St Kilda beach, people swimming in water and lounging on sand
St Kilda has a laid-back vibe, with plenty of beach to be enjoyed in addition to incredible cafés and shops.
Photo Credit: Anna Ashton

Top 10 Attractions to Soak Up in Melbourne

Things to Do in Melbourne

With a population of 4.8 million, Melbourne is absolutely buzzing with energy. I’ve managed to fit in quite a lot of sights while I have been here and I haven’t even scratched the surface. Melbourne is huge; no matter which direction you head in, there is always something to do.

The best way to get around to all the sites and attractions? Trams. Without question, they are the most cost effective and convenient way of getting around Melbourne. I’d never been on a tram before, so the geek in me was rather excited to even just see one.

The payment method for travel in Victoria — the state Melbourne is located in — is Myki cards. These are much like Oyster cards (London) and MetroCard (New York).

I purchased my Myki Card at a local post office with a weekly pass, which I just topped up each week I was there. You can buy Myki cards from over 800 retail outlets including 7-Eleven, post offices and anywhere that has the Myki sign.

Before you start your journey, I highly recommend downloading the Public Transport Victoria app from the App Store. This app is incredibly helpful and easy to understand. Features include:

  • Journey planner.
  • Real-time tram tracker.
  • Real-time map.
  • All-night public transport for weekends.
  • Next five departures.
  • Transport network maps.

Like I said above, Melbourne is huge and I would suggest more than one visit or at least a lengthy stay to truly be able to take in half of what this great city has to offer. With that being said, below you will find some of my favorite things to do in Melbourne that absolutely should be experienced while here.

1. St Kilda

St Kilda is buzzing with a very cool, laid-back energy and has tons of places to eat and drink. If you are looking for somewhere to have a nice cold drink or fill your belly, you may want to hit up Acland Street — it has got it all going on. From busy bars to laid-back cafés to deliciously sinful cake shops, you will be spoiled for choices.

One of my favorites here has been Republica, which sits right on the beachfront and provides some spectacular sunset views while enjoying some seaside dining. The vibe at Republica is relaxed and they have some great live music on the weekends.

Street with cars and mountain in background.Warburton might not be on your radar, but it certainly should be.Photo Credit: Wikimedia

2. Warburton

Warburton is a country town about 72 kilometers east of Melbourne’s central business district with a population of around 3,000 — including surrounding areas. Warburton wasn’t actually anywhere on my radar, but a couple of friends were kind enough to invite us along and now it is probably one of my favorite places.

The town itself is lined with a few cafés, ice creams bars, thrift stores and even a little confectionery store selling imports from around the world. While in Warburton we had lunch at Three Sugar’s Café, which I highly recommend as I experienced the best eggs Benedict I have ever had in my entire life; in fact all four of us were big fans of the food here.

If you are in the mood for a stroll after having a meal here, just behind the café is a part of the Yarra River. If you cross over the bridge here, you will find a nice little trail to walk while enjoying the river views.

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Forest of redwood treesWalking among California Redwoods is a sight to behold.Photo Credit: Anna Ashton

3. Redwood Forest

Just a 15-minute drive from Warburton, you will find the Redwood Forest, which is home to a beautiful tree plantation of Californian Redwoods. What makes this particular plantation special for me is the layout. You can stand in the middle of this forest and every direction you turn creates a grand walkway.

This area actually reminded me a lot of the Haunted Forest in “Game of Thrones”… minus the white walkers, obviously. If, like me, you are into your photography, the Redwood Forest is really a must-do activity.

Paintings covering red walls in museumBe sure to visit the International Art Exhibitions while you are there, featuring 70,000 works of art.Photo Credit: Anna Ashton

4. National Gallery of Victoria

This place is epic and is one of my absolute favorites. I spent the majority of my time here with my eyes wide and mouth gaping, as there are some seriously stunning artworks here. The NGV is another place where I would recommend you check their website before planning your visit.

They have some incredible special events and limited exhibitions as well as some awesome workshops for both adults and kids. I recommend checking out the International Art Exhibitions, which features 70,000 works of art spanning thousands of years.

It truly is incredible and something I had to be dragged away from, literally; I spent an obscene amount of time in that particular set of rooms.

Dinosaur skeleton at Melbourne MuseumBe sure to research what exhibits are running at the Melbourne Museum before you plan your visit.Photo Credit: Anna Ashton

5. Melbourne Museum

Located on Nicholson Street, Carlton and just a 15-minute walk from Melbourne Central, Melbourne Museum provides a fun day out to learn about Victoria’s history. Great for families and couples alike, the museum has exhibitions such as the Dinosaur walk, Darwin to DNA, The First People’s and Dynamic Earth and many more to keep you entertained.

It’s also a good idea to check out the museum website before planning your visit, as they do tend to have some special events and exhibitions from time to time. Melbourne Museum has a lot of interactive activities throughout many of the exhibitions and a few photography opportunities too.

My favorite exhibitions here were the Dinosaur Walk and The Mind — an exhibit about the history of determining how the brain works, which featured some historical medical objects and key figures, as well as a pretty cool interactive section on mental health.

If you are planning on spending the day at the museum, I would advise bringing a packed lunch. The museum does have a couple of cafés, but I found them to be very limited in choice and quite expensive for what you get.

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Narrow laneway lined with shops and cafes.You'll love wandering the laneways of Melbourne, exploring quaint cafés and unique shops.Photo Credit: Anna Ashton

6. Melbourne Laneways and Arcades

The laneways and arcades of Melbourne mostly date back to the Victorian era and are a hot spot for tourists and photographers alike. Best described as a maze within the backstreets of the city, these lanes are filled with funky bars, bustling cafés and some seriously impressive street art.

The arcades are filled with unique little boutiques and clothing stores, as well as some classy little cafés and juice bars. I spent most of my time here taking some photography shots, but we did stop for lunch at an incredible little restaurant called Claypots Barbarossa on Hardware lane, which I highly recommend.

Claypots offers some impressive, delicious seafood dishes in a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere and also has restaurants in south Melbourne and St Kilda.

Tables and stalls at the Queen Victoria MarketYou can find almost anything at the Queen Victoria Market. Photo Credit: Anna Ashton

7. Queen Victoria Market

Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market (QVM) has been operating since 1878 and is the largest of Melbourne’s great 19th-century markets. Among other things, the stalls at QVM sell clothing, souvenirs, watches, jewelry, bags, luggage, gadgets, phone accessories and fresh produce.

QVM also has a food court offering many different worldly dishes and some great smoothie bars. If you cross through or past the food court, you will find your way into the meat and fish section of the markets and if you continue through those you will eventually find yourself in the deli markets.

On my visit, the fresh produce, meat and fish and deli markets were by far the busiest and most entertaining. Be sure to pay attention to some of the stalls lining the outskirts of the main markets, as they have some pretty cool stalls there selling fantastic art pieces and unique sugar skull products.

Street with cars parked along side and shopsStroll the sidewalks and peek into stores and unique eateries and bars.Photo Credit: Wikimedia

8. Chapel Street

Fair warning, Chapel Street is long and that is not necessarily a bad thing as this street has shopping and dining for miles. If you are looking for upmarket designers, you are going to want to head for the South Yarra end where you will find a huge selection of fashion designers ready to pull you in.

Heading over to the Windsor end of Chapel Street, you find yourself surrounded by funky retailers and unique eateries and bars.

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Overlooking library with study tables and shelvesYou'll be in awe of the architecture and sheer number of books at the State Library.Photo Credit: Getty Images

9. State Library of Victoria

The thought of visiting a library might not be attractive to everyone, but I guarantee this one will impress you. This incredible 19th-century building will leave you in awe of its magnificent architecture.

It’s also a total hot spot for photographers as the domed ceiling in the reading room is an extraordinary sight to behold. Like all libraries, this is a quiet space, so if you do decide to visit, please do be respectful of those reading and studying around you.

Clown face entrance at Luna ParkYou'll be surprised by how much fun is contained within Luna Park.Photo Credit: Anna Ashton

10. Luna Park

If you’re traveling with your kids or you are a big kid, be sure to check out St Kilda’s Luna Park — it is a crazy one. Luna Park is located on the lower esplanade and is home to the world’s oldest and continuously operating roller coaster: The Scenic Railway.

Being a seaside theme park, there are many more rides to go on besides the main attraction, which I found surprising due to the size of the park. The entrance to the park is a huge tourist attraction, as you will see by the photo I provided. Yep, that is a giant freaky clown face.

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