Welcome to the world’s most liveable city! What follows are some of my favorite things to do in Melbourne, gathered over nearly two years calling it my home.
44 most awesome things to do in Melbourne
As The Sweet Wanderlust, I’d be failing at my blog (and life) mission to bring you the world’s best desserts if I didn’t include Melbourne’s best freakshakes at the top of the list. Sure, there’s culture, music and history that makes this city amazing, and if you keep reading, you’ll learn all about it.
The freakshake wasn’t invented in Melbourne, but it got here as fast as it could from neighboring Canberra. As I’ve eaten my way through the city, I’ve devoured countless shakes, each more creatively topped than the last. The most OTT topping: an eyeball at Sugar Buns.
Brunch is my favorite meal of the day. It’s 100% acceptable to order dessert and call it a meal and you can wash it down with alcohol. Which is ok, because it’s brunch!
And Melbourne does brunch better than anywhere else in the world I’ve ever been. Fairy floss-topped pancakes, ice cream cones garnishing waffles and if you’re into savory foods, mac ’n’ cheese croquette eggs benedict with Bloody Mary hollandaise!
Not just tasty, check out some of Melbourne’s most Instagrammable brunches.
3. Yarra Valley
Rough week? Don’t whine about it… wine about it! Get out of the CBD and head for the Yarra Valley. Although it’s only one hour out of town, it feels like a whole new world. If you’re planning a weekend in Yarra Valley, don’t miss the cheese, chocolate and (of course) all the wine!
4. Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens
Every day, the Botanic Gardens offers free entry from 7:30am-sunset. Explore 38 hectares of garden beds with more than 50,000 plants from around the world. Stroll past tranquil lakes and sprawling lawns in this inner city oasis.
Take a free Garden Discovery Tour at 10:30am or 2:00pm to learn more about the gardens. If you want to go deeper into the culture, join a ticketed Aboriginal Heritage Walk to experience a traditional smoking ceremony with an Indigenous guide and learn the traditional uses of plants.
5. Get your bearings with a free tram tour
The world’s most liveable city is pretty awesome for tourists, too. Hop on one of the old-fashioned #35 trams, which runs in the free tram zone for commentary about the city. One loop of the City Circle Free Tram lasts about 55 minutes and you can hop on and off at leisure to continue exploring on foot.
Melbourne’s City Circle Free Tram runs every 12 minutes, seven days a week from 10am-6pm Sunday-Wednesday and 10am-9pm Thursday-Saturday.
6. Pay your respects at the Shrine of Remembrance
This war memorial, dedicated in 1934, serves to honor the service and sacrifice of the ANZACs (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps). If you happen to be in Melbourne on ANZAC Day, the dawn service is a memorable and moving way to start the day.
7. China Town
Explore China town for amazing food and delicious desserts. I love the Dessert Kitchen’s unique treats— from corn ice cream topping corn on the cob to polar bears in hot chocolate, this is the spot for cute sweets!
Prefer savory food to sweet? Check out this 3-hour dumpling walking tour!
If you happen to be in Melbourne over Chinese New Year, be sure to visit China Town for parades and lion dances.
8. Sip cocktails at a secret bar
9. Catch a film at an outdoor cinema
From rooftops to Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens to the ‘G, if you want to watch a movie in a quirky spot, this city has you covered!
10. Get the perfect Instagram shot at the Brighton Beach Boxes
The brightly colored Brighton Bathing Boxes were originally built more than 100 years ago as a private location for women to change into swimwear. Today, it’s the colorful charm of these boxes that draw visitors to these privately owned boxes without water or electricity. They’re usually passed from generation to generation, but in 2018 one of the boxes sold for $337,000AUD.
11. Fall in love with the little penguins of St. Kilda
You could take a day trip to Phillip Island to see the little penguins… or you could just head to Saint Kilda! Every night, the little penguins of Saint Kilda make their way back to the rocks after a day of swimming and catching fish.
Once, I was lucky to see a penguin at 9am who stayed back to build his nest. Check out the little guy who embodies the life lesson “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
12. Puffing Billy
First launched in 1900, the Puffing Billy steam train was a low-cost way to open up remote areas. When a landslide blocked part of the track in 1953, a plan was made to close the line and a farewell day was organized. When 30,000 showed up to say goodbye, a dedicated group of train enthusiasts came together to save the Puffing Billy. It’s still chugging along today through Sherbrooke Forest in the beautiful Dandenongs. Book your trip here.
13. Explore Melbourne’s alleyways and arcades
14. Go for a drive down the Great Ocean Road
15. Eat dinner on a tram
Trams are so very Melbourne. I’m remembering how quaint the idea of tram travel was to me when I first arrived (and trying to push away memories of strangers’ stinky armpits holding the handles in the summertime).
What could be more Melbourne than to combine tram travel and good food!? Enjoy a 3, 4, or 5 course meal with Australian wines or beverages from a fully stocked bar as you’re driven around the city. I hope for the diners sakes that these tram drivers are a little less lead-footed than the ones in charge of my morning commute!
A four-time winner of the National Tourism Award, this experience books up quickly. Make a reservation far in advance so you won’t be disappointed!
16. Hang out at with koalas and kangaroos at Healesville Sanctuary
If you don’t get out of the city, your chances of seeing some of Australia’s famed wildlife is approximately 0%. Lucky for you, Healesville Sanctuary is just over an hour away and even reachable by public transport!Get up close with dingos, koalas, kangaroos and wallabies. You can even catch a glimpse of the elusive platypus!
17. Go hipster spotting in Brunswick
Among Brunswick’s Victorian architecture, op shops and music venues are Melbourne’s hipsters. Check them out, because whatever they’re doing now is sure to be cool in a few months!
My favorite hipster joke: Why did the hipster burn his tongue?
Answer: Because he ate his food before it was cool!
18. Ghost tour
Listen to spooky stories about your favorite haunts on a ghost tour. Is it Melbourne’s ever-changing weather or was that a ghostly presence that just sent shivers down your spine?
19. SEA LIFE Aquarium
Dive into an interactive ocean adventure with SEA LIFE Melbourne. Journey from the Australian waters full of crocodiles, sharks and sting rays to icy Antarctica, where you can watch King and Gentoo penguins play in the snow!
20. South Melbourne Market
At first glance, South Melbourne Market is a foodie’s paradise with fresh produce, exotic cheese and multiple choices of ice cream vendors! Every third Saturday of the month, the market offers a To Market To Market tour for $15 which includes tastings and a reusable market bag. Book early to ensure your opportunity to meet the vendors who make the magic happen!
Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find that the market isn’t just for foodies. Shop second-hand books, get your nails done, or shop the latest local fashions. This market can keep you busy for hours! This half day tour will do just that as you enjoy extensive food and drink tastings.
The South Melbourne Market is open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm and Friday 8am-5pm. From January 5- February 23, visit the night market on Thursdays from 5:30 to celebrate summer with food and music.
21. Queen Vic Market
The Queen Vic Market saved my friendsgiving celebration with a turkey and a recipe, but this market is more than just food!
Check out their clothing, jewelry, and souvenirs for a great way to bring Melbourne home with you. The Queen Vic Market is open Tuesday and Thursday 6am-2pm, Friday 6am-3pm and Sunday 9am-4pm.
Join the Queen Victoria Market and Carlton Foodie Walking Tour for elaborate tastings at Melbourne’s largest market.
22. Visit the Prahran Market
If food is your passion, then Prahran is calling your name. From my favorite grilled cheese in all of Australia at Maker and Monger to the freshest of fresh produce, this market has something for every taste bud.
Don’t forget to visit Naheda’s Choice, the Turkish delight stand, for sugary delicacies of all colors and flavors. This market is open Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday 7am-5pm and Sunday 10am-3pm.
Pro Tip: If you arrive at 2:30pm on Sunday (30 minutes before closing time), you’ll get the best deals on produce in all of Melbourne.
23. St Kilda Esplanade Market
St. Kilda is full of colorful characters and it makes sense that its market celebrates that creative spirit! Every Sunday, from 10am-4pm, discover unique, local and handmade products sold by the artisans that created them.
24. Watch an AFL game at the MCG
Many Australians love rugby, but Melbourne is a footy town! Check out a game and cheer on my favorites: the Western Bulldogs, the Cinderella story winners of the 2016 AFL Grand Final.
25. Visit Melbourne’s pink lake
Western Australia gets all the credit for having Pepto Bismol pink lakes. I saw a pretty awesome pink lake on Rottnest Island, but when conditions are right (warm temperatures, low rainfall and sunlight), Melbourne’s Westgate Park’s salt lake changes color from blue to bright pink.
26. Stay out all night for Melbourne’s White Night
I’m a bit of a grandma. I like to be in bed early and it takes a really good excuse for me to stay awake past 1am. I gladly stayed awake until after 3am for Melbourne’s White Night event, and wished it was a 2-night event so I could go back and do it again. Especially for the glow-in-the-dark ice cream from 196 Below.
Every year, creatives from around the world come up with incredible light installations, projections and musical acts, and the city comes alive when the sun goes down.
I loved the The Serpent Mother, direct from Burning Man, and I stood for several minutes as the buildings on Flinders Street lit up with iconic images that took revelers on a trip down memory lane.
27. Shop at Chadstone
Australia’s largest shopping center has a store for every taste. If you can walk out without buying anything, you’re a better woman (or man) than me! Typically, malls aren’t known for their culinary creativity, but Chadstone isn’t like most malls.
Perch yourself on a dainty bow-backed chair at Le Mille Creperie for one of Melbourne’s most affordable high teas.
Or try Scroll’d for some freshly made Thai ice cream, made right in front of you! I’m partial to the cookies ’n’ cream flavor.
And DONUT miss Dashing Donuts made using traditional artisan Italian dough.
28. Don your black and white attire for Derby Day at the Melbourne Cup
Did you know that Melbournians get a paid holiday for Melbourne Cup day? They love their horse racing and you can get in on the action, too! Here’s everything you need to know about Derby Day.
29. Luna Park
Opened in 1912, Luna Park retains the charm of yesteryear while providing modern-day thrills to adrenaline seekers. Step through Mr. Moon’s giant mouth and go for a spin on The Carousel, listed on Victorian and National Heritage Registers and built in 1913 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Or take a ride on The Great Scenic Railway, the oldest continuously operating roller coaster in the world. It even rolled through World War I!
30. Visit the State Library
Australia’s oldest library is located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. Play a game of oversized chess before venturing into the library. Join a free tour , visit for a special talk or explore on your own. Be sure to climb the staircase to overlook the Domed Reading Room, commissioned for the library’s jubilee. The dome is 114 feet in diameter, 114 feet high and impressive all around!
31. Throw some i-darts
If you’ve got poor aim, i-darts might be the darts game for you! The plastic darts are flung into the computerized dart board which calculates your score automatically. Note: if you accidentally completely miss your board and hit the board next to you, it does not count for your score, and your neighboring players may be upset.
The i-darts pub also has beer pong. And it’s kind of hilarious. As a sorority girl, I know a thing or two about beer pong. i-darts’ version is nothing like the games we played in frat boys’ garages, but it’s probably a whole lot safer and more sanitary. This game of beer pong is played on an automated board that lights up when a ping pong ball lands in a cup. When this happens, the beer pong attendant pours a shot of beer for the losing team.
32. Dialogue in the Dark
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be blind? Through a partnership with Guide Dogs of Australia, Dialogue in the Dark takes you on a sensory journey as you discover the challenges of navigating Melbourne in the dark, gaining a new understanding for the challenges faced by those with vision impairment.
Equipped with a white cane and a skilled blind or low-vision guide, you’ll learn to navigate the city in a simulated environment. Expect to see nothing, but learn a lot!
33. Coffee culture
As my friend Jean from the Traveling Honeybird likes to say “if you’ve found bad coffee in Melbourne, you’ve gone out searching for it.” Here are her favorite places to get coffee in Melbourne. She’s the coffee pro, so I know she wouldn’t lead you astray!
34. Picnic at Hanging Rock
For a fictional group of schoolgirls, this didn’t work out so well. In the 1967 novel by Joan Lindsay, a group of girls disappear from their Valentine’s Day school outing. Some reappear under mysterious circumstances and others remain missing. Now, there’s a creepy visitor center that explains the story and adds to the mystique of the area.
It’s been years since the fictional disappearance, so I can 99.999% guarantee you’ll make it out alive if you organize a picnic at Hanging Rock today. Take a group of friends to go climb the rock formations and enjoy the view. Just in case… it’s always good to stay with a buddy.
35. Explore Melbourne’s best street art
Want to make a splash on Instagram? The colorful laneways of Melbourne are the perfect spot to get your next profile photo while exploring the best street art in Melbourne.
Local artists and worldwide legends, like Bansky, have made their mark on the streets of Melbourne. I love checking out the street art on Hosier Lane and will often detour down the street every time I’m in the CBD to check out the newest art. It’s a different experience every time you go!
36. Party with the bands at Cherry Bar
ACDC Laneway, named for the the Australian rock band, is among the best street art in Melbourne. It’s important for another reason, too, though. Cherry Bar, founded by former Cosmic Psychos drummer Bill Walsh, is an institution in the rock community, and it’s not uncommon for arena-headlining acts to make their way to Cherry Bar after the encore. You never know who you might find at Cherry Bar… In the past, it’s welcomed Axl Rose and The Black Keys and Jack Black is said to have danced the night away at this 200-capacity dive bar.
37. Laugh the night away at Crab Lab
For free comedy on Wednesday nights with $5 wine and all-you-can-eat free popcorn, you’ll be laughing at the show… and then all the way to the bank with the money you’ll save!
38. Go out on Chapel Street
Chapel Street is known for its late-night party antics and amazing food. My favorite is Mr. Miyagi’s sushi taco paired with a Hello Kitty Sour. Be sure to arrive early or prepare to wait in line!
39. Check out an exhibit at ACMI
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image pays homage to film, tv, video games, digital culture and art. Most of the exhibits are free and open daily from 10am-5pm, but some, like the recent Wonderland exhibit are ticketed entry.
40. Shop ’til you drop at DFO South Wharf
Like shopping, but want to get a bang for your buck? The DFO is the best outlet shopping in town. I especially love visiting the Peter Alexander store for cute Australian-themed pajamas.
39. Go take a bike!
Melbourne’s Bike Share service provides 50 bike share racks around the city if public transportation isn’t your thing. Rent a bike for as little as $3/ day or $8/ week (which covers unlimited 30-minute trips). Be sure to wear a helmet!
40. Rub elbows with the tennis pros at the Australian Open
Every January, tennis pros from around the world gather to compete at the Australian Open. Coopers Saturday is a favorite for people who like tennis a little and partying a lot.
41. Night Noodle Market
Make the most of summer weather in November at the night noodle markets in Birrarung Marr. Restaurants from across the country dream up innovative Asian-themed dishes for this hawker market. Past markets have offered unicorn buns, floating noodles and matcha ice cream.
42. Drink a cocktail on a rooftop bar
The rooftop game in Melbourne is strong! My favorite rooftop is Sweetie and Mustache for their innovative cocktails served steaming with dry ice in a gumball machine or with gummy ocean creatures in a fishbowl.
43. Visit the Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Melbournians may be known for their all-black ensembles, but they love to laugh! From the end of March to the end of April, comedians from around the world flock to Melbourne to perform. Get in early and take a chance on some lesser-known talent for more affordable tickets.
44. Check out a loo with a view
On the 35th floor of the Sofitel on Collins, there’s a toilet with views as far as the eye can see. Thankfully, the eye can’t see inside the men’s restroom! There aren’t any barriers from the urinal to the window so the views remain unhindered!
Melbourne has so much to offer and this article truly is just the tip of the iceberg that is Australia’s most liveable city. What’s your favorite thing to do in Melbourne? Let me know in the comments!