12 Best Things to Do in Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is a beautiful open book in that there are so many different cultures and places to go and see you can fill your travel guide quite easily with bookmarks. One of the busiest cities of the world, Melbourne in Australia is a fusion of all the best experiences that all tourists crave. From world-class dining to sports events to exhibitions of curated art, Melbourne has a lot to offer. Get ready for a pandemonium of activity and entertainment as you set foot in Melbourne!

Apart from the city itself, Melbourne presents a very good dining and coffee culture, from the traditional Italian restaurant on Lygon St, Fitzroy, fancy places by the Yarra River in Southbank, Asian joints downtown, delicious Greek food in the Greek Precinct, local pubs in Carlton and Brunswick and your go-to patisserie in North Melbourne.

Coming here and doing the prescribed sights, you’d be forgiven for thinking Melbourne has no suburbs that aren’t toffee-nosed beachy ones, or no real Australian context. Sure, laneways are great, St Kilda and Brighton and a quick whiz around the wineries down on the Peninsula or to Yarra Glen is great, but how are they peculiarly Australian?

Melbourne is a city bustling with activities all year round! Melbourne has great architecture, historic homes and excellent museums and art galleries. There is always a good show at the heritage listed Princess Theatre. You can catch a show of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Princess Theatre. Melbourne is Australia's coffee capital, so make sure to have coffee at one of the famous cafes. There are spectacular daily events, fetes and shows, and a dedicated Exhibition Centre with never a dull moment.

Melbourne also has one of the largest casinos in the southern hemisphere, and continental imports to keep your food and wine fixes satisfied, with some of the finest wines and wineries in the world a short drive away. If you get lost ask a local for assistance. Melbournians are very friendly and will help you find your way. Do your research before you visit Melbourne. What do you want to see? Animals, museums, shopping, food, penguins, beaches, mountains … Melbourne has it all, but so does the rest of Australia.

Here is a list of the things you should definitely do in Melbourne.

1. Get a Bird's Eye View on Hot Air Balloon over the CBD

With towering skyscrapers dotting a glimmering skyline, Melbourne is one of the most beautiful cities of the world. Before you go exploring the city, why don't you take a sneak peek at the city's highlights from up above? Float peacefully through the sky on a hot air balloon ride as you enjoy aerial views of the suburbs, the MCG, the Shrine of Remembrance, the Yarra River, etc.

Some hot air balloon services also include a delicious champagne breakfast in air. Often, these hot air balloon services have professionals to take stunning photographs of you among the clouds. It is a very memorable experience.

Do you like your food to have ethnic character? Well, Melbourne is known for its food, and that’s not without reason. Pizza, Sushi, Banh-Mi, Laksa, Kebab, Falafel, Gozleme, Schnitzel, Dim Sims or a well cooked aged Porterhouse and salad, its all on the menu. There are even places which cater exclusively for modern Australian meals, just in case you get homesick.

Fine Dining? Walk across the Yarra to the Casino and sit in the Conservatory. Enjoy a 110 dollar all-you-can eat buffet at one of our local five star hotels.

2. St Kilda Beach

Take a tram to St Kilda Beach. In the sunny season there are plenty of soft sandy beaches to take full advantage of, as you might guess, the closer they are to central melbourne, the more frequented and less quality they are, but there are still some fabulous beaches to see and visit. It’s a great day out. Have a picnic on the beach or eat at one of it’s excellent cafes. At night you can see fairy penguins near the pier.

3. Lose Yourself Among Art in National Gallery of Victoria

It is not just about the beaches, right? The National Gallery in Victoria is a great spot for some unique and quirky images, as you take images, of images. There are some really funky and modern pieces of art in the gallery, and you could get creative with how you capture them.

The National Gallery of Victoria is Australia's oldest museum, and arguably the most popular one. It houses some of the world’s best historical and contemporary artwork, photography, antiquities, sculptures and artifacts as a part of its highly celebrated permanent collection.

You can spend a whole day admiring art at the National Gallery of Victoria, as it showcases over seventy thousand works of art. Sometimes the National Gallery of Victoria also offers impressive temporary exhibitions.

4. Ride a Dirt Bike in Dandenong

If you are the adventurous type, why don't you try dirt bike riding? You can easily find dirt bikes for sale in Melbourne or you can even take them on rent. Melbourne also has plenty of dirt bike trails that you can hit for an adventurous day out. You can also head to the Broadmeadows Motocross Park or the Dandenong Motorcycle Club to ride a dirt bike.

It is the perfect adrenaline-packed getaway for tourists who want a respite from the hustle-bustle of the city.

5. Take a trip to the Melbourne Zoo

The Melbourne Zoo is one of the major attractions of the city. It is home to over three hundred vibrant species of animals, reptiles, birds and insects from all parts of the world! The fantastic array of animals in the Melbourne Zoo includes Sumatran Tigers, Australian Fur Seals, Asian Elephants, Gorillas, Kangaroos and Penguins, among many others.

The zoo offers many experiences for visitors like Close-up encounters, Tiger Behind the Scenes and Australian Wildlife Tour for which you can book tickets well in advance. Even though it is the oldest zoo in Australia, the Melbourne Zoo is continually changing to include new fun-filled experiences.

One of their most famous attractions is Dino Park, an exciting new experience featuring life-like dinosaur animatronics that will take you back to prehistoric times,

6. Visit the Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance is a National War Memorial in Victoria. It honours the sacrifice and service of Australian men and women who served in World War I. Known for its architectural style inspired by the Greek Parthenon, the Shrine of Remembrance is more than just a static monument.

The organizing committee of the Shrine of Remembrance organizes various tours and events throughout the year to engage the visitors. You will leave the Shrine of Remembrance with invaluable insights into the lives of these citizens who served in the armed conflicts that involved Australia.

7. Take a Leisurely Stroll in the Royal Botanic Gardens

If you are a nature-enthusiast, then a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens is a must-do for you! With over eight thousand plant species spread over thirty-six hectares of zen gardens, tranquil lakes and opulent lawns, this place is like paradise on earth. You can spend the day here peacefully walking among beautiful plants and trees, connecting with nature.

You can also book a punt cruise on Ornamental Lake. While you are there, make sure you don't miss the multitude of vibrant flowers in the Tropical Greenhouse.

8. Admire the Street Art at Flinders Street railway station

Any visit to Melbourne is incomplete without exploring the internationally acclaimed stencil work and funky graffiti on the streets of the city. The elaborate street art here has earned Melbourne a spot in the list of the street art capitals of the world. Take a fun outing to Hozier Lane (this city's street art centre) and explore every surface in its spray-painted glory.

These murals showcase so much talent that they are excellent living art exhibitions. To see more of the city’s best street art, you can also head to Centre Place, Flinders Court, Union Lane, Presgrave Place, Russell Place, Croft Alley and Caledonian Lane.

9. 360 degree view of Melbourne from Eureka Skydeck

Eureka Tower is a popular tourist destination because of the viewing deck where people can get a 360 degree view of Melbourne. It’s in Southbank, which has a promenade with restaurants and the Crown Casino. It’s right across the Yarra River (crossing the Evan Walker Bridge) from the Flinders Street Station, the main Metro Trains station. It’s close to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre so you can visit after a long day there.

10. St Kilda Botanical Gardens

Do you like greenery? Well we have a place called the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, a series of 36 hectares all built up with paths and foliage, flowers, ferns and fruits. You walk out of the city from Flinders St Station, head south, cross into the Alexandra Gardens and you’re practically there. It’s that close to the city.

11. Queen Victoria Market

Do you like a market? Well, aside from the norms of overtly large shopping centres like most countries have, we have your specialty food markets which sell fresh fish, meat and fruit and vegetables, almost in every suburb, or at least within easy driving distance.

Melbourne is a foodies Paradise. Melbourne has wonderful food. Try Italian in Lygon Street, Thai or VietNamese in most suburbs, Chinese food in Chinatown, and beautiful seafood at any of the beach suburbs. It is home to one of the world’s most renowned restaurants, Attica, in the suburb of Ripponlea.

Public transport is great in Melbourne. The best way to get around is by trams, buses and trains. Get a MYKI pass when you arrive and use it for your travel. Melbourne is known as our most congested city … but it’s nowhere near as congested as say Manila, New York, or London.

12. Alpine feel in winter down the Yarra River

Seek out the remnant places where you can get a feel for the Australian bush, what the settlers cleared to make way for the city and endless suburbs. There are still some marvellous wild places (or recovered landscapes) left, and thanks to the Yarra Valley Parklands (a whole bunch of bush parks along the Yarra River, connected by a major walking/cycling track) they are reasonably accessible, especially if you hire a bike.

For a shorter ride (or walk, of course) you can put bikes on the train and get off at Eltham - the Diamond Creek Path passes within 100m of the platform with an underbridge spitting you out almost on top of the Trail. As long as you head southeastish, you’ll travel through Eltham.

Past Eltham Lower Park (and the miniature trains!), over the Yarra on a magnificent footbridge, get the choice to turn left or right - right towards Templestowe and an idyllic bush-track experience. Left is towards the City via a 100+ hectare park called Westerfolds, which offers a great loop circuit if you don’t mind a hill or two. Lots of kangaroo spotting at Westerfolds too.

If you go the wrong way on Diamond Creek Trail, you’ll end up in Diamond Creek. But the ride will be lovely. Also intersecting with the Yarra Trail at various points are the Merri Creek Trail and the Plenty River Trail, as well as the Capital City Trail, so hiring a bike is an awesome way to get a feel for Melbourne.

If you have a car, the true wild places are possible. Out here in the north east, Kinglake National Park comes to mind, seeing and hearing a lyrebird is an amazing experience but even an hour walking the bush tracks is a special experience. Keeping in mind that 10 years ago this month the whole area up there was devastated by horrendous fires (and there has been fire through since) and it is a landscape in recovery.

Closer to Melbourne, Plenty Gorge Park offers a nice introduction to our outdoors and several wonderful walks (and you are pretty much guaranteed a mass kangaroo sighting.) Seeing kangaroos bounding in the wild is pretty special even when you’ve seen it a million times before.

You can find snow around Warburton, a short drive from Melbourne, or go a bit further to Marysville, which can have a lovely alpine feel in the winter. It’s arguably better for bushwalking than the summer, no risk of fires. You maybe can’t do the same summer activities, but the other stuff can be a lot of fun. You can even take a kayak down the Yarra River at night!

If you keep your eyes open, you might have the most exciting experiences of your life in Melbourne.
Kalyan Panja