There’s no shortage of things to do in Melbourne. Here’s our list of the city’s best highlights.
Things to do in the CBD
Admire the art at Australia's most popular gallery
The National Gallery of Victoria is Australia’s oldest and most popular gallery. In the wake of Victoria’s Gold Rush (1851), the NGV was established in 1859 due to Victoria’s newfound wealth.
It’s home to permanent displays of Australian art, as well as international pieces dating back to the 14th century. A large part of it is free, otherwise, they have major international displays that rotate throughout the year.
Captain a boat down The Yarra River
Collins Landing Wharf
We don’t recommend swimming in the Yarra river, but we do recommend hiring a boat and setting sail. With ‘On A Boat’ you can rent a boat, put on your captain’s hat and sail down The Yarra. You don’t need a license, and you can BYO food & drinks. Just make sure the skipper stays sober.
Explore the State Library of Victoria
As the oldest public library in Australia, The State Library of Victoria is filled with lots to check out. The library is home to over 2,000,000 books and 350,000 photographs, including diary entries from the city’s founders, John Batman and John Fawkner.
Make sure you make it to the Latrobe Reading Room, with its very impressive dome.
Play your mates at pop culture inspired mini-golf
Remember playing putt-putt when you were younger? Holey Moley has brought it back, this time with holes inspired by pop-culture – think Game of Thrones, The Simpsons & more. Plus they have a fully decked-out cocktail bar. You’ll find a 27 hole course in the city centre, and another one down at Crown Casino.
Drink beer & play retro arcade games
Retro gaming has surged the past couple of years, with gamers finding great nostalgia in playing their childhood games. Bartronica takes that fun and combines it with drinks. This retro gaming bar is filled with pinball machines, arcade games and classic shooters – like Time Crisis.
Grab a drink and challenge your mates to a game.
Have a laugh at a comedy club
Watch the flames at Southbank
Who doesn’t like a fire show? Visit the Southbank promenade after dark to enjoy the gas brigades fire show. 8 massive towers line the river outside Crown Casino, and every hour they shoot massive flames into the sky. It’s a great thing to witness, and it’s totally free! Locals will refer to it as ‘the flames.’
See the sights from a rooftop bar
See the sights from a rooftop bar
Melbourne opened Australia’s first rooftop bar back in the 1960’s. It was the Pamplemousse (French for grapefruit) and was ‘where you’d find food with a world of difference.’ It’s no longer around, but Melbourne now has rooftop bars all over the place. The most popular one is literally called ‘Rooftop Bar,’ but there are several more to visit.
Be wowed by these delicious desserts
Adelphi Hotel, 187 Flinders Lane, City Centre
Verse your mates at ten-pin bowling
Remember playing ten pin bowling as a kid? We do, but it was in a pretty dated venue. Strike isn’t anything like that. Along with bowling, they have a bar, some good tunes, and also have some great specials throughout the week.
Swim in a pool that hangs over Flinders Ln
187 Flinders Lane, City Centre
Walk down Flinder’s Lane and you’ll see a pool that extends 2 metres above the street. This is the Adelphi Pool. The pool is open throughout the year and maintains a nice 22-degree heat. While it is free for guests staying at the hotel, it will cost for visitors. But keep an eye out for special events that happen from time to time.
Indulge in a long-held Melbourne tradition
Melbourne’s tea rooms started in the late 19th century, as a more acceptable form of socialising, rather than the debauchery at the local pubs.
There are several restaurants and hotels in Melbourne that still continue this tradition. The most widely recognised is The Hopetoun Team Rooms, established in 1889. But you can also visit The Windsor or The Langham for your high tea fix.
See the sharks, crocodiles & penguins
With over 10,000 different critters, you can see a lot of ocean life at the Sea Life Aquarium. There are penguins, rays and even crocodiles. With 12 zones, there is a lot to see.
Devour some dumplings in Chinatown
Melbourne’s Chinatown is the longest-running continuous Chinese settlement in the world. It takes up several blocks in the city centre, and is filled with heaps of Chinese restaurants. You’ll also find several bars – Berlin, Manchuria, Union Electric – as well as plenty of Asian desserts and bubble tea. The Chinese Museum is also worth a visit – it documents Chinese settlement during Melbourne’s gold rush.
Wander the cells of the Old Melbourne Gaol
377 Russell St, City Centre
Ned Kelly was Australia’s most notorious gang leader in Australia’s history. After a shoot out with police, he was hanged at the Old Melbourne Gaol. The gaol was the scene of 132 other hangings, up until 1929 when it ceased operation. If you go there now, you can wander around the old cells, see the stocks and even take part in a night-time ghost tour.
Visit the cat cafe
30 Guildford Ln, CBD
Cats & coffee, that’s the promise of Melbourne’s (and indeed Australia’s) first cat cafe. Originating in Taiwan, they gained popularity in Japan, as a way for visitors to spend time with some friendly felines. They eventually found their way to Melbourne, and now you too, can sip on a latte and pat one of their resident cats. There is a small entrance fee, and bookings are necessary.
Catch some theatre
We love a good show, and there are plenty to see in Melbourne; from lavish musicals to small independent one-person shows. grand theatres like The Princess Theatre, Regent Theatre and Her Majesty’s Theatre all showcase performances from massive production companies. While smaller venues like The Butterfly Club have independent shows, often from just a single person.
See a list of current shows in Melbourne.
Spend an evening at Meyer's Place
Bourke St, City Centre
Melbourne is the city of laneways, and the city is full of them. Many are covered in street art, filled with hidden bars & restaurants. While we recommend visiting all of them, our favourite is Meyer’s Place. At the top end of Bourke St, this laneway has a fantastic vibe, plus it’s home to some awesome venues.
There’s Pizza Pizza Pizza, a New York pizza joint with a secret bar out the back. Right next door is San Telmo, masters of Argentian BBQ. And across the laneway is Loop Roof, a luscious rooftop bar that stretches over 2 levels.
Enjoy Melbourne's live music scene
From Prince doing spontaneous shows at Bennet’s Lane, to Lady Gaga dancing on the bar at the Cherry Bar, Melbourne has some great musical stories. The city has spawned bands like AC/DC, Jet and & Crowded house – and it continues to deliver. With a strong music scene there are plenty of opportunities to catch a gig. See a list of upcoming gigs here.
Things to do in the north
Try this mind blowing escape room
54 Moreland Rd, Brunswick
Escape rooms started popping up in Melbourne a couple of years ago, but Ukiyo blows most of them out of the water. It’s difficult to describe, but it’s 50% escape room, 50% video game, and 100% immersive.
You’re tasked with helping this young prince discover what happened to his best friends. The Prince, who you engage with throughout the challenge, talks to you using artificial intelligence. And it’s all set in a beautiful Japanese setting. It’s one of our favourite things to do in Melbourne.
Wander the funky suburb of Fitzroy
It’s no surprise that Melbourne’s oldest suburb is now one of its liveliest. Fitzroy is Melbourne’s bohemian capital, with bustling restaurants, cafes, and bars – it has a strong vegan theme. There is plenty to see just by traveling up Brunswick St. The Everleigh and Naked for Satan are our favourite bars there. Jump on public transport and it’s only
Things to do in the east
Watch a game of footy at 'The G'
Brunton Ave, Richmond
AFL is the nation’s sport, and it was born here, in Victoria. Over 100 years later, it is played all across the country but it still calls Melbourne home. Head along to The Melbourne Cricket Ground – referred to as the MCG, or just simply The G – to catch a game. If there aren’t any games on, you can take a tour of the grounds or visit the sports museum.
Visit the wineries at The Yarra Valley
Head 32kms out of Melbourne and you’ll find The Yarra Valley, Victoria’s original winemaking region. With over 70 wineries dotted throughout the valley, it’s perfect for a vineyard crawl. Don’t want to drive? Book a wine tour and be chauffeured around to sample some of the valley’s best drops.
Things to do in the south
Wander the most beautiful gardens in Melbourne
Birdwood Ave, South Yarra
Back in 1844, Melbourne’s first Lieutenant Governor, decided that several plots of land should be reserved for parkland. Now, The Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the city’s greatest assets.
Filled with 50,000 individual plants representing 8,500 different species, the botanic gardens are free to visit and a great way to spend the afternoon.
Join a screening at this immersive cinema experience
This isn’t like a normal cinema. All you’re given is the secret location and the theme; the rest is all a surprise. Underground Cinema pop-ups throughout Melbourne and shows classic films, surrounded by theatrics that tie into the movie. Live jazz, SWAT teams, and real camels; these guys go all out.
Visit the beachside suburb of St Kilda
Melbourne’s most popular beachside suburb is filled with things to do. Whether you lounge by the seaside, ride the roller coaster at Luna Park, or visit one of the many restaurants on Acland Street. Come by after sunset to see the adorable fairy penguins come home to roost on the pier.
Devour a classic dim-sim at the South Melbourne Markets
326 Coventry St, South Melbourne
The humble sim-sim was invented in Chinatown, in Melbourne’s CBD back in the 1940’s. Since then it has become an Australian staple. It’s a dumpling-style snack, featuring minced meat (usually pork) encased in a pastry wrapper, and then either steamed or deep-fried. To try one, visit South Melbourne Market Dim-Sims; they’ve been perfecting the recipe for over 60 years.
Take a jog (or walk) around Melbourne's most popular track
Originally built as a horse-riding track, The Tan is Melbourne’s most popular running track. Stretching for 3.8 km it runs the outskirts of The Royal Botanical Gardens. It’s a peaceful path to walk, or join all the other Melbournians and run a couple of laps.