In Melbourne for a couple of days and not sure what to do? With so many options it’s a real challenge. Here are our suggestions for first-time visitors looking to explore the iconic experiences Melbourne is famous for—the arts, sport, shopping and a vibrant restaurant and bar scene.
Start your day with a coffee in any one of the hundreds of coffee shops you’ll find around the CBD. There's so many to choose from including Little Mule Cafe, Brother Baba Budan, Padre Coffee and Manchester Press. Talk to any Melburnian who is no longer living here and they’ll say the coffee is one of the things they miss the most!
Get your bearings. You can do this by jumping on the free City Circle Tram which travels through the city and includes commentary or you can join a guided tour. There are free tours including I’m Free Walking Tours which offers a 90-minute walking tour taking in many of the city’s best known attractions. Tours depart the State Library at 10.30 am.
A number of companies offer paid walking tours with special themes such as street art tours while the Melbourne City Council also produces a number of free themed walking maps. Another great way to get an overview of the city is to head upwards. Visit Eureka Skydeck and the Melbourne Star and you’ll be rewarded with wonderful views over the city and beyond. Alternatively head to the Yarra River and join a Melbourne River Cruise.
After all that exploring you’ll need a good lunch. The options are endless. You’ll find everything from the large upmarket restaurants to trendy cafés in small laneways.
Visit the National Gallery of Victoria’s two locations at Federation Square and St Kilda Road Melbourne and you’ll discover why the gallery is now one of the world’s 20 most visited art museums. The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia in Federation Square is home to Australian art including Indigenous and non-Indigenous art from the colonial period to the present day. NGV International on St Kilda Road houses an extensive collection from Europe, Asia, America and Oceania.
The Melbourne Theatre Company stages plays at its own theatre in Southbank and at Arts Centre Melbourne. Arts Centre Melbourne is one of Australia’s largest and busiest, hosting national and state music, opera, theatre and dance companies. With so many options you’re sure to find one to take your fancy.
Melbourne’s bar scene is acknowledged as the most vibrant in Australia thanks to the city’s liberal drinking laws. Some of the bars such as those at Southbank and the Docklands are in large buildings and are renowned for their great views. Others such as those found in Melbourne’s laneways are very small and known for their quirkiness. Check out Transit Rooftop Bar at Federation Square for great views over the city.
Start your day with a coffee, put on your comfortable shoes and go shopping! Shopping is another of Melbourne’s most famous pastimes and no stay here is complete without at least a couple of hours exploring Melbourne’s shops which sell everything from the world’s top designers to uniquely Melbourne souvenirs.
An iconic Melbourne shopping experience is a visit to Queen Victoria Market (open every day except Mondays and Wednesdays) said to be the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere.
Visit that restaurant you liked the look of yesterday but couldn’t get into or try something completely different.
Sake Restaurant and Bar on Flinders Lane is the perfect spot for modern Japanese; Time Out Fed Square offers up an international menu; while Munich Brauhaus at South Wharf is a traditional Bavarian bierhaus.
This afternoon is devoted to understanding why Melbourne has been crowned the “Ultimate Sports City of the Decade.” Follow the ‘Yarra River Sports Walks,’ produced by the Yarra River Business Association and you’ll pass such attractions as the Tan Running Track, Victorian Institute of Sport, Rod Laver Arena (home of the Australian Tennis Open), the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the National Sports Museum, which is located at the MCG.
The National Sports Museum is a must for any sporting fan as it honours Australian football, cricket, the Olympic Games, soccer and many other sports. Alternatively catch tram numbers 48, 70 or 75 from the CBD and head directly to the MCG.
After a day on your feet shopping and exploring you’ll probably want to take it easy. So perhaps dinner at a restaurant or another live show? Try The Point at Albert Park for beautiful views over the water, or The French Brasserie for an unforgettable French meal.
Or maybe a visit to Dracula’s which includes dinner and a show.
Finish your two days exploration at either the bars you visited and loved last night or the one or two you discovered on your exploration today. 1806 is a favourite for cocktails, while Bird's Basement is a must for jazz fans.