8 Must-See Melbourne Attractions and Fun Activities
Make the most of our top 8 must-see Melbourne attractions and fun activities. As world class cities go, Melbourne’s best attractions rival even those of Sydney. We would argue that Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, is one of ‘those’ cities. Whatever you’re looking for you can find it here. From sophisticated cultural immersion to lazy beach life and everything in between. Regarded as the sporting, dining, cultural and style capital of Australia, Melbourne has elegance and pizzazz. Many visitors – no matter what age, interest range or background, find this irresistible.
Melbourne is the venue for several major sporting events. From rooftops to hidden alleyways, the city is also jam-packed with things to do. There are museums, galleries, vibrant live music venues, theatres, funky shopping and restaurants. These range from exclusive to Bohemian – and 100 other delights.
Each district or suburb tends to have its own distinct flavour. For example, if you are in search of a real multicultural melting pot vibe head to the inner east district of Fitzroy. This is where Melbourne’s best ethnic cuisine, reading like a gourmet’s A-Z, is dished up day and night. On the other hand, if you are in search of some refined arts performances head to the Southbank where ballet, opera and theatre are all found.
There is so much to see and do in Melbourne that you could spend several months here and still only scrape the surface. But if your time is a little more limited a few of the most popular must-dos are covered below.
Melbourne Attractions – Royal Botanic Gardens
With vast collections of native and exotic flora, the 3.8 hectares of the Royal Botanic Gardens are a mix of stunning vistas. The Gardens attract 1.8 million visitors each year.
There are tranquil lakes, plenty of native bird life – including cockatoos and kookaburras – and many walks and tours. The Children’s Garden will also keep children amused for ages. They can play hide-and-seek in the bamboo forest or crawl through the plant tunnels.
Melbourne Attractions – Queen Victoria Market
No visit to Melbourne is complete without at least one visit to the huge, vibrant and culturally diverse Queen Victoria Market! If you’re on the hunt for knick-knacks you are going to be in heaven. Even if you are not looking to buy anything, the total experience of this iconic Melbourne landmark is a lot of fun. If you start to get peckish, grab yourself a bite to eat from the range of ethnic foods on offer. There’s breakfast or lunch on the go, often at bargain prices.
Melbourne Attractions – Eureka Skydeck
It’s the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere! The Eureka Skydeck offers spectacular views of Melbourne and beyond. It’s a great way to get your bearings of this vibrant city. A ‘Sun and Stars’ ticket gives visitors a double entry to drink in the views both during daylight and at night.
For those with solid stomachs there is a glass cube that extends beyond the building’s vertical line to take you ‘over the edge’.
Melbourne Attractions – National Sports Museum
Melbourne is sports mad. Every year Melbourne hosts the Australian leg of the F1 Grand Prix at Albert Park. Each January it hosts the Australian Open for tennis. In November one of the world’s most famous horse races – the Melbourne Cup – is run here. Melbourne is home to some of Australia’s most historic and iconic sports grounds and stadiums. It doesn’t end there either – there are plenty more Melbourne attractions of the sporting kind to be found!
The National Sports Museum celebrates the region’s long-standing sporting tradition. There is a fabulous collection of sports heritage artefacts and memorabilia housed here. Visitors tend to exit the museum raving about this attraction. There are also interactive experiences designed to keep the whole family entertained.
Melbourne Attractions – Shrine of Remembrance
The imposing Shrine of Remembrance is something of an iconic landmark in Melbourne. More importantly it is a memorial to every Australian who has fallen while serving the country in armed conflict.
The Shrine’s setting amid gardens and lawns is respectfully serene. Inside the Shrine an air of contemplation and tranquillity prevails. Thousands visit each year to remember, pay their respects and learn of the heroic sacrifices. Entrance to the Shrine is free but if you want to make a donation, there is a donation box available.
There is also a Shrine-encircling viewing platform for great views of Melbourne.
Melbourne Attractions – National Gallery of Victoria
Split over two locations, the National Gallery of Victoria is Australia’s oldest and largest art gallery. It showcases Australian and international art as well as furniture, artefacts, textiles, ceramics, photography and more. It has both a permanent collection and regular special exhibitions. The stained glass ceiling and glass walls leave many feeling the building itself is a work of art.
Australian Aboriginal art and Colonial period exhibits rub shoulders with modern works. The international collection includes the likes of Rembrandt, Rubens, Picasso, Renoir and Monet.
Melbourne Attractions – Melbourne Museum
No visit to Melbourne would be complete without a visit to the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere. This Melbourne attraction is the forever stable of one of Australia’s greatest ever sporting icons. The preserved and stuffed hide of the mighty thoroughbred racehorse Pharlap stands forever enclosed in a glass stall. Pharlap though was more than ‘just’ a racehorse. Granted, he was a great racehorse, even by today’s standards. But Pharlap was also a symbol of hope during the Great Depression when Australians needed one. He was living proof that the underdog could triumph, could take on the world, and win.
Aside from probably its most famous exhibit, the Melbourne Museum also has plenty of other fascinating things to see. There are dinosaurs, the Forest Gallery, the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Te Pasifika Gallery, the Touring Hall for visiting exhibitions, a Children’s Gallery and much more. Right next door to the museum is the World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building, another iconic Melbourne structure.
Melbourne Things To Do – Rent a Bike
When it comes to things to do in Melbourne renting a bike is a great way to give yourself a self-guided city tour. There is an excellent bike path network, a range of set trails and mostly flat terrain. It’s very popular with visitors. As a result bike rentals are almost everywhere and at competitive prices.
Beyond Melbourne – Points Of Interest
Although there is enough to keep you busy in Melbourne itself, the surrounding areas also have a diverse range of attractions. This is ideal for those who want to explore a little further. All are easy to reach via the organised tours that begin in the city itself. There are also public transport and self-drive options. And ever further out, beyond the urban confines of Melbourne the surrounding bushland offers up a host of natural attractions.
1) The Great Ocean Road
There can’t be many places in the world where a road is a tourist attraction in itself! With 243 km of Victorian coast scenery on offer – much of it of the stunning variety – the Great Ocean Road is THE must-do drive of Australia.
Diverse terrains offer an ever-changing vista of Australia’s natural landscape. Along the way there are some very memorable sights. Like the incredible limestone stack formations known as ‘The Twelve Apostles’.
2) Wildlife on Phillip Island
Most people come to Phillip Island for one thing only – penguins……. Little penguins to be precise. This is the world’s largest little penguin colony. Here you can watch them in their thousands as they waddle ashore every evening. You can also get up close and personal with Australia’s cutest national symbol – the koala.
3) Other Melbourne Points Of Interest
Also easily accessible are the majestic mountain landscapes of the Dandenong Ranges. The Puffing Billy narrow gauge railway runs through here. There are also a wealth of wine tours which take you into one of Australia’s most famous wine producing regions. Indeed, when it comes to the list of beyond Melbourne points of interest, there are far more than we can cover here!
Stunning beaches, awe-inspiring mountains, lush bushland, urban cultural delights and a touch of everything. That’s the magic that draws visitors to Australia and Melbourne really does have it all.