Melbourne often gets overlooked by tourists in favor of sophisticated Sydney or the Aboriginal area of Uluru. But the city is constantly abuzz with a distinct creative energy and cool shopping spots, and is short a drive away from the Great Outdoors. Here are the 12 things to do on your Melbourne trip.
For a breathtaking view of the city, skip the usual skyscraper observation decks and ride the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. With its peak height of 120 metres – the equivalent of a 40-storey building – the Melbourne Star provides uninterrupted 360-degree panoramic views of Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay. Whether you schedule your visit for day or night, the view will leave you speechless.
Glimpse life underwater at SEA Life Aquarium
Enjoy a day discovering the wonders of the ocean up close without getting wet. Spend an afternoon at Melbourne’s SEA Life Aquarium featuring 13 themed exhibition zones with over 500 different types of marine species. This is a great activity for the whole family, but you’ll find lots of couples, friends, and curious solo travelers here as well.
Ride the City Circle Tram
Melbourne’s iconic burgundy City Circle Tram is a great way to get around the city and see the top tourist attractions for absolutely free! Just pull on the cord above your head when you want to get off the tram.
Catch a cricket game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
Join in the fun and games when you head over to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the city’s main stadium for cricket and Aussie-style rugby. Even the view from the cheapest seats lets you see everything happening below. The MCG is also home to the National Sports Museum, which you can visit on a guided tour.
Culture and History
Visit the Shrine of Remembrance
During World War I, over 19,000 Victorians were killed. To honor them, the city of Melbourne built the Shrine of Remembrance. It’s a sobering monument, but the entire complex is beautiful and poignant and provides an introspective look into Australia’s history. Famous sights include The Forecourt, a World War II memorial that houses the Eternal Flame, and the Remembrance Garden, where fallen soldiers from World War II are honored. The Shrine of Remembrance sits adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne by the beautiful Yarra River.
The Shrine is also the site of observance for ANZAC Day (which falls every April 25), Australia and New Zealand’s commemorative holiday for all its fallen during past wars and conflicts. Part of Anzac Day’s tradition is a solemn ‘Dawn March.’
Visit the National Gallery of Melbourne
The National Gallery of Victory (or NGV) is the oldest and most popular art gallery in Australia. The NGV has housed works by world-renowned masters such as Claude Monet and Rene Magritte. The permanent collection includes the Pacific Art Collection, which highlights indigenous works by Pacific nations such as Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and New Zealand. The NGV is worth a visit any time of the year, and constantly hosts special exhibits.
The Great Outdoors
If you’re looking to go on a hiking adventure, explore the Grampians National Park. Explore any of the hiking trails and stumble upon dramatic natural sights such as MacKenzie and Silverband Falls, the historic town of Ballarat, and their own Grand Canyon.
If you’re itching to escape the city, get an early morning start and hit the open road along Australia’s most scenic coastal route. This 150-mile stretch will take you through the Bass Strait, Port Campbell National Park, and the stunning seascape of the Twelve Apostles, collection of limestone stacks. Then, sit by the cliff tops and watch the stunning sunset.
See the famous Yarra Valley like never before by skydiving. Jump from over 14,000 feet above the scenic countryside, organic farms, and wildlife, and the beautiful Yarra River. Feel the ultimate adrenaline rush with a Yarra Valley skydive experience.
Animal lovers will enjoy a trip to Phillip Island, which is just a day trip from Melbourne. Head over to Summerland Beach for the famous Penguin Parade and see hundreds of small penguins come by the shore. Or head to the Nobbies Outcrop, and see an adorable colony of Australian fur seals.
Food and Shopping
This is a definite can’t-miss experience when in Melbourne. Indulge in the finer things in life when you head to beautiful Yarra Valley. See the historic Yering Station Winery, first planted in 1838 and one of Yarra Valley’s most scenic landscapes. Feast on a lunch at Rochford Wines and toast with their best wines.
Shop at the Queen Victoria Market
Whether you’re shopping for souvenirs or tasty bites, don’t leave Melbourne without a shopping trip to the Queen Victoria Market. At seven hectares wide, it’s one of the world’s largest open air marketplaces. It is a cultural and architectural landmark, dating all the way back to the 19th century and constantly drawing both tourists and locals alike on a daily basis. This summer, head over on Wednesday nights for drinks and live entertainment.
You don’t have to stay long in Melbourne to be fully captivated by the city. Even just ticking off a few places and activities on this list will guarantee a great trip.