Welcome to Melbourne

a group of friends walking through Melbourne's laneways and enjoying the abundance of street art

Melbourne's laneways are full of surprises & plenty of street art. Photo: Tourism Australia

Melbourne is the cultural heart of Australia. It has museums and galleries, international festivals and sporting events, theatre, and more. Do some people-watching, wander through the laneways and check out the street art and graffiti, or book tickets for a sports event. See why foodies, artists, fashionistas, musicians and theatre-goers flock to this great city.

Explore Melbourne

people enjoying one of Melbourne's many laneway cafes and coffee.

Explore Melbourne & its delicious cafe society. Photo: Tourism Australia

Melbourne is easy to explore by foot. It also has great public transport including trams, buses and trains. Be sure to board the FREE city circle tram (number 35), which takes you to key stops throughout Melbourne CBD. You can hop-on-and-hop-off the tram as often as you like. 

A few ways to tour Melbourne are:

  • walking, bike or bus tours where you'll uncover Melbourne’s famed lanes and arcades, the iconic heritage and culture including Federation Square and Flinders train station, meet local artisans and up-and-coming fashion designers, and do tastings of chocolate, coffee, wines and dine at some of the best restaurants.

  • cruising along the Yarra River and see a different side of Melbourne. Cruise highlights include a commentary on Southgate Arts and Leisure Precinct, Crown Entertainment Complex, World Congress Center and Trade Center, Docklands, 19th-century sailing ship Polly Woodside, The Governor's residence, Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

  • free guided walking tours of Melbourne, and uncover the laneways, parks, waterfront of the Yarra River, the Gardens, and the famed shopping districts. 

  • Hop on Hop off city sightseeing bus.

  • Jump on the back of a chauffeur-driven trike motorbike. If you're after a hair-raising experience, book a Ghost tour of Melbourne where you'll discover haunted locations, hidden lanes, spooky buildings and streets.

Popular attractions & activities

two children experiencing one of the gaol cells at the old Melbourne Gaol

Melbourne Gaol is a must-visit activity

  • It would be a crime to not visit the Old Melbourne Gaol. This is 100% interactive fun where you get to see how prisoners lived and where 133 people were hanged to death. Your tour guide is an actor, taking on the role of a police officer, and you get the role of a common criminal. You will experience being arrested, charged and locked up in a cell. You can also be part of a mock court hearing for notorious Australian bushranger Ned Kelly. 

  • Polly Woodside is Melbourne’s favourite tall ship and is an interactive nautical experience. This majestic tall ship is 140 years old and is in drydock at Melbourne’s Docklands – just a short walk up from Crown Casino centre. Go onboard and be part of interesting and very funny tour. The kids love it – so do the grown-ups.

  • Go to the Eureka Sky Deck 88 which takes you 300 metres high to get 360° city views. While the views won't necessarily excite the kids, the experience of being so high up will.

  • Book a tour and visit Melbourne's iconic sports venues and hear exciting tales of triumph and defeat including the Melbourne Cup horse race, F1 Grand Prix, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the National Sports Museum, and Etihad Stadium where AFL football, cricket, rugby happen.

  • The Melbourne Zoo is one of the longest-running attractions and is a must-visit for any animal lover. Alternatively, head to Werribee Open Range Zoo where animals roam freely, and you can see them from the safety and comfort of a safari bus. It’s brilliant!

  • The Melbourne aquarium is an underwater wonderland of brightly colored fish, sharks, penguins and much more.

  • Boarding the Puffing Billy Railway which is Australia’s flavourite steam train. Puffing Billy will take you through the forests and fern gullies of the Dandenong Ranges. 

Melbourne's laneways & arcades

Friends taking photos of each other in Melbourne's Duckboard Place laneway

Check out Melbourne's uber-cool laneways including Duckboard Place. Photo: Visit Victoria

Melbourne's laneways and arcades are famous all over the world. Each laneway has a personality of its own and are outdoor museums and galleries filled with history, street art and graffiti. Walk down these cobblestone streets to find tucked-away cafes, restaurants, bars, fashion boutiques and shops. Get lost as you explore Russell Place, Degraves Street, Flinders Lane or the mouthwatering Hardware Lane. Tour the laneways at your own pace or book a guided tour. 

To give you a little insight, check out:

  • Block arcade is between Collins and Little Collins Streets. This arcade is a work of art with its mosaic tiles, glass ceiling and wrought iron decor. Keep walking and you'll find cafes and tearooms; fashion and homewares boutiques, and my all-time favourite chocolates - Haigh’s.

  • Hosier Lane is famous for its street art. This cobbled laneway is one of the most photographed streets in Melbourne. 

  • Flinders Lane is full of great places to eat. Choose from top-end restaurants to funky street food. Pick a place anywhere in the world, and you'll probably find a restaurant that local cuisine on Flinders Lane. Just a few recommendations are Cumulus Inc, Cecconi’s, and Chin Chin. But honestly, take a walk down Flinders Lane and see what takes your fancy. You'll also find cool art galleries including the Flinders Lane gallery.

Shopping & markets

2 friends shopping in the Block Arcade which is filled with shops, boutiques and cafes

Block Arcade is filled with shops, boutiques and cafes. Photo: Tourism Australia

If you love shopping, you're going to love Melbourne. It's a mecca for all the big designers and brands but even better, it's where you'll find incredible local artisans and up-and-coming fashion designers. This is your chance to discover where many young designers start out before becoming international sensations. Melbourne is also abundant with vintage and pre-loved fashion, hand-crafted jewelry and homewares.

Enjoy weaving your way through the many laneways, arcades and shopping malls that have an old-world charm. When you go shopping in Melbourne, you’ll find something different and enchanting around every corner. Some of the best places to go shopping in Melbourne are:    

  • Popular Melbourne shopping hubs are Sydney Road in Brunswick with its vintage and eclectic boutiques, Chapel Street where you will find everything from second-hand shops to exclusive Australian designers, and Swanston Street where you will find loads of bargains and souvenirs.

  • Melbourne Central is a shopping mecca filled with designer brands and Australian flagship department stores such as Myer and David Jones.

  • Explore the city’s laneways that are lined with shops, boutiques, cafes, restaurants and more. Just some include the heritage-listed Block and Royal Arcades, Little Collins Street, and Flinders Lane.

  • Collins Street has high-end fashion houses such as Prada, Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Visit the historic Melbourne GPO which has local and international designer boutiques. Don’t forget your credit card for this Melbourne shopping experience.

a woman shopping for a one-off dress in Melbourne.

Shop for a one-off dress or find a vintage outfit. Photo: Tourism Australia

  • Bargain hunters should include a Melbourne shopping trip to Harbour Town which is full of factory outlet shops and designer seconds. It’s located in the Docklands and you can catch the free city circle tram (number 35) there.

  • Bourke Street Mall has a bit of everything including department stores and designer boutiques. There's also cafes and street buskers to keep you entertained.

  • If you're passionate about food, you must visit the Queen Victoria markets. There's hundreds of stallholders selling all kinds of fresh produce and delicious food. These open-air markets are right in the heart of the city, and are buzzing every day of the week. Queen Victoria Markets are a food lovers dream, (my mouth waters just thinking about it). You can also book food tours or a cooking class.

  • The Makers Markets bring together 100 local artists and producers selling arts, crafts and freshly made delicacies. This Melbourne shopping experience is every Sunday on St Kilda Road, just up from Flinders street station.

Museums & galleries

The National Gallery of Victoria

See some of the world's best art at the National Gallery of Victoria. Photo: Tourism Australia

  • The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is Australia's oldest art gallery. Wander through and enjoy the collections of Australian and international exhibitions like Monet’s Garden and Melbourne Now. In addition, there are temporary exhibitions of major works. Entry to the NGV is free but major exhibitions are ticketed.

  • Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) is in Melbourne's art precinct at Southbank. It exhibits creative and contemporary visual art by living artists, including many local up-and-coming big names. Why not visit on a Sunday afternoon and join one of their free public tours.  The gallery FREE entry.

  • No Vacancy gallery exhibits all the work of new and emerging artists and designers, and many are local artists. This place is the epitome of creativity, with exhibitions, festivals, live music and performances.  There's also a cafe that becomes a bar at night, art classes, and a great line-up of expert talks. This uber-cool gallery is in the city on Jane Bell Lane.

  • Right in the heart of Melbourne is Federation Square. Federation Square is Melbourne's creative hub and hosts festivals, exhibitions, performances, films, concerts, and buskers all year long, (and many of them are free.) You'll also find:

    • The Ian Potter Centre: NGV which has spectacular Aboriginal and modern Australian art. It's free to wander through the NGV standard collection but fees apply for special exhibitions. 

    • The Australian Centre For The Moving Image (ACMI) which celebrates film, TV and all things digital. You can easily lose a couple of hours watching old Australian TV shows and movies. It's free entry but some exhibitions have a fee.

 Melbourne's gorgeous Treasury Gardens

Take a stroll around Melbourne's gorgeous Treasury Gardens. Photo: Visit Victoria

  • Visit the Old Treasury Building and explore original gold vaults where gold bullion was stored during Australia’s gold rush era, old public records of Melbourne prisoners, and film exhibitions of Melbourne’s early days. Free entry.

  • The Victoria Police Museum gives a glimpse of real crime scene investigations and life for police officers in the 1800s. See the Kelly Gang amour as well Melbourne’s underworld figures that lurked on the street in the 1920s. Free entry.

  • Head to Fitzroy and visit the Centre for Contemporary Photography where you'll find the very best local, interstate and international photography. FREE entry.

  • Visit the Parliament of Victoria, which is open to the public on non-sitting days. Book a free afternoon guided tour, and why not book a Parliament High Tea. Strangers Corridor has been serving high tea since 1924, so why not enjoy your scones, pastries and finger sandwiches. ($50pp).

  • Melbourne Town Hall is a stunning 19th-century building that can't be ignored. Take a free tour of this grand building where you'll also see to Town Hall organ that boasts 10,000 pipes.

  • The Immigration Museum gives you a glimpse of immigration in early Australia. You'll see old photos, films and memorabilia as early migrants share their personal stories and challenges on resettling in Melbourne.  The museum is in Old Customs House (on Flinders street and in the city).

World-class food

Horses racing at the annual Melbourne Cup carnival, which is known as 'the race that stops a nation'. 

The annual Melbourne Cup carnival is known as 'the race that stops a nation'. Photo: Tourism Australia

Melbournians love their sports. Whether it's the Australian Open Tennis, the Melbourne Cup, the Formula 1 Grand Prix or AFL football, there's always something something on.

Heads up, AFL (officially called the Australian Football League) is more than a game, it's Melbourne's game. Book some tickets and go see an AFL game live (March and September). Being part of the crowd is as spectacular as the game itself. 

Parks & gardens 

one of the many beautiful parks and gardens around Melbourne

Enjoy the many beautiful parks and gardens around Melbourne. Photo: Visit Victoria

  • Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens which is in the city centre. These gardens are a popular spot for both Melburnians and visitors, and on a sunny day, is the ideal location for a picnic. Take a walk around the lush lawns and gardens which is home to nearly 10,000 plants and flowers from all over the world or take the Aboriginal heritage walk with Indigenous guides showing you the traditional uses of the native plants. Be sure to visit the Shrine of Remembrance which honours Australia's servicemen and women. There are free daily Shrine Tours and special exhibitions. 

  • Fitzroy Gardens is another beautiful green space in the city. Not to be missed is the model-size Tudor village tucked between the manicured gardens. In case you're wondering why this Tudor village is there, it's a thank you from the Lambeth locals in England for sending them food parcels during WWII.

  • Carlton Gardens is a perfect spot to relax. Pick a spot between the majestic fountain and flowerbeds. Carlton Gardens shares these grounds with the:

    • Melbourne Museum - where you'll find dinosaurs and all things prehistoric. 

    • very grand Royal Exhibition Building (which you can tour for $10).  Every March, the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is held here (and is the largest flower show in the southern hemisphere).

People cycling in the Melbourne CBD.

Cycle, walk or tram your way around Melbourne and see what makes it tick. Photo: Tourism Australia