City guide

Things To Do In Melbourne

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Discover Melbourne, a city jam packed with sporting and cultural events, hidden laneways, great beach side towns, and boutique shopping hotspots.

Famous for being the sporting capital of Australia, Melbourne hosts numerous international sporting events that take place at various locations close to the city throughout the year. 

Beautiful gardens, heritage buildings and cultural establishments are mixed with modern sky scrapers, funky graffiti adorned laneways, and high end shops. Melbourne has a lot to offer, you just need to know where to look!

International sporting events for every season

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Sports events are a part of life for most Melbournians. The national sport, Australian Rules Football, has its home at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), also known affectionately as ‘The G”, and is the largest stadium in Australia. The Australian Football League season is played from around March to September every year and as most teams are based in and around Melbourne, you can bet the passion shown by the fans will rub off on you!

As you might have guessed by the name, the MCG is also home to international cricket matches. Played over the summer months, you can attend test matches or one day events – just remember the sunscreen!

Spring sees the arrival of the horse racing season. So popular is the racing carnival, that the Melbourne Cup, held at Flemington Race Course, has its own public holiday so all can enjoy the spectacle of the day.

If you plan to visit Melbourne as Summer turns to Autumn, another race captures the attention of the city. The roar of the Formula 1 cars for the Australian Grand Prix can be heard from Albert Park Lake. It’s easy to obtain grandstand or general admission tickets and watching high powered cars thunder around the circuit is a great day out. The venue itself means you get to enjoy the breeze from the lake, whilst gazing back at the city skyline as the sun starts to set over the bay.

Back in the Summer months is the Australian Open Tennis championships. A short walk (or even shorter tram trip) from the city centre will see you at the gates of Melbourne Park, home to centre court, Rod Laver Arena, and 26 other indoor and outdoor courts.

There are many more sporting events throughout the year, such as the Rugby League, Rugby Union, Soccer, Basketball and Netball at AAMI Park, so if you’re a sporting fan, you’re in the right place.

Discover Melbourne’s famous laneway delights

Down Melbourne’s laneways you might find cute cafes serving delicious lunch and coffee, quirky shops selling artwork, homewares and clothing, or nothing but graffiti adorned walls. For a classic Melbourne laneway, visit Degraves Street, right off Flinders Street for a spot of lunch or to pick up a unique gift from one of the shops.

Centrally located Hardware Lane is great for lunch, dinner or just drinks. This laneway is buzzing during the day and night and is popular with both city workers and tourists.

For something a bit different, join other passersby who are stopped in their tracks from spotting the colourful graffiti as they pass Hosier and Rutledge Lane, just opposite Federation Square. There are many more approved outdoor locations for this unique street art, including Caledonian Lane and Union Lane. If you want to learn more about this underground scene, guided tours are available a few times a week, where you can chat to some of the artist themselves.

Soak up the sights, smells and sounds of the markets

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In every great city there is a great market or two. Located right on the northern city fringe is the Queen Victoria Market which is open Tuesday, and Thursday to Sunday. Hear the calls from the stall holders enthusiastically selling their produce, and taste test a thing or two! More than just fresh meat, bread, vegetables and fruit, the market stalls include knitwear, Australian souvenirs, manchester, artwork, jewellery, bags, and do not miss the hot doughnut van!

If you visit coincides with a Sunday, a short tram ride south to beach side suburb, St Kilda, means you can experience the creative hand crafted products of the St Kilda Esplanade Market. The Esplanade Market runs parallel to the iconic St Kilda foreshore, with the impressive Palais building and Luna Park amusements as the backdrop.

Marvel at the museums and galleries

If you only have time for one gallery, go to the oldest and most visited in Australia – The National Gallery of Victoria. Here you will be able to view a vast wealth of works that span thousands of years. Collections include Australian, Asian and International Paintings, Fashion and Textiles, Decorative Arts, Antiquities and Sculptures. Whilst here, you could also catch a performance at Australia’s biggest and busiest performing arts centre – the Arts Centre Melbourne. The striking spire that lights up beautifully at night, also makes for a pretty photo opportunity.

Right in the heart of the city is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) located within Federation Square, opposite Flinders Street Station. This unique centre celebrates the moving image in all forms – TV, film and digital culture. ACMI offers exhibitions, films, festivals, live events and workshops all year round so you’re bound to find something of interest here during your visit.

Not to be missed is the iconic Shrine of Remembrance. Located on St Kilda Road, south of the city in the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Shrine is Victoria’s war memorial to all who have served. The exterior is inspired by ancient Greek design and stands proudly at the top of a large set of steps. From the top you can see right back to the city and across to the bay.  

Parks to explore or simply sit and watch the world go by

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The Royal Botanic Gardens are open every day from 7.30am to sunset. Located south of the city centre, the gardens are home to over 10,000 plant species from around the world. Beautiful trees, lush lawns and swan filled lakes mean you could easily spend a whole day in this natural wonderland.

Closer to the city are the Fitzroy Gardens, which shares its grounds with the Captain James Cook cottage. Dismantled in the UK in 1933, it was shipped to Melbourne and arrived in 1934. The cottage has undergone two restorations and has been furnished with content relevant to the period.

Also within close proximity of the city centre is the Carlton Gardens. Designed in 1880 for the Melbourne International Exhibition, the gardens and the Royal Exhibition Building is World Heritage listed. Apart from magnificent trees and colourful garden beds, the circular French Fountain is also an attractive sight. The grounds are also home to the Melbourne Museum, and Moreton Bay fig trees.

Spend a day or a night (or both!) at Southbank

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The Yarra River winds its way through Melbourne city, and along the south side of the river is the prestigious but friendly Southbank. The St Kilda Road end starts with cultural institutions such as the Melbourne Arts Centre and Hamer Hall. As you make your way along, your nose will be greeted by the amazing smells of the restaurants that line the promenade. This is just the beginning, as the places to eat and have a drink extend along the entire Southbank region.

Located about half way is the Eureka Tower – the tallest building in Melbourne with its eye catching gold and blue design. Visitors can purchase a ticket to ride the elevator all the way to the top and take in 360 degree views of the city, suburbs and bay that spread out beyond it.

Beyond the tower further west you can experience the dazzling lights of Crown Casino, the largest casino in Australasia. Offering a massive array of poker machines and gaming tables, the Crown complex also has a hotel and spa, award winning restaurants, clubs and bars. Catch the 90 minute Four Seasons light show in the 5-storey atrium, and if you’re lucky, see the boardwalk along the river light up as flames shoot out of the large black towers.

Shop till you drop!

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Melbourne caters to all types of shopping experiences. For high end international fashion labels, head to the top of Collins Street, also known as the ‘Paris end’ of the city. Shops include Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Emporio Armani, Bvlgari and Gucci, so make sure you remember your credit card!

Right in the centre of Melbourne you’ll find the Emporium Melbourne – a huge shopping mall flanked by department stores Myer and David Jones on one side, and Melbourne Central shopping centre on the other. Whilst in Melbourne Central, take a break from the shops and marvel at the 20-storey high glass cone that surrounds the ‘Coops Shot Tower’. Originally a bullet making facility constructed in 1889, the tower is now heritage listed.

If high end stores and polished malls are not to your taste, a short tram trip out of town will take you to the vintage shops of Chapel Street, Prahran, or bohemian and hipster shops dotted along Brunswick and Gertrude Streets in Fitzroy. Both locations offer unique and artistic products, including clothing and home décor. Rest your legs in any of the hip cafes and bars in the area, with Fitzroy being a popular spot for vegetarian and vegan eateries.

Getting around Melbourne

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Melbourne city is relatively easy to get around as it’s based on a grid system (a bit like New York!), and tram lines are present on most main streets. Look out for the Circle Tram, a free tourist tram that runs clockwise and anticlockwise around the perimeter of the city centre for an enjoyable scenic ride.

The trains run right underneath, also in a loop, and there are tram routes that can take you to the sporting centres, the beach, the parks and the zoo. Pick up a timetable from Flinders Street Station or other local station and enjoy your Melbourne experience!

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