MelbourneTravel Guide

Carlton for authentic Italian food, Footscray for Ethiopian eateries, the best Greek food outside of Greece and – you get the idea. Set to become Australia’s most populous city in the next few years, Melbourne is a hub of cultures, characters and irrepressible creative energy. It has the country’s most enviable events calendar, with festivals for music, film, design, food, wine and theatre, as well as sports events that stop the nation. If you’re planning a holiday in Victoria’s capital, explore our Melbourne travel guide and find out how to make the most of your time in this dynamic city. We’ve collected the best tips from our travel experts, and have the best advice on things to do, when to travel (including which super busy weekends to avoid), where to stay, getting around and more. There’s also a guide to Melbourne Airport if you’re jetting in from out of town. 

Melbourne quick facts

Language

National language

English

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

AUD $4.00

Local time

Tuesday

12:43am

Currency

Australian dollar

AUD

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

AUD $23.00

Electricity

Plug type: I

3 pins • 230V

Explore Melbourne

Where to stay in Melbourne?

Melbourne is a vibrant, diverse city, and each suburb has a distinct vibe of its own. Some of the best areas to stay in Melbourne include fashionable Fitzroy for a touch of class, Southbank if you love the buzz of the city’s cafe and restaurant culture, St Kilda for a relaxing day by the sea, and Brunswick for the true bohemian Melbourne experience. 

Basing yourself in the city proper is one of the best ways to put yourself near most of Melbourne's most exciting attractions. There's so much to see and do just within the 5km that comprise the CDB – that knocking items off your to-do list every day will be a breeze. Further, staying in the city means that every possible amenity from restaurants to gyms will be readily available to you. 


Another area with wide hotel variety, staying in Docklands will put you even closer to Southern Cross Station! Shop ‘til you drop at DFO South Wharf, take a ride on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, or head to Etihad Stadium to see the Dons play the Saints before retiring to your hotel only a few short blocks away. Staying in Docklands puts a little bit of everything Melbourne has to offer right at your doorstep. 


Southbank and South Melbourne are home to the city's arts precincts as well as the famed sprawling Crown Entertainment Complex. This area boasts a dense collection of hotels with rooms available year-round. Located a short walk from Southern Cross Station on Spencer Street, this is an especially great spot to be if you're looking to immerse yourself in Melbourne's cultural atmosphere but still be able to move around the city with ease. 


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  • open air market at nighttime
    • Botanic gardens with lake
    • Twelve apostles coastline
  • open air market at nighttime
    open air market at nighttime
    open air market at nighttime
  • Botanic gardens with lake
    Botanic gardens with lake
    Botanic gardens with lake
  • Twelve apostles coastline
    Twelve apostles coastline
    Twelve apostles coastline

Things to do in Melbourne

When looking for things to do in Melbourne, it’s all too easy to find yourself with a very long list and nowhere near enough time to do it all! After all, this is one of Australia’s largest and most cosmopolitan destinations. From good food to retail therapy, from a reflective bushwalk through tranquil surrounds to a thorough exploration of the city’s thriving arts and culture scene, there’s an activity to excite everyone. The good news is, with a little help from our Melbourne holiday guide and some careful planning, you can look forward to an exciting Victorian getaway that you’ll remember for many years to come.

In almost any other city in the world, the locals advise against walking into an alleyway unguarded. In Melbourne, not only is this advisable, it's actively encouraged. Melbourne laneways are a haven for small businesses and taking the time to thoroughly explore them is a unique travel experience. Sample coffee, antiques, and high fashion – all in the same laneway.


The famous Brighton Beach Boxes have been a popular fixture on the shoreline since 1862. These colourful, unique landmarks change hands only rarely and sell from owner to owner for record prices. They are indelibly linked with Melbourne in the minds of locals and travellers alike, regularly appearing on postcards and promotional materials for the city. 

 


The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is one of Melbourne's largest and most well-regarded art museums. Located on St Kilda Rd, the NGV features a large collection of art work, artefacts, and permanent installations from all around the world. Its regular, large-scale exhibits focus on specific artists or periods not covered by the existing collection. Better yet, entry is free! 


A popular Melbourne tourist attraction, this observation deck sits atop the country's second-tallest tower and offers a truly incredible view of the city year-round. Positioned on Eureka Tower's 88th floor, the Skydeck also features a wonderful restaurant. Test your fortitude against The Edge, a glass cube that gives you even more sensational views – but only if you're brave enough! 


If you're looking for art that is less classical and more modern, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) should be your first stop. A short walk from the NGV, ACCA is home to some of Australia's boldest and most original modern artists. There's always something on, admission is free, and new installations appear every few months. 


The Melbourne Museum has only been in its current location within Carlton Gardens since 2000 after moving from the State Library Building in 1997. As one of the best museums in Melbourne and most authoritative sources on the history of the city, Melbourne Museum is perfect for exploring the real story of how this cultural hub became what it is today. 


The Melbourne Cricket Ground is an iconic sports venue and home to many historic sporting events, including the annual Boxing Day Test cricket match and the AFL Grand Final. Visit for a thrilling game of football, or take a tour of the impressive stadium. 


One of Melbourne's most popular destinations, St Kilda Beach is home to some of the city's most iconic venues like Luna Park and the Palais Theatre. This is one of Victoria's most beautiful waterfront stretches, perfect for a swim or just spending an afternoon exploring the promenade. St Kilda is equally fabulous in the evening, so don't be afraid to return after dark! 


Construction on St Paul's Cathedral Melbourne was completed in 1931, and it remains the seat of the Archbishop of Melbourne today. It stands on the site of the first public Christian service conducted in Melbourne in 1836. An incredible building, its design and scale are unlike any other in the city. This is another must-see Melbourne landmark, particularly if you're interested in Australian history. 


A prison that operated from 1845 to 1924, and a place that once hosted some of Australia's most notorious criminals like Ned Kelly and Frederick Deeming, the Old Melbourne Gaol is another important stop for local history buffs. Located on Russell Street, the site is open by day for tours and visits to the attached museum. 


The Great Ocean Road is a bucket-list item for many Australian travellers. This 240km stretch of seaside road from Torquay and Allensford is as scenic as it is lengthy. From the Twelve Apostles rock formation to Teddy's Lookout in the coastal town of Lorne, this is a day trip that will easily satisfy your Melbourne sightseeing quota. 


Australian productions of big Broadway shows often make their debut in Melbourne. From raucous musicals at the historic Princess Theatre to more staid productions, there's a show running any time of year to suit everyone. Melbourne is also home to a bustling community theatre scene so there's always something great to see – no matter what your interests or budget. 


The above options are far from all Melbourne has to offer culturally. If you want more galleries and museums, there's the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) at Federation Square, or the White Nights festival, an after-dark exhibit that projects local art onto the side of city buildings in February. Don't forget the venerable Astor Theatre either! 


Rod Laver Arena is a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue in Melbourne, hosting major events, such as the Australian Open tennis tournament, concerts, and performances throughout the year. Each January this is home to the world-famous Australian Open!


Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Melbourne travel tips

When planning a trip to Melbourne, there are a few travel tips to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Firstly, it's recommended to purchase a myki card for public transportation, which can be used on trains, trams, and buses throughout the city. Melbourne is known for its changeable weather, so it's a good idea to pack layers and check the forecast regularly. Additionally, visitors should take advantage of the city's diverse food and coffee scene, but be aware that tipping is not expected in Australia. Finally, it's important to be mindful of the city's strict smoking laws, which prohibit smoking in many public spaces.

Get a myki card for public transportation: A myki card can be used on trains, trams, and buses throughout the city, and can be purchased at train stations, convenience stores, and online.


Melbourne is renowned for its diverse food and coffee culture, so make sure to try some local favorites, such as brunch, dumplings, and flat whites.


Smoking is prohibited in many public spaces in Melbourne, including outdoor dining areas, beaches, and parks.


Melbourne's weather can be unpredictable, so it's a good idea to bring layers that can be easily added or removed depending on the temperature.


Tipping is not expected in Australia, so it's not necessary to leave a gratuity for servers or bartenders.


To avoid long lines and crowds, it's a good idea to book tickets in advance for popular attractions, such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the National Gallery of Victoria, and the Great Ocean Road.


Flights to Melbourne

Melbourne food and drink

Knowing where to eat in Melbourne is a challenge, but not in the traditional sense. Melbourne takes the quality of its food and drink very seriously, and this can make choosing a restaurant difficult – because it’s all so good! For visiting foodies, it’s a kind of pilgrimage, a quest to sample as much incredible food as possible before returning home. Some of the city's most popular dining destinations include the bustling Chinatown, the trendy Fitzroy neighborhood, and the Southbank promenade, which offers stunning views of the city skyline. For those looking for a more upscale dining experience, Melbourne has no shortage of award-winning restaurants, such as Attica, Vue de Monde, and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Visitors can also indulge in Melbourne's famous brunch scene, it is the capital of coffee after all. 

When one thinks of Melbourne food markets, the first that leaps to mind is often the sprawling Queen Victoria Market north of Elizabeth Street. There are, of course, many other markets of note within the city – it's a short walk to the South Melbourne Market and you'll find the Prahran Market and Carlton Farmers Market a short bus ride away. 


When it comes to an evening on the town, few cities can hold a candle to Melbourne's bars and nightlife. By day, the city's cafe culture is king. By night, that cafe culture transfers to Melbourne's many bars, taverns, and hotels. Brunswick is a great pub district, but if that's not your thing, take in one of Melbourne's many nocturnal activities like a ghost hunt at the Old Melbourne Gaol! 


Ask a local to recommend you some Melbourne restaurant precincts and they'll probably reply, “Have you been to Lygon Street yet?” A great example of Melbourne fine-dining, Lygon Street bristles with family businesses serving incredible food. If that's out of your way, Southbank is home to many quality restaurants and the Chinatown district is packed with authentic Asian cuisine. 


The question of where to find good coffee in Melbourne, like the question of where to eat, is more about being spoiled for choice than anything else. Entering any laneway will reveal numerous Melbourne cafes all serving truly delicious coffee. Recommending the best coffee in Melbourne is difficult, so instead we'll suggest that you experiment and decide for yourself. Try as many coffees and cafes as you can! 


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Melbourne through your eyes

Where to shop in Melbourne?

Melbourne shopping just isn’t like shopping anywhere else. It’s better. From sprawling shopping centres to small family businesses, the savvy shopper can discover treasures without travelling too far or spending too much. If you love a bargain hunt, read through our Melbourne shopping guide below so you can make the most of retail therapy during your stay in the city. 

Queen Victoria Market (QVM), as with all great Melbourne markets, boasts far more than just delicious food. QVM, like other sites such as South Melbourne Markets, the Docklands Sunday Market or Prahran Market, is packed with wares of every sort, from clothing to electronics, all at extremely affordable prices. Head in, explore, grab a bargain, and find some great holiday mementos. 


The Bourke Street Mall is easily one of the most recognisable Melbourne shopping precincts – and for good reason! It's central, and it's packed with outlets selling incomparable Melbourne fashion. There are plenty of city trams that will take you there directly too. When you're looking to escape the heart of the CDB, there are also fabulous shopping precincts on Chapel Street and The Strand Melbourne. 


Knowing what to buy in Melbourne is much easier when you can spend some time exploring the many amazing Melbourne shopping centres like Chadstone. The Bourke Street Mall is a unique open-air shopping experience for the fashion-forward, but if you want to support independent designers and the local fashion industry be sure to visit the legendary Brunswick Street. 


Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Melbourne?

Picking the best time to travel down south may seem like a challenge due to the famously unpredictable weather in Melbourne, but the truth is there are benefits to visiting at any time of year. From museums to beautiful sandy beaches, Melbourne has plenty to offer no matter the current season. Knowing what to expect from each season is the key to planning a great visit to Melbourne as this will allow you to put a backup plan in place should the weather turn on you. You don’t want to plan for a full day of sun only to have the rain roll in at 2pm! 

Many would argue that the best time to visit Melbourne is during the summer. Summer brings a dry heat that lasts from December to February. Being a dry heat, humidity is kept low but warm temperatures can persist into the evening. This is perfect weather for beach trips and cool drinks with friends. However, you may see afternoon thunderstorms blowing in over Port Phillip Bay as the cool change arrives each afternoon. Appropriate clothing: T-shirt and shorts, or any outfit that breathes. Don't forget: Sunscreen. 


Melbourne winters aren't for the faint of heart. An arctic chill blows into the city, dropping temperatures to 10°C and below. The Melbourne rainfall also makes a reappearance as the colder weather moves in, making the winter months perfect for those who'd prefer to spend their time indoors visiting galleries and museums or keeping cosy in cafes. Appropriate clothing: Jumper, jacket, thick pants, gloves, and a beanie. Don't forget: A good hot water bottle! 


Autumn is the time of year when Melbourne is at its most beautiful. The leaves of the city's many deciduous trees turn yellow and begin to fall, transforming the hinterland areas to the east into a riot of colour. The typically erratic Melbourne temperature finally finds a little equilibrium in autumn, resting comfortably between about 12°C and 19°C each day. Appropriate clothing: Outfits for both warm days and cool nights. Don't forget: The “golden period” for falling leaves is mid-May, so plan your trip accordingly if you don't want to miss this. 


Of the four Melbourne seasons, there are none the locals love as much as spring. The trees begin to bloom and the temperature starts to rise back into the high teens and low twenties – warm enough to get out and about again! Spring is the perfect time to visit if you're planning to trawl the city's many streets and laneways for surprises. Appropriate clothing: A light coat for dips in temperature. Don't forget: Some antihistamines if you're sensitive to pollen. 


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How to get around Melbourne

Melbourne is a highly walkable city, with many of its main attractions located within a few kilometers of each other. However, if you're looking to cover more ground, the city has an extensive public transportation network that includes trains, trams, and buses. The city's trams are an iconic feature and a great way to see the city while getting around, and there are also several bike-sharing schemes available for those who prefer to cycle.

Trams are the most enduring Melbourne public transport tradition. They've been in place forever, are extremely quick, convenient and efficient, and locals wonder how other cities do without them. Melbourne trams typically appear at each stop once every 10-15 minutes, and there's a stop at every major city attraction. Staying in the CBD? Enjoy the Free Tram Zone! 


As in many cities around the world, one of the most common sights on Victorian roads is that of the humble Melbourne taxi. Multiple taxi and ride share companies operate across Melbourne, all of which offer different levels of service. From Silver Top to the familiar pale yellow taxis, taking a cab is still the most direct way to get to your destination. 


There's still a lot to be said for exploring a new city on foot, and Melbourne is certainly built for that. With extensive pedestrian trails through the CBD and suburbs, walking Melbourne is easily one of the best ways to see the city and uncover secrets and laneways you'd never find on a bike or in a car. Take your time! 


Melbourne's bus network is wide-ranging but is often forgotten in the face of trains and trams. Easy to read, each stop is clearly labelled with the lines it hosts and where they will be stopping. Most will let you know when to get off should you require a connecting bus, making getting around Melbourne a breeze. 


Melbourne Bike Share is a great way to see the city at your own pace and on a budget. Get yourself a daily or weekly subscription through the Bike Share website, locate one of the many racks of blue share bikes throughout the city, and get on your way! Helmets are provided free of charge and are available at each rack. 


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What are the best beaches in Melbourne?

Melbourne city sits on Port Philip Bay so one thing its beaches have in common is that they are calm, not like some of the world-renowned surf beaches further down the Great Ocean Road. That’s not a negative, by the way. Unless you’re an experienced surfer after an adrenaline hit, the relaxing beaches in Melbourne are, in fact, quite perfect. They’re usually close to great cafes serving outrageously good coffee (Melbourne, remember), they’re family-friendly, they’re ideal for water sports, they’re often near parks, picnic spots and walking paths, and many are easily accessible by public transport. Whatever your preference, Melbourne has a beach to suit.

Let’s start with what is arguably Melbourne’s most famous stretch of sand: St Kilda Beach. Nestled between the St Kilda Pier and the St Kilda Marina lighthouse, St Kilda beach is a wide, sandy beach just a 25-minute tram ride from downtown Melbourne. There’s always something happening here too, from live music to the chance to spot little penguins at the St Kilda Breakwater. The seaside suburb also gives you the chance to relive the resort experience of days gone by with a dip in the heated seawater spas and pools at the historic St Kilda Sea Baths. 


Travelling south from here, the great Melbourne beaches continue. Half Moon Bay Beach at Black Rock, about a 40-minute drive south from Melbourne city, is a popular and pristine beach. Surrounded by rugged scenery, the beach gives you the feeling that you’re in a remote destination, far from urban life. Offshore is the sunken HMVS Cerberus battleship built in the 1870s and sunk in the bay in 1926 to create a breakwater for the Black Rock Yacht Club.  


Keep heading south, and about an hour away from Melbourne is Mount Martha Beach, one of the best beaches on the Mornington Peninsula. Mount Martha Beach is 2km long, divided into two equal halves by the mouth of Balcombe Creek. It too has historic bathing boxes, and is a haven of golden sand and gentle, lapping waves. 


When it comes to seaside traditions of the past, however, nothing beats the Insta-perfect row of colourful bathing boxes at Brighton Beach. Built more than a century ago when ideas about bathing costumes were a little more ... er, modest, these 82 distinctive bathing boxes make Brighton Beach one of the most iconic beaches in Australia. Brighton Beach itself is a lovely swimming beach with golden sand and calm waters, which is why it’s been a favourite of Melbournians for generations. 


A rugged and wild coastline with some of the best surf spots in the country, including Bells Beach and Torquay. Best pack your wetsuit, even in summer the cool waters of Bass Strait can be icy! 


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What are the best parks in Melbourne?

Melbourne is famous for its ‘four seasons in one day’ unpredictability, so it’s no surprise that locals are always quick to take advantage of sunny weather. This may also be why Melbourne parks are some of the most picturesque and relaxing in the entire country. Take some time out of your busy schedule to appreciate Victorian flora in all its splendour. Beyond this, Melbourne’s public squares are equally worthy of note. The people here are collaborative and social by their very nature, and this is reflected in the places they love to congregate. 

Melbournians remain divided on how they feel about Federation Square, even years after its construction. The square's abstract design originally left locals bemused, but it has become as much a part of the landscape as Flinders Street Station, which sits opposite. Federation Square is home to bars, cafes and entertainment complexes, and it plays host to open-air public events during the week. 


The gorgeous, leafy Queen Victoria Gardens lie opposite the National Gallery of Victoria, just across the bridge from Flinders Street Station. Home to attractions like Cook's Cottage, as well as numerous picturesque spots for a picnic or short break among the hustle and bustle of the city, this is one of Melbourne's finest and most respected urban gardens. 


If you love getting back to nature or spending an afternoon in tranquil surrounds (all without venturing too far from the city), the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is the place to go. Immerse yourself among the sprawling collection of indigenous and exotic flora. Best of all, the Gardens are free to visit, though you're encouraged to make a small donation to help fund conservation efforts. 


The oldest public park in Melbourne, Flagstaff Gardens was opened in 1862 and has been one of the city's most beloved and frequently visited parks ever since. The former Royal Mint, a preserved relic of the Victorian Gold Rush era, lies at the south end of the park while the north sections hosts the Queen Victoria Market. 

 


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Ski and snow in Melbourne

While Melbourne itself doesn't get snow, there are several ski resorts within a few hours' drive of the city. Mt Buller is the most popular, with over 300 hectares of skiable terrain, a range of accommodation options, and a lively après-ski scene. Falls Creek is another great option, with over 90 runs, a dedicated beginner's area, and stunning alpine views. Mt Hotham is known for its challenging terrain and deep powder, while Lake Mountain offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails.

 

 


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Melbourne Frequently asked questions

Your appetite! Melbourne is known as the culinary capital of Australia, so be sure to pack plenty of loose-fitting attire so you can scoff and sip to your heart’s content. In terms of packing essentials, locals joke that Melbourne weather experiences ‘four seasons in one day’, so opt for layers and comfortable shoes. Pack light, the shopping in Melbourne is next level.


Get wonderfully lost in the laneways of Melbourne's CBD and discover quirky cafes, street art and boutique stores. Take a stroll along St Kilda beach or roll out a rug and enjoy some fish and chips as the sun sinks. Phillip Island Nature Park’s world-famous Penguin Parade is a must for first timers, while sports lovers can’t miss the chance to catch a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).


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Melbourne is incredible all year round, so it really depends on what you hope to see and do while you’re in town. Autumn (March, April, May) bathes the city in beautiful ambers and browns, while winter (June, July, August) is the perfect excuse to rug up in warm coats and scarfs. If you’re heading in summer, be sure to pack your swimsuit to soak in the sunshine on St Kilda beach.


Sip your way around Melbourne’s famous cafes, or better yet, learn the art for yourself with a coffee-making class. Get lost in laneways, watch the seriously adorable Penguin Parade, catch a game at the MCG, take a ride on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, explore on foot, discover the city’s famous culinary culture, browse boutiques, hit the markets, roll out a towel on St Kilda beach, see a show, find hidden bars – the list goes on and on!


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