First time in Melbourne? 10 Must-See Sights!

Melbourne skyline view from Southbank

Considered one of the world’s most livable cities, Melbourne is a must-visit on any holiday to Australia!

This vibrant Australian capital city is known for culture, entertainment and a sophisticated European style. Filled with secret laneways, world-class sporting events and plenty of green space, you can understand why people love this city! 

So what should you see on your trip to Melbourne? I have put this list together for first-time travellers to Melbourne. Whether you have several days or are only on a short stopover in Melbourne, this list of things to do in Melbourne is a great way to get a taste of this incredible city!

What to do when visiting Melbourne for the first time

Flinders Street Station - Melbourne's main train station

See Flinders Street Station and Federation Square

The main station building, completed in 1909, is a cultural icon of Melbourne. The art nouveau style building, with its prominent dome, arched entrance, tower and clocks is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks taking up two city blocks and backing onto the Yarra River.

If you are meeting locals, there’s a chance you’ll hear them say “I’ll meet you under the clocks“. This refers to the row of clocks above the main entrance, which indicates the time-tabled time of departure for trains on each line.

As the main railway’s hub in the city, there’s a good chance you will be commuting through here to get to places like the Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes, Flemington or South Yarra.

Opposite one of Melbourne’s most beautiful landmarks is one of the world’s ugliest: Federation Square.

Federation Square is a mixed-use space designed as a venue for arts, culture and public events. What led to the title as the world’s fifth ugliest building is that it’s just really damn ugly with it’s “army camouflage” colours and chaotic feel,

Melburnians have learned to have a love-hate relationship with space. Today, it’s used as a venue for arts, culture and public events. There are also two museums: the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and the National Gallery of Victoria’s Ian Potter Centre. Tucked away in Federation Square you’ll also find a TV and radio station, and several bars and restaurants.

Luna Park amusement park | What to do in St Kilda

Visit St Kilda

While travelling to Melbourne, be sure to visit popular beachside suburb St Kilda.

A great spot to spend some time enjoying St Kilda beach and the abundance of beachside activities or enjoying the expansive views of Port Phillip Bay, enjoying the local amusement park. It’s also a great place to go for a night out; St Kilda can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Luna Park is St Kilda’s beloved theme park. Opened in 1912, it’s home to the Scenic Railway – the oldest continually operating roller coaster in the world. There are also 20 other rides, including a heritage carousel which dates back to 1913!

St Kilda has a rich European history. Following the influx of European immigrants in the 1950s, Acland Street blossomed with cafes and bakeries. The heritage can still be seen in the European-style cake shops and stores that line the street. (Local tip: for authentic European-style cakes and pastries, make sure you visit a cafe on the beach-side of the street!)

While you are there, be sure to head a little further out to visit the famous and very photogenic Brighton Beach Boxes!

It's time to tour Melbourne. Find Out Why!
Couple gazing out over Melbourne from Eureka Tower, one of Melbourne's tallest buildings

Get a bird’s eye view from Eureka Tower

Formerly Australia’s tallest building, Eureka Tower offers visitors and locals a 360-degree birds-eye view of the city!

Standing 297 metres above the streets of Melbourne, explore the sprawling urban neighbours and spot Melbourne’s tourist attractions and landmarks, this is one of the best things to do in Melbourne’s CBD.

Step out and experience onto The Edge. A world first, The Edge extends from Eureka Tower’s 88th floor and suspends you nearly 300 metres over the city in a glass cube – glass walls, ceiling and floor – you can see through it all!

My favourite time to visit is sunset to watch the sun sink over the cities west. To enjoy the best of day and night, pick up a multi-entry ticket to enjoy the lights twinkling over the city. A wonderful way to end a romantic evening in Melbourne. (hint hint!)

Feeding kangaroos at Moonlit Sanctuary near Melbourne, Australia | Sataya Winnie, an Indonesian travel blogger, hanging with kangaroos in Australia.

Meet the locals

One of my absolute favourite activities to do when I have airbnb guests is taking them to meet the locals. I’m talking about our native animals!

Australia is blessed with a particularly interesting set of animals, many you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Take a road trip out of the city and visit places like Moonlit Sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula to meet – and hand-feed – kangaroos and wallabies. If you want to see koalas, visit the koala sanctuary on Phillip Island before watching the Little Penguins as dusk sets.

Exploring Laneways in Melbourne

Explore Melbourne’s laneways

Looking for the best free things to do in Melbourne? This has to be it! Discover hidden bars, high-end restaurants, off-beat shops, and plenty of street art when you explore the cities laneways!

Ever the favourite with locals and visitors alike, located near Flinders Street Station, Degraves Street is a great spot to stop for a cafe and watch the world go by. Also, check out Hardware Lane if you want a leafier European vibe!

Hellenic Republic in Brunswick East | Eat at some of Australia's best restaurants when you visit Melbourne | Best Greek Restaurants in Melbourne

Take a walk to AC/DC Lane for incredible street art or the famed Hosier Lane, near the Forum Theatre. Tattersalls Lane is another great pick for street art, plus come after dark and enjoy drinks at a graffiti-covered shipping container bar (Section 8) or budget-friendly eats (Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle Bar). 

Enjoy dining at some of Australia’s best restaurants

Melburnians love to eat. I can guarantee that you’ll find a great place to eat in Melbourne to suit your budget and taste!

Whether you want to try Italian in the cities version of Little Italy (Carlton), tuck into some organic vegan fare within walking distance of a great bar (Brunswick) or prefer a meal with a beachside view (St Kilda, Port Melbourne, South Melbourne and Brighton), you’re bound to find something tasty to tuck into.

Queen Victoria Market | Markets in Melbourne

To market, to market!

Enjoy the abundance of fresh produce and tasty treats available at Melbourne’s markets. They’re a great place to stop to pick up souvenirs or goods by local makers and artisans.

Five Melbourne Markets to check out:

Queen Victoria Market – One of the most popular, especially with travellers, pick up everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to Aussie gifts to take home. Be sure to wander via the Dairy Hall to pick up some delicious locally made cheese and cured meats for a picnic at one of Melbourne’s many parks!

South Melbourne Market – A little classier than some of the other Melbourne markets, you can still pick up a bargain on produce, meat and seafood, and other goods. Swing by the So:Me space to explore locally made designer wear, pick up some delicious pastries, or have your fortune told!

St Kilda Esplanade Market – This Melbourne market really swings into action as we get into the hotter months. Running along St Kilda beach between Luna Park and The Espy there is a massive range of stalls selling every bit and bob imaginable. 

Camberwell Sunday Market – Camberwell Market is undoubtedly Melbourne’s biggest marketplace for pre-loved wares, with 370 stalls in total. From the most delicate string of vintage pearls to hardwood furniture, you and your home can get a reasonably cheap makeover from one Sunday morning’s worth of rummaging.

Rose Street Artists’ Market – Each Saturday and Sunday the Rose Street Market gathers some of Melbourne’s most exciting artists and designers to display their wares and talk all things handmade. 

Young girl on public transport going to a Hawthorn AFL match | Sport in Melbourne | AFL in Melbourne

Take in a sporting match

Melburnians love sports! The birthplace of AFL – that’s Australian Rules Football, home to the 1956 Olympic Games and location of the famed Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), we are sport mad!

Join in the action by purchasing a ticket to any one of the great sporting events in Melbourne. Be part of the action to experience the atmosphere – and some of the quirky traditions we have!

Major sporting events in Melbourne:

January – Australian Open (tennis), Cricket (various matches including Big Bash League (BBL) + T20)
February – Superbike World Championship (motorbike racing)
March – Formula 1 Austalia Grand Prix, AFL season begins
April – Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (surfing) 
October – Australian Moto Grand Prix
 – Melbourne Cup, Spring Racing Carnival (horse racing)

Museum in Victoria, Australia

Take in a museum… or two!

We aren’t called cultural capital without good reason! Melbourne has an abundance of museums that will educate and entertain, including the largest museum in the southern hemisphere!

Here are 5 museums I love to visit:

Scienceworks – A great place for curious minds of all ages to ask why and discover how! Make sure you visit the Planetarium!

Melbourne Museum – Explore prehistoric creatures, dinosaurs, bugs and so much more. This is the perfect family-friendly afternoon in Melbourne all inside the southern hemisphere’s biggest museum!

National Sports Museum – Situated within the hallowed walls of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the National Sports Museum celebrates Australian sport and the history of this beloved ground.

Immigration Museum – Explores Victoria’s multicultural identity through emotive and moving stories.

Shrine of Remembrance – Melbourne’s iconic monument was built as a memorial to honour all those who served during World War I and all Australians who have since served in military conflict and peacekeeping operations.

Click here to find Melbourne’s best museums!

Exploring the Great Ocean Road at sunset just outside Melbourne, Australia | road trip from Melbourne | Great Ocean Road trip

Get out of the city!

While there are so many things to do in Melbourne sometimes country air is calling! Most of Melbourne’s best road trips can be done in a day. I’d recommending savouring them though and spending a few days.

Head north to Daylesford & the Macedon Ranges for boutique vineyards specialising in cool climate wines, hiking, and hot springs; head south to the Mornington Peninsula for hot springs, great wineries and a whole lot of golf!

Perhaps a drive along the Great Ocean Road is more your style? Visit stunning beaches and the famous Twelve Apostles!

Spot the Hemsworth brothers or some Little Penguins when you take a road trip to Phillip Island! Along with wineries and windswept beaches, the biggest attraction is the wildlife.

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    Melbourne Travel Guide - Travel in Melbourne
    February 24, 2021 at 10:37 am

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