Traveling to Melbourne? But not sure which tourist attractions to visit? From street art to iconic markets, there are heaps of attractions to see. So we’ve done the research, we’ve bought the tickets, and we’ve put together a guide to the best tourist attractions in Melbourne – enjoy!
Tourist attractions in the CBD
Admire the street art in Hosier Lane
What’s more Melbourne than a street-art covered, cobblestone laneway? These burrows in the city centre have come to represent the creativity and laid-back attitude of Melbourne, and they’re a very popular Melbourne tourist attraction.
Originally they were dingy service lanes, built to service local businesses and residents. But back in the 1980’s the city council started to overhaul them, and now they’re thriving with restaurants, bars and street art.
All of the most popular laneways can be found in the city centre. They’re all within walking distance and you can combine them with the arcades as well.
The most popular is Hosier Lane, just down from Flinder’s Street Station, this laneway is bursting with street art.
For a more comprehensive list, read our guide to The Best Laneways in Melbourne.
Walk through the heritage-listed Block Arcade
Standing to stark contrast to its laneways, are the Melbourne arcades. The city is home to several beautiful arcades, including The Royal Arcade, the oldest arcade in Australia.
While it’s very easy to visit them all (and we suggest you do) our pick of the bunch is The Block Arcade.
Modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, The Block Arcade features a giant domed roof and tiled floor, filled with small boutique shops.
There is an interesting story behind why it’s called The Block Arcade. Back in the 19th-century, men and women would walk around this block of land. They would dress in their finest and take part in this peculiar but social event, which was referred to as ‘doing the block.’
For the complete rundown, read our guide to The Best Arcades in Melbourne.
Visit Flinders Street Station
Corner of Flinders St & Swanston St
Flinders Street Station is Melbourne’s most iconic landmark. Operating as the hub of the metropolitan train network, it welcomes thousands of workers into the city each morning.
The station is also Melbourne’s most popular meeting place. Phrases like “I’ll meet you under the clocks” refers to the clocks above the entrance that indicate train departures. And “I’ll meet you on the steps” refers to the staircase under the clocks. These are very common phrases among Melbournians.
While you can go inside Flinders Street Station, there isn’t much to see, unless you need to catch a train. Instead, stand on the diagonal corner outside of St Paul’s Cathedral for the perfect photo opportunity.
Ride the free City Circle Tram
Jump aboard the iconic heritage W-Class tram (it’s one of the old ones) and travel in a loop around the city centre. There is an onboard audio commentary, so you’ll get a rundown of everything you pass, and it’s entirely free!
You’ll pass city landmarks and major attractions, including Melbourne Museum, Parliament House, the State Library, Docklands, Federation Square and the aquarium.
Explore Chinatown and devour dumplings
During the Victorian Gold Rush (1851 onwards) thousands of Chinese immigrated to Melbourne in order to work on the goldfields.
They established several shops in the city centre, and this lead to the Chinatown we know today. Melbourne’s Chinatown holds the title of the world’s oldest Chinese settlement in the western world.
Taking up 2 whole blocks in the CBD, Chinatown is filled with Chinese restaurants and bars; If you want dumplings, this is the place to come! There is also a Chinese museum that details the role of Chinese miners and workers in early Melbourne.
Hang out in Federation Square
Corner of Flinder's St & Swanston St
Located on the most iconic intersection in Melbourne, Federation Square (also called Fed Square) is the city’s only official town square. Opened in 2002, one-hundred years after Australia’s federation from Britain, it is now a cultural hub.
At the time of construction, Federation Square was one of Melbourne’s most controversial constructions. Many critiqued it’s ‘army camouflage’ colours, claiming that it looked like a war-torn site. The designers even received hate-mail, and because of the back-lash were out of work for 6 months.
But now, Fed Square is an integral part of the city’s identity. Inside you’ll find the Ian Potter Gallery, the world’s first major gallery dedicated exclusively to Australian art.
And also ACMI – The Australian Centre for The Moving Image – a museum that documents film & TV throughout Australia’s history.
Get an aerial view from Eureka Tower
7 Riverside Quay, Southbank
Standing 297 metres (975 ft) above Melbourne’s city centre, is Eureka Tower, one of the tallest residential towers in the world. Named after the Eureka Stockade – a rebellion during the Victorian gold rush – the building features a giant golden crown and a red stripe that represents the blood-shed during the battle.
It’s here that you can access the Eureka Skydeck and enjoy an impressive panoramic view of the city. With 30 viewfinders you’ll be able to find Melbourne landmarks, and there are also binoculars if you want to zoom in.
Visit the dome at the State Library
328 Swanston St, City Centre
Melbourne has the claim to many of the ‘oldest’ attractions in Australia; the oldest public art gallery, oldest building, oldest arcade and more. We also have the oldest public library in Australia, and indeed one of the first libraries in the world.
The State Library of Victoria is smack bang in the middle of the City Centre- just opposite from Melbourne Central – and is filled with lots of important Melbourne artefacts. It’s the home of the armour that Ned Kelly wore during his final shoot out with police, as well as the diaries of Melbourne’s founders – John Batman and John Fawkner.
While there are several reading rooms, the one you visit for is the Dome. Opened in 1913, it’s an octagonal space, designed to hold over 1 million books and 600 readers. You’re welcome to wander around (keeping quiet of course) and even to ascend the surrounding the stairs for a beautiful view.
Discover the hidden bar behind a bookcase
In true Melbourne fashion, a lot of our best bars are hidden down laneways and behind non-descript doors. Melbournians really like things that are hard to find, and the harder to find the better!
- Fall From Grace, a cocktail bar hidden behind a bookcase.
- Berlin, a German inspired bar that requires you to ring a doorbell.
- Jungleboy, a tropical bar behind a fridge door.
Read more about the best hidden bars in Melbourne.
See art at the National Gallery of Victoria
Melbourne’s passion for art collection began back in 1851, during the Victorian Gold Rush. Melbourne had quickly become the largest and richest city in Australia, and there were calls for the government to establish a public art gallery.
The National Gallery of Victoria is the oldest and most visited gallery in Australia. It is home to over 70,000 works, stretching over multiple disciplines and even thousands of years – and the best part is, it’s (mostly) free.
You’re welcome to enter and explore, there is a lot to see for no entrance fee. And you’ll only need to pay to see the rotating big-name exhibition. Also, check out their stained glass ceiling, it’s the biggest in the world.
Get locked up at The Melbourne Gaol
The Old Melbourne Gaol operated from 1824 to 1929, and was the scene of 133 hangings, including that of the notorious gang leader, Ned Kelly. Now it’s open as a museum and allows you to walk through the cells, see the stocks and learn about its grisly past. They operate day tours, and also ghost tours.
Cruise along The Yarra River
Melbourne was built around The Yarra River. When the first settlers arrived, it provided fresh water for the town, making it a great place to establish themselves. It’s no good for drinking now, but it is good for taking a river cruise.
A cruise is a great way to see the city’s inner suburbs. Generally, you can decide to travel two ways, west and towards the ports, or east and head past the leafy gardens.
Heading east is recommended; you’ll pass the historic Herring Island and Como House, Birrarung Marr Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens, The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Rod Laver Arena, Toorak Mansions and ornate bridges.
See a show at the Comedy Festival
Once a year, Melbourne is filled with comedy shows, both by international stars and local up and comers. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is the largest stand-alone comedy festival in the world, with around 6,700 performances by 3,500 performers.
The town hall acts as a hub for the festival, and also where a lot of the big-name shows are held, including the Royal Gala.
The MICF is typically held in March, and continues through to April, running for about 4 weeks in total.
Drink 7 floors up at Rooftop Bar
Australia’s rooftop bar scene arguably began in Melbourne. Thrifty proprietors had empty roof space and saw the perfect opportunity. One of the original rooftop bars is simply called Rooftop Bar.
You’ll find it on the roof of curtain house in the middle of Swanston St. Hopefully you’ll fit in the elevator, otherwise it’s a casual 7 floors up the top. The view is fantastic, both during the day and night, and is a great way to enjoy a drink.
Summer is the best time to visit, but it’s accessible throughout the entire years.
See our guide to the best rooftop bars in the city.
Eat local goods at the Queen Victoria Market
At over 140 years old, The Queen Victoria Market is a staple of local Melbourne culture. Occupying 2 city blocks, the Vic Market (as the locals call it) houses around 600 different stores.
These include the meat & fish hall, delicatessen, fruit & vegetables, and specialty shopping. It’s a bustling environment, and worth just wandering around. We recommend grabbing a bite from the deli (go for the gözleme) and a coffee from Market Lane Coffee.
The Vic Market also host market food tours, which will give you an insider’s look and allow you to sample the wares of several stores.
Visit Australia's racing legend
11 Nicholson St, Carlton
Located in the iconic Carlton Gardens (one of the city’s best gardens,) The Melbourne Museum is a great way to immerse yourself in Australian history and interactive learning. There are many permanent exhibitions that are free of charge and also rotating paid exhibitions, showcasing displays from around the globe.
While at The Melbourne Museum you will be able to visit the forest gallery, with trees, fauna, live birds and reptiles. There is the dinosaur section, which features a skeleton of an Diprotodon – a giant wombat like creature. Along with a bunch of other installations, including a kids section.
Make sure to visit the preserved hide of Pharlap, Australia’s iconic racing horse. This horse ran through Australia’s depression period in the 1930’s, and won 37 of the 51 races he entered.
Walk the floors at Parliament House
Spring St, City Centre
At the end of Bourke St is Parliament House, where the Victorian Parliament meets to make legislation. Politics doesn’t seem like a big draw-card, but the building has a fascinating history.
They offer a free tour which runs several times daily. You’ll spend an hour or so wandering throughout the building with a very knowledgeable tour guide. As it was built just after Victoria’s gold rush, several of the ceilings are covered in gold. It was also where the federal parliament was held from 1901 to 1927, before moving permanently to Canberra.
Tourist attractions in the north
See the animals at The Melbourne Zoo
Elliott Avenue, Parkville
Modeled after the London Zoo, The Melbourne Zoo is the oldest Zoo in Australia, home to over 5000 animals from 320 species. If you want to see a Kangaroo or Koala, this is the closest place from the city centre.
Along with their Australian Outback section, there is also an elephant enclosure, butterfly kingdom, orangutan sanctuary, and reptile house. Throughout the year they also open during nights and even have concerts – their Summer Twilight sessions see pretty prominent artists play live music.
Wander the funky suburb of Fitzroy
Each suburb in Melbourne has its own distinct flair. One of the liveliest, and historical, is Fitzroy. Located approximately 3km from the city centre, Fitzroy is Melbourne’s oldest suburb.
It’s known for its street art, music scene and general culture of bohemianism. The main street is Brunswick Street (not to be confused with the suburb of the same name) and it’s filled with restaurants, bars, cafes, and clothing stores. There is a strong vegan scene here, with restaurants like Vegie Bar and Transformer.
Tourist attractions in the east
Drink wine at The Yarra Valley
Do you like wine? We thought so. You’ll be spoilt for choice at The Yarra Valley. This regional area is home to hundreds of wineries, notably producing Chardonnay, sparkling wine and Pinot noir.
It’s a very popular tourist destination, welcoming over 3 million visitors every year. You can visit these wineries, try samples, and also even buy a few bottles. There are also some non-wine makers out near the Yarra Valley. Other small makers producing gin, vodka and other spirits. Four Pillars & Alchemy are worth noting.
Avoid driving after some drinks, and take a tour of The Yarra Valley instead.
Visit Cook's Cottage at Fitzroy Gardens
Cook’s Cottage is technically the oldest building in Australia. Built in 1755 in the English village of Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, it was constructed by James and Grace Cook. Their son, also James, is responsible for the first recorded European contact with the east coast of Australia. You might know him better as Captain Cook.
In 1934 Cook’s cottage was deconstructed and transported to Melbourne, where it was rebuilt in Fitzroy Gardens. After purchasing a ticket, you’re able to explore the cottage with an audio guide. While you’re here, it’s also worth exploring the Fitzroy gardens, they’re 64 acres of lush greenery right next to the CBD.
Watch some footy at The MCG
Melbourne, and indeed Australia, loves sports – and the Melbourne Cricket Ground is the sport’s capital of the nation. Commonly referred to as ‘The G’ it is the largest stadium in the southern hemisphere and the 10th largest in the world.
Founded in 1853 by the Melbourne Cricket Club, the MCG has since hosted the 1956 Summer Olympics, 2 cricket world cups and the commonwealth games. It regularly has AFL matches (Australian Football League) and hosts the AFL Grand Final every September.
Tourist attractions in the west
Cruise down all 243 kms of the Great Ocean Road
Hugging the coast of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road stretches for 243 kilometres (151 miles.) Built between 1919 and 1932, it was constructed in memory of Australian soldiers lost during World War 1, making it the world’s longest war memorial.
It is now one of Victoria’s premier tourist attractions. The road travels through rainforests and beaches, including the towns of Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell. Along the way you’ll see the Twelve Apostles, a collection of 7 limestone stacks (wait! There aren’t 12?) some standing about 50 metres high (160 feet.)
Make your visit stress-free, and book a tour of the Great Ocean Road.
Tourist attractions in the south
Visit the beachside suburb of St Kilda
When it comes to Australian beaches, Melbourne isn’t the place that comes to mind, but we do have St Kilda, a beachside precinct about 6km from the city centre. Here you’ll find a dining district, beachside bars, a theme park and adorable fairy penguins.
Not far from Acland St is Luna Park, a historic amusement park built in 1912. Based on the park in Coney Island in New York, Luna Park is filled with rides, including a roller coaster that skirts the park’s circumference. It’s great for kids.
Head to the beach, and onto the pier, and you’ll come to the fairy penguin viewing platform. You’ll see them waddle up to their nests in the rocks, at around sunset when they return from a day of fishing. They are adorable, just remember; no touching or flash photography.
Wander around The Royal Botanic Gardens
In 1844, Charles La Trobe, the colony’s first Lieutenant Governor, received a request from the Melbourne council asking that there should be parks close to the town, ‘where they could conveniently take recreation therein after their daily labor.’
The 500 acres that La Trobe reserved included Royal Park, The Domain, Fitzroy Gardens, Fawkner Park and The Royal The Botanic Gardens.
The Royal Botanic Gardens is now one of Melbourne’s finest attractions; stretching over 89 acres, it is filled with 50,000 individual plants representing 8,500 different species.
There is no entry fee, and you’re welcome to wander around and explore the gardens; there is a lot to see!
For a more detailed guide, see our list of The Best Gardens in Melbourne.
Pay respects at The Shrine Of Remembrance
Birdwood Ave, South Yarra
The Shrine of Remembrance (commonly referred to as The Shrine) is a war memorial built to honour the men that fought in World War I. Now it functions as a memorial for all Australians who have fought in war.
The Shrine was built during the great depression, and relied heavily on public contributions to be funded. £160,000 out of a total of £250,000; was donated by the public. This equates to around £ 9.4 million by today’s standards.
As a visitor, you’re able to visit the exhibitions that document Australia’s presence in world conflict, housed a cathedral-like underground chamber beneath The Shrine.