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The Top Things to do in Melbourne

There are a huge range of things to do in Melbourne to suit every traveller. Yes, there are the vintage trams and great coffee but don’t forget the secret bars found on a hidden laneways tour or the incredible views from the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. During winter a Mt Buller Ski tour from Melbourne, a soak in the hot springs or a cheese and wine tasting tour in Yarra Valley are popular Melbourne tours while the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium and Melbourne Zoo are family favourite Melbourne activities. You can go further afield on a day tour to the Phillip Island Penguin Parade or join a Great Ocean Road day tour from Melbourne. The hardest decision you’ll have to make is deciding what to do in Melbourne.

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Top 10 Things to do in Melbourne

A city of culture, coffee, vintage trams, colour and contrasts, Melbourne is widely regarded as one of the best cities not only in Australia but on the global stage.

It's a city that can be enjoyed over the course of both short and long stays, although prioritising what to do in Melbourne can often be a difficult task because of the numerous Melbourne attractions to choose from.

As a frequent contender for the title of "World's Most Liveable City", it's an urban metropolis that still retains something of a small-town feel, with an emphasis on the artistic, quality dining and plenty of historic architecture to explore.

In this article, we break down what are the top 10 things to do in Melbourne that include taking in the sights from the Melbourne Star or Eureka Skydeck, enjoying a wildlife encounter at Melbourne Zoo or heading underwater to the inner city SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium.

We also highly recommend venturing further afield to discover the beauty of the Dandenong Ranges, Phillip Island and the Great Ocean Road on scenic Melbourne tours.

There are so many diverse sights to visit in Melbourne but to help you get the most out of your visit or perhaps you want to know what the best things to do in Melbourne on the weekends are then we'll help you map out some family-friendly Melbourne activities.

We attempt to cover all the best Melbourne attractions and sights catering for a broad range of tastes, however, regardless of your interests, all of these items are worth a visit during your time in Victoria's capital. If you are yet to visit, then let us take you by the hand and guide you to the best things to do in Melbourne.

Top 10 Things to do in Melbourne - Melbourne Star Observation Wheel Victoria

1. Melbourne Star Observation Wheel Victoria

A playful ride on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel guarantees one of the best views of the Melbourne city and Port Phillip by day or night. Spot some of the city's most iconic sights during a gentle 30 minute rotation.
Top 10 Things to do in Melbourne - Laneways & Arcades

2. Laneways & Arcades

Location: Various Locations, Melbourne CBD

Melbourne has a creative flare it embraces and this helps to differentiate it from any other Australian city.

It is often referred to as the ‘cool city’ and the laneways and arcades are just one way that it displays its 'je ne sais quoi’.

Getting lost in Melbourne is not such a bad thing when you have interesting street art to look at.

In fact, it can even lead to new discoveries like your new favourite hole in the wall café, secret rooftop bar or quirky clothing or gift shop.

Getting lost in Melbourne is not such a bad thing when there are so many laneways, arcades and street art murals to discover. Chances are you’ll find a new hole in the wall cafe or secret rooftop bar along the way.

Download a laneways and arcades map or join a walking tour and discover some of Melbourne’s hidden inner city secrets, striking architecture and art works.

Among some of the most popular laneways for street art are Hosier Lane- just off Flinders Street near Federation Square with an ever changing murals and endless walls of creative arts and graffiti that can often change suddenly overnight.

Other notable laneways for street art are Centre Place, AC/DC Lane and Croft Alley.

For quirky cafes and bars head to Degraves Street for alfresco dining, tiny shops and boutiques that will make you feel that you are walking the streets of a European city.

Top 10 Things to do in Melbourne - Melbourne Cricket Ground Tours

3. Melbourne Cricket Ground Tours

Location: Brunton Ave, Richmond VIC

You’d be hard-pressed to find an Australian who doesn’t have at least one fond sporting memory of an event that was held during their lifetime at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (or MCG as it is more popularly known).

Having been host to such amazing sporting events as the 1956 Olympic Games, the first-ever cricket Test match, the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the 1992 World Cup and countless VFL and AFL Grand Finals, the MCG is a historic and permanent fixture in Australian sports (as well as the scene of numerous blockbuster music and celebrity performances).

Melbourne has one of the proudest sporting cultures of any Australian city, and the MCG is a true reflection of that fact, being a venue that is huge but still manages to maintain a feeling of friendly intimacy.

The MCG is a historic venue and permanent fixture in Australian Sport. Visit the hallowed sporting grounds that have played host to the Olympic Games, cricket tests and countless AFL Grand Finals.

Numerous tours are available that allow interested parties to go behind the scenes of the venue, sit in the coach’s box, visit the change rooms and media centres, and more for the quintessential MCG experience.

The stadium also contains the National Sports Museum, a facility which includes some of the most priceless pieces of memorabilia in Aussie sporting history.

The MCG isn’t only strictly for sporting nuts, however, the sheer degree of significance the stadium has for Australian culture will have an impact on the non-sports-fan as well. The venue also has multiple facilities inside that serve food and drinks including cafes, bars and restaurants for added convenience.

Top 10 Things to do in Melbourne - Shrine of Remembrance

4. Shrine of Remembrance

Location: Birdwood Ave, Melbourne

Victoria’s largest war memorial and perhaps Melbourne’s most recognised landmark, the Shrine of Remembrance stands as a lasting tribute to our country’s fallen soldiers and various other servicemen who sacrificed their lives during the First and Second World Wars to help ensure our freedom.

Holding over 120 ceremonies and commemorative services throughout the year, the Shrine is also one of the most active venues for paying tribute to our heroes and is also situated in a great vantage point that offers beautiful views of Melbourne city itself as well as the bay area, it makes for a must-visit while in the city for both historical and scenic purposes.

An appropriately solemn atmosphere surrounds the shrine (as it should do), and its architectural design mimics that of ancient Greece – a metaphor for a people with which the ANZACs identified themselves during their time deployed in action.

The Shrine of Remembrance is Melbourne’s most recognised landmark honouring Australia’s fallen servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives in the fight for freedom and democracy during times of war.

Visiting the Shrine of Remembrance can be a deeply moving experience, and one that which young children especially may not find particularly interesting or be able to fully understand – thus it is advisable to ensure they are on their best behaviour throughout.

One of the nicest touches which visitors may want to aim to be there for is the daily ceremonial taking down of the flags at 5 pm. This is a solemn yet spine-tingling experience, one that can not be had anywhere else in the proximity of the Melbourne CBD, let alone the large majority of the rest of Australia.

Top 10 Things to do in Melbourne - Melbourne Zoo

5. Melbourne Zoo

Location:Elliot Avenue, Parkville, Melbourne, VIC

One of the best wildlife facilities in Australia is within easy reach of the majority of accommodation in the Melbourne CBD – Melbourne Zoo.

Standing as a world-class facility, Melbourne Zoo is spread over a large distance so that the animals inside are provided with ample space in which to feel comfortable and move about and is divided up into various regions of animals reflecting their worldwide location.

Visiting the Zoo offers an opportunity to get back in touch with the many wonders of nature while being located only 4km from the Melbourne city centre.

From gorillas to kangaroos - the Melbourne Zoo offers a unique chance to get in touch with the wonders of the animal kingdom. And it’s just 4km from the city.

Set within a comfortable and scenic botanic garden setting, the zoo provides a relaxing atmosphere with a variety of landscapes, from the Victorian-era formality of the main drive to the lush jungles of the Asian and African rainforest areas.

With numerous animals of all kinds to see, you will most likely need to dedicate a full day at Melbourne Zoo in order to see everything. Some of the most widely-acclaimed highlights of which include the elephant enclosure, meerkats, and of course many of the typical Aussie favourites such as kangaroos, koalas, echidnas and more.

As the Zoo is extremely popular, the venue can often get quite crowded, especially on weekends and during school holidays (during which children can enter for free), so getting there early or choosing regular weekdays to visit is generally a good idea.

Top 10 Things to do in Melbourne - Queen Victoria Markets

6. Queen Victoria Markets

Location: Corner of Elizabeth & Victoria St, Melbourne

The Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne are the largest markets operating in the Southern Hemisphere with a 140 year history bringing fresh produce, merchandise and services to the people in the heart of the city.

The markets officially opened in March 1878 after an interesting past as a cemetery and live stock market before its current status as a central marketplace.

A wander around the heritage listed markets are a treat for the senses and a feast for the eyes as you see and smell all the delicious culinary treats on display to taste and purchase.

Among some of the vendors that you can find here are fresh seafood from fishmongers, cheese shops, a delicatessen, organic produce, fresh fruit and vegetables, breads, cakes and pastries, ice cream and specialty products.

There are also permanent cafes selling breakfast and lunch to all those who start feeling peckish walking around the markets.

Whether your vice is cheese, chocolate or shopping- the heritage-listed Queen Victoria Markets are a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds with yummy treats on every corner.

Visitors will find that this is a great place to pick up a gift or souvenir, whether it is for clothing, arts and crafts, UGG boots, leather items, children’s toys and clothing, jewellery, accessories plus health and beauty products.

If you want to discover and meet the producers of some of the most popular markets then a 90 minute foodie tour is a great place to start to discover the marketplace.

A tour such as this will lead you around the market with 10 food tastings and a complimentary glass of wine and a famous Melbourne hot jam doughnut.

Tours run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 9am and 11am in small groups of no more than 15 people for a more intimate, personal experience.

If you prefer to visit on your own then the markets are open on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the fresh produce section open at 6am and the specialty shopping open from 8am.

The best way to get to the Queen Victoria Markets is via tram with the markets sitting in the free tram zone. Look out for Trams 19, 57, 58 and 59 which stop at Elizabeth Streets or Peel Streets just outside the markets.

Top 10 Things to do in Melbourne - Melbourne Cruising Restaurant

7. Melbourne Cruising Restaurant

Location: Southbank Promenade- Berth 4, Southgate, Melbourne CBD, VIC

If you are looking for a romantic date night or a venue for a group celebration then the Melbourne Cruising Restaurant is a unique venue.

Far beyond any restaurant, the Spirit of Melbourne cruising restaurant is your front row seat to discover the night lights of Melbourne while dining on a delicious 4-course meal.

This is one epicurean journey that you should add to your own top 10 things to do in Melbourne.

Cruise down the Yarra River taking in the sights and toast to the night with all premium red, white and sparkling wines, beer and basic spirits included in the evening.

Far beyond any restaurant, the Spirit of Melbourne cruising restaurant is your front-row seat to the night lights of Melbourne while dining on a delicious 4-course meal.

Come along with an empty stomach because you won’t want to pass up the food here on the four course menu. For entrée you can enjoy a Balsamic Glazed Smoked Lamb on mash potato, Shredded Chicken tossed through a sesame glass noodle salad and Prawn and Scallop Cocktail dressed in a creamy seafood sauce.

For the main course you will have a choice of a Chargrilled Chicken Breast, Crispy Skinned Moroccan Salmon Fillet, Pan Fried Beef Eye Fillet or a Portuguese Lamb Shank.

After your main meal, indulge your sweet and savoury taste buds with a dessert and cheese tasting platter.

The Melbourne Cruising Restaurant operates on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 7.30pm to 10.30pm.

Top 10 Things to do in Melbourne - SEA LIFE Melbourne

8. SEA LIFE Melbourne

Location: King and Flinder St, Melbourne

SEA LIFE is Melbourne’s very own aquarium in the centre of the city with Southern Ocean and Antarctic animals on display.

The Melbourne aquarium features 12 distinct, themed zones with over 10,000 marine creatures and continues to grow with a new exhibit opening in December 2018.

Visitors to the aquarium can view numerous marine life including huge sharks, massive sawfish, stingrays, jellyfish, penguins, sea horses and a resident crocodile.

Sit or stroll through the SEA LIFE aquarium and watch in wonder as gigantic sharks, majestic rays and thousands of tropical fish swim above you. The impressive sea critters are just as curious of you as you are of them.

See the Bay of Rays, Mangroves and Rockpools, the Coral Caves, Shipwreck Explorer, the Mermaid Garden, Ocean Discovery, the Croc Lair, the Rainforest Adventure, Seahorse Pier, the Penguin Playground and more.

Sit in awe or stroll through the aquarium tunnels as you watch a diverse collection of animals in their exhibits, a spectacle that most people may have only seen in documentaries on television.

A visit to the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is both entertaining and educational with informative daily talks and feeding presentations sharing information about the behaviours, habits and diets of the animals you are viewing.

If you are looking for a half day activity to get out of the scorching hot sun or a rainy day activity then SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium fits the bill.

Top 10 Things to do in Melbourne - A Classic Horse & Carriage Ride

9. A Classic Horse & Carriage Ride

Location: Federation Square, Melbourne CBD

A horse carriage ride around Melbourne is one of the more unique ways to discover all the highlights of the city.

Not just reserved for royalty, you too can feel like a lord or lady sitting pretty up in these horses and carriages trotting around the city.

In fact, a horse and carriage ride seems quite fitting when you see all the heritage buildings, churches, gardens and old government buildings of Melbourne.

Choose between a 30 minute or 60-minute tour in your very own personal carriage seating up to 6 passengers.

A grand horse and carriage ride around Melbourne seems quite fitting when you see all the heritage buildings, churches, gardens and old government buildings that dot the city centre.

Melbourne horse and carriage rides depart from Federation Square opposite Flinders Street Station from 1pm to 10pm.

See the Yarra River, King Domain, The Shrine of Remembrance, Treasury Building, Parliament House, Princess Theatre, China Town and Collins Street.

Tours operate from Thursday to Monday from 1pm to 10pm with the last 30 minute tours departing at 9.30pm.

Book a horse and carriage ride during the day and see all the highlights of Melbourne by the day or join a horse and carriage ride at night for a more romantic experience with someone special.

Top 10 Things to do in Melbourne - Eureka Skydeck

10. Eureka Skydeck

Location: Riverside Quay, Southbank, Melbourne, VIC

As with many other towers located in cities throughout the world, Melbourne's Eureka Skydeck 88 is a great starting point for a first-time visit by anyone to Melbourne that offers a quick way to get an idea of your bearings while taking in amazing views of the city and its surrounds from the vantage point of the 88th floor of Eureka Tower.

As the highest viewing platform in the entire southern hemisphere, the distance viewable from the top of the tower encompasses not only a 360-degree panorama of Melbourne and its landmarks such as the MCG but also the picturesque ranges of the Blue Mountains that stretch out in the distance.

Eureka Skydeck is a great starting point for a first-timer as a great way to not only get your bearings but enjoy marvellous views from 88 floors above the streets of Melbourne.

Obviously when attending a viewing facility such as this the degree of impressiveness the on display is almost entirely dependent on the weather, so attempting to plan the trip up the tower in accordance with weather reports is generally a good idea as a rainy or highly overcast days can greatly restrict the distance of visibility.

Many who visit the tower often recommend attending in time to see the transition from sunset to nightfall, as the effect that the lighting has on the scenery of both the sky, the city and the mountains makes for a combination that is not to be missed. While the admission price may seem fairly expensive, there are no other options that provide comparably stunning views to what Eureka Skydeck has to offer visitors.