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With its colourful street art, quirky coffee shops and cosmopolitan edge, Melbourne has a well-deserved reputation as Australia’s coolest city.

Whether you feel like perusing an art gallery or strolling through botanical gardens, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Melbourne to keep you entertained.

If you’ve just finished a nature-filled Adelaide to Melbourne road trip like I had, arriving in such a big city may seem a bit of a shock! But you’ll soon become absorbed in the mixture of old and new architecture, hidden laneways and variety of Melbourne attractions.

I spent about two weeks in Australia’s second-largest city, and got out and about exploring as much as I could. Here are my top 15 things to do in Melbourne, along with tips on finding accommodation.

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Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.

1. Melbourne’s Laneway Cafes

Melbourne is well known for its amazing coffee and stylish, independent cafes (apparently thanks to the early Italian settlers). You won’t have to look too far to find your caffeine fix, but tucked-away Degraves Street and Centre Place, both in the city, are especially worth a visit.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Melbourne cafes along Degraves Street

2. Melbourne Botanic Gardens

If you’re craving a slice of nature, head to Melbourne’s beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, just two kilometres from the city centre. You can enjoy a lakeside picnic, see over 8,500 different plant species from around the world, or enjoy coffee or lunch with a view in The Terrace cafe.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

3. The Great Ocean Road

A must-do road trip from Melbourne is the famous Great Ocean Road. Allow at least three days if possible, as this 243-kilometre stretch between Torquay and Allansford is packed with natural attractions.

From the towering Twelve Apostles limestone stacks to fun surf towns like Lorne, you won’t run out of fun things to do and see. Check out my guide for more:

Great Ocean Road Drive Itinerary: Top 12 Attractions

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

4. Queen Victoria Market

The sprawling seven-hectare Queen Victoria Market is the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, and dates back over 140 years.

Visit on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday for food, clothing, gifts and more (including evenings during the summer), or Tuesdays and Thursdays for fresh produce and speciality shopping.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

5. Melbourne Beaches

While Melbourne set on Port Phillip Bay rather than the ocean, you can still spend a day at the beach.

St Kilda Beach is the most well known, with cafes, nearby Luna Park and plenty of youngsters strutting down the promenade. Try Brighton Beach for the famous painted beach huts, or Black Rock Beach instead.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Colourful bathing boxes at Brighton Beach in Melbourne

6. Eureka Skydeck

Out of the many things to do in Melbourne, the Eureka Skydeck on Riverside Quay in Southbank has to be my top recommendation. The 360-degree views of the city from the 285 metre-high viewing platform are absolutely breath taking.

Arriving just before sunset and watching the city light up is particularly pretty, although a bit crowded.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Melbourne just after sunset, viewed from the Eureka Skydeck

7. Melbourne City Architecture

Compared to the more modern-looking cities like Brisbane and Perth, Melbourne still has plenty of older, character-filled buildings, so make sure you take a wander around the city to take it all in.

Be sure to check out Flinders Street Station as well as the beautiful State Library of Victoria. For a more modern touch, head to Federation Square, home to restaurants, bars and multicultural events.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Flinders Street Station in Melbourne

8. Phillip Island

This popular getaway off the Mornington Peninsula is best known for its population of little penguins. To watch them waddle in from the sea to find a bed for the night, buy a ticket for the very cute Penguin Parade.

Phillip Island is also worth visiting for its rugged coastal scenery and nature. If you’re travelling on a budget, stay overnight at the very modern and eco-friendly YHA like I did:

Book The Island Accommodation

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Rugged coastal scenery at Phillip Island

9. Melbourne Street Art

Almost as famous as its coffee culture is Melbourne’s colourful street art. You can’t help but stumble upon it, especially in funky suburbs like Fitzroy, but popular spots include Hosier Lane and Union Lane.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Melbourne street art in Fitzroy

10. Melbourne Docklands

Once the main industrial and docking area of the city, Melbourne Docklands is now home to modern restaurants, bars and shops at Waterfront City, as well as public art and promenades at New Quay.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Star Observation Wheel at Melbourne Docklands

11. Dandenong Ranges

A popular day trip from Melbourne is the Dandenong Ranges, less than an hour away from the city. You’ll find quaint country villages, hiking trails and amazing views like the one below.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
The Dandenong Ranges

12. South Bank Art Galleries

If you want to kill a few Melbourne attractions in one day, this is a great activity to add onto a trip to the nearby Botanic Gardens.

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV International) houses thousands of pieces of artwork and has a very snazzy stained-glass ceiling! The nearby Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) is also worth visiting, with its iconic building and range of exhibitions.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
NGV stained-glass ceiling

13. Wilsons Promontory

Another great multi-day trip from Melbourne is Wilsons Promontory, a beautiful coastal national park to the south-east of the city.

With miles of hiking trails, campsites, wildlife and lovely beaches, ‘The Prom’ is ideal for nature lovers. It’s also the most southern part of mainland Australia.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Gorgeous scenery at Wilsons Promontory

14. Eat & Drink in Funky Melbourne Suburbs

To get a better feel for the city, beyond the tourist hotspots, head slightly out of the centre into the arty Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy and neighbouring area Collingwood.

The two main streets are Brunswick Street and Smith Street, where you’ll find a range of cafes, bars and restaurants to enjoy a meal or drinks.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Enjoying s coffee on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy

15. Shopping in Melbourne

If you’re feeling inspired by all the hip Melburnians (I felt quite the scruff arriving in my backpacker shorts and t-shirt!), head to the city for some retail therapy. Popular spots include Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne Central and the Block Arcade.

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Hitting the shops in Melbourne CBD

Accommodation in Melbourne

I’d highly recommend booking your Melbourne accommodation in advance, particularly if you’re visiting in summer or school holidays. I almost had to spend a night in my car when I arrived off the boat from Tasmania with nothing arranged!

I stayed in a variety of accommodation in Melbourne (since I passed in and out a few times) including the filthiest house sit I’ve ever had, the sofa at a giant homestay and a number of hostels and Airbnbs!

AIRBNB:

The best value I found for two people on a budget was sharing someone’s spare room on Airbnb, which started at less than some hostel dorm beds (about $65 per room). If you haven’t signed up yet, here’s a discount link for Airbnb:

$55 off your first Airbnb booking

HOSTELS:

I’ve stayed in both of the hostels below, and would recommend them both:

Discover 15 things to do in Melbourne, Australia's most cosmopolitan city. Includes beaches, shopping, day trips, cafes and other Melbourne attractions.
Communal area at The Nunnery

The Nunnery – a quirky, converted nunnery in buzzing, arty Fitzroy.

HabitatHQ – a modern hostel in beachside St Kilda, with a focus on sustainability.

HOTELS:

To search through over 2,000 Melbourne accommodation options, including hotels, apartments and hostels, take a look on Booking.com:

Browse Melbourne accommodation on Booking.com


There are so many amazing things to do in Melbourne, but each of Australia’s cities has its own particular attractions. Take a look at my other city guides below to find out what you can do in the other state capitals of Australia. Happy travels!

15 Things to Do in Perth

Top 10 Things to Do in Adelaide

15 Things to Do in Sydney

Canberra: 3-Day Itinerary

15 Fun Things to Do in Brisbane