One of the world’s most loved cities – which was rated the world’s most livable city six years in a row – Melbourne, the capital of the Australian state of Victoria, is brimming with culture and history. It’s consistently popular with backpackers and locals alike, and manages to maintain a strong community spirit while being set in a huge city.
The city is visited by travelers old and young and of all nationalities seeking to take advantage of the best things to do in Melbourne. Many people spend time living and working in the city, visiting it as a stand-alone trip, or it can be an add-on to an East Coast adventure or a Melbourne to Perth road trip. Melbourne has a huge international airport with flights leaving to all around Australia and New Zealand, many places in Asia and even further afield.
1. Hosier Lane
Melbourne’s laneways are world-famous; within them, secrets of the city – bars, restaurants, vintage shops and cafes – are hidden. One laneway well worth visiting is Hosier Lane, which is adorned in the street art that Melbourne is famous for. It’s one of the best things to do in Melbourne on a budget, and an amble down Hosier Lane in the center of Melbourne really offers a feel for the amazing community spirit of the city through its outdoor art gallery.
2. St Kilda Penguins
You don’t have to go to the Antarctic to see penguins! The South of Australia is home to Fairy Penguins; the world’s smallest breed of the walking bird. At St Kilda Penguin Sanctuary, you have the chance to watch penguins come to the rocks every night after a busy day’s fishing. The penguins are looked over by helpful and informative volunteers who help preserve the penguin’s environment and health while giving onlookers the chance to see them in their natural habitat.
3. St Kilda Beach
Melbourne basks in scorching summers, and where better to enjoy a hot day than St Kilda Beach?! This suburb has gorgeous beachfront architecture, a beautiful promenade, lots of free to use BBQs and a gorgeous sandy beach. It’s a perfect place to escape the city and kick back for a few hours.
4. Café Hopping in Fitzroy
For the caffeine lovers, spending time in Fitzroy is one of the best things to do in Melbourne. Quirky Fitzroy is home to a wide array of cafes, and a pleasant afternoon can be spent sampling coffee at a variety of them; Melburnians do love their coffee, after all! My favorite was the funky Blackcat Café, which sold good coffee and had a great atmosphere.
5. State Library of Victoria
Not everyone would assume this would be on the list of best things to do in Melbourne, but the State Library of Victoria is something special. It’s housed in a historic building in the center of the city, and hosts exhibitions about Victorian history and art. My favorite space is the La Trobe reading room, which is complete with big green lamps and old-style wooden desks, giving an elegant feeling.
6. Melbourne Museum
The Melbourne Museum boasts an array of exhibitions about the history of the city and state of Victoria. It’s one of the best things to do in Melbourne for anyone interested in Australian history, with Aboriginal stories and prehistoric human and animal development. There’s plenty for kids too! The Melbourne Museum costs $14 for entry and is located just north of the CBD.
7. Lentil as Anything
If I had to choose one restaurant to dine at, it would definitely be Lentil as Anything. This vegetarian restaurant uses locally sourced, fresh ingredients and operates on a ‘pay as you wish’ basis – meaning that customers don’t receive a bill and payment is made just by donation. The restaurant has a fantastic air of inclusiveness, with their motto being ‘food without borders’, and it is clear that anyone is welcome to dine there.
8. Melbourne Markets
The Queen Victoria Market is the cultural heart of Melbourne, with vendors coming from all over Victoria to sell everything from vegetables to crystals to clothes. If you’re shopping for fabrics, you’ll no doubt find a unique item at the Melbourne Markets! The markets are open various hours every day, except Monday and Wednesday.
9. Flinders Street Station
Beautiful Flinders Street is to Melbourne what Grand Central is to New York. The station stands proudly south of the CBD and is housed in an early 20th century building. It’s somewhere where you can get a photo of the old architecture, new skyscrapers and the famous trams; a typical Melburnian snap.
10. Yarra River Cruise
See Melbourne from another angle with a cruise on the Yarra River! There’s lots of fun to be had on Melbourne’s most famous body of water for any interests, including historical tours, sightseeing tours and booze cruises. It’s a unique and refreshing way to see the city and most definitely one of the best things to do in Melbourne.
Insider Tip: Add a touch of luxury to your itinerary by booking a romantic dinner cruise along the Yarra River.
Bonus: Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
Glide through the city streets of Melbourne in an old colonial tramcar while enjoying a delicious 4-course meal with a glass of wine.
This unique colonial tramcar restaurant is one of Melbourne’s star attractions so make sure to reserve your spot far in advance.
Where to Stay in Melbourne
Here are our top recommendations of hostels and hotels in Melbourne. All are centrally located, highly rated and have excellent facilities.
- Best Hostel: United Backpackers
- Best Budget Hotel: Pensione Hotel Melbourne
- Best Mid-Range Hotel: Hotel Treasury on Collins
- Best Luxury Hotel: Crown Towers
- Best Airport Hotel: PARKROYAL Melbourne Airport
Don’t forget to also take a look at Airbnb. They have many accommodation options available in Copenhagen, and many of them are cheaper than your average hotel. Click here to get $40 off your next booking with Airbnb.
Day Trips from Melbourne
Below are some popular day trip tours from Melbourne that you might enjoy doing.