Much like its weather, the city of Melbourne is full of surprises. Around every corner, you can find a different adventure, and probably a perfect flat white, too. (I’m a bonafide Brisbanite, but I will take my hat off to Melbourne’s coffee scene.)
So, from perhaps the nation’s best coffee to a decadent arts scene, colourful laneways, hidden culinary hotspots and vintage shopping, Melbourne is bursting with vibrance, and every traveller should experience it at least once in their lifetime.
Here are our picks of the best things to do in Melbourne.
Drive the Great Ocean Road
We’re going to start with this one, even though we know, we know, it’s not exactly in Melbourne. However, this great 243-kilometre road is super close to Melbourne, and it’s one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives.
Essentially, when you drive the Great Ocean Road, you’re treated to picture-perfect views around almost every glorious bend: on one side, craggily cliffs and sparkling ocean as far as the eye can see – and on the other, beautiful, untamed wilderness.
So, if you’re heading to Melbourne, it is well worth experiencing any inch of the Great Ocean Road while you’re in the vicinity. You can jump on in Torquay, which is about an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD.
And don’t worry, we’ve got extremely affordable car hire sorted for you. You’re welcome.
Shop Melbourne’s many markets and boutiques
After a successful shop in the Victorian capital, you can unashamedly show off a unique look and smugly tell your friends that it came from a hidden vintage shop in Melbourne. Could you get any cooler? We don’t think so.
Melbourne is a mecca for fashion aficionados, with a grand variety of boutiques catering to a grand variety of styles – or enticing you to try a new one on for size.
The inner-city suburb of Fitzroy abounds with boutiques. Shop for local designer goods at Leonard St or Obus, or find your funky new look at The Lair or The Standard Store. You might also like to nab that vintage steal from one of many second-hand shops on Sydney Road in Brunswick.
Melbourne’s no slouch in the markets department, either, if that’s more your style. For popular, open-air markets be sure to visit the Queen Victoria Markets. Here, you can spend your dollars on fresh produce, cakes and pastries, flowers, souvenirs, stationery, clothing – the list goes on.
Visit the Melbourne Museum
The Melbourne Museum brings Victorian history back to life through its vibrant exhibitions and interactive displays and is one of Melbourne’s most popular attractions.
A beautiful insight into the state’s natural and cultural history, the Melbourne Museum plays host to a variety of fascinating exhibitions every year. Its staples include a live forest gallery, an insect and spider gallery, an amazing mini mega model gallery, and more than 600 birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians from around the world.
Located in the World Heritage-listed Carlton Gardens, the Melbourne Museum has a backyard that’s as impressive as the history and culture found within its walls. Feast your eyes on the majestic Royal Exhibition Building, built-in 1879-80, as well as ornamental lakes and elaborate fountains, before feeding your brain with facts.
Indulge in Melbourne’s café’s, restaurants and roof-top bars
Melbourne’s known as Australia’s cultural capital, but alongside an impressive arts and culture scene is a pretty awesome food scene as well. I guess it makes sense; you’d have to work up a decent appetite admiring all that art, right?
Evidently, yes. The city is teeming with cafés, restaurants and rooftop bars. As such, finding a decent spot to indulge a craving isn’t difficult, and it’s often fun to do a little exploring without an agenda.
But, for the purpose of this article, we recommend checking out the six-storey Curtin House on Swanson Street for one of Melbourne’s most popular rooftop bars. Visit Lune Croissanterie for an epic croissant, and Attica, a restaurant consistently receiving various industry accolades, including an appearance on the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Relax on the seaside at St Kilda
St Kilda is Melbourne’s much-loved beachside suburb, where sun-washed buildings and palm trees meet sandy shores. About 6 kilometres from the CBD, St Kilda offers the opportunity to swap the city for a stroll along the seashore, or a sail, or kitesurf on the bay.
Wander through the iconic smiling face of Luna Park (for free) and enjoy the many attractions this historic amusement park has to offer. Keep an eye out for the local Fairy Penguin colony along your walk on St Kilda Pier, or catch a show at the art deco theatre, The Palais Theatre.
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