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17 Best Things to Do in Melbourne: Valuable Insider Tips From a Local

Story by: Rikke Joergensen     Date: 5 March 2022    Image by: Canva | Rudy Balasko

9 minutes reading time Australia

Always wanted to visit one of the most liveable cities in the world? Visit Melbourne and indulge in some of the most exquisite cuisines from around the world. Sip on cocktails on a rooftop bar underneath the stars. Go sunbathing at the beach, right at your doorstep. Wander around in art, among churches, city skylines, and other unique architecture. Roam around in beautiful parks. Or take a day trip to some of the most beautiful and unique places in Australia. Melbourne is a destination that truly has it all!

What makes Melbourne unique?

Besides being known as the Sports Capital of the World, Melbourne was named the World’s Most Liveable City seven years in a row! And for good reasons; While people from all over the world come here for the events and good weather, they stay for the culture, lifestyle, and incredible scenery!

It’s one of those places on the globe that offers a little bit of everything. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, a lover of architecture or history, a beach lover, a shopaholic, or an adventurer, Melbourne is the heart of one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the world.

 Melbourne, Australia, Skyline

Where to stay in Melbourne

When visiting Melbourne, there are a ton of options for booking your accommodation. For a local experience, you can book your stay through Airbnb. This platform offers everything from affordable to luxurious, fully equipped apartments. By booking through this website (or their app), you will also support local residents by renting their homes.

But, if you want a more convenient or exclusive stay at one of the many amazing hotels in the city, Melbourne has you covered with plenty of options as well.

A great and helpful site to find your hotel stay in Melbourne is Booking.com. It’s a great platform that offers to filter your search into specific hotel features like distance from the things you want to explore. Both sites also offer free cancellation for an extra fee.

When choosing where to stay in Melbourne, go for the CBD or Southbank area. Southbank is a favorite among many travelers. It’s part of the promenade along the Yarra River, where you can spoil yourself in endless restaurant options, clubs and bars, and designer shops.

In Southbank, you’re only a short walk away from city highlights such as Federation Square, Flinders Street Station (the iconic train station that’ll take you anywhere in Melbourne), Crown Casino, The Royal Botanical Gardens, The National Gallery of Victoria, SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, Eureka Skydeck, and South Melbourne Market.

Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne, Australia

How to get around in Melbourne

Having been part of the top three most liveable cities in the world since 2002, one of the high scores for this particular award is the public transport network in Melbourne.

Public transport in this city is one of the easiest and best ways to get around. You just buy a Myki smartcard, tap, and go!

You can get a Myki card at any 7-Eleven in Melbourne. It doesn’t get any more convenient than that. You will also be able to top up your card here or at any train station.

With the Myki card, you can jump on a tram, train, or bus to explore other places around Melbourne. Keep in mind that trams are free in the CBD. You can find a map of Melbourne’s free tram zone here.

Use Google Maps on your phone to navigate the city, and you will never get lost!

On the other hand, if you want to go for a day trip out of Melbourne City, it’s recommended to rent a car for the day, as the most iconic sceneries and experiences are within a 90-minute drive from the city center. There are also many bus tours available if you don’t feel like driving on the “wrong” side of the road!

And finally, for the ultimate convenience, there’s Uber here! Used by thousands of people every day, there’s always a ride available. Just download the app, put in your destination, and wait to be picked up wherever you are!

Best things to do in Melbourne (according to a local)

In a city with so many options, it’s hard to choose when you only have a limited time to explore! The list below contains some of the local top favorites of the best things to do in Melbourne:

  • Jump on a tram and grab brunch on the iconic Chapel Street that stretches all the way from South Yarra to Windsor and Prahran, where you can spend hours shopping afterward. Be sure to check out Prahran Market as well while you’re there!
  • Try an “Aussie Parma” for lunch at one of the many old hotels, turned pub and restaurant, like the Bell’s Hotel in Southbank, which includes a rooftop bar with skyline views! If you want a little more extravagance, go visit the Garden State Hotel in the CBD.
  • Spend a morning walking around the Art Laneways in Melbourne. Street Art Tours are also available. This is a great way to explore the city on foot and learn some history by a local tour guide.
  • Go to the South Melbourne Market for your coffee fix, and be sure to grab a warm meat pie or one of their famous dim sims on the way out!
  • Take the bus or book an Uber to go for a shopping spree at Chadstone – The Fashion Capital, which is Australia’s largest shopping precinct.
  • Watch the city from above by taking the elevator to the top at the Eureka Skydeck in Southbank, or hop on a helicopter tour for a scenic flight over Melbourne and beyond.
  • Eat a fancy dinner at Crown Casino or somewhere along the Yarra River. The way the city lights up at night around you here is sensational.
  • Go to a sports event at the Melbourne Cricket Ground or Marvel Stadium. The Victorians love their sports, and the atmosphere at any game is just pure electric! Melbourne is, among others, famous for hosting the Australian Open, Formula 1 Racing, AFL, Cricket, and Melbourne Cup, which are all spread throughout the year.
  • Jump on a boat, sail down the Yarra River, and get a different view of Melbourne. There are lots of tours to choose from for this one.
  • If you’re into seafood, try the ultimate experience at Tommy Ruff Fish Bar on Chapel. The street is also a great place for after-dinner drinks, as you can find countless bars, pubs, and clubs up and down the famous street.
  • Book an Uber or take the tram to St Kilda and watch the breathtaking sunset on the beach boardwalk, surrounded by tall palm trees and lively bars on the beachfront.
  • Watch a movie underneath the stars at the Open Air Cinema at the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Best places to visit near Melbourne by car

Great Ocean Road, Australia

After you have wandered around the city, taken in the dynamic and cutting-edge arts and culture, gotten your tastebuds satisfied, and shopped til you dropped, it’s time to get out of the city! Some of Australia’s most unique and beautiful destinations are just a short drive away.

Rent a car for the day (or weekend!) and go explore these Victorian highlights:

  • Yarra Valley Wine Tour
    Sip on your favorite wines in the vine-filled Yarra Valley. There are wine tasting tours that will take you from the city to the Valley and back if you don’t feel like driving.

    Yarra Valley also holds a Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, cider – and beer breweries, a Four Pillars gin-distillery, tea – and cake houses, and animal sanctuaries that are worth exploring. This is all within roughly one hour from the city.

  • Morning Peninsula Relaxation
    Get away from the hustle and bustle to relax at one of the many hot spots down the Mornington Peninsula. Highlights include The Peninsula Hot Springs, amazing beaches like Half Moon Bay, and city favorites Portsea and Sorrento for a cozy small-town vibe and crystal blue waters on the beachfront.

    You’ll find these two cities at the bottom of the Peninsula, nearly 2 hours out of Melbourne – but there are plenty of other options if you don’t feel like traveling this far.

  • Phillip Island Penguins
    Get up close and personal with the largest small penguin colony on Phillip Island! There’s nothing better in Australia than when you can experience the incredible wildlife firsthand. Only 90 minutes away by car, you get to watch the magic of the Penguin Parade in Port Philip’s Nature Park.
  • Sovereign Hill – A trip back in time
    Travel back in time and explore what life looked like in the 1850s gold rush at Sovereign Hill, Ballarat. A 90-minute drive out of Melbourne, you can enjoy a full day of entertainment.

    This place is known as one of Australia’s best major tourist attractions and offers an Australian experience like no other.

  • Great Ocean Road – Victoria’s most scenic views and unique wildlife encounters
    Meet kangaroos, koalas, and cockatoos on the most famous road in Victoria: The Great Ocean Road!

    Book a guided bus tour to The Twelve Apostles or rent a car yourself to drive along the beautiful, rugged coastline. The road begins an hour out of Melbourne and continues for a whopping 644 km.

    Make stops along the way to enjoy the beach, go for a hike, or pull over to taste some local dishes and meet the regional business owners! People in rural Victoria love getting visitors and are always happy to share their knowledge and history with you.

    If you plan to do this trip over a couple of days (which is highly recommended), make sure to stop by the astonishing Grampians National Park.

Melbourne Summer

Best time to visit Melbourne

The peak time to visit Melbourne is during the Australian summer, which lasts from December to February. However, all major events are spread throughout the year, and there’s always something to do in the capital city of Victoria!

As always, the weather can be quite unpredictable in Melbourne. Make sure to check the forecast before traveling here, and always remember to bring the essentials: Sunscreen, an umbrella, and a warm shirt – just in case.

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