With a reputation for being one of the world’s most livable cities, Melbourne is a must for travelers heading to Australia. Whether you want to experience Australia’s food scene, drink excellent coffee, visit world-class art galleries, or sit on a beach, Melbourne’s got you covered.
This city has so much for you to do that there’s no chance of growing bored. What it does mean though is that you’ll need to allow yourself enough time to ensure you cover all the best places to visit in Melbourne. A week ought to do the trick, but to make the most of it you’re going to need a rock solid Melbourne itinerary. Luckily, that’s what we have here. So let our guide take you through what to do in Melbourne in 7 days to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.
Best Time to Visit Melbourne
If you are looking for nice weather without the tourist crowds, autumn and spring, from April to May and September to November respectively, is the best time to visit Melbourne.
High season for Melbourne is in summer, when there’s one festival or event after another. Between December and March is when you can expect Australia’s trademark hot and sunny weather. So if you are sightseeing at this time of year, protect yourself from the sun and stay hydrated. It’s best to book in advance in summer as the city hosts a lot of big sporting events like cricket and The Australian Open, as well as music festivals and more.
Winters in Melbourne by comparison are generally cold and quiet. It won’t be downright freezing, but weather between June and August is pretty cool and grey. If you’re looking for low season specials, this is the time of year you’ll find them.
How to Get Around Melbourne
With so much to see and do in Melbourne, it’s important you understand the options you have for getting around the city. Melbourne is a big city and it’s unlikely you’ll want to walk beyond the city centre, so learning about public transport is key when visiting Melbourne.
As much as locals like to complain about Melbourne’s public transport network, it’s actually quite good. The city is connected by trains, trams, and buses, which combine together to make almost any part of Melbourne accessible. All of the transport uses the Myki contactless card for tickets, which can be bought at select stations and all 7-Elevens, plus there’s now an Android app you can also use.
Melbourne’s trams are mostly focused around the city’s Central Business District (CBD) and the inner suburbs, there’s even a Free Tram Zone that lets you travel for free within the CBD. The city’s train network is made up of 16 different lines, each of which feed into the City Loop that circles the CBD. Be warned, different train lines go around the City Loop in different directions and most reverse their direction in the afternoon. Finally, buses, buses are best used as a backup when you can’t get somewhere by train or tram.
The best option to make your way into the city from Melbourne Airport, is to take the Skybus. There are different routes for the Skybus, including to Southbank and St Kilda, but the main one is to Southern Cross Station in the CBD taking roughly 30 minutes. To get elsewhere, you’ll need to look at hotel transfers, Uber, or taxis.
Where to Stay in Melbourne
A natural question when faced with visiting a big, new city is where to stay. Since you’re not familiar with Melbourne or the city’s layout, working out where to stay in Melbourne on your own can be a real challenge and it’s an important choice to make.
Because of Melbourne’s quality public transport network and the broad range of places you’ll be going, being central isn’t vital to a successful trip. Instead, the best places to stay in Melbourne are really going to depend on what you want from your trip. The simplest pick of where to stay for first-timers is undoubtedly the CBD. That way you have easy transport access and plenty of choices for cafes and restaurants. If nightlife is important to you, try Southbank or maybe Fitzroy. For a chilled, seaside vibe it’s best to look somewhere like St Kilda.
The Langham Melbourne is the way to go if you’re looking to visit Melbourne in style. Right by the Yarra River, this five-star hotel wows guests from the get-go with a grand marble staircase and exquisite decor. And yet a stay is also extremely comfortable, in part thanks to the thorough and attentive staff.
If you’re looking for both comfort and affordability, the apartments of City Tempo – Queen St are a great option for your visit. Not only do rooms have kitchenettes for preparing your own meals, guests at this aparthotel also have access to a fitness center and sauna, plus you’re right in the CBD so the city is right on your doorstep.
Travel in Australia isn’t cheap, but there are still quality budget options like Space Hotel. With a super central location and facilities like a fitness center and private cinema, this Melbourne hostel has everything you could need at a reasonable price.
For more accommodation options in Melbourne check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 7-Day Melbourne Itinerary
Uncovering the best of Melbourne often takes a little digging. But trust us, it’s worth it! To make it all easier, it helps if you have a guide like this that shows you all the special places you should make time to see with your 7 days in Melbourne. This itinerary not only takes you through the best known sights in the heart of the city, it also reveals other interesting parts of Melbourne begging to be explored. You even get the chance to escape the city and experience another highlight in the state of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road.
However, before we get to our Melbourne itinerary we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
We personally use and recommend SafetyWing. For only around $40 a month, it’s really a no-brainer. You can get a quick quote below:
With that bit of useful advice out of the way, we can now set our sights on all the great places we’ve collected for this Melbourne travel itinerary. Inside, you’ll find all the best things to do in Melbourne to ensure you have as much fun as possible while you’re there.
Day 1: CBD
Melbourne is such a big city that it’s best to break up your time there into the different parts of the city. With that approach, there’s really no better place to start than in the CBD. Set out as a grid of streets north of the Yarra River, you’ll find not only office buildings here, but also some of the city’s most iconic sights.
Start your day outside the steps of Flinders Street Station, a beautiful building as well as the oldest train station in Australia. With its Art Nouveau design and unmissable yellow exterior, this is a heritage building that also happens to be one of the city’s busiest spots.
While Flinders St Station was long the favorite meeting point in the city, that honor now belongs to Federation Square, across the road. The square and its strikingly modern buildings has become a major public venue and there’s always something happening here. Melbourne prides itself on its culture, and there are always permanent cultural landmarks like the Ian Potter Centre and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) to visit on the square.
For the Instagram crowd, it’s pretty likely that Hosier Lane has jumped onto your radar. Just a short walk across Flinders St you have Melbourne’s most well known street art collection. The graffiti and murals along this back alley are forever changing, but it’s always colorful and edgy.
If you’re looking for a coffee or are already after lunch, Flinders Lane is sure to have what you need. Finding cafes in Melbourne is never hard, but here at least you have a dense selection of places to choose from. You could just wander until somewhere catches your eye, it won’t take long.
Moving through the CBD, make your way gradually to the Bourke St Mall. This pedestrian area is the traditional hub for shopping in Melbourne and is home to long-standing department stores and modern brands alike. Even if you’re not into shopping, it’s hard not to enjoy the old-fashioned feel of shopping arcades like The Royal Arcade and The Block Arcade closeby.
Markets are always a nice way to get a feel for the city you’re in and there’s a great one in Melbourne, Queen Victoria Market. A city institution, the Queen Vic Market is a massive, sprawling open air market that has everything under the sun.
Finish your day with a stroll through Chinatown along Little Bourke St and dig into the excellent food there. For tasty food in a relaxed atmosphere, head to Empress of China and get the dumplings.
Day 2: South of the Yarra
Having seen quite a bit of the city center on your first day, it’s time to take a trip across the Yarra River and see what lies south side. Some might say that Melbourne’s attractions south of the Yarra are even more interesting than those in the CBD.
First things first, getting across the river. As you cross either of the two modern pedestrian bridges here, Sandridge Bridge or Evan Walker Bridge, take a moment to admire the riverfront and the Melbourne Skyline looming large behind you.
Once you’re across the river, you’ll find yourself on the Southbank Promenade. This picturesque pedestrian area runs right by the Yarra River and has all sorts of bars and restaurants. Eventually the path will bring you to Crown Casino, a popular destination for nightlife, entertainment, and gambling.
Retrace your steps and you’ll soon find yourself at the foot of the tallest building in Melbourne, Eureka Tower. While it looks tall already from the street, it’ll feel even taller once you take the elevator up to the Eureka Skydeck for some exceptional city views. See if you can get up the nerve to stand in “The Edge”, a glass cube extending off the side of the building with a clear view down, beneath your feet.
Back with your feet on the ground again, walk over to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). The oldest and most impressive art gallery in the country, it houses exhibits on Australian art from Indigenous right through to contemporary works. The NGV also boasts a prominent collection of Asian art, as well as some important international pieces.
Across the road you’ll find the Kings Domain Park, home to two more landmark Melbourne sights. One is the Shrine of Remembrance, the monumental war memorial honoring soldiers who fought and died in WWI. There’s a lot to get out of this solemn place, least of which is the fantastic city views from its terrace. The other spot to visit in the park is the Royal Botanic Gardens, full of diverse plant life and an all round tranquil atmosphere.
Recommendation: See the sights of Melbourne from a different perspective on a 2-hour river cruise. Travel down the Yarra River to see sights such as the Docklands Crown Entertainment Complex and Government House, and catch some rays on the sundeck.
Day 3: Beach Day
Travel to any Australian city on the coast, and you’re going to want to see the beach.
The easiest place to start is to head down to South Melbourne Foreshore, the nearest beach to the city center. Backed by a scenic promenade, this beach will immediately soothe your need for sand and sun. As always in Australia, find the beach flags as these are the areas where surf lifesavers are on duty. When the waves are low it can be quite a safe place to go for a swim.
South Melbourne may be the closest beach spot, but St Kilda Beach is by far the most popular choice for locals and tourists alike. The St Kilda Foreshore is lined with walking paths, sports and recreation areas and places to grab a bite or a drink. Sticking out of the foreshore is the St Kilda Pier, a popular place for a stroll and a scenic spot for photos.
While it doesn’t have anything to do with the beach, St Kilda’s other famous attraction is Luna Park, an amusement park. Stepping through the iconic entry formed by the face of “Mr Moon”, it’s hard not to see the charm of this historic amusement park. Fun for the whole family, Luna Park has a whole range of rides, from the timeless Scenic Railway roller coaster to the Pharaoh’s Curse and Twin Dragon.
It may seem interesting to some, but the most popular attraction along Melbourne’s beaches isn’t really a beach at all. No, it’s the Brighton Bathing Boxes, colorful beachside huts which date back to the turn of the century. This collection of 82 bathing boxes strung out in a row is a fun sight thanks to their bright and playful paint jobs, and if forever a favorite with photography enthusiasts.
Day 4: Inner Suburbs
It probably doesn’t get said enough, but the inner suburbs of Melbourne are arguably the best thing about the city. This ring of neighborhoods that surrounds the CBD is home to some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, bars, and cafes. Each suburb has its own character and appeal, meaning that every Melbournian has their favorite one to hang out in. If you want to see the best of local life in Melbourne, then these residential areas are where it’s at.
People like to say that Melbourne as a whole is a bit hipster, but Fitzroy is definitely the core of hipster culture in the city. Thanks to the hipster scene, Fitzroy is packed with character and is a great place to explore and hang out. Throughout the city’s oldest suburb you’ll find endless places to eat and drink, no matter your mood. Cafes like The Fitz Cafe serve up excellent coffee and brunch which will fill your stomach. Then there’s a great selection of bars and pubs, although the rooftop views from Naked for Satan are hard to say no to.
On the more traditional end of the spectrum is the suburb of Carlton, a classic choice for many reasons. Carlton’s biggest claim to fame is its Italian community and the cluster of cafes and Italian restaurants that cling to Lygon Street. Melbournians love to boast that they have the country’s (maybe the world’s) best coffee, a trait that is due to the Italian community here. So sit down for a flat white or a long black somewhere like Heartattack and Vine and judge for yourself. Next, take a stroll over in the Carlton Gardens, admire the Royal Exhibition Building, and visit the Melbourne Museum.
With its finger on the pulse, Prahran is a chic and modern suburb with plenty to enjoy. The suburb’s best known feature is Chapel Street, the most popular shopping area in all of Melbourne. While Chapel St stretches into other neighborhoods to the south, you’ll find plenty of boutiques and fashion labels as you head along. To regain your energy from shopping, duck into the Prahran Market where grocers and delis sit side-by-side with an international array of cafes. Prahran is also good for a night out with trendy bars and clubs that are old favorites like Revolver Upstairs.
Neighborhoods like Collingwood, Richmond, and Brunswick are also worth exploring, especially for their bars and street art, which will easily please. But if you had to pick just a few suburbs of Melbourne to see, the above are the best place to start.
Day 5: Healesville Sanctuary
Getting to see the wildlife in Australia is usually on most visitor’s bucket lists. In Melbourne the best place to tick that off is at Healesville Sanctuary. Found in Melbourne’s outer north-east, a trip to Healesville Sanctuary is definitely a day well spent.
Unlike other zoos you might find in Australia, the purpose of this sanctuary is to protect and showcase animals native to Australia. The sanctuary’s enclosures are split up into different tracks and enclosures, each focusing on a specific habitat or animal. Wildlife that can be seen at Healesville includes kangaroos, wombats, emus, dingoes, plus a great array of birdlife, reptiles, and amphibians.
One of the special features of Healesville Sanctuary is its platypus program. It’s one of only two places in the world that have successfully bred platypus in captivity and the cute creatures can be seen from the Platypus track and during the Tales from Platypus Creek show.
Seeing the animals in the sanctuary is one thing, but getting to interact with them is another experience altogether. At Healesville it’s not possible to hold the koalas, but you can get up close and personal with the sanctuary’s Close-up Encounter program. A more hands-on experience is the chance to feed kangaroos as part of Healesville’s Kangaroo Close-up program.
Day 6-7: Great Ocean Road
On any trip to Melbourne that has time for it, the Great Ocean Road is an absolute must. You’ll be heading well beyond the city limits of Melbourne with this trip, but as it’s one of Australia’s most iconic destinations, it’s worth it. Now, it’s possible to do just a day trip to the Great Ocean Road, but it’s best to do an overnight trip as there really is so much to see.
Driving out of Melbourne and through Geelong, it’s not until you reach the town of Torquay that you finally meet the Great Ocean Road. Don’t get too excited though and pass right through Torquay as it’s a nice little town which oozes the surf lifestyle. Head down to Jan Juc Beach for your first proper look at the ocean before skipping along to the world famous surfing spot, Bell’s Beach.
As you continue along, now driving down the Great Ocean Road with the coast out your window, make stops at small towns like Angelsea and Aireys Inlet as you go. Not only do they have beautiful beaches to look at, but there are even surf schools where you can go learn to surf.
Depending on how you want to arrange your days, you’ll want to look at where you should spend the night on the coast. Two of the best towns to look at are Lorne and Apollo Bay, as they’re both major residential areas in this region. You shouldn’t have a problem finding accommodation and a good fish and chip shop to tide you over until morning.
The big draw of a trip down the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles. There are many beautiful stretches of coast in Victoria, but none are quite as epic as this spot and its limestone stacks along eroded cliffs. Despite the name, don’t expect to see twelve stacks sitting by the beaches and cliffs here.
An underrated stop along the Great Ocean Road that you should make time for is Cape Otway National Park. Despite being on the coast and boasting a picturesque lighthouse, the real hook to Cape Otway is the beautiful forest and the waterfalls found within.
Recommendation: The Great Ocean Walk has been named as one of the best hikes in the world. So if you love the outdoors and have an extra week to spare, hiking the Great Ocean Walk is a once in a lifetime experience you can’t miss.
Day 8 and Beyond
You may be able to see quite a lot of Melbourne in 7 days, but in destinations like these, there’s always more. If you have more time, here are some other things to consider doing:
- See a Sporting Match: Melbourne is a city that lives and breathes sport, so do as the locals do. What’s on will depend on the time of year, but watching an AFL match is always a good pick.
- Penguins of Phillip Island: Who doesn’t want to see penguins doing their thing in the wild? On a trip to Phillip Island, south of Melbourne, you get to experience exactly that, as Fairy Penguins waddle their way onto the beach at sunset in the popular “Penguin Parade”. You can book a day tour to Phillip Island here.
- Puffing Billy in the Dandenongs: Two things you probably didn’t expect from a Melbourne trip are mountains and steam trains. And yet, that’s what you’ll find in the Dandenong Ranges, home to the heritage Puffing Billy steam railway. You can book a ride on the Puffing Billy here.
Check out our other guide for even more day trip ideas from Melbourne.
With one week in Melbourne you have a lot to look forward to and clearly you can see quite a lot of what Melbourne has going for it in that time. If you’re traveling all the way to Australia, chances are you won’t just stop at Melbourne, nor should you. There are plenty of other awesome cities in Australia to explore from Sydney to Perth, and Brisbane.