This is a city where you can stumble upon a bar in a basement or look up and see people talking over tapas at a rooftop restaurant. Its maze of laneway cafes has made it the coffee capital of Australia.
Major food hubs serve up international eats in the suburbs that surround the CBD; head to Carlton for Italian, Brunswick for Lebanese, Fitzroy for Spanish and Richmond for Vietnamese.
Getting around is easy and relatively cheap, but you’ll have to buy a myki (“my key”) travel card to use the city’s buses, trains and iconic trams.
Speaking of trams, the free City Circle service is a great way to make your way around the CBD and see some of Melbourne’s top attractions.
December – January
Drive time from the airport
25 minutes (without traffic)
Optional (recommended amount 10%)
Federation Square is always buzzing. One of the city’s major cultural hubs, it hosts over 2,000 events every year from art exhibitions and concerts to food festivals and fashion shows.
Fed Square is a centre point for Melbourne’s art scene, but don't stop there.
You’re just as likely to find something down a laneway or in a park as you are at the 100+ galleries dotted around the city.
Any guide book will tell you that shopping is one of the top ‘things to do’ in Melbourne. But the secret to knowing where to shop for what is all in the city’s streets.
Collins Street and Bourke Street Mall in the city are prime spots for high-end fashion and department stores.
Bridge Road in Richmond is known for its outlets and cafes. You’ll find local labels, vintage fashion and homewares, and exclusive boutiques along Brunswick Street in Fitzroy and Chapel Street in Prahran and Windsor.
Sports fans flock to Melbourne every year as the city plays host to some of the world’s best sporting events.
For two weeks each January you can watch top tennis players battle it out for Grand Slam glory at Rod Laver Arena.
Melbourne grand prix
The Australian Grand Prix kicks off the international Formula 1 season with four days of action on the Albert Park track.
AFL Grand Final
Football in Melbourne means AFL and the strong rivalry between the teams and their supporters is ingrained within Melburnian culture. Don’t know which team to barrack for? You should probably ask a local.
With a course that takes in some of the city’s most iconic sights, the Melbourne Marathon has become the biggest in Australia.
If you want to swap the grandstand for a marquee, why not book a trip in November for the Melbourne Cup? The fiercely contested Fashions on the Field is as much a part of Cup Day as the race itself.
Boxing Day Test
To some people, summer in Australia means cricket. The Boxing Day Ashes Test at the MCG isn’t just a game – it’s an institution.
Melbourne has plenty to offer if you’re looking for some entertainment that doesn’t call for jerseys or fascinators as part of the dress code.
Melbourne has a jam-packed festival calendar and with something scheduled every month of the year, it’s easy to see why it’s called the events capital of Australia.
Trade the darkened movie theatre for an outdoor cinema experience; catch a live gig at one of the city’s pubs, clubs, basements or stadiums; or visit Crown Casino and watch the Gas Brigade fire show light up the exterior of the building.
Plan ahead if you want to catch the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Melbourne Food and Wine Festival though; these world-class festivals attract big crowds.
Melbourne is also a great pick for a family holiday, with one-of-a-kind attractions and plenty of family-friendly destinations to keep all the members of your tribe happy.
Visit Melbourne Zoo where you can patrol for danger with a meerkat or spend some time inside Old Melbourne Gaol and learn about Australia’s criminal past.
Go skyward to Eureka Skydeck 88 for some of the best views of Melbourne and beyond.
Located in the heart of the CBD, it’s the only place in the world where you can experience “The Edge”, a glass cube that slides three metres out from the building so you’re “standing” almost 300 metres above the street below.
Prefer to keep your feet closer to the ground, maybe in the sand? Melbourne has some top beaches.
Dendy Street Beach in Brighton is a good spot for swimming or having a seaside picnic.
Head to St Kilda and top off your beachside break with a visit to Luna Park or a stroll along St Kilda Pier.
You could spend all your time in the heart of Melbourne, but then you’d miss out on the experiences waiting for you outside the city limits.
Eat and drink your way around the Mornington Peninsula, relax in Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, get close to the locals at Phillip Island, or drive along the Great Ocean Road and take in some of Australia’s most spectacular coastal sights.
Remember, there’s a whole lot more to Melbourne than what you see in front of you. Look up, look down, and be prepared to explore a little.
Any time’s a good time to visit Melbourne
Summer (December – Feb)
Visit Melbourne in summer (December to February) and you can enjoy long days and warm nights, with temperatures averaging 26°C to 30°C. Popular destinations get busier as people take more time off over Christmas and during the school holidays.
Autumn (March – May)
The weather cools down a little in autumn and generally serves up clear skies. There’s a lot happening inside and out as the festival calendar is in full swing and the city looks absolutely stunning. The AFL season also kicks off in March.
Spring (September – November)
Head to Melbourne in spring to experience some of the city’s best festivals and best weather with temperatures in the mid-20s. You’re more likely to see some rain this time of year, but considering Melbourne has less annual rainfall than Sydney, you shouldn’t let it stop you.
Winter (June – August)
While the winter months can be chilly and sometimes overcast, it’s a great time to travel if you want to visit without the crowds. Hit the shops and outdoor hotspots during the day and retreat to a cosy restaurant or bar at night. Just remember to pack a coat.