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If you’re looking for the most fun things to do in Melbourne, this former local has got you covered!
I previously wrote about the best free things to do in Melbourne. Now, it’s time to focus on the most fun things to do in Melbourne in general, so there are some overlaps. One of the many things I love about Melbourne is that it feels like there’s an infinite amount of things to do. From exploring its eclectic mix of suburbs to trying different brunch places to ticking its must-see attractions off your list, you can never be bored when visiting Melbourne. So settle in, as here are a whopping 51 things to do in Melbourne.
Where to stay in Melbourne
First things first – you’re probably going to need a place to stay in Melbourne, right? Well, I’ve fortunately already written a post about where to stay in Melbourne 😉. But for fellow budget travellers, I can personally recommend Space Hotel. If you want to stay somewhere different, I suggest Notel Melbourne. Located in the CBD, the accommodation here is classic airstream trailers on a rooftop, with a colourful mural backdrop. SO Melbournian. Another option is Adelphi Hotel, which has been voted Victoria’s best boutique hotel.
Things to know before you go to Melbourne
I also want to clue you in on a couple of things you should definitely know before you go to Melbourne.
• When it comes to Melbourne public transport, it isn’t exactly the easiest for visitors to navigate. Firstly, there are buses, trams and trains. You need a Myki card to use Melbourne public transport, which you can purchase at Southern Cross Station. You can then add money to it at machines around Melbourne. Now, here comes the weird part. If you’re travelling on a bus or a train, you need to touch your card on and off at the machines either inside the bus or as you exit the train. But if you’re travelling on a tram, you only touch on your Myki card.
There’s also the Free Tram Zone within the city centre, where all tram trips within its borders are free. You do not need to touch on your card if you’re only travelling within this zone. Don’t worry, announcements are repeatedly made to let you know once you’re leaving the Free Tram Zone. I exclusively used Google Maps to figure out tram times when I lived in Melbourne as well.
• Although card is the most popular way to pay in Melbourne, it’s always good to have a bit of cash on hand. For example, many restaurants in Chinatown are cash only.
• Melbourne is known for its unpredictable weather. It can go from 30 to 15 degrees overnight, or from rain to sunshine in minutes. Therefore, I recommend always carrying a jacket and umbrella, just in case.
Fun things to do in Melbourne
To make things even easier, I broke this down into categories: general, food and drink, art and culture, and day trips. Enjoy!
1. Go up the Eureka Tower
Thanks to my work creating a Melbourne guide for a new travel app, I was able to visit many of Melbourne’s biggest attractions before I left. One of those attractions is Eureka Skydeck. As you can see from this photo, I highly recommend heading up at sunset. The views are incredible and there’s an all day ticket option, which is a must for photography enthusiasts. Purchase tickets here.
2. Catch a sports game
Melbourne is Australia’s sports capital, so one of the best things to do is to watch some kind of sports game when in town. In winter, AFL is the dominating sport. In summer, the options include soccer, cricket and tennis. If you want to take it one step further, you can also do a guided tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) or visit the National Sports Museum.
3. Visit the Shrine of Remembrance
Victoria’s main war memorial, I’ve visited the Shrine of Remembrance a couple of times now. It has an excellent gallery downstairs and amazing city views from the rooftop. It’s a must-visit Melbourne attraction in my opinion.
4. Try hot air ballooning
5. Go shopping along Chapel Street
Chapel Street has been known as Melbourne’s shopping street for decades. It’s home to boutiques, designer stores and the usual chain stores as well. Chapel Street is a bit of a foodie destination too, so you won’t go hungry.
6. Catch the ferry to Williamstown
Williamstown is such a cool little suburb in outer Melbourne. We caught the ferry down the Yarra River and out to sea. I think it was an inexpensive way to visit Williamstown and to see Melbourne from a different perspective. It’s also only about 20 minutes on the train to get back into the city.
7. Walk around Albert Park Lake
Albert Park Lake isn’t too far from the city centre and going for a walk around it is one of the best free things to do in Melbourne. It offers great skyline views too!
8. Check out Federation Square
Fed Square (as the locals call it) is the city’s cultural hub. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Melbourne because it’s home to galleries, restaurants and free events throughout the year. Fed Square is also a great spot for people watching 👀.
9. Go to the Melbourne Zoo
Another Melbourne attraction I was able to visit for work was Melbourne Zoo. I’m not a big zoo person, but I thought Melbourne Zoo had lots of interesting animals in large enclosures. They are also working to fight animal extinction. There are so many animals at Melbourne Zoo, but I particularly liked seeing the elephants, koalas, giraffes and the tiger. You can purchase tickets here.
10. Go to Jail
Built in the mid 1800s, Old Melbourne Gaol was the scene of 133 hangings. Its most famous resident was Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly. You can visit during the day or do a night/ghost tour in the evening, if you’re brave.
11. Visit SEA LIFE Aquarium
To be honest, I think SEA LIFE Aquarium is a great family-friendly thing to do in Melbourne, or a good rainy day activity. But for a solo traveller, there are better ways to spend your time. Purchase tickets here (told you it’s not cheap).
12. Visit Rippon Lea Estate
Rippon Lea Estate is a 19th century suburban estate. You can tour the mansion on a guided tour and walk through the manicured gardens. The estate also hosts events, including outdoor movie nights in the summertime.
13. Spend the day in Fitzroy
One of the most fun things to do in Melbourne is to go for a stroll through Fitzroy. The inner-city suburb is called the Brooklyn of Melbourne. It’s very hipster and the streets are lined with independent stores, vintage boutiques, as well as lots of cafes and restaurants. If you visit on the weekend, I recommend checking out the The Rose St Artists’ Market. This area is also street art central.
14. Check out the view from the Melbourne Star
15. Visit Abbotsford Convent for lunch
I actually didn’t live too far from Abbotsford Convent during my second stint living in Melbourne, so I did visit on a couple of occasions. The former convent is now a space filled with local businesses, restaurants and a cafe. I recommend visiting for lunch and enjoying a meal at Lentil as Anything. It’s a pay-what-you-want vegetarian buffet restaurant with amazing food.
16. Watch the Fire Show at Crown Casino
One of the most fun things to do in Melbourne at night is checking out the Gas Brigades Fire Show. It happens every night outside Crown Casino. The eight towers shoot the world’s largest fireballs into the sky every hour on the hour following sunset.
17. Say hi to the animals at Collingwood Children’s Farm
Just down the road from Abbotsford Convent is Collingwood Children’s Farm. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Melbourne for families. Children can get up close to many farm animals, like cows, horses, chickens and sheep.
18. Ride the City Circle Tram
The City Circle Trams are historic trams (line 35) that do a circuit around the Melbourne CBD and Docklands. They provide audio commentary and stop at many of Melbourne’s best attractions along the way. As their route is within the Free Tram Zone, it’s free to hop on and off as often as you like.
19. Photograph the city’s historic buildings
Because Melbourne boomed during the 1850s gold rush, it’s home to some exquisite 19th century buildings. I personally love the InterContinental Melbourne, the Royal Exhibition Building (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the La Trobe Reading Room inside the State Library of Victoria.
20. Go to one of Melbourne Museum’s three attractions
I worked at the cafe inside Melbourne Museum so I may be slightly biased, but I thought its exhibition were very good. It includes a combination of natural history, science and Australian history. There’s even a live forest! The Melbourne Museum also has exhibitions to suit all age levels – from toddlers to grandparents. Keep an eye on their website for cool events too (I worked and enjoyed a few Nocturnals in my time).
The other two museums a part of Museums Victoria is Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum. I personally never went to Scienceworks, but the Immigration Museum had some interesting displays. However, it’s a lot smaller compared to Melbourne Museum.
21. Head to a market
Melbourne is market central. I mention Queen Victoria Market in the food and drink section, as it’s definitely the most popular market in Melbourne. Other places to check out include South Melbourne Market, Prahran Market (conveniently located just off Chapel Street) and Camberwell Market, which is known as a bit of a secondhand treasure chest.
22. Relax in one of Melbourne’s many gardens
Another one of the most fun things to do in Melbourne is to grab lunch supplies from a market and head to one of its many green spaces for a picnic. The Royal Botanic Gardens are large and you can go Punting on the Lake here. I personally love Fitzroy Gardens, which looks its best in autumn. Meanwhile, Carlton Gardens is right next to the Melbourne Museum, so I have had a picnic or five with workmates there.
23. Walk along the Yarra River
I love going for walks along the Yarra River. There’s so much to see along Southbank Promenade, and there’s also the Arbory for drinks and DFO South Wharf for shopping. However, if you don’t want to walk, there are river cruises available along the Yarra River as well.
24. Shop ‘til you drop at Chadstone Shopping Centre
Chadstone Shopping Centre is said to be the biggest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere. I only visited in my last week, but man it is massive. My favourite shops are all there and there’s a combination of department stores and high-end designer boutiques. There’s a free shuttle available from the CBD too, as it’s located out in the suburbs.
25. Go to the beach
Melbourne has some beautiful beaches, but the water can be cool year-round. Some of the most popular beaches in Melbourne include Brighton Beach, St Kilda Beach and Port Melbourne Beach.
26. Take photos in front of the Brighton Bathing Boxes
Speaking of Brighton Beach, this is also where you’ll find the iconic Brighton Bathing Boxes. The colourful beach huts make for fun photo backdrops.
27. Get lost in the laneways and arcades
You know how people say Venice is the best place to get lost? Well, so is Melbourne. The CBD is filled with both historic arcades and laneways lined with cafes and street art. I recommend checking out Degraves Street for food, Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane for street art, and Block Arcade because it’s pretty.
28. Spend the day in St Kilda
I’ve actually written about St Kilda on the blog, as it’s one of my favourite areas in Melbourne. You could easily spend a day or afternoon there walking to Port Melbourne, browsing the Esplanade Markets on the weekend, going on the rides at Luna Park and saying hi to the penguins at the end of St Kilda Pier every night.
Remember, here’s my guide to all of the free fun things to do in Melbourne
Food and drink
29. Visit Queen Victoria Market
I love Queen Victoria Market. I used to go there for fresh meat and produce when I lived in Docklands. Since then, I’ve been back on numerous occasions for their awesome night market or just for a snack. I’m a sucker for the $1 churros and a borek from The Borek Shop.
30. Eat fish and chips at Hunky Dory
Hunky Dory have multiple locations across Melbourne, but I’ve personally only visited its Richmond restaurant multiple times. If you’re dining with a friend, do the Coupled Up option so you get a little bit of everything.
31. Enjoy a drink at a rooftop bar
Melbourne is known for its rooftop bars, which offer beautiful views over the city. I can personally recommend the Imperial Hotel for Parliament House views and Johnny’s Green Room on Lygon Street. Another popular option is Naked in the Sky. I wrote about more places in this post for The Culture Trip.
32. Enjoy Italian on Lygon Street
Lygon Street is Melbourne’s Little Italy. It’s also said to be where Melbourne’s cafe culture was born. I didn’t visit Lygon Street all that often when I lived in Melbourne. However, some places I have checked out and recommend include Johnny’s Green Room, Papa Gino’s and Universal. The latter serves the biggest chicken schnitzels and parmigianas for under $15.
33. Eat dumplings in Chinatown
Before I left, my friends and I basically went on a dumplings mission. We tried dumplings (and other Chinese specialities, don’t worry) at places like ShanDong Mama, Shanghai Street, Shanghai Village and HuTong. You can’t go wrong with any of these options.
34. Eat gelato
I love ice cream and one of my favourite things to do in Melbourne was try all the different gelato places. I really like Pidapipo (two words: nutella fountain) and Gelato Messina.
35. Snack on a crepe
If you’re hungry when walking around the CBD, head to La Petite Crêperie for a delicious crepe.
36. Go to brunch
37. Indulge at Chin Chin
Chin Chin has to be one of Melbourne’s most popular restaurants (if not THE most popular). This means there’s always a wait, but they conveniently have a bar downstairs where you can wait. Their Feed Me menu option involves your server choosing a selection of their best dishes. I personally thought it was a bit overpriced, but others rave about it so I think I’m in the minority.
38. Drink coffee
Melbourne is Australia’s coffee capital. You will find cafes everywhere in the CBD. Some of the more popular options include Aunty Peg’s, Seven Seeds and Patricia Coffee Brewers.
39. Go to a hidden bar
Another thing Melbourne is known for is its hidden bars. The Croft Institute is a science-themed bar down a couple of winding laneways in the CBD. Check out this guide by Broadsheet for more hidden bars (and how to find them).
40. Visit Asian Beer Cafe for cheap drinks
If you’re on a budget, head to Asian Beer Cafe in Melbourne Central. This place is popular with students because both the food and drinks are very affordable.
Here are my favourite places to eat in Melbourne and in Richmond
Art and culture
41. Visit an art gallery
The NGV is Australia’s largest and most visited art gallery. It has both free and paid exhibitions. There’s also NGV Australia: The Ian Potter Centre, the Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.
42. Catch a gig at the Corner Hotel
Did you know Melbourne has more live music venues per capita than any other city in the world? One of the city’s most popular music venues for Australian artists and smaller international bands is the Corner Hotel. I’ve personally seen a few gigs here over the years.
43. Go to the theatre
Melbourne is home to many historic theatres where you can see shows like School of Rock, The Book of Mormon, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
44. Check out a comedy show
Spleen Bar hosts free comedy shows on Monday nights, where gold coin donations are appreciated.
45. Visit ACMI
ACMI is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Located in Fed Square, it’s currently being redeveloped but also includes interesting free and paid exhibitions.
46. Enjoy a festival
Melbourne hosts a lot of festivals and fun events throughout the year. Sports-wise, there’s Boxing Day Cricket, the AFL Grand Final, the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Australian Open. Fun-wise, there’s the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, St Kilda Festival, Melbourne Music Week and White Night Melbourne.
Yes, one of the most fun things to do in Melbourne is escape the city for the day. I’ve written a post all about the best day trips to do from Melbourne, but here’s a brief recap.
47. Drive along the Great Ocean Road
I’ve previously done an organised day tour to the Great Ocean Road and it was fantastic. It’s a long day, but you can see a lot of the Great Ocean Road in one day. Here’s my tour review in case you’re interested.
48. Enjoy the beaches along the Mornington Peninsula
The Mornington Peninsula is a bit closer to Melbourne. There are several seaside towns to visit, which are known for their food and beaches. Here’s an organised tour option.
49. Head to the country
You can easily catch a train from Melbourne to country towns like Ballarat and Bendigo. However, if you’re more of an organised day tour person, here’s a Ballarat option that includes admission to Sovereign Hill.
50. Drink wine in the Yarra Valley
One of the reasons people visit Melbourne is because it’s so close to the Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s best wine regions. There are organised tours available, which is definitely the way to go if you want to do some sampling.
51. Visit Phillip Island
Finally, Phillip Island is only about 1.5 hours from Melbourne. I visited quite a few years ago but I remember being enamoured by the beautiful rocky coastline. I also loved visiting the Penguin Parade. It’s a must-do experience on Phillip Island. Here’s an organised tour option.