With so much on offer in Melbourne, it can be difficult to know where to start. Do you soak up some culture in one of Melbourne’s many museums, or some sunshine in its public parks? Below we’ve gathered together some of the city’s most unmissable locations to make planning your trip a breeze (a nice, warm, south coast breeze at that).
1. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Opened in 1846, the Royal Botanic Gardens spans 94 acres and displays over 50,000 individual plants. The gardens bring together native and non-native species, including a collection of rare and threatened specimens. It’s free to enter and offers visitors a tranquil haven away from the city centre, as well as activities such as punting on the lake, and a number of café kiosks to grab some picnic grub.
Image Credit: @royalbotanicgardensvic
2. City Circle Tram
If you want to see the sights of Melbourne without the leg work, hop on the free City Circle Tram. This iconic heritage vehicle provides audio commentary on major attractions and landmarks such as the Melbourne Museum, Parliament House, and Federation Square. It’s perfect for hopping on and off, while the 60 minutes it takes to make a full loop offers plenty of time to get to know the city. Additionally, the tram provides tourists with free maps and information leaflets, ensuring a smooth ride at every stage of your journey.
Image Credit: @yarratrams
3. Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market has been a hub of activity since 1878. It’s a massive site, covering over 17 acres, making it the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s one of Melbourne’s last Victorian era markets still in operation, welcoming a whopping 10 million visitors a year. During the summer months it hosts a night market packed with bars and live entertainment. Stalls sell everything from food to handmade jewellery, so there’s something for everyone. You can find a list of all the shops and stalls here.
Image Credit: @vicmarket
4. Eureka Tower Skydeck
Once the tallest residential building in the world, Eureka Tower offers stunning 360° views across Melbourne. Located on the 88th floor, the Skydeck is the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing platform at 285 metres. For those with a head for heights, Skydeck has created The Edge, a cube that slides out from the side of the building and suspends you above the city. In a terrifying twist, the opaque walls and floor of the cube turn clear once it’s fully extended. After that you’ve definitely earned a drink in the exclusive Eureka 89 Dining, located on the floor above.
Image Credit: @eureka_skydeck
5. Cook’s Cottage
It’s not everyday that you can visit a house that’s travelled halfway around the world. Originally constructed in North Yorkshire, England, in 1755, the building was moved brick by brick to Melbourne in 1934. The reason? This inconspicuous cottage was built by the parents of Captain James Cook, the famous navigator who made numerous voyages to Australia from 1768 to 1779. While Captain Cook probably never lived in the house, it’s certain that he visited it. Costumed volunteers will help you explore this historic oddity and its adjoining English cottage garden.
Image Credit: @melbournetouristguide
6. Old Melbourne Gaol
Take a trip into the more grisly aspects of Melbourne’s past at the Old Gaol. In operation from 1845 to 1924, the Gaol housed some of Australia’s most notorious criminals. Among them was Ned Kelly, the outlaw who has since been dubbed Australia’s Robin Hood, and who was executed in the Gaol in 1880. Tours are available throughout the day, but stop by for a nighttime tour to hunt out the spirits of the inmates who never left…
Image Credit: @oldmelbgaol
7. Berlin Bar
Cold War Germany may not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking for a cocktail, but Berlin Bar provides just that. Using imaginative decor to transport you to another time and place, the Bar offers two seating zones: East and West. The opulence of the West is countered by the Communist propaganda and austerity of the East, mirroring the division of Berlin. Rather than gimmicky, the decor is supported by a range of excellent and imaginative cocktails. Frequently listed amongst the world’s best bars, this is one location that’s not to be missed.
Image credit: @berlinbarmelbourne
8. St Kilda Pier
Head down to Port Phillip Bay to breathe in some sea air on this picturesque pier. It’s been offering panoramic views of Melbourne since 1853, and now provides a space for strolling, cycling, and rollerblading. There’s plenty of kiosks offering al fresco snacks, and a ferry service is also available to Williamstown. It’s also the ideal spot to watch the penguins and native water rats that live around this part of the city.
Image Credit: @littlebluestkilda
9. Degraves Street and Centre Place
Melbourne’s laneways are hives of activity, filled with pint-sized bars, boutiques, and hole-in-the-wall cafes. Ever changing street art is also on offer, from paste-ups to murals. Degraves Street was one of the original laneways, and continues to offer a vibrant range of shops and bars. Head over to nearby Centre Place to continue your laneway tour, or go underground to Campbell Arcade.
Image Credit: @visitmelbourne
10. Carlton Gardens
These historic gardens are a World Heritage Site located at the edge of Melbourne’s sleek Central Business District. It’s home to the Royal Exhibition Building and Melbourne Museum, as well as an Imax Cinema. A variety of Australian and European plants offer plenty of shady spots for picnics, while fountains and lakes provide some relaxing views. Carlton Gardens are also home to brushtail possums, kookaburras, and grey-headed flying foxes, so make sure to bring a camera. Escape from the city for a bit to this urban oasis.
Image Credit: @royalexhibitionbuilding