Don't leave Melbourne without...

Much more laid back than Sydney, Melbourne has many layers to unwrap... Don't miss these top 8 things to do, to discover the real heart of the city on your trip
James Podsiardly takes a strong mark in Geelong's win over Hawthorn in Melbourne... Photo: Shutterstock
James Podsiardly takes a strong mark in Geelong's win over Hawthorn in Melbourne... Photo: Shutterstock

1. Cramming in some culture

Melbourne is Australia’s arty city, and perusing the galleries is a great way to spend a rainy day. Don’t miss the National Gallery of Victoria, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Flinders Lane and Gertrude Street. The former, also known as the NGV International, houses vast collections of work from overseas. To see Australian artworks, head to the Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square. 

2. Experiencing a game of Australian Rules Football

It’s a big game, played by big men, but footy is a religion for everyone in Melbourne, young and old, male and female. Go to a game, preferably at the MCG, and see what all the fuss is about.

3. Awakening your inner hipster with a world-class double-shot latte

Melbourne’s coffee culture is second to none, and this city’s trendy graffiti and cafe-lined laneways are the place to learn the difference between a cappuccino and a macchiato. 

Enjoying coffee and tea at a cafe in Melbourne's laneway.Enjoying coffee and tea at a cafe in Melbourne's laneway. Photo: Shutterstock

4. Exploring the green spaces that punctuate the concrete jungle

Victoria is justly called the ‘Garden State’, and Melbourne’s marvellous gardens include Fitzroy Gardens, Carlton Gardens and the world-renowned Royal Botanic. At the latter, enthusiasts will enjoy the specialist areas, like the cactus garden or the cycad collection, but many simply wander through the beautifully tended grounds and drink in the tranquility of the lakeside. There is also an excellent children's garden. 

5. Checking out a live band

‘Keep music live’ is a Melbourne mantra and several venues around town have survived the gentrification of the suburbs and the invasion of pokie machines to achieve iconic status, including St Kilda’s famously grungy Esplanade Hotel, which will book hundreds of acts a year across its various bars.

6. Learning how to catch a wave

Melbourne’s city beaches are fine for sunbathing or swimming, but venture beyond the protective arms of Port Philip Bay to Torquay for world-class surf breaks. Surfers of all levels can join in the fun here, with lessons available for beginners and big breaks for those with more experience. 

7. Earning a sweat while doing a lap of the Tan

There’s isn’t a sexier gym anywhere than Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens – aka ‘the Tan’ – where you can join the beautiful people running laps, with eye-candy views over the city (what did you think we were going to say?!) and Yarra River.

8. Sipping wine amid the vines

Australia produces some of the planet’s best wines, and some fine varietals are made right in the verdant Yarra Valley, where you can do tastings and buy bottles from the cellar door. The area claims 55 wineries across its gently rolling countryside. One to look out for is Yering Station, Victoria's first vineyard but now a sparkling modern enterprise with a dramatic architect-designed centre and stunning views.

View of Melbourne's skyline from Shrine of Remembrance.View of Melbourne's skyline from Shrine of Remembrance. Photo: Shutterstock

Are you ready to take a trip to Melbourne? 

Get in touch with Insight Guides' local experts today to plan an unforgettable trip to this unique Australian city