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With vibrant street art, cool vintage shops and a famously cosmopolitan edge, you’ll find plenty of fun, cool and unique things to do in Melbourne, Australia.
Some of the Melbourne attractions you can expect to enjoy include gorgeous city architecture, hidden laneway cafes and interesting art galleries.
I spent two weeks exploring Australia’s second-largest city on my most recent visit and didn’t get bored once! Here are my top 15 Melbourne activities for your trip plus tips on finding accommodation.
1. Laneway Cafes
Melbourne is well known for its amazing coffee and stylish, independent cafes (apparently thanks to the early Italian settlers). You won’t have to look too far to find your caffeine fix, but tucked-away Degraves Street and Centre Place, both in the city, are especially worth a visit.
2. Royal Botanic Gardens
If you’re craving a slice of nature, head to Melbourne’s beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, just two kilometres from the city centre. You can enjoy a lakeside picnic, see over 8,500 different plant species from around the world, or enjoy coffee or lunch with a view in The Terrace cafe.
3. The Great Ocean Road
A must-do road trip from Melbourne is the famous Great Ocean Road. Allow at least three days if possible, as this 243-kilometre stretch between Torquay and Allansford is packed with natural attractions.
From the towering Twelve Apostles limestone stacks to fun surf towns like Lorne, you won’t run out of fun things to do and see.
Make sure you check out my Great Ocean Road Drive Itinerary to plan your adventure!
4. Queen Victoria Market
The sprawling seven-hectare Queen Victoria Market is the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, and dates back over 140 years.
Visit on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday for food, clothing, gifts and more (including evenings during the summer), or Tuesdays and Thursdays for fresh produce and speciality shopping.
While Melbourne is set on Port Phillip Bay rather than the ocean, you can still spend a fun day at the beach.
St Kilda Beach is the most well known, with cafes, nearby Luna Park and plenty of youngsters strutting down the promenade. Try Brighton Beach for the famous painted beach huts, or Black Rock Beach instead.
6. Melbourne Skydeck
Melbourne Skydeck (previously called Eureka Skydeck) on Riverside Quay in Southbank has to be my favourite attraction. The 360-degree views of the city from the 285 metre-high viewing platform are absolutely breath taking.
Arriving just before sunset and watching the city light up is particularly pretty, although a bit crowded.
7. Melbourne City Architecture
Compared to the more modern-looking cities like Brisbane and Perth, Melbourne still has plenty of older, character-filled buildings, so make sure you take a wander around the city to take it all in.
Be sure to check out Flinders Street Station as well as the beautiful State Library of Victoria. For a more modern touch, head to Federation Square, home to restaurants, bars and multicultural events.
8. Phillip Island
This popular getaway off the Mornington Peninsula is best known for its population of little penguins. To watch them waddle in from the sea to find a bed for the night, buy a ticket for the very cute Penguin Parade.
Phillip Island is also worth visiting for its rugged coastal scenery and nature. If you’re travelling on a budget, click the link below to check out the very modern and eco-friendly hostel I stayed at.
9. Street Art
Almost as famous as its coffee culture is Melbourne’s colourful street art. You can’t help but stumble upon it, especially in funky suburbs like Fitzroy, but popular spots include Hosier Lane and Union Lane.
10. Melbourne Docklands
Once the main industrial and docking area of the city, Melbourne Docklands is now home to modern restaurants, bars and shops at Waterfront City, as well as public art and promenades at New Quay.
11. Dandenong Ranges
A popular day trip from Melbourne is the Dandenong Ranges, less than an hour away from the city. You’ll find quaint country villages, hiking trails and amazing views like the one below.
12. South Bank Art Galleries
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV International) houses thousands of pieces of artwork and has a very snazzy stained-glass ceiling! The nearby Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) is also worth visiting, with its iconic building and range of exhibitions.
13. Wilsons Promontory
Another great multi-day trip from Melbourne is Wilsons Promontory, a beautiful coastal national park to the south-east of the city.
With miles of hiking trails, campsites, wildlife and lovely beaches, ‘The Prom’ is ideal for nature lovers. It’s also the most southern part of mainland Australia.
Here are a couple of accommodation options for Wilsons Prom, in the nearby town of Foster.
Prom Central Caravan Park: This caravan park in Foster has camping sites and bungalows as well as a laundry and free parking.
Wilsons Promontory Motel: All rooms at this 3* motel in Foster have fridges, flat-screen TVs, coffee makers, free Wi-Fi and furnished patios. There’s also an on-site restaurant and bar.
14. Eat & Drink in Funky Suburbs
To get a better feel for the city, beyond the tourist hotspots, head slightly out of the centre into the arty Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy and neighbouring area Collingwood.
The two main streets are Brunswick Street and Smith Street, where you’ll find a range of cafes, bars and restaurants to enjoy a meal or drinks.
15. Shopping in Melbourne
If you’re feeling inspired by all the hip Melburnians (I felt quite the scruff arriving in my backpacker shorts and t-shirt!), head to the city for some retail therapy. Popular spots include Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne Central and the Block Arcade.
Accommodation in Melbourne
I’d highly recommend booking your Melbourne accommodation in advance, particularly if you’re visiting in summer or school holidays. I almost had to spend a night in my car when I arrived off the boat from Tasmania with nothing arranged!
To browse through hotels, apartments and hostels, use the HotelsCombined search box below. They compare prices across all major booking providers.
There are absolutely loads of fun hostels in Melbourne to choose from! Here are a couple of recommendations.
Space Hotel: This modern hostel in Melbourne CBD has a fitness centre, rooftop terrace with a hot tub, cinema room and bar! There’s also free Wi-Fi, air-con, heating, lockers and that all important plug socket near the bed.
The Nunnery: I loved staying at this quirky, converted nunnery in buzzing, arty Fitzroy! It’s close to lots of funky street art, cool bars and cafes and has free bikes and Wi-Fi, a terrace and a paid airport shuttle service.
I hope you have fun discovering the many amazing things to do in Melbourne! If you’re thinking of moving to Melbourne, make sure you read my Melbourne lifestyle overview to learn more about the city.
Lisa Bull, founder of Dreaming of Down Under, has been living in Australia as a British expat since 2015. After travelling to every state and territory in Australia and living in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, Lisa knows from first-hand experience the best destinations to visit in Australia and the best budget travel tips. Her guides on this blog have been read by over 700k readers and helped thousands of people achieve their dream of living in or travelling Australia.