Melbourne: 13 Top Attractions for Different Travelers

The LUME Melbourne is an immersive exhibition that features over 550 artworks from more than 110 visual and musical artists.

Melbourne is a dynamic, diversified, and fast-growing Australian city that draws millions of tourists every year.

The vibrant mix of different cultures resulted in an exciting explosion of tasty food and art scenes, together with its breathtaking natural sceneries and trendy urban vibe. Clearly, the city has something cool for different types of travelers, Let’s dive in for our 13 best picks.

You are welcome to leave a comment, share, and discuss your favorites!

Melbourne for Families: Theme parks and CBD attractions

Melbourne’s CBD is packed with art and cultural facilities. Hence, family travelers will have no trouble planning a few days just exploring the attractions in the CBD area. Furthermore, travel on trams in Melbourne’s city center is free!

Melbourne Skydeck

Located at 297 to 301 meters, Melbourne Skydeck (or Eureka Tower’s observation deck) is among the highest vantage points in the Southern Hemisphere (across the globe, The Gran Torre Santiago stands at a height of 300 meters). While the Eureka Tower used to be the tallest building in Melbourne, it was recently surpassed by new building Australia 108.

Melbourne Skydeck has been one of the most well-known and popular attractions. Family travelers can enjoy a boundless 360-degree view of Melbourne to Mount Dandenong. Personally, I think it is a wonderful way to have an overview of the city, families can easily spend half a day there, and the best time to go there is in the late afternoon until sunset.

In order to avoid long queues, it is much more convenient to purchase the Skydeck Entry Ticket online. The ticket can be used instantly after purchase, and therefore, you can decide which day and what time to visit the Skydeck when you are actually in Melbourne.

There are different packages available and for an extra fee, visitors will have the “Thrill or Adventurous Experience” including the VR Theatre, VR Plank Challenge, immersive journey of discovery,  multi-sensory 6D pod chairs, or the Edge Experience – stand on the crystal glass cube out of the building, suspended almost 300 meters above the ground.

SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

SEA LIFE is a Southern Ocean and Antarctic aquarium, and it is a wonderful place for families. The facility is located on the banks of the Yarra River and is one of the city’s top attractions, with 10 million visitors a year.

In general, the aquarium is the most complete showcase of Australia’s aquatic ecosystem, and it has a diverse collection of sea life in its 2-million-liter oceanarium. Species include seahorses, tropical fish, jellyfish, to penguins; visitors can view larger fish like sharks and bay of rays as well.

Stay tuned for the performance schedule for the shark feeding and penguin show. There are also several special interactive exhibition areas where children will have a great time, and learn a lot about these fascinating creatures as well.

Enjoy fuss-free entrance with a special promo ticket (Buy one get one free offer) online to avoid the queue.

Royal Exhibition Building Dome Promenade

Together with the Melbourne Museum and Carlton Gardens, the Royal Exhibition Building is a beautiful building in the city center. The World-Heritage-listed building is one of the oldest in Melbourne as it was constructed in 1880, as part of the international exhibition movement.

From 1851 to 1915, the exhibition building hosted over 50 exhibitions with a global presence. The building has an impressive interior and exterior. To better understand the design, history, and stories about this site.

Join a 60-minute guided tour that operates daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The highlight of the tour, however, is a walk around the dome promenade, which offers a unique and magnificent view of the gardens and Melbourne skyline. The

Book your ticket on the Melbourne Museum’s official website and the dome promenade tours during sunset sold out almost instantly. The tour includes the city’s natural and cultural history.

State Library Victoria

It does not appear in a lot of travel books and guides, but it is one of my hidden gems of architecture in Melbourne. The historic State Library Victoria was established in 1854, is Australia’s oldest library and one of the world’s first free libraries!

Access to the State Library is free. The studying area offers complimentary Wi-Fi and electric plugs, which was perfect for me to spend a few hours before leaving the city to catch my flight after checking out.

While you might think the library is an oldie, the building was renovated with through the centuries. One of the most impressive features is the ceiling in the La Trobe Reading Room and Dome Gallery.

Designed by Norman G. Peebles, The Dome is now the building’s signature and the most photographed. The dome has an octagonal shape covering the reading room where it houses over a million books and has a capacity of 600 people. With both diameter and height of 34.75 meters, this is currently the world’s largest glass dome of its kind.

Of course, some of the other impressive glass domes around the world include the Tiffany Dome in the Chicago Cultural Center, the Glass Dome of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, and the Jewel in Singapore Changi Airport.

Apart from books, the library holds free tours (it has other impressive reading rooms and halls like the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall and Redmond Barry Reading Room), exhibitions on the upper floor, and public events that are suitable for different types of travelers.

Melbourne for Foodies: Food, Markets and Cafes

Here, I am confident to say that any visitors should have no problems finding great food in Melbourne because the city is a culinary paradise!

The exciting mix of people from different places and backgrounds made Melbourne CBD a melting pot of cuisines. Furthermore,  Melbourne is famously known for its coffee culture – Cafes and Bakeries are basically around every corner and the only challenge you have is to try them all.

Queen Victoria Market Food Tour

The market, which most people call it “Queen Vic”, is a major attraction in Melbourne. In fact, it is the largest open-air market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

The establishment of this site dates back to the 19th century. Today, Queen Vic has over 600 businesses ranging from fresh produce, hand-made handicrafts, coffee, souvenirs, and home items, to many more. After all, Queen Vic is Melbourne’s number one food market. Any foodies will have a wonderful time exploring its multicultural food scene.

Visitors may plan their own walking tour. Alternatively, join a guided culinary culture tour to learn more about the history of the market, hear interesting stories about different regions’ food cultures and traditions, and sample some delicacies from the local vendors.

If you are staying in a rental apartment or an Airbnb, Queen Victoria Market is a great place to stock up your kitchen for your stay. However, take note of the opening hours; the best time to visit Queen Vic is in the morning because stores (especially the fresh produce) usually close earlier in the afternoon.

Café Hopping in Fitzroy and Collingwood

Honestly, there are many cafes around the city. Check out Melbourne’s ultimate guide for the best cafes and you will realize the number of choices is indeed quite overwhelming.

While many cafes are conveniently located in the CBD, take a day or two to go cafe hopping in Fitzroy and Collingwood. The area is a hip and trendy neighborhood with a humble beginning of blue-collar.

The workshops and warehouses are now lively and renovated as various restaurants, retail, bars, as well as cultural sites, for regular gigs.

A few of my favorite cafes are Terror Twilight, Everyday Coffee, ACoffee, Archies All Day, Napier Quarter, and more… Taking things a little bit further, Yarra Valley is an excellent wine district with fine food, wine, and sightseeing. Check out some of the most popular wine tours in Yarra Valley.

Melbourne for History Buffs: The architecture and museums

While today Melbourne is filled with modern skyscrapers, it celebrates history by preserving some beautifully constructed colonial architecture. Many of them are located in Melbourne’s CBD. For art buffs, the city has plenty of art spaces and museums to discover.

Historic Colonial Architecture in CBD

The historical adventure in Melbourne begins on the free tram ride that runs around CBD; have a look out the windows and you will find classical architecture still standing among the modern architecture. Some of the best examples are the State Library Victoria and the Royal Exhibition Building that I talked about.

Take a stroll along Collins Street and Bourke Street in Melbourne CBD: The Rialto, a fine example of a Victorian-style building, is a shopping arcade designed by William Pitt in the 1800s. The Royal Arcade is another street mall, connecting Bourke Street Mall to Little Collins Street. It’s known for its historic decor and a couple of popular cafes and bakeries are in the mall.

The Parliament House is located between Fitzroy and CBD and was built in the year 1855. The striking architecture was designed by Charles Pasley and Peter Kerr. Nearby, the General Post Office is in Renaissance Revival Design, constructed in 1867, and designed by A.E. Johnson and William Wardell. The Princess Theatre was built in 1886 by William Pitt, it is still a functioning theatre with musicals and concerts every day.

St. Paul’s Cathedral was consecrated in 1891, and the stunning cathedral is in Neo-Gothic style across the Flinder’s Railway Station.

The Flinders Street Station is the second busiest train station in Australia, serving the entire metropolitan rail network, and 15 tram routes travelling to and from the city. The station was opened in 1854, the oldest in Australia, and it is also listed on the Victorian Heritage Register since 1982.

Old Melbourne Gaol Night Tour

Here I have something more suitable for the grownups. While an old prison is not exactly something new to the audience, Old Melbourne Gaol is one the few in the country that has the reputation and scale as the Alcatraz in San Francisco.

The site was the city’s former jail opened in 1845 and officially closed in 1924. It is one of those historic sites that is filled with stories of Melbourne’s colonial past.

Located on Russell Street, the small building was uneventfully hidden behind the rather glamorous-looking building of RMIT University. Having said that, the Old Gaol had a total of 133 convicted executed right here, including the notorious serial killer, Bailey Deeming, and Ned Kelly, a bushranger.

For families with children, visit the Old Melbourne Gaol during the day. Take the time to have a walk-through of the 3-story high cell wing, and learn about the prison lives, the punishments, and fascinating stories of the law and order in Melbourne.

To turn up the thrill, the Gaol occasionally organizes night tours with different themes. The tour guide takes visitors on a journey with their dramatic storytelling, sharing haunting stories as they lead the way through the Gaol in the dark. When the tour is over, they turn on the lights for a quick look at the exhibition inside the museum for about 15 minutes.

The night tour is popular, and it’s recommended to purchase tickets on their official site before your trip as early as possible.

Federation Square

Melbourne is an art and cultural hub of Australia. Check out the list of art spaces, galleries, and museums worth visiting. Among the many art attractions in Melbourne, Federation Square is a landmark that is much more than a museum.

Federation Square was created in 2002, it has been the venue for art and cultural activities, exhibitions, and public events. The square covers an area of 3.2 hectares at the intersection of Flinders and Swanton Streets, check out the website for the latest programs and activities.

For a usual day, Fed Square is also home to three art and culture organizations, including the Ian Potter Center, the Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI), and the Koorie Heritage Trust. All these attractions are free to the public and they are dedicated to established and emerging artists. In particular, ACMI has an exciting showcase of the history and development of films, television, and gaming.

Melbourne for Outdoor Lovers: Green spaces and outdoor areas

Melbourne is known for its green spaces. The city has done a great job protecting and enhancing the beauty of these areas – with over 480 urban parks and reserves, the city has no lack of places for nature lovers.

Fitzroy Garden and St. Patrick Cathedral

Fitzroy Garden covers an area of 26 hectares. One stunning feature of the park is the elm tree, scarred tree, and fairies’ trees that line along the pathway. Besides, the garden features several gardens and attractions like the Model Tudor Village, River God Fountain, and Cook’s Cottage, just to keep things interesting. Notably, the conservatory hosts five ornamental horticultural displays throughout the year.

The city park is a great place for any type of visitor to just unwind and have a moment of quietness in the hustling and bustling City. Nearby stands Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, the tallest and largest Catholic Church in Australia.

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria – Melbourne Gardens

This beautiful green space was founded in 1846. Located on the South Bank of Melbourne, the garden covers an area of 36 hectares, with plenty of trees, garden beds, lawns, rivers, and lakes within. Together with Melbourne Park and the Olympic Park across the Yarra River, it is a wonderful inner-city park for all sorts of outdoor activities.

There are quite a lot of attractions and interesting spots in the gardens. Take an open-air mini-bus tour to have an overview of the ground. Then, observe the diverse living plant collection (over 8,500 species!), waterbirds, and frogs, and learn how the natives in Australia discovered these species.

The National Herbarium of Victoria is one of the country’s earliest herbaria and the oldest scientific institution in Victoria.

Take the walk a little bit further the Shrine of Remembrance is a war memorial dedicated to honor those who served in World War I. Today, this memorial honors all Australians who have served in any war.

The Shrine exhibits over 800 objects, photographs, uniforms, and works of art that illustrate the experiences of Australians at war and in peace-making operations, from the 1850s to the present day.

The hall of Columns and sanctuary has a visual impact, and the top of the Shrine is another wonderful observation balcony of Melbourne’s skyline.

St. Kilda

Stokehouse St Kilda is a popular beachside restaurant in St Kilda. 

Seeing the little penguin is one of the best things to do in Victoria. Many travelers may have heard wonderful things about Phillip Island, however, there is actually a great spot much closer to the city that is a colony of this adorable creature – St Kilda Pier and Breakwater. This site sits within an Aboriginal cultural landscape in the traditional Sea Country of the Bunurong People, and the isolation of the breakwater is an ideal location for little penguins to settle.

The penguins come and go to St Kilda every day after their daily routine and there is a viewing platform at the head of the pier. St Kilda Pier has been closed since 2017 for redevelopment, and the penguin viewing area and Pier Breakwater are closed until mid-2024. Visitors can check their re-development project status on their website.

More than the adorable little penguins, St. Kilda has been a vibrant beachside leisure spot for locals and tourists. The Esplanade market opens on Sunday with a diverse selection of handicraft and design products. The Luna Park is a historic amusement park (opened for 102 years, and still operating every day!) where you can hear the soothing scream from people riding on the roller coasters and thrill rides. Furthermore, St Kilda also features a couple of award-winning restaurants, including Stokehouse St Kilda Beach. The iconic restaurant is an upscale eater by the Oceanfront with a great combination of food, wine, service, and atmosphere.

Brighton Bathing Boxes

Heading further south from St Kilda, Brighton is a suburb in Melbourne with one of the most well-known photo-taking spots in the city. Do you remember seeing pictures of colorful wooden houses lined up be the beach somewhere in Melbourne?

There are 82 bathing boxes currently lined up at the end of Brighton Beach. Because each of them has its own unique and individual design, colors, and patterns; it becomes a tourist attraction while guided tours usually make a quick stop by the beach before heading to Phillip Island.

Believe it or not, the first Brighton Bathing Boxes dated back to the 1860s, when changing or showering in public was unwelcome during those times. Today, these bathing boxes here got heritage-listed, and these bathing boxes are not for bathing anymore. These wooden structures have no electricity and water supply, and they are now commonly used as storage units.

These bathing boxes were licensed by the Brighton City Council for the residents of Brighton. Therefore, these boxes are privately owned properties. There is a long queue for the licensing of these boxes, and it costs over AUD 250K+ for one box. There’s a bathing box sold AUD600K+ in the record.

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    1. That’s right! the wonderful thing about Australia is these attractions are in the CBD and you can make a trip there and see a lot in a short among of time.

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