The Best Things to do in Melbourne, Australia

The 15 Best Things to Do in Melbourne

With its cool coffee shops, trendy street art, sunny summers, and mild winters, it’s no surprise that Melbourne is consistently voted one of the most livable cities in the world. 

You’ll understand why when you catch the tram down to St Kilda Beach for a day of sunbathing and swimming, when you’re enjoying an evening of theater in the East End, or when you’re sampling the multicultural eats at Queen Victoria Market! 

Throw in excellent museums covering everything from Ned Kelly to immigration, beautiful botanical gardens, and Australia’s oldest art galleries, and you’ve got yourself a city you won’t want to get away from. 

With so many things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Melbourne for you. Keep to these fun and unique Melbourne bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’re going to have an incredible time exploring this beautiful Australian city!

15 Fun and Unique Things to do in Melbourne

1. Arrive in style at Flinders Street Railway Station

Cool Things to do in Melbourne: Flinders Street Railway Station

One of the most iconic buildings in Melbourne is the Flinders Street Railway Station, and there’s no better way to start your trip than by arriving in style at this historic railway terminus!

Flinders Street Railway Station is one of Melbourne’s most recognizable landmarks, and if you’re ever meeting a local in the CBD, they’ll probably ask to rendezvous “under the clocks.” This means they want to meet you at the station’s grand entrance, beneath the historic railway clocks.

Flinders Street Railway Station is an attraction in itself, and you’ll love the grandeur and the Victorian pomp that surrounds this elegant building. The station first opened in 1854, making this one of the city’s oldest public buildings, with major redesigns occurring at the start of the 20th century. 

It’s also the oldest train line in Australia, so if you catch a train around the city or out to one of the suburbs, you’ll be riding a piece of travel history as you go!

2. Join a street art tour of Melbourne

Melbourne Bucket List: Street Art Tour

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Melbourne, then book yourself onto a street art tour as soon as you arrive!

Melbourne is Australia’s creative capital, and the city is highly regarded for its art galleries and art museums. But some of the best art is found on the streets, as the city’s laneways and pavements are covered in graffiti, murals, and artwork.

Melbourne’s laneways are famous for their street art, but we recommend joining a tour to find the best spots and uncover the stories behind it all. One of the best tour companies is Melbourne Street Tours, which run artist-led tours of Melbourne’s CBD and Fitzroy Street, where the highest concentrations of street art are found.

Their tours end with a trip to a local art gallery, where you find out more about the behind-the-scenes process that goes into creating street art (they’ll show you that it’s not just graffiti!). 

Of course, you can plot your own walking tour of the street art hotspots, too. The local city government even has a suggested walking route of around two hours, an itinerary that takes in iconic locations like AC/DC Lane, Hosier Lane, Flinders Lane, and more.

3. Enjoy a caffeine-fueled coffee crawl of Melbourne

Best Things to do in Melbourne: Caffeine Fueled Coffee

Melbourne is synonymous with two things: street art and coffee. Both of these Melbourne favorites can be experienced on cultural tours, with the latter being a caffeine-fueled romp through the city’s best coffee shops!

A coffee crawl in Melbourne is guaranteed to leave your heart racing as you explore the many hidden and often quirky cafes that Melbourne is famous for. In summer, you can enjoy a fresh cold brew alfresco, as cafes spill out onto the laneways. 

Head down to the seafront, and you’ll love watching the world go by as you sip on iced coffee as the sun shines down! In winter, cozy up with a flat white or a cappuccino as you beat away the winter blues with a hot brew of Melbourne’s finest roasts. 

There are several tour companies offering coffee crawls across Melbourne, including the Melbourne Coffee Lovers Walking Tour led by Walk Melbourne Tours. You’ll visit four coffee shops in one morning, learning about Melbourne’s history and cultural quirks as you explore a different side of the city.  

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4. Visit Melbourne’s fascinating Immigration Museum

Best Things to do in Melbourne: Immigration Museum

Melbourne’s Old Customs House on Flinders Street has been transformed into one of the city’s most fascinating museums. The Immigration Museum offers a unique look at Melbourne’s history through the stories of the many individuals, families, and communities who have journeyed here from all corners of the globe to start a new life.

Melbourne is built on immigration, a history that really begins with the first British colonists who arrived in the 1800s (although, don’t forget, there were Aboriginal communities here 40,000 years before Europeans arrived in southern Australia). 

The museum charts the history of the city’s emigrant populations, from the miners and chancers who arrived during the Gold Rush era to Vietnamese and Afghani refugees in more recent years.

It’s a moving tribute to the people who have made Melbourne, and you’ll love delving into the individual stories of triumph and disaster that are told here. The museum also loves to promote Melbourne’s diversity, and they regularly host meetups and events promoting cross-cultural exchanges, including cooking classes!

5. Step back in time at the Melbourne Museum

Cool Things to do in Melbourne: Melbourne Museum

If you love learning about history, then one of the best places to visit in Melbourne is the Melbourne Museum. This is one of the city’s most popular institutions, and you’ll love stepping back in time millions of years as you explore as far back as Australia’s prehistoric age!

You’ll find the Melbourne Museum in the middle of picturesque Carlton Gardens. The museum is next to the grand Royal Exhibition Building, a world heritage-listed building dating back to 1879. The Royal Exhibition Building is itself an important part of Melbourne’s history, and it’s a part of the Melbourne Museum’s collection, too.

The Melbourne Museum is vast. It’s home to the Victorian state’s incredible collection of historical and cultural artifacts, a collection that numbers in the millions. You’ll need to set aside a few hours just to brush the surface, and you will want to plan your visit in advance if there are particular areas that are of interest to you.

Exhibits are divided into galleries, and you really will have a hard time choosing what to see. You can start with the dinosaurs if you want to do things chronologically. There are fossils and skeletons of dinosaur species that have been unearthed around Australia, as well as an exhibition exploring 600 million years of evolutionary history.

The Science and Life galleries explore the marine world, wildlife, insects, and more, while the Mind and Body Gallery focuses on human anatomy. There are galleries exploring the history of Melbourne, Aboriginal culture, the history of the Pacific Islands, and so much more!

6. Visit Australia’s oldest art gallery

Fun Things to do in Melbourne: Oldest Art Gallery

A visit to Australia’s oldest art gallery is one of the top things to do in Melbourne. You’ll find the National Gallery of Victoria (or the NGV as locals like to shorten the name) spread across two major locations (both are within walking distance of each other), with a third planned for the future.

The first location is in Southbank. This is NGV International, where you can browse through the national gallery’s original art collections and a series of ever-changing exhibitions. The NGV International dates back to 1861 and hosts a wonderful collection of American, Asian, and European art, including famous works by Picasso.

Just up the road and over Princes Bridge, you can visit the modern Ian Potter Centre in Federation Square. This unique building is home to NGV Australia and is devoted entirely to Australian artwork. There are over 20,000 works of art on display, including a vast body of works by indigenous Australian artists. 

Overall, there are as many as 76,000 works of art spread out across the two venues. Both galleries are free to enter, although you may need to book tickets for special events and exhibitions. 

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7. Take an eerie tour of the Old Melbourne Gaol

Best Things to do in Melbourne: Old Melbourne Gaol

If you love tales of true crime and notorious criminals, then a visit to the Old Melbourne Gaol is one of the best things to do during your stay in the city. 

This historic prison is one of the most fascinating Melbourne attractions, and with a history dating back to 1839, it’s seen some of the most infamous Victorian criminals pass through its doors. Most famously of all, the Old Melbourne Gaol held Ned Kelly, the rogue outlaw who took on the authorities during the late 19th century before he met the hangman’s noose.

Take a tour of the Old Melbourne Gaol, and you can learn about Ned Kelly and the many other criminals who were imprisoned and often executed here up until the prison was closed down in 1924. 

Rather than taking a tour in daylight hours, though, why not brave an after-dark tour? If you dare, you can join the terrifying Ghost Tour of the premises or the grisly Hangman’s Night Tour (which is not recommended for children!).

8. Eat, shop, and drink at Queen Victoria Market

Unique Things to do in Melbourne: Queen Victoria Market

If you’re starting to feel those hunger pangs after a morning of sightseeing, then it’s time for you to satisfy them at Queen Victoria Market. Covering a massive seven hectares of space in the CBD, this enormous market is one of the largest in the southern hemisphere! 

It’s also one of the most historic because Queen Victoria Market first opened its doors for shopping and trading in 1878 (yes, when Queen Victoria was the British monarch!). The market is both indoors and outdoors, with over 600 individual stalls and shops doing business at this heritage-listed landmark. 

With so many stalls, you’ll find almost anything at Queen Victoria Market. There are sections devoted to home living, hardware, electronics, and gardening (and many more things you might not need when you’re on vacation!), as well as stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables brought in from the countryside, fresh fish, artisan cheese, craft beer, and so much more. 

Queen Victoria Market is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. You can explore the stalls at your leisure, or you could join a food tour if you really want to unearth all those tasty hidden delights that are on offer throughout the week!

9. Become a culture-vulture in the East End

Melbourne’s East End (it’s the eastern end of the CBD) is Australia’s most exciting cultural district, and we know you’re going to love visiting the theaters, clubs, restaurants, and bars that the area has to offer.

There are theaters and performing arts venues on every street corner in the East End, and whether you’re up for a night of laughs with local comedians or would prefer a dramatic evening of Shakespeare, you’ll find it here.

Melbourne’s East End venues are small, intimate, and historic. There’s been theater here since the first pubs put on rustic performances in the 1840s, and although the performances are now professional, you’ll feel a sense of charming heritage running through the suburb. 

This is where Melbourne’s most famous theaters are located, including the Princess Theatre, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Regent Theatre, Athenaeum Theatre, Comedy Theatre, and Forum Melbourne. Plus, you can book fantastic pre-theater dinner packages at the local restaurants or stay the night in theater-themed hotels to add to your cultural experience. 

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10. Escape the city with a trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens

Must do Things in Melbourne: Royal Botanic Gardens

You don’t need to go far to escape the urban when you’re in Melbourne. All it takes is a trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens, an idyllic garden getaway that awaits you in Southbank. 

Dating back to 1848, the Royal Botanic Gardens have been carefully cared for by generations of Melbourne’s finest gardeners. Overlooking the southern bank of the Yarra River, you’ll love how you can admire the city’s skyline opposite while you’re immersed in the flora of the gardens. 

This really is an oasis in the city, and there are thought to be around 50,000 plants covering some 38 hectares of land. There are thousands of species from across the world, and you can learn more by joining the “Explorer,” an open-air minibus that provides running commentary as you’re driven around the gardens. 

The primary site of the Royal Botanic Gardens is in Southbank, but there’s also a second site in the Melbourne suburb of Cranbourne. This second site is actually much larger, with an estimated 170,000 plants and trees covering a vast area of 363 hectares. 

This site is much wilder, with the gardens being home to predominantly Australian species. It makes for a great day trip from the city!

11. Join the fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Best Things to do in Melbourne: Melbourne Cricket Ground

Melbourne Cricket Ground (or the “MCG,” or just the “G”) is the largest stadium to be found anywhere in the southern hemisphere. That it’s devoted to cricket tells you a lot about Australia’s love for a sport that much of the rest of the world knows very little about!

The MCG is in Yarra Park, just a short walk away from the CBD. It’s the best place to catch a game of cricket in Australia and one of the most unique things to see in Melbourne. 

The MCG is the home ground of Victoria Cricket Club, which has been playing here since the stadium first opened in 1853. But it’s not just the local team that plays here. The MCG is a major venue for international cricket matches, including five-day tests and fast-paced one-day and “20-20” games. 

As the biggest sporting stadium in Australia, the MCG also hosts a regular list of Aussie Rules Football, Rugby League, and Rugby Union fixtures throughout their respective seasons. The stadium is home to the Australian Sports Museum, too, and sports fans will love taking a behind-the-scenes stadium tour to learn about the history and the drama behind the MCG!

Book a Guided MCG and Australian Sports Museum Tour

12. Take the tram to St Kilda Beach

Best Things to do in Melbourne: St. Kilda Beach

Melbourne is an ocean city, and in 30 minutes, you can travel from the high-rise skyscrapers of the CBD to the beautiful seafront promenades overlooking Port Phillip Bay. One of the best oceanfront destinations to visit is St Kilda Beach, and you can catch a tram straight here from the city center!

St Kilda Beach runs south from St Kilda Pier. The sandy stretch of coastline is the place to be, particularly in summer when temperatures skyrocket and city center residents flock to the sea. The beach and the promenade here are always busy and bustling, and you’ll love strolling along the seafront, swimming in the ocean, or just hanging out at the cafes and restaurants.

If open water swimming isn’t for you, then you can also visit the St Kilda Sea Baths. This iconic Melbourne recreation center features a saltwater swimming pool, restaurants, bars, and a fitness center. You can also rent paddleboards, surf equipment, and more, in order to make the most of your St Kilda Beach escape.

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13. Go wine tasting in the Yarra Valley

Fun Things to do in Melbourne: Yarra Valley

Follow the Yarra River inland, and you’ll find the scenic countryside of the Yarra Valley is just a one-hour drive from Melbourne CBD. The lush, fertile land that lines the river is not only spectacularly photogenic, but it’s the perfect place for viticulture.

The Yarra Valley is one of Australia’s foremost wine-growing regions, and a wine tasting tour is one of the best day trips from Melbourne. You’ll be picked up from your accommodation in the morning, and soon enough, you’ll be enjoying the views as you leave the city’s skyline behind you.

There are rolling hills and vast tracts of farmland, and in the distance, you’ll spot the Dandenong Ranges rising above the valley. Different tour companies offer different wine tasting itineraries, but you should have at least three stops at three different wineries on your day out. 

This often includes premium wineries such as Rochford Wines, Coldstream Hills, or Stefano Estate, to name a few. Tours also take in side attractions, such as ice creameries and chocolatiers that are nestled away in rural locations in the Yarra Valley. 

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14. Fall in love with the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island

Sitting off the south coast of Melbourne is Phillip Island, a small island that’s home to an incredible number of penguins. Every evening, as dusk falls, thousands of “Little Penguins” make their way onto land, seeking shelter from waves and predators after a day of fishing along the rocky coastline.

The sight of this natural spectacle has been dubbed the “Penguin Parade,” and the experience is one of the best things to do in Melbourne! You’ll need to book tickets because spots are limited each evening in order to protect the penguins and their habitat. 

Phillip Island is a two-hour drive south of Melbourne, so make the most of the outing by spending the day at Phillip Island before watching the Penguin Parade in the evening. Much of the island is protected as a national park, and there are walking tracks, beautiful beaches, and lookout points to visit. There’s even a winery on the island if you’re feeling thirsty! 

Book a Phillip Island Penguin Parade Eco Tour

15. Drive the Great Ocean Road

Best Things to do in Melbourne: Great Ocean Road

You can experience one of the world’s greatest road trip adventures during your stay in Melbourne. The Great Ocean Road is an epic driving route that starts in Torquay, just to the southwest of Melbourne’s CBD, and ends 150 miles to the west in Allansford. 

The Great Ocean Road was originally built as a way to provide ex-soldiers returning from the First World War with work, and the route was first opened in 1932. The road follows the Victorian coastline closely, offering spectacular views and vistas over the ocean. We recommend renting a car in Melbourne and exploring the route on day trips or taking an extended overnight trip.

Along the way, you’ll be able to visit iconic natural sightseeing attractions like the 12 Apostles rock formation, Loch Ard Gorge, and the Gibson Steps. There are beaches, cliffs, and national parks to explore, and if you’re not short on time, you can use the Great Ocean Road as the starting point for a long road trip all the way west to Adelaide – or even Perth!

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There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Melbourne. What’s your favorite thing to do in Melbourne?

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