Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Melbourne or have lived there your entire life, there are some absolute must-do Melbourne bucket list items.
Melbourne is a hip, dynamic city, with a bustling city centre, unrivalled live music and art scene, and lush green parks and mountain ranges where you can get in touch with nature.
The city is known for its many laneways, its cultural diversity, extensive food options for all budgets, and amazing street art. It’s also known for being the coffee capital of the world, and for being regularly voted as the world’s most livable city.
So, to help you navigate the city of Melbourne, we have compiled the ultimate bucket list of the best things to do in Melbourne. From Melbourne attractions to the best restaurants, bars, shopping and everything in between, you’ll never have a dull moment the next time you’re in town.
Visit Federation Square
Federation Square is an artistic and creative hub of Melbourne and a must-see for anyone visiting the vibrant city. It hosts over 2,000 events a year, which include everything from cultural festivals, event launches, exhibitions, performances, forums, films, concerts, and fashion shows. The best part is that most of them are free.
Take in the architecture of the precinct, visit one of the cafes or eateries and enjoy the ambience of multicultural Melbourne. Or, check out the galleries within the square, including Ian Potter Centre and the Australian Centre For The Moving Image – which is a world leading centre for experiencing the moving image in all its forms.
Federation Square hosts many events, so there is always something to do. Sit and watch a film on the massive screen, or join the locals to watch one of the major sporting events on the big screen. It’s become somewhat of a pastime for Melburnians, so you can soak up a bit of the culture of the city.
Drink the world’s best coffee
Coffee lovers rejoice! Melbourne has been voted as having the best coffee in the world, so try it out for yourself.
Melbourne beat out many of the world’s most renowned coffee cities, including Rome and Vienna, so you can rest assured that your taste buds won’t be disappointed when they taste what Melbourne baristas are serving up.
It’s actually hard to find a bad cup of coffee in Melbourne: the city touts itself as a world leader in coffee and café culture, and the inhabitants are proud to be coffee snobs. If you’re a coffee lover, you’ve come to the right place!
You’ll find great coffee wandering through the laneways and streets of the city, and there are actually tailored tours available to coffee aficionados from the likes of Hidden Secret Tours or Melbourne Coffee Tours.
According to Yelp, the best cup of coffee in Melbourne can be found at Patricia on Little Bourke Street – it’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall place with no seating and a line-up out the street, but probably the best coffee you’ll ever have so it’ll be worth the wait.
Check out the amazing street art
Melbourne is famous for its street art and is actually considered one of the street art capitals of the world.
The city council has designated certain areas for street artists to lend their painting prowess and the art in Melbourne is exceptionally high quality and changes regularly. It’s a great way to fuel the local street art scene, as budding street artists get experience in the artistic side of graffiti, while also offering a creative outlet for local street artists.
You’ll find some of the best Melbourne street art in Rose Street in Fitzroy, Cubitt Street in Cremorne, Hosier Lane and Caledonian Lane in the CBD. However, there is also a Melbourne street art tour, run by street artists, for people who’d like a deeper understanding of what they’re seeing, how it’s made and who is involved in the underground art scene.
Get back to nature at the Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens is a walking distance from the city centre, and offers a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
With more than 8,500 plant species, the botanic gardens have been a treasured part of Melbourne’s cultural life for more than 170 years – much-loved by generations of locals and visitors from interstate and overseas.
It’s a picturesque haven for walkers, joggers and locals who like to stroll through the gardens in their spare time. Melbourne Gardens extend over 38 hectares and houses a collection of plants from around the world, including camellias, rainforest flora, cacti and succulents, roses, Californian species, herbs, perennials, cycads, plants from Southern China and, in the Rare and Threatened Species Collection, plants from south-eastern Australia.
The Royal Botanic Gardens is the perfect place to enjoy a stroll, or sit down with a blanket and enjoy a picnic with friends.
Shop ‘til you drop
Melbourne is renowned for its world-class shopping. In particular, Chapel Street is popular with both local and international visitors, as it offers a wide range of designer and boutique clothing. You can even visit the former Melbourne Government Post office, which now functions as a shopping mall.
Fitzroy is well-known for its eclectic, vintage finds, and further afield, Highpoint and Chadstone are also excellent, large shopping malls with a wide range of Australian and international brands.
Visit Brunswick St
Brunswick Street is an iconic Melbourne precinct in Fitzroy! The best thing about Brunswick St is the people, as you’ll see people from all walks of life. Soak in the social ambience even before you hit the shopping.
Take a long stroll down Brunswick St which is full of interesting and unique establishments, such as bars, bookstores, cafes, giftware and alternative shops. Check out cafes like Stagger Lee’s, Industry Beans (just off Brunswick St), and Madame Sousou. Not to mention internationally acclaimed bar Black Pearl, Indian eatery Mukka and vegan delight Smith & Daughters.
Brunswick St is a great place for vintage clothing. Relive the ‘80s! It’s also great for op shops and home to many factory outlets, so you can snag yourself a bargain.
Peruse the Queen Victoria Markets
As the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, the Queen Victoria Market has been the heart and soul of Melbourne for 140 years. The authentic, inner-city market is home to over 600 businesses and is a great place to discover fresh produce, hot doughnuts, souvenirs, homewares, handmade goods, great coffee and more.
QVM also hosts Wednesday-night markets, where the historic sheds come alive with food stalls and live music.
The building itself is a gorgeous example of Victorian architecture, and you’ll also find many artisanal crafts made by local creatives, as well as souvenirs for your friends back home.
Enjoy a slice of Italy on Lygon Street
The Lygon Street Italian Precinct, also known as Little Italy, is a gorgeous leafy street running from Queensberry Street in the south to Elgin Street in the north. This part of Melbourne is filled with a rich café culture that introduced Melbourne to the love of high-quality coffee for which the city is now famous.
You’ll find world-class Italian restaurants here, as well as Italian produce and culture stores, the beautiful Lygon Buildings (built in 1888), and shopping boutiques.
According to TripAdvisor, some of the best eateries on Lygon Street are Da Guido La Pasta, Scopri and Tiamo. Once you’re in a carb coma you can wander over to Cinema Nova to see a movie.
Drive along Great Ocean Road
As one of Australia’s most scenic drives, you can’t miss The Great Ocean Road on your whirlwind tour of Melbourne. The scenic road stretches for 243km along the Victorian coastline between Torquay and Allansford and is included in the Australian National Heritage List.
Most famous for its natural rock formations, predominantly the Twelve Apostles, the route boasts plenty of prime surf spots and charming towns along the way. It’s a great way to experience Melbourne if you’re partial to a road trip.
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