Looking for the best places to see in Melbourne?! This complete Melbourne travel guide will go into top top things to see within the city/CBD, the best suburbs to visit around the area, and also the best day trips from Melbourne to get the full Victoria experience.
Melbourne has a big and bustling city, but that’s just the beginning. There is plenty to discover within the city centre, but the surrounding suburbs also add a healthy amount of character to a unique city. There are also many naturally stunning regions outside of the city to visit as well.
Melbourne truly is a city of hidden gems, and sometimes it can take a bit more effort to find them than just walking around. You could truly spend a lifetime discovering this city, but here are some of the best bits.
Top 5 Places to See in Melbourne
#5 — Free City Walking Tour
Doing a city walking tour is the best way to start off your time in any city. Walking tours help you get your bearings on the place and understand the basic and vital foundations that make the city what it is. Our Free Walking Tour does just this – we take you through historical monuments and arcades, graffiti-covered laneways, bustling squares, and through the depths of both ancient and modern culture.
#4 — Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is easily the most popular day trip from Melbourne. Just a few hours outside the city is a coastline unlike any other, with towering cliffs over perfect wave breaks. Taking a day tour to the Great Ocean Road (or renting a car to road trip yourself- just give it a few days!) is one of the most breathtaking things to do in Melbourne. Sights along this drive like the famous 12 Apostles will stay with you forever, and give you an alternative vibe to the bustling city centre.
#3 — Melbourne Coffee
Did you know that Melbourne is the coffee capital of the world? It’s not just a self-proclaimed title, either – Melbourne actually has more cafes per capita than any other city in the world. Crazy, huh? Melbourne has evolved its very own coffee culture, complete with unique drinks and talented baristas. Make sure to try some – or just come on the free tour — we stop for coffee about 45 minutes into the walk.
#2 — Eureka Skydeck
Unlike many global cities, Melbourne doesn’t have a central hill…. It has a very, very tall central tower called the Eureka Tower! Located high up on the 88th floor is the highest observation deck in the whole southern hemisphere, called the Eureka Skydeck.
This viewpoint is one of the absolute must places to see in Melbourne, and will give you views from over the entire CBD, to the docklands, all the way down the coast, to the mountain ranges surrounding the city. You can even watch the footy from up there if the timing is right!
#1 — Hidden Laneway Bars
Because of Melbourne’s unique city design, locals became VERY good at making use of space – especially for fascinating venues and bars. This is why you’ll find that many of the bars in our city are hidden – in back corners of laneways, above other shops, or inside historic and/or repurposed venues, or even hidden within bookshelves. See how many one-of-a-kind venues you can discover – or come on our Melbourne Hidden Bars Tour to discover some and learn about plenty more.
Places to See in Melbourne CBD
Melbourne’s CBD, or Central Business District/Downtown, is a bustling grid full of rich history, delicious food, hundreds of cafes, hidden bars, tall skyscrapers, diverse culture, and fascinating people. Let’s see some of the best parts:
One of the most unique things about Melbourne is the presence of tiny, one-lane streets throughout the city called Laneways. Over the years, the laneways have become the ‘beating heart’ of Melbourne, with the best tucked-away cafes/bars/restaurants only the locals know, amazing murals and street art, and interesting stories.
Some of the best laneways to check out are AC/DC Lane, Duckboard Pl, Hosier Lane, and Union Lane for street art, and Hardware Lane, Degraves St, and Centre Place for food.
Historic Victorian Buildings
Melbourne grew massively in population and wealth due to a massive gold rush here in the 1800’s. It was during this time that the beautiful Parliament Building, Windsor Hotel, Treasury Building, and more were built, all with their own unique story and impeccable architecture.
Federation Square + Museums
Federation Square is Melbourne’s biggest (and most unique) gathering place. It holds lots of city events, broadcasts live events and sports games, holds loads of restaurants and bars, and is also home to many of Melbourne’s free museums.
Arcades in Melbourne aren’t the kind you might imagine – they aren’t gaming rooms, but rather beautifully constructed, high-ceilinged shopping corridors Melbourne’s beautiful
A lesser-known yet top-notch way to see the city is actually from the water. Check out Melbourne River Cruises to learn a bit about the city from the Yarra River itself, providing fantastic views of the city and surrounding areas with commentary as well.
Old Melbourne Gaol
‘Gaol’ is the old spelling of ‘jail,’ and is pronounced the same. Confusing, we know! The Old Melbourne Gaol is an old historic jail in the city center that was in use for almost 150 years. This is where the famed Ned Kelly was locked up, and has plenty of other fascinating crime stories in what is now a huge museum. Book a discounted ticket here.
Melbourne is proudly home to one of the longest continuously operating Chinatowns in the world, and has always had a strong presence of Chinese culture. Visit Chinatown for some bona fide Chinese culture – including LOTS of delicious food, shops, and even a museum. It’s a must to go to a BYO dumpling house!
Bourke St Mall
Many people come to Melbourne for its amazing shopping. Bourke Street Mall is the epicenter of some absolutely massive mall complexes within the city that weave above and below the streets.
The Best Melbourne Suburbs to Visit
The fun most definitely doesn’t stop once you leave the city centre. Here are some of the other areas of Melbourne you most certainly won’t want to miss.
St. Kilda is our very own Melbourne Beach. We will admit that it’s not the NICEST beach in the WHOLE world (you can go down the Great Ocean Road or the Mornington Peninsula for that – not far!) but it’s OUR beach, and we love it!
St Kilda is more than a beach; it’s a beachside community. You can visit some lovely open-air pubs along the sand, relax in the park, taste some delicious pastry or Gelato along Acland Street, or even visit our local theme park – Luna Park!
Fitzroy & Collingwood
Fitzroy and Collingwood are most commonly known as the ‘hipster’ areas of the city, and some of the top places to see in Melbourne. These adjacent suburbs are where you’ll find lots of thrift/op shops, trendy cafes, street art, beer gardens, and more.
Walk up Smith Street in Collingwood and down Brunswick Street in Fitzroy for a full glimpse of what hipster Melbourne is about – you might just come away with a few thrifty purchases and a new favorite cafe.
Not too far past St Kilda, you’ll find Brighton Beach – famous for its dozens of multi-colored bathing boxes along the shore. Visit for an iconic Melbourne experience (and instagram photo!) and for a beach day, easily combined with a day in St. Kilda.
Southbank is basically an extension of the CBD, but as its name suggests, on the Southern bank of the Yarra River. Southbank is known for having a beautiful promenade walk along the river bordered by lovely open-air bars/restaurants and some interesting performers and artists. You can also find the largest casino in Australia, The Crown, and also Melbourne’s best view at the Eureka Skydeck on the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower. It’s one of our top view recommendations – book in advance here.
You can also find the city’s botanical gardens adjacent to Southbank. We’re proud to have some of the largest botanic gardens in the world here in Melbourne, and no visit to the city is complete without seeing them. They’re free to enter, and have themed gardens from all over the planet. Perfect for an afternoon picnic or even an open-air movie in the summer!
South Yarra & Prahran
These southern suburbs are best known for bordering Chapel Street, which is a fantastic place to visit for restaurants, shopping, bars, and lots of nightlife!
If Fitzroy and Collingwood are hipster, Brunswick takes it to the next level. Brunswick is king of the North Side and also home to a bustling few streets full of venues, culture, and art.
Carlton is home to Melbourne university, and (almost more importantly), Little Italy. Take a trip up Lygon street to see dozens of Italian restaurants, pizzerias, and gelaterias that will take you right back to Europe.
Must-See Day Trips from Melbourne
Once you’ve seen the city and surrounding areas, you can explore even MORE in some stunning areas outside the city. Here are our top recommendations – make sure to use the discount code WALKS101 if you’d like to book any – a special promotional code for valued customers of ours.
The Yarra Valley is Melbourne’s very own wine region, and is the birthplace of dozens (hundreds?!) of delicious wines. But it’s home to more than just vineyards! The gorgeous rolling hills will make you feel like you have departed miles and miles away from the big city, and between glasses of fresh wine you can taste cider, gin, cheese, and even chocolate. Check out these day tours which plan out all sorts of tastings for you.
Great Ocean Road
As we have already rightfully mentioned as one of the top 5 places to see in Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road easily maintains its title. One of the most beautiful coastlines in all of Australia, this road trip would be silly to miss while here. Book a day trip to have everything taken care of for you, or rent a car and accommodation to take more time!
Phillip Island is Victoria’s famous penguin island, which is lucky enough to be the home of the ‘penguin parade’ each evening. Take a drive there to see hundreds of tiny penguins returning from the water to their resting place for the night, or take a day tour to include visitation to some wild animal parks as well.
Grampians National Park
The Grampians National Park is a stunning rocky mountainous reserve located less than 3 hours from the city. Visit the Grampians for some picturesque views, remote hikes, scenic waterfalls, prolific wildlife, and lots of local aboriginal culture and history. You can spend a night out here or you can take a day tour as well.
The Mornington Peninsula extends directly south of Melbourne, and is a charming area full of diverse landscapes. This area is where you’ll find Melbourne’s most sparkling beaches, as well as many cliffy coastline bush walks and up-and-coming beach towns along the water. You can road trip it or book a day tour for a quicker view.
Puffing Billy Train and Healesville Sanctuary Tour
Well, that’s about it for the best places to see in Melbourne, its surrounding suburbs, and gorgeous areas, wine regions, and national parks as well. We hope you enjoy your trip!