Located in the southern Australian state of Victoria, Melbourne is the country’s Cultural Capital, with art, music and international cuisine on every corner.
Melbourne is one of Australia’s most popular travel destinations because there is so much to see and do.
So, if you’re planning to visit Melbourne any time soon, here is everything you need to know, from what to see to where to eat.
Facts About Melbourne
With 5.1 million people, Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia. It’s also considered the cultural and sporting capital of the country.
For its restaurants, attractions and historically significant landmarks, it’s no wonder it’s one of Australia’s most popular destinations.
The official language in Melbourne (and Australia) is English. However, since there are so many different people in Melbourne, as many as 251 languages are spoken in the city.
The currency in Melbourne is the Australian dollar (AUD).
Related: Is Australia expensive as a tourist?
Table of Contents
- Facts About Melbourne
- Best Time to Visit Melbourne
- How to Get Around Melbourne
- Where to Stay in Melbourne
- Where to Eat in Melbourne
- Best Things to do in Melbourne
- Best Beaches in and Around Melbourne
- Final Thoughts
Best Time to Visit Melbourne
Before you can start planning your trip to Melbourne, you need to know the best time to visit.
Melbourne is a fantastic city to visit year-round. And there is so much to see and do no matter what season you visit.
Summer (December to February) is the busiest time in Melbourne, as tourists flock to the city to escape the cold. During the busy period, prices of accommodation skyrocket, and there are lots of crowds.
In Melbourne, winter (June to August) can be very cold and wet, especially compared to Brisbane and Sydney. However, since it isn’t the busiest season, you’ll get fantastic travel deals and hotel rates during these months. Winter is a great time to go if you’re not too bothered about the cold and rain and want to visit Melbourne for the food scene.
However, the best time to visit Melbourne is during the shoulder seasons of spring (September to October) or autumn (March to May). During these months, the weather is still warm enough to enjoy being outdoors; there are fewer crowds, and prices are reasonable.
How to Get Around Melbourne
Being the second-largest city in Australia, drawing in thousands of tourists every year, it’s no surprise that the transportation system in Melbourne is one of the best in the country.
When you arrive at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (MEL), the easiest way to get to your accommodation is via the SkyBus or train.
The SkyBus is one of the easiest ways to get to the city from the airport as it operates six services from the Melbourne Airport, including the CBD, Docklands, Southbank, St Kilda, Frankston and bayside suburbs and the western and eastern suburbs.
There are trains that run from the airport to the CBD. The journey is around 30 minutes and is one of the easiest ways to get to the city.
There are also plenty of trains connecting the city to the suburbs, making it easy to get around Melbourne during your time there.
If you’re staying in Melbourne for a few days and want to have flexibility, one of the best ways to get around is in a hire car. There are plenty of rental car companies, and you can pick them up at or near the airport.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around Melbourne is on the tram. Passengers can board trams at signposted stops that have maps, route numbers and a timetable.
If you’re travelling within the CBD, the tram is free. However, you’ll need a myki card if you plan to start or finish your journey outside the CBD.
Like most cities, another way to get around Melbourne is in a taxi.
Rideshare apps are also available in Melbourne, such as Uber and DiDi.
Where to Stay in Melbourne
Melbourne is a big city with a range of different neighbourhoods that each have their own unique charm.
Here are five of the best suburbs to stay in in Melbourne.
The Melbourne Central Business District is the heart of the city. Home to open spaces, gardens, high-end shopping opportunities and fantastic restaurants, there is so much to see and do in the CBD, making it a great place to base yourself.
Where to stay in Melbourne CBD?
- Grand Hyatt Melbourne (high-end accommodation)
- Novotel Melbourne Central (mid-range accommodation)
- ibis Budget Melbourne CBD (low-end accommodation)
As one of the inner suburbs of Melbourne, St Kilda is a beachside neighbourhood perfect for those who love the beach and outdoors.
Home to mansions, the historic Sea Baths and Luna Park, St Kilda is the only suburb in Melbourne with a traditional seaside resort feel.
Where to stay in St Kilda?
- Pullman Melbourne Albert Park (high-end accommodation)
- The Prince Hotel (mid-range accommodation)
- Crest on Barkly (low-end accommodation)
If you want to spend your time in Melbourne exploring the fantastic cafes and restaurants, then you have to base yourself in the suburb of Carlton.
The majority of the restaurants and cafes in Carlton are located within the Lygon Street Italian precinct, giving this area “Little Italy” vibes. Carlton is a vibrant and friendly neighbourhood with a cosmopolitan feel.
Where to stay in Carlton?
- Park Hyatt Melbourne (high-end accommodation)
- Carlton Lygon Lodge (mid-range accommodation)
- Melbourne City Backpackers (low-end accommodation)
Fitzroy is one of the most alternative suburbs in the city of Melbourne. Home to secondhand book stalls, thrift stores and quirky boutiques found on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy is a great place to stay if you’re looking for something unique.
Fitzroy is renowned throughout the country for its street art, music scene and boho feel.
Where to stay in Fitzroy?
- The Hotel Windsor (high-end accommodation)
- Melbourne Metropole Central (mid-range accommodation)
- Tankerville Hotel (low-end accommodation)
If you want to experience a range of different cultures in Melbourne, then base yourself in Richmond.
Richmond is best known for Victoria Street, or “Little Saigon”, which is brimming with Asian grocery stores and eateries.
Many of the old buildings in the area have been given a new lease on life and are now home to cool bars and music venues. While Richmond may be a little rough around the edges, it is definitely worth visiting.
Where to stay in Richmond?
- Amora Hotel Riverwalk Melbourne (high-end accommodation)
- Adara Richmond (mid-range accommodation)
- Somerset Terrace (low-end accommodation)
Related: Here is the ultimate three-week Australia itinerary.
Where to Eat in Melbourne
As the food capital of Australia, you’ll never go hungry in Melbourne. In fact, Melbourne has more than 3,500 restaurants and serves cuisines from more than 70 countries.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Melbourne.
While it may have only opened at the beginning of 2022, Serai is now one of the most popular restaurants in Melbourne. Serai is where you can taste authentic Filipino flavours incorporated into Modern Australian cuisine.
Choosing your meal isn’t difficult; however, the only thing challenging about this restaurant is getting a table! Because it’s so popular, booking in advance is a must!
If you love fine dining, then a meal at Grill Americano is a must.
This restaurant boasts a New York and Northern Italian feel, serving delicious Italian cuisine made from delicious Australian produce.
The menu here may be extensive, but every single dish will have you wanting more.
Found inside Collins Street’s heritage-listed Olderfleet building, Freyja boasts a ‘New Nordic’ approach to Australian dining and produce, fusing classic techniques with new culinary philosophies.
Head Chef Jae Bang was formerly the Head Chef at Norway’s two-Michelin-gonged Re-Naa, so you can expect the meals at Freyja to be spectacular.
Breakfast is the best meal of the day in Melbourne, and the number of cafes in the city proves it! Here are the best cafes to grab breakfast at in Melbourne
The Kettle Black
Located in South Melbourne, The Kettle Black is the perfect place to fuel up for the day with its tasty meals at great prices!
This cafe is also known for having some of the best coffee in the city.
Top Paddock is a trendy cafe that serves delicious meals at great prices. The menu here is healthy and varied, so it caters to everyone!
This cafe is great for starting your day or enjoying a long coffee break. No matter how you spend your time here, Top Paddock is definitely worth visiting in Melbourne!
This family-run cafe boasts a menu of French-inspired foods that are bound to tickle your taste buds!
The cafe is run by two chef brothers with a wealth of culinary experience. With all-day breakfasts, crispy eggs and even vanilla brioche toast, there is so much to love about this cafe in Melbourne.
Best Things to do in Melbourne
As we’ve already established, Melbourne is a big city with plenty of things to do. So, here are eight of the top things to do on your next trip to Melbourne.
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
The Royal Botanic Gardens were opened in 1846 and are spread over 89 acres. Wandering through the gardens is one of the best things to do in Melbourne because they offer a little slide of paradise within the concrete jungle.
The gardens are home to over 8,500 species of plants and wildlife that coexists in them, so there is always something to marvel at!
Eureka Skydeck 88
For fantastic views of Melbourne, head to Eureka Skydeck 88.
To get to the top, you first have to ride the fastest elevator in the southern hemisphere to the 88th floor of the building. Once you get there, you’ll be blown away by the views of the city.
If you are a bit of an adrenaline seeker, try The Edge, a glass-covered cube that dangles 300 metres over the city!
Federation Square is one of the most unique spots in the city, and one of the best things to do is immerse yourself in it!
Home to a range of cafes, restaurants and bars, Federation Square also has shops selling everything from groceries to souvenirs.
Related: How many days do you need to spend in Australia?
National Gallery of Victoria
The National Gallery of Victoria was opened in 1968 and is Australia’s oldest, largest and most visited art museum, so it’s a must-see while in Melbourne!
The art gallery is home to works from artists around the world, including Monet, Picasso, Rubens and plenty of others.
If you’re an art fan, you can’t miss the National Gallery of Victoria on your holiday to Melbourne.
No trip to Melbourne would be complete without wandering down Hosier Lane, the laneway that made the Melbourne urban art scene known across the globe.
Hosier Lane is a bluestone laneway that is famous for its street art created by local and international artists. There is a range of different art, too, from stencils to murals and installations.
Afterwards, head to Hosier Lane’s sister ‘gallery’, Rutledge Lane, to explore the artworks lining the walls, windows and wheelie bins.
Visit Old Melbourne Gaol
The Old Melbourne Gaol is a museum in the centre of Melbourne that operated as a prison from its opening in 1842 until 1929.
The prison was the site of the execution of many of Australia’s most infamous criminals. One hundred thirty-three people were executed at the site while the prison was operating.
The museum offers a glimpse into the life of the 1800s and the harsh conditions the prisoners were subjected to during their stay in prison. The museum is also home to a range of artefacts, including the death masks of many executed criminals.
The museum is also considered by some to be haunted, and there are ghost tours to join that tell stories recorded by visitors and staff.
If you’re a history lover, visiting this museum is a must.
Hop on a river cruise
The Yarra River winds its way through the city of Melbourne, so one of the best things to do is hop on a river cruise!
A river cruise offers a different perspective of the city and is a great way to learn more about Melbourne.
There are also kayaking tours available along the river, so if you prefer to go at your own pace, this is a great option.
Drive along the Great Ocean Road
One of the most famous attractions in Victoria is the Great Ocean Road which snakes along the southwest coast from Torquay to Warrnambool.
If you have a hire car during your time in Melbourne, Torquay is only 90 minutes from the CBD, making it the perfect excuse to see one of the most popular places in Victoria.
From stretches of golden sand to the lush national park and everything in between, the Great Ocean Road is a must-visit while in Melbourne.
Best Beaches in and Around Melbourne
If you’re visiting Melbourne during the summer or spring, you have to take some time to visit the beaches.
Melbourne offers some of the best beaches in Australia, only a few kilometres from the CBD, and they’re all easy to get to via car, train or bus.
Some of the best beaches you have to visit in and around Melbourne are
Brighton is one of the most famous beaches in Melbourne because of its colourful bathing boxes lining the beach.
Ideal for swimmers, sunbathers and surfers, Brighton Beach is a great place to spend the day. There are gourmet food outlets and retailers in the suburb surrounding the beach, so there is plenty for you to do.
St Kilda Beach
Unlike Brighton Beach, you won’t find many waves at St Kilda Beach, but there is still plenty of things to do.
St Kilda Beach is a hotspot for both locals and tourists as it’s a picturesque stretch of soft white sand that always draws in photographers and film crews.
This beach is fantastic for watersports, including kite surfing, paddle-boarding and kayaking. You can even cycle or run along the long, straight palm-covered paths.
Close to many cafes and restaurants, after a day on the beach, head up to Acland Street to grab some dinner.
This small, family-friendly beach is known locally as “Willy Beach” and is popular amongst the locals and tourists.
Since the beach is so close to the city, you can sit on the sand facing out towards the ocean or turn around and have stunning views of the city.
Williamstown Beach is also home to Gem Pier, which offers uninterrupted views of the city’s skyline, a must-visit while at the beach.
With plenty of cafes and restaurants near the beach, it’s the perfect place to spend the day or afternoon while holidaying in Melbourne.
Affectionately known as “Mordi Beach” by the locals, Mordialloc Beach is a great place to visit if you want to enjoy more than just the sand and water.
With a restaurant, playground and dedicated BBQ and picnic areas, Mordi Beach is popular amongst families and big groups because there is so much to do.
Because it’s such a favourite amongst locals, if you’re visiting Melbourne and want to head to this beach, do so during the week as it gets very busy on the weekends.
If you’re looking to head to the beach for a swim, Elwood Beach is the perfect place to do so.
With long stretches of soft, white sand and fantastic facilities, Elwood Beach is a great place to cool off on a warm summer’s day. Since Elwood Beach offers a rare no-boating zone, it makes swimming there that much better!
After a dip in the ocean, you can fuel up at one of the many nearby cafes or restaurants.
Elwood Beach is also the perfect place to base yourself if you want to explore the other nearby beaches. You can walk around the bay to Brighton Beach or even St Kilda. So, why not kill two birds with one stone and visit multiple beaches in one day?
Half Moon Bay
Finally, the last beach you should add to your Melbourne list is Half Moon Bay.
Unlike other beaches on this list, Half Moon Bay is a bit more secluded and offers glistening blue water and soft sand.
What makes this beach even more unique? Not too far from the shore lies the HMVS Cerberus, an 1870s battleship deliberately sunk in 1926 to create a breakwater for the Black Rock Yacht Club.
Half Moon Bay is a protected beach, making it popular for boating and swimming in calm waters.
As the second-largest city in Australia, there’s a reason why so many people travel to Melbourne every year.
As the culinary capital of the country, the food scene in Melbourne is unlike any other, one of the many reasons why you should visit.
However, apart from the food scene, there is so much more to see and do in Melbourne, including visiting the beaches, wandering through galleries and museums and seeing the street art for which the city has become renowned.
If you’re planning to visit Melbourne, this guide has everything you need to know for an unforgettable trip.