A trendy and vibrant city, Melbourne is buzzing with an eclectic collection of shops, galleries, gardens, eateries, markets and more. Rich in history and culture, and boasting a dynamic food and fashion scene, Melbourne has so much to offer both tourists and locals alike. One could easily spend days exploring this amazing, multicultural city and still have not seen and experienced everything on offer. For those with limited time or simply seeking the best that Melbourne (my home town) has to offer, here is what I believe to be the top 7 things to do in Melbourne:
Take a walk along the iconic Yarra River which runs right through the city. Stop at Southbank for a meal or a drink at one of the many contemporary restaurants and bars overlooking the river. Here you will also find a stylish collection of boutique shops which give an insight into just why Melbourne is considered the fashion capital of Australia. From here you can take a river cruise or continue on foot along the banks, referred to as ‘the social heart of Melbourne’, where you will find many people having a picnic or barbeque, launching a canoe, fishing, jogging or simply enjoying the beautiful surrounds. For something a little different, you can hire a bike from Melbourne Bike Share for as little as $3 for 30 minutes and follow the many trails and paths scattered all along the river.
Each year, over the Labour Day long weekend in March, the banks of The Yarra come alive with Melbourne’s renowned Moomba Festival. This free event includes carnival rides and attractions, live music and entertainment, watersport competitions, a birdman rally, fireworks and the famous Moomba Parade.
242 kilometres long, the Yarra River begins at Mt BawBaw in the Yarra Ranges National Park and runs right through Melbourne city to the head of Port Phillip Bay.
For a spectacular view of the city and surrounds, you can’t go past Eureka Skydeck, the viewing deck at the top of the Eureka Tower. At 297 metres it is the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere providing amazing 360° panoramic views . For anyone who loves a bit of an adrenalin rush, for an additional cost you can experience ‘The Edge’ – a glass room which extends out from the tower – look down at your feet and you are suspended above the city! On the top floor of Eureka Tower you’ll find ‘Eureka 89′ an events & dining room offering a unique and spectacular dining experience.
Located at 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank. Open from 10am to 10pm daily. Entry to the Skydeck is $20 for adults and $11.50 for children. Various family tickets are also available.
Queen Victoria Market
The iconic Queen Victoria market has been running for over 130 years. Known as the heart and soul of Melbourne and spanning over 2 city blocks, it is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere. A Mecca for Melbourne’s freshest food and delicacies, there is also a large area selling everything from clothes and shoes to arts, crafts, souvenirs and even pets! Over Summer the ‘Queen Vic’ comes alive on Wednesday evenings with a night market comprising a diverse array of stalls as well as a contemporary collection of bars, food vendors and live entertainment.
Located at 513 Elizabeth St, Melbourne the market is closed on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Royal Botanic Gardens
There is something truly magical about Melbourne’s internationally renowned Royal Botanic Gardens. A tranquil haven, mere minutes from the hustle and bustle of the CBD, these gardens are flawlessly landscaped, boasting impeccably manicured lawns surrounded by over 10,000 different species of vegetation. Spread over 38 hectares (94 acres), the gardens contain many winding pathways leading to various themed sections dedicated to a specific ecosystem such as the Arid Garden, Herb Garden and Fern Gully to name a few. The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden is a whimsical and exciting discovery and educational environment offering children of all ages a place to explore and learn. Enjoy a picnic on the lawn overlooking one of the lakes or sit down to a light snack or meal at the Terrace Cafe. In Summer the Gardens play host to the Moonlight Cinema, an open-air cinema screening both classic and newly released movies, as well as various other theatrical performances.
Located on Birdwood Avenue, the gardens are open from 7:30am to sunset every day.
In the heart of Melbourne lies Federation Square, a modern, yet unique precinct boasting a thrilling calendar of events, exhibitions, cultural attractions, live music and performances as well as housing several trendy bars and restaurants. Opened in 2002, Federation Square covers over 3 hectares and is made up of several different sections. Open to the public 24 hours a day all year long, is the large open public square. The square, popularly used as a meeting place and ‘hang-out’ for many, boasts a giant fixed public screen which plays host to a variety of major live sporting broadcasts and events throughout the year. There is always something happening in the square, be it a live band or performance on the main stage, a festival or an organised children’s activity. The adjoining abstract building known as The Atrium houses several cafes and specialty stores, as well as being the venue of many unique, interesting and innovative exhibitions and markets. Adjacent to The Atrium you will find The Ian Potter Centre, the world’s first major gallery dedicated exclusively to Australian art. Federation Square is also home to ACMI (The Australian Centre for the Moving Image), a permanent exhibition celebrating and showcasing all things related to the world of television, film and digital culture.
Federation Square is located on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Street.
Explore the CBD
For the ultimate Melbourne city experience hit the streets on foot and explore the ins and outs of the bustling metropolis, marvelling at the striking mix of modern and historic architecture. Head off on your own or join one of the many walking tours on offer. Not only will you find a diverse mixture of shops, restaurants and bars but also a rich collection of galleries, theatres and churches. Hidden amongst the dynamic and electric atmosphere, the city is scattered with unique narrow laneways boasting quaint little cafes and boutique shops. From the famous steps of Flinders Street Station to the grand arches of Chinatown, you will find something new and exciting around every corner. Take a ride on an iconic Melbourne Tram to the Arts Centre to take in a show or simply admire the unique and contemporary architecture of this grand design. A perfect way to end the day is a horse and carriage ride through the city and perhaps a drink or two in the quirky rooftop cider bar at Victorian Heritage Register listed Young & Jackson, one of Melbourne’s oldest and best known pubs.
Attend a sporting event
In April 2016, for the fourth time in ten years, Melbourne was named the sporting capital of the world at the global SportBusiness Ultimate Sport City Awards. This came as no surprise to sports fans the world over. Melbourne and sport go hand in hand and the city is at the top of many sports fans bucket lists. All year long Melbourne plays host to a plethora of major sporting events including a tennis Grand Slam (The Australian Open), a Formula One World Championship (Australian Grand Prix) and The Spring Racing Carnival – the crème de la crème of horse racing, including it’s most prestigious and renowned race – The Melbourne Cup. As if these events, paired with many world-class sporting venues, were not reason enough for the title, there is also the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), known throughout Australia as ‘The G’. Regarded as Victoria’s spiritual home of sport, this stadium is the birthplace of, and home to, Test and One Day International cricket. The MCG also hosts many other sporting events throughout the year, the most famous and revered being the AFL Grand Final. AFL is Australia’s most dominant sporting competition and the AFL Grand Final is regularly known to have the biggest Australian TV audience of the year, often surpassing 4million viewers. If you cannot make it to a sporting event, the MCG also houses The National Sports Museum, a highly regarded museum dedicated to Australian sport.
The MCG is situated in Yarra Park, just a short walk from the CBD.
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