Things to Do in Melbourne
Melbourne’s music scene would not be complete without the much-loved, Forum Theatre on Flinders Street. Another of Melbourne’s gem performance spaces that is owned by the Marriner Group, the Forum Theatre is to music what the Regent Theatre is to theatrical performance; a premier venue offering timeless elegance and contemporary arts.
The Forum is known for its high sound quality and liberal dancing space, as well as for attracting some of the best local and international music artists, comedians and festivals.
The Forum Theatre is also a beautiful testament to historical Melbourne, retaining its original Gothic-Romanesque architecture and 1929 charm. It was once the State Theatre and largest seated venue in Australia and now offers multiple performance spaces as well as private function venues.
Established atop a hill in central Melbourne in 1862, Flagstaff Gardens is the city’s oldest park. Covering 18 acres, on a nice day you’ll see plenty of office workers lounging on the lawns during their lunch breaks. And given the park’s location next door to Queen Victoria Market, a picnic made up of goods from the nearby food stalls is a popular option.
Named after a flagstaff that was erected in 1840 to signal ships into Melbourne port, as you wander through the park you’ll see sculptures and memorial statues, flower and rose beds, leafy eucalyptus, paths lined with avenues of elms for shade, and Moreton Fig trees native to eastern Australia. Look out for local wildlife, including possums, too.
Everyone wants a gift from vacation, and the Harbour Town Outlets are a practical place for finding a really good deal. Here on the city’s bustling Docklands just outside of West Melbourne, visitors might find that special gift at one of the 90 outlets. Start the adventure with coffee or tea from one of the cafés on site, and peruse the sprawling retail maze in search of the perfect fit. If visiting Melbourne from overseas, swing by the center’s Tourism Lounge for a second round of deals, since tourists often receive bonus discounts not available to other shoppers. Additional features include a Ferris wheel and occasional outdoor ice rink, and Harbour Town can be a family outing—not just another shop.
The largest section of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, Sherbrooke Forest is known for its fauna and wildlife — including wallabies and the famous lyrebird which can mimic dozens of other birds, and even car alarms and camera shutters. Near the suburb of Belgrave, 40 kilometers east of Melbourne, Sherbrooke Forest is dominated by Mountain Ash — the tallest flowering plant in the world, and tree ferns.
Once prime logging land, by 1958 Sherbrooke Forest was officially protected parkland. On a visit, you’ll start at the picnic grounds from which a series of trails leads into the wet sclerophyll forest. One of the most popular trails is the 2.4-km round trip to Sherbrooke Falls through avenues of Mountain Ash. Or if you’d rather just relax, head to the tea room next to the picnic grounds where there are lots of birds to feed for a small fee, including parrots, rosellas, and around fifty cockatoos.
Vibrant, bustling and lined with shops, Chapel Street is an essential urban adventure in Melbourne. This long inner-Melbourne street is perfect for a full day of shopping, café and bar hopping, people watching and riding the classic Melbourne trams that frequent the street.
Melbourne’s oldest food markets, the Prahran Markets, are a local favourite and can be found just off Chapel Street. There you can peruse multicultural flavours and buy fresh bread, produce, seafood and meat, as well as street food snacks like cheesy Turkish pastry and falafel. If fashion is your weakness, treat yourself to the colourful quality of Gorman, the street wear at Fat, the minimalist designs of Cylk, the specialty denim of Dakota 501 and the Scandinavian style of Dansk, as well as wares from the many other Chapel Street boutiques.
While the area itself is relatively small, Melbourne’s South Wharf Promenade has a large city presence. Set on the scenic southern bank of Melbourne’s Yarra River, the shop-lined promenade faces north to Melbourne’s bustling downtown. While shopping here is the major draw, it’s the restaurants, cafés, and dining options that surprise its visitors the most. It is home to the Melbourne Convention Center and Direct Factory Outlets, and the South Wharf holds a piece of history in the Polly Woodside tall ship. Originally launched in Northern Ireland in 1885, the ship made 17 trips around the world in its 90-year career. Long retired from regular use after years of scouring the globe, the ship is now a floating museum that welcomes visitors and groups. Even here on the fresh water banks of Melbourne’s modern South Wharf, it’s possible to feel like a salty pirate sailing the Southern Sea.
The Kings Domain Gardens are a free, soothing retreat from the whirling energy of the nearby city centre. Within Melbourne’s Domain Parklands, the Kings Domain is well placed to take a relaxing wander through hectares of natural peace. Visitors can enjoy lush lawns perfect for napping upon, spread picnics beneath mature trees, and wander into a fern gully of serene green.
The Kings Domain Gardens border onto the Royal Botanical Gardens, and there are multiple gardens within the Kings Domain area. The Queen Victoria Garden features roses, manicured flower beds and a statue of the monarch after which is it named. The Alexandra Gardens skirts the Yarra River and Alexandra Avenue, and features some barbecue areas with impressive city line views.
An evening of glamour and performance awaits you at Melbourne’s landmark Regent Theatre on Collins Street. Golden and ornate, with velvet drapes, gleaming chandeliers, rich tones and stunning Renaissance Revival architecture, The Regent Theatre offers old-world elegance and a contemporary events schedule.
This historic Melbourne theatre dates back to 1929, when it was a grand picture palace opening just before the start of the Great Depression. Since then, the theatre has endured fire and flood, depression and wartime, dereliction and city development, and has been honoured by the National Trust of Australia and the Victorian Heritage Register.
The refurbished theatre was reopened in 1996 to seat more than 2000 people. The theatre has since hosted some of the biggest stage productions to show in Australia, such as The Lion King, Pricilla Queen of the Dessert, Wicked, Westside Story and Cats. It is also one of the Melbourne Comedy Festival venues.
An inner-city amphitheatre within the lawns of the King’s Domain Gardens, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl is a Melbourne’s entertainment icons known for its relaxed, outdoor approach to music, cinema and arts.
Free summer evening concerts, bring-your-own picnics and the sound of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra are delights that are quickly associated with this open-air venue. It is also a Tropfest film screening site, the home of Melbourne’s annual Carols by Candlelight and the host for an impressive catalogue of international artists.
The Sidney Myer Music Bowl complements the premier suite of cultural venues in Melbourne, and is conveniently located close to the Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank, and the Royal Botanical Gardens. It accommodates up to 10,000 people on its sloping lawn, and another 2000 in up-front seating, making it a popular choice for big-name acts.
More Things to Do in Melbourne
Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm is in Melbourne’s beautiful Mornington Peninsula, about 75 minutes from the city by car.
The farm is one of Victoria’s premium berry producers and visitors can pick strawberries on the farm for a small fee. Known as ‘U-Pick’, the strawberry-picking season starts in late spring (November) and runs until early fall (April).
In addition to picking strawberries at the farm, you can enjoy one of several decadent strawberry desserts at the Dessert Café.
Depending on the season, fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries are available from the Sunny Ridge Farmgate onsite. You can also purchase Sunny Ridge jams, ice creams, sorbets and freeze-dried fruits.
Combine your trip to Sunny Ridge with a visit to one of the Mornington Peninsula’s award-winning wineries.
The Great Ocean Road is one Victoria’s most naturally stunning sights, and Loch Ard Gorge is a dramatic highlight of an already dramatic journey. It was at this spot in 1878 where a ship carrying settlers from England to Melbourne was tragically wrecked on the rocks. Of the 54 passengers aboard the ship only two of the passengers survived—a teenage boy who heroically rescued a fellow teenage girl. After spending the night in a coastal sea cave, the duo found help with local settlers after scaling the rugged cliffs. Today those cliffs have a set of stairs that lead to the golden sands, where a protected beach is tucked beneath the towering, time-sculpted bluffs. Though the weather can be spectacularly stormy in winter, summer days are an invitation for picnicking, swimming, and sunbathing, and the striated cliffs form a natural amphitheater of coastal beauty around you.
Washed by crashing waves just off the craggy shoreline of western Victoria, the dramatic Twelve Apostles stand sentinel off the Great Ocean Road. Once joined to the surrounding mainland, the limestone outcrops are a Victorian icon and an enduring symbol of nature's mighty power and beauty.
Pounded by surf and tide for thousands of years, the limestone crags are gradually being whittled down in number – currently only eight of the Twelve Apostles remain – and the neighbouring rocky arch known as London Bridge has collapsed into the roaring sea.
The wild western Victorian coastline is a bewitching and beautiful part of Australia, the site of tragic shipwrecks in days gone by and the perfect place for exhilarating cliff-top walks, wreck diving and other untamed encounters with Mother Nature.
Victoria's Great Ocean Road is great in every sense of the word. If you're driving, you'll discover one of the most famous and scenic coastal stretches of road in the world. If you're surfing, you'll find point break heaven. And if you're looking for breathtaking seaside vistas at every turn, you've found them.
This stretch of Victoria's coast - dubbed the Great Ocean Road - is known for its long empty beaches and crashing surf. It's holiday central for vacationing Melburnites in December and January, when thousands of visitors swell the local population, booking laidback holiday homes for the summer season. Local towns come alive in summer, with bustling cafes, boutiques and bars. Away from the coast, the surrounding mountains hide national parks filled with bushwalks, rainforest, waterfalls and wildlife.
Grampians National Park is listed as an Australian National Heritage List for a reason. The outstanding natural beauty and plethora of indigenous rock sites makes Grampians an outstanding visit from near or afar. Long an Australina national treasure, Grampians is known as an all season destination, and that means that any time of year is a great time to visit. Boasting over 600km of roads and 160km of walking trails, visitors here can spend their time among hundreds of waterfalls, ancient fern gullies, and do their best to nab a quick peek (or coveted photograph) of some of Australia’s unique flora and fauna. See wild emus and kangaroos foraging amongst trees and ravines that are multiple millennia old. And while engaging with the rugged wilderness here, also realize that Grampians (and particularly the Wartook Valley) is also home to some of Australia’s best wineries, and many visitors enjoy watching the abundant wildlife while sipping their glass of locally grown Chardonnay.
St Kilda is Melbourne’s iconic seaside suburb and is just a short tram ride (6km) away from the CBD. Featuring several attractions including the Victorian-styled fairground, Luna Park, St Kilda Sea Baths and the shopping and restaurant strips of Acland and Fitzroy Streets.
Once a desirable suburb for Melbourne’s elite in Victorian and Edwardian times, St Kilda has a fascinating history and still features many of its original mansions and iconic attractions today.
Fitzroy Street runs from the southern side of Albert Park all the way down to St Kilda Beach. Packed with notable restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops, as well as budget and top end accommodation, it's a lively street that is great for people watching and hanging out in pavement cafés.
Acland Street runs parallel to the beach and offers more of the same attractions with the addition of the popular Sunday art-and-craft market (on the Esplanade) and some fabulously drool-worthy cake shops.
Enjoy a quintessential Australian wildlife experience – in the dark – by taking a nocturnal tour at Moonlit Sanctuary Conservation Park. Revealing mysterious nocturnal creatures that visitors seldom see, the eco-conscious crew at the Moonlit Sanctuary Conservation Park offer both day and night viewing sessions.
Your wildlife encounter may include patting koalas, feeding wallabies and watching for dingos and snakes by day, before searching for quolls, owls and sugar gliders in the moonlight.
Sprawled across 10 hectares of bushland at the top of the picturesque Mornington Peninsula, the Moonlit Sanctuary Conservation Park is just outside of Melbourne and makes an easy daytrip for groups, tourists and locals alike. Best of all, you can leave feeling like you’ve not only encountered Australian wildlife in natural environments, but also helped to support the conservation and education programs run by Moonlit Sanctuary.
Healesville Sanctuary is the best place in Victoria to see and interact with native Australian wildlife. Set in natural bushland, the Sanctuary offers the unique opportunity to get up close to Australian animals in an environment that mirrors their natural habitat.
You can easily spend the best part of a day wandering the shaded paths around the sanctuary that take you past Australia’s iconic and lesser-known wildlife. Meet the dingo packs, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and echidnas and view Australia’s most dangerous reptiles. See an array of colorful and unusual birds such as emus, cassowaries, parrots, owls and eagles, and watch the world’s most elusive water animal, the Platypus, at play.
Entry to the sanctuary includes admission to several wildlife shows including the fantastic Spirits of the Sky held in the sanctuary’s flight arena.
Part of the draw of any visit to Australia is to see some of its much-heralded rustic beauty. Ayers Rock has its fan-base, as does Byron Bay, but to many a Aussie, there’s nothing more beautiful than watching the sun set over the pristine beaches of Wilson’s Promontory.
Lovingly referred to as “The Prom” by locals, this coastal outcropping is the furthest south one can go on Mainland Australia and features 50,000 hectares of untouched granite peaks backed by white sand beaches . Miles of walking tracks meander all through the pristine coastline, and hikers get to see the Australian wilderness as nature intended it. Teams of kangaroos, koalas, emus and wallabies scurry about the brush and grasslands, while penguins come to roost along the beaches at nightfall. Though Wilsons Promontory is a widely beloved spot, it is famous for its short-yet-seemingly long distance from civilization.
The Churchill Island Heritage Farm is one of Melbourne’s most unique attractions. A tiny island off the coast of Phillip Island, Churchill Island is occupied entirely by the Churchill Island Heritage Farm.
Churchill Island was one of the first places in Victoria to be used for agriculture. Farmed since 1798, the island retains its heritage by showcasing pioneer farming techniques to visitors in its current incarnation as an historic working farm. The Churchill Island Heritage Farm Visitor Centre contains an exhibition on the history of the island, as well as a giftshop and café. The real attraction of the island however is the farm life. Daily farming activities include cow milking, sheep shearing and more. Visitors can also circumnavigate the island on a walking track with fantastic views. The farm hosts a farmers market on the fourth Saturday of each month with lots of local produce.
Charming and picturesque, Brighton Beach is a cove on Port Phillip Bay that is adored for its rainbow bathing boxes and views of Melbourne city skyline.
There is classic coastal feel to Brighton Beach, with its bayside cafes, boardwalk, yacht club, boutique shopping and two cinemas nearby. The cove is protected from southerly winds and patrolled by Surf Lifesavers, making it a safe place to swim if you can brave the water temperature. Along Dendy Street beach, the bathing boxes have earned tourism icon status, offering a splash of colour against the white sandy shore, and giving the cove a European feel. There are 82 coveted bathing boxes in total, built to heritage standards with weatherboard and timber, and owned by local residents.
Werribee Open Range Zoo is an African-themed zoo located 32 kilometers southwest of Melbourne. Covering 225 hectares of land, the Werribee zoo has some of the largest animal enclosures in the world. This allows animals to live and behave more like they would in a wild setting.
Lion, hippo, and gorilla enclosures are accessible by a large, looped walking trail. The zoo also simulates the authentic African safari experience by offering free 40-minute bus tours of the “open range” animal exhibits. This allows visitors to get up close and personal with zebra, rhino, giraffe, bison, antelope and ostrich in a more naturalized setting.
For those seeking to get even closer to the animals, Werribee Open Range Zoo also offers a variety of behind-the-scenes animal encounter programs. Visitors can get up close and personal with the animals during a feeding or enrichment activity, meet the keepers, and tour the animal care facilities.
Enter through the iconic mouth of Mr Moon to experience the innocent joys of Melbourne’s Luna Park in St Kilda.
This ultimate city fair has brightened St Kilda’s Lower Esplanade for more than a century, featuring a classic Ferris Wheel, the Jewel in the Crown Carousel, the Silly Serpent Rollercoaster and a haunted Ghost Train, as well as many other family-fun and thrilling rides. The most famous Luna Park ride is the Scenic Railway Roller Coaster, which has delighted passengers with paramount views of Port Phillip Bay since the Park opened in 1912.
For most visitors to Victoria, Phillip Island means one thing – penguins! People have been coming here for decades to watch the little penguins return from their day at sea as dusk falls over Summerland Beach during what is known as the Penguin Parade. The sight of the little penguins waddling along the beach to their burrows is utterly priceless.
Along with the Penguin Parade, Phillip Island is also home to a wildlife park filled with wallabies and kangaroos. Seals and dolphins frolic at the Nobbies Centre, while koalas doze in the native bushland of the Koala Conservation Centre. The boardwalks here catch the best views of the sleepy marsupials from up in the treetops. There’s also a heritage farm to visit on nearby Churchill Island.
Things to do near Melbourne
- Things to do in Victoria
- Things to do in Mornington Peninsula
- Things to do in Phillip Island
- Things to do in Ballarat
- Things to do in Great Ocean Road
- Things to do in Burnie
- Things to do in Launceston
- Things to do in Hobart
- Things to do in Seven Mile Beach
- Things to do in Port Arthur
- Things to do in Barossa Valley
- Things to do in Adelaide
- Things to do in Sydney
- Things to do in Tasmania
- Things to do in South Australia