over 20 years and has grown to include over 300 events. You can take your pick from seminars, workshops, film screenings, and art and design events, all focusing on sustainable living and the climate emergency.
Melbourne is also a great place for shopping and there are plenty of ways to support local and green businesses. Check out this at this ethical fashion guide for some inspiration!
Where to Stay in Melbourne
If you only have a few days to spend in Melbourne, we recommend finding accommodation in or close to the city center, particularly areas like Southbank and Fitzroy. For those looking for budget-friendly options, areas like South Melbourne and Windsor offer some good alternatives.
Melbourne is also one of the more eco-friendly cities in Australia with sustainability playing a huge part in the city’s policies, so finding ‘green’ accommodation shouldn’t be a problem. Here are a few options to consider for your trip to Melbourne:
The Alto Hotel on Bourke
The Alto Hotel on Bourke is an apartment style hotel, completely carbon neutral and powered by 100% renewable energy. Plus, guests receive unlimited free espresso throughout their stay!
If you are looking for an affordable accommodation option in Melbourne but don’t want to compromise the environment, then Habitat HQ is the perfect spot. The hostel is a recipient of the STAY WYSE Green Initiative Award and they are also certified Climate Action Leaders.
Clarion Suites Gateway
Perfectly located on the banks of the Yarra River the Clarion Suites Gateway is a AAA Tourism Eco-Friendly Star Accredited Hotel. All of their rooms use energy-saving light bulbs, have dual-flush toilets and recycle paper, cardboard, glass, and plastics.
Novotel Melbourne on Collins
The Novotel Melbourne on Collins along with others in the chain is part of the Planet 21 program which committed to reducing water use, protecting biodiversity, recycling, and local and sustainable purchases.
Other Melbourne Accommodation
If you’d rather have a home away from home experience in Melbourne, then Airbnb is also a great option.
Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up now and receive a $35 USD credit to put towards your first Airbnb stay!
Where to Eat in Melbourne
Sister of Soul
If you’re in the St Kilda area or Richmond, head to Sister of Soul for yummy vegetarian/vegan fare. They have a great menu offering wholesome plant based food, packed full of flavour. Try the Udon noodles! The restaurant is also dedicated to giving back to the environment and to the community; scraps, food waste and coffee grinds are donated to the local community gardens for composting.
Longrain Restaurant is a fusion of South-East Asian flavours with local produce. The menu is specifically designed for sharing with large portions served on long communal tables. The menu is extensive, offering plenty for every type of diner, from vegans and vegetarians to those with gluten allergies. Try the salt and pepper tofu, it’s divine!
For a fine dining experience like no other, then go to Ezard. They offer eight course vegetarian or vegan tasting menus, and one for meat lovers too, of course. It’s a little pricey at $150 AUD, but totally worth it. It’s a great place for a special romantic evening or for those who take their food very seriously!
If you are staying at the Alto Hotel on Bourke, then you are just a short hop, skip and a jump from Kinfolk Cafe, an amazing initiative and cafe. The cafe donates all its profits to charity, buys all local, organic and ethical products, using only seasonal ingredients in their yummy dishes.
The Grain Store
The Grain Store is another sweet spot offering an oasis from the city hustle and bustle. This urban garden is tucked away on Flinders Lane and is dedicated to sustainable, locally-sourced produce. They also offer a great weekend brunch menu with plenty of vegetarian options.
For vegan and vegetarian food, head straight to Laneway Greens. Their menus change with the season, so no matter when you go, you’ll be treated to quality dishes full of healthy, ethically sourced and locally grown ingredients.
Smith and Daughters
In the Fitzroy area of Melbourne head to Smith and Daughters. They are first and foremost a vegan eatery, but they do also have ethically sourced meat options for those who can’t go without. They also have some excellent cocktails on their dessert menu!
Best Markets in Melbourne
If you’re anything like us, then one of your favourite things to do in any new city you visit will be to check out the local markets. Not only are they a great way to sample and soak up the atmosphere, but they also allow you to support local artisans and farmers. Here are a few of the most popular markets in Melbourne:
Camberwell Sunday Market
Set the alarm and give up the Sunday morning lie-in and head to Market Place, Camberwell. The Camberwell Sunday market is a great place to find quirky items, old and new. Don’t leave without trying the hot jam doughnuts! The market is open every Sunday from 6am to 12:30pm.
Hawthorn Makers Market
Another one for a Sunday, but only the first Sunday of the month. The Hawthorn Makers Market is one of city’s oldest and most popular markets. Wander around the 70+ stalls offering handmade gifts, jewellery, homewares, plants, toys and more, all from local artisans and designers.
Vegan Market of Melbourne
The first Saturday of every month welcomes vegans and non-vegans alike at the Abbotsford Convent. Enjoy a day browsing, buying, and tasting vegan treats, shop for ethical fashion, and arts and craft gifts. There’s also live entertainment and free workshops throughout the day.
Brunswick Flea Market
You could easily spend hours here! There’s everything under the sun available at the Brunswick Flea Market, from vintage clothing to furniture, knick-knacks, plants and homeware. It takes place on the second Saturday of every month from 10am-3pm.
Melbourne Farmers Markets
There are a number of great farmers markets in Melbourne where you can get fresh, organic produce straight from the farmers. Carlton Farmers Market takes place twice a month on the first and third Saturday, for the Saturdays in between, you can hit up the Coburg Farmers Market which happens every Saturday. For a full list of what’s happening, when and where check out the Melbourne Farmers Markets website.
Where to Drink in Melbourne
When it comes to drinking places to visit in Melbourne, rooftop bars offer a classy way to start off your night. The CBD area is a top pick for trendy wine bars, but don’t be afraid to explore the city suburbs, you’ll find some incredible views and a sophisticated crowd all across the city.
You can check out a list of Melbourne bars suburb by suburb but generally speaking the Collingwood and Fitzroy districts are the new nightlife hotspots in Melbourne. They have an eclectic mix of vibes, from grungy, indie/rock bars to sophisticated wine and cocktail bars and the best thing is they are all within walking distance from each other!
If you’re looking for a more low-key chilled night out then head to the north-west of the city to Flemington or Kensington. They have a number of great family friendly bars where you can relax and drink with the locals.
One of the most popular things to do in Melbourne for beer drinkers is a visit to one of Melbourne’s popular microbreweries. Head to The Moon Dog Craft Brewery in Abbottsford to try one of the ten beers on tap. Or check out the only microbrewery in the CBD, the Crafty Squire. As well as their tasty ales they also serves up some excellent pub grub. You can also make an experience out of it and go for one of the cities Craft Beer Tours.
Keep in mind, however, that exploring even the best pubs in Melbourne may take a while. If you want a more succinct list, head on over to our Locals’ Tips for Visiting Melbourne article to check out some of our local friends’ favourite watering holes and places to visit in Melbourne.
How much time to spend in Melbourne
To really get a feel for the city gives yourself at least 4-5 days. Being the cultural capital of Australia, there are so many great things to do in Melbourne and the city really deserves a little more exploration!
If you are pushed for time, check out this 3 day itinerary which covers the city’s shopping areas, trendy restaurants, plus a day trip from Melbourne to explore the beaches and boutique wineries of the Mornington Peninsula.
Thanks to the city’s many pockets of culture, getting to know Melbourne and locating Melbourne attractions can take awhile. If you want to cover the best things to do in Melbourne, three to five days in the city will be enough.
Read Next: 8 Best Melbourne Weekend Getaways
Have you got suggestions for what to do in Melbourne? Share your tips for Melbourne in the comments below!
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