Vibrant, elegant, and multicultural, Australia’s second-largest metropolis often ranks among the most liveable cities in the world. With its tangle of hidden lanes, tree-lined promenades and grand Victorian buildings financed by the Gold Rush of the 1850s, the city has a distinctly European feel. Popular Australian chefs exude their skills here, and you can hog on anything from Greek, Italian and Indian cuisine to Spanish and Vietnamese dishes. Here are the best places to visit in Melbourne.
13 Top-Rated Tourist Places to Visit in Melbourne
The station at Flinders Street
Flinders Street Station is an emblematic structure at the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Street in the city centre. It is the primary train station for the Melbourne suburban rail network. Inaugurated in 1854, Flinders was Australia’s first railway station. It was the busiest train station in the world by 1926, surpassing Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris and Grand Central Station. Some 200,000 passengers went through the station in about one day in 1922.
Some curious details regarding Flinders Street Station:
Legend reveals the tale of a phantom haunting Platform 10. Witnesses say that they saw a man carrying fishing gear and gazing out at the Yarra River until it disappeared into thin air. The phantom is identified as George, although several believe that he is the spirit of Ernest Leahy, a man who was pulled out of the river in 1902 following a boating crash.
There’s an abandoned ballroom on the upper floor of the station. The final dance took place there in 1983.
The station boasts the longest platform in Australia. Platform 1 is 708 meters tall, officially the fourth largest in the country, covering two city blocks.
The building’s prominent row of clocks, on its outer facade, dates back to the 1860s and continues to reflect the departure times of the train. Once operated manually by a railway officer who changed times an average of 900 times a day, the clocks are now operating automatically.
Queen Victoria Market is the biggest open-air market in the city. Also known as the “Vic Market” or “Queen Vic,” the market features many stalls selling all kinds of items from meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables to crafts, plants, souvenirs, clothing, jewellery, toys, shoes, pets, hardware tools, watches, gadgets, and more.
Queen Victoria Market | Places to visit in Melbourne
Queen Victoria Market first opened as a retail market in 1874, is protected as Melbourne’s largest and most intact market in the 19th century. The Meat Hall, built in 1869, is still largely intact and is the oldest of the original buildings. Visitors can get a sense of what it was like to shop on the 19th-century street by visiting the stalls along the streets of Elizabeth and Victoria, built between 1882 and 1891.
Royal Botanic Gardens | Melbourne places to visit
In the centre of the lush parkland south of the River Yarra, about two kilometres from the CBD, the Royal Botanical Gardens are among the best of their type in the country. Established in 1846, the gardens are split into two locations: Melbourne and Cranbourne. Melbourne Gardens occupies an area of 38 hectares with more than 8,500 varieties of plants, including several uncommon specimens. The Ian Potter Children’s Garden Base is built to inspire the next generation of gardeners, and the Aboriginal Heritage Walk is a famous tour of the rich heritage of native Australians. It’s one of the easiest free things to do in Melbourne to enjoy the gardens. Live theatre is a highlight of the gardens in the evening, and the Moonlight Cinema is set up under the stars. It’s also a popular location for a lake picnic or a traditional high tea at The Terrace Cafe.
Docklands | Places to go in Melbourne
Docklands is a wide inner suburb located along Victoria Harbour, approximately 2 km from Melbourne’s Central Business District, or CBD. This is Melbourne’s waterfront, including iconic structures like Etihad Stadium, Seven Network Broadcasting Center, Costco, and Harbour Town in the Waterfront Area. Waterfront Area is an entertainment and retail centre with bars, movie houses, bowling alleys, boutiques and entertainment fairs.
Take a spin on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel and take a peek at the area, the Port Phillip Bay and the Dandenong Ranges.
Chinatown | Places to visit in Melbourne
Melbourne’s Chinatown goes back to the first Australian Gold Rush in 1851 when prospectors from China settled in the region. Located at the east end of Little Bourke Lane, Chinatown stretches to the intersections of Swanston and Spring Avenues.
The pedestrian area with laneways, alleys, restaurants and shops, Melbourne’s Chinatown is the largest continuous Chinese community in the West and the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere.
The neighbourhood is host to the Chinese Museum, home to Dai Loong and the Millennium Dragon, the world’s biggest Chinese dragon.
Eureka Skydeck | Best time to visit Melbourne
Taking a peek at Melbourne from the Eureka Tower Skydeck. The tower was the largest residential skyscraper in the world before it was replaced by a tower in Dubai. It’s the second tallest building in Australia. The Skydeck is the entire 88th floor and is the largest public observation space in the Southern Hemisphere house. There is a tiny exterior observation space named The Terrace, which is closed in strong winds, and another area called The Edge, a glass cube extending three meters out of the house.
Southbank and Arts Centre in Melbourne | Places to visit in Melbourne
The city is filled with cultural Melbourne tourist attractions on the banks of the River Yarra, a quick walk from Flinders Street Station. Southbank Promenade is full of indoor/outdoor shops, bars and live entertainment. Every Sunday, an excellent arts and crafts market is held, and the region also hosts several festivals during the year. Easily visible by its spire, the Arts Center has a broad variety of theatres and venues, including the State Theatre, the Playhouse, the Fairfax Theatre, and the Hamer Hall, the premier concert area for the legendary Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
National Gallery Of Victoria
The largest public art museum in Australia, the Victoria National Gallery, houses more than 70,000 works of art in two places in the capital. The foreign collection is located in the St. Kilda Road palace, which was originally opened in 1968 and was extensively restored in 2003. The building is famed for The Great Hall, where tourists are invited to lay on the floor and look at the bright stained glass ceiling. The vast Australian collection is housed at the Ian Potter Gallery in Federation Square, featuring the development of Australian art from Aboriginal paintings to the Heidelberg School and modern mixed media. One of the highlights is the broad triptych style, Frederick McCubbin’s The Pioneer.
Arcades and Laneways | Places to visit in Melbourne
Rolling through the maze of lanes and alleyways along with Flinders, Collins, and Bourke Avenues, Melbourne is graceful, fascinating, and eccentric at its finest. The gem in the crown is the spectacular Arcade Block on Collins Lane. With its mosaic floor, period features, and exclusive stores, this is the spot where the late 19th-century gentry strolled, coining the term “doing the block.” It’s worth lining up for a morning or afternoon tea at the Hopetoun Tearooms. This Melbourne icon goes back to 1892 and is also the only original shop in the arcade today. The opulent Royal Arcade is Melbourne’s oldest arcade, and Flinders and Degraves Lanes are both worth exploring. Several companies are offering organized walking tours of the lanes and alleyways.
Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building
A brief tram trip from the CBD, the Melbourne Museum is surrounded by lovely gardens and parkland. This contemporary, purpose-built museum houses a diverse array of communities and cultures. Highlights include the Bunjilaka Native Community Centre; the Phar Lap show on Australia’s biggest racehorse; and the Children’s Museum, a collection of hands-on programs intended to inspire and educate young people.
The elaborate Royal Show Building is next to the Melbourne Museum. Founded in 1880 to house the Melbourne International Fair, the structure later housed Australia’s first Commonwealth Parliament in 1901. Daily visits are accessible and the building tends to be used for exhibits and special occasions.
Parliament House | Best places to visit in Melbourne
Open to the people, except if Parliament is in session, Parliament House is one of Melbourne’s best-preserved visitor secrets. It was built during the Gold Rush, and its interior is lavishly decorated with gold leaf, chandeliers and a magnificent mosaic floor. Private, interactive tours are held from Monday to Friday on days whenever Parliament is not in session.
Located in the elegant Old Customs House, the Immigration Museum tells the story of people from around the world who now call Melbourne their home. The permanent collection is interactive and engaging, and special exhibitions add to the appeal of the museum. A visit here presents a different perspective of early European settlement, as every person arriving here had to pass through customs.
Melbourne Zoo | Places to visit in Melbourne
Babies and toddlers will love their day at the Melbourne Zoo. Meet Mali and her baby brother Ongard, the first-ever elephants to be born in the Zoo in 2010. See other species such as Tree Kangaroo, Brown Bear, Snow Leopard, and many others.
Port Melbourne | Melbourne sightseeing
Board the city tram to Port Melbourne. Relax at one of the cafés for a cuppa. Take a walk down the beach enjoying the sea breeze. The Station Pier in Port Melbourne is a coastal tourist facility for cruise ships and marine vessels.