Vibrant, elegant and multicultural, the second largest metropolis in Australia frequently tops the list of the most pleasant cities to live in the world. With its tangle of hidden alleys, tree-lined promenades and tall Victorian buildings funded by the 1850s gold rush, the city has a distinctly European feel. Gourmets will also find a lot to like. Famous Australian chefs show their talents here, and you can feast on everything from Greek, Italian and Indian cuisine to Spanish and Vietnamese dishes.
But perhaps the biggest fame in Melbourne is sport. The famous horse race of the Melbourne Cup, which takes place on the first Tuesday of November, stops the whole nation and Australian football arouses an almost religious reverence here. Then watch a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground; explore the city’s various galleries, chic cafes and shops; stroll through superb botanical gardens; cruise along the Yarra river; or hop aboard a historic tram to experience the magic of Melbourne. In adding to all of these exciting things to do, rewarding daytime adventures are just a short drive from the city buzz.
1. Federation Square
When Federation Square opened in 2002 to commemorate 100 years of federation, it divided the Melburnians. There were those who loved him and those who hated him. Either way, it has become an integral part of the city and an ideal place for tourists to begin their tours. Located across from Flinders Street Station, a hub for public transportation, the ultra-modern design of the building’s open and closed spaces contrasts with the surrounding Victorian architecture. With more than 2,000 events a year, you can still find entertainment in the central outdoor performance space and intimate indoor venues. Federation Square is also home to the Ian Potter Center: NGV Australia, dedicated to Australian art, and the Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI). More commonly known as “Fed Square”, it is also one of Australia’s largest free Wi-Fi sites.
2. Royal Botanic Gardens
In the heart of a green park extending south of the Yarra river, about two kilometers from the CBD, the royal botanical gardens are among the most beautiful of their kind in the world. Founded in 1846, the gardens encompass two locations: Melbourne and Cranbourne. Melbourne gardens cover an area of 38 hectares with more than 8,500 plant species, including many rare specimens. The Ian Potter Foundation Kindergarten is designed to encourage the next generation of gardeners, and the Aboriginal Heritage Walk is a popular tour that explores the rich heritage of Aboriginal Australians. Visiting the gardens is one of the best free things to do in Melbourne. In summer, the live theater is a highlight of the gardens and a moonlight cinema is installed under the stars. It is also a popular spot for a lakeside picnic or a traditional tea at The Terrace cafe.
3. Melbourne Cricket Ground and the National Sports Museum
Melbourne is the sports capital of Australia, so it’s no surprise that a sports stadium is one of the city’s main tourist attractions. With a capacity of 100,000 people and a history dating back to 1853, the MCG is considered one of the largest stadiums in the world. As the main stadium for the 1956 Olympic Games and the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the birthplace of Test Cricket and the birthplace of Australian football, the “G” is woven into the fabric of Melbourne. Daily 75-minute tours take visitors on a journey through the past of great moments in sport history and include the National Sports Museum, including the Australian Gallery of Sport and the Olympic Museum. You can also watch a game of cricket in summer or football in winter.
Directly across from the MCG is Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open tennis tournament, which takes place every January. You can rent a tennis court and many concerts are held there throughout the year.
4. Southbank and Arts Centre Melbourne
On the banks of the Yarra River, a short walk from Flinders Street train station, this area is full of cultural attractions. Southbank walkway is full of indoor / outdoor restaurants and live entertainment. An excellent craft market is held every Sunday and the region is also home to many festivals throughout the year. Simply familiar by its spire, the Arts Center includes a range of theaters and spaces, including the State Theater, Playhouse, Fairfax Theater and Hamer Hall, the premier performance space for the revered Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
5. National Gallery of Victoria
Australia’s oldest public art gallery, the National Gallery of Victoria holds more than 70,000 works of art in two cities. The international collection is located in the St. Kilda Road building, originally opened in 1968 and completely renovated in 2003. The building is renowned for the Great Hall, where visitors are encouraged to lie on the ground and contemplate the colored stained glass ceiling. The vast Australian gathering is kept in the Ian Potter Gallery in Federation Square, showcasing the history of Australian art, Aboriginal works at the Heidelberg School and contemporary mixed media. One of the tourist attractions is the huge triptych format, The Pioneer by Frederick McCubbin.
6. Eureka Tower
Named in recognition of the Eureka Stockade, the 1854 rebellion of prospectors in the Victorian gold fields, the Eureka tower rises 91 floors above ground in the heart of Southbank. The golden crown of the skyscraper and gold-plated windows add to the theme and literally shine when the sun catches the top of the building. Skydeck, on the 88th floor, offers the highest view of the public in any building in the southern hemisphere. To add to the experience, The Edge, a glass cube that slides three meters from the building for visitors without vertigo.
7. Arcades and Laneways
Strolling through the labyrinth of alleys and alleys around Flinders, Collins and Bourke streets reveals Melbourne at the same time elegant, interesting and original. The crown jewel is the magnificent Block Arcade on Collins Street. With its mosaic floor, its period details and its unique shops, this is the place where the gentry of the late nineteenth century walked, inventing the expression “make the block”. It is worth queuing for morning or afternoon tea at the Hopetoun tearoom. This Melbourne icon dates back to 1892 and is the only original boutique still in the arcade today. The luxurious Royal Arcade is Melbourne’s oldest arcade, and Flinders and Degraves Lanes are also worth exploring. Several companies organize guided walking tours of the alleys and alleys.
8. Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building
A few minutes by tram from the CBD, the Melbourne Museum is surrounded by beautiful gardens and a park. This purpose-built modern museum houses a diverse collection representing society and cultures. Highlights include the Aboriginal Cultural Center of Bunjilaka; the Phar Lap exhibition, on the largest racehorse in Australia; and the Children’s Gallery, a series of hands-on activities designed to stimulate and engage young people.
Next to to the Melbourne Museum is the Royal Exhibition Building. Built in 1880 to host the Melbourne International Exhibition, the building also hosted Australia’s first Commonwealth Parliament in 1901. Regular tours are obtainable, and the building is still used for exhibitions and special events.
9. City Circle Tram Tour
Trams are a big part of Melbourne’s public transportation system, and the City Circle tram provides tourists with a free and easy way to see the CBD. Along with commentary, the historic hop-on hop-off tram passes many large historic buildings, including the Houses of Parliament, the Old Treasury Building, the Princess Theater and the Windsor Hotel. Trams ride every 12 minutes and take about 50 minutes to complete the entire loop.
10. Melbourne Zoo
While the 22-hectare Melbourne Zoo dates back to 1862, the additional 320 species of animals have the best of modern facilities in state-of-the-art enclosures. The award-winning elephant trail is a glimpse into the lives of resident Asian elephants in a traditional village garden setting. Another highlight is the Orangutan sanctuary, where the animals live in their treetop houses. With lots of crazy encounters, including “roaring and snoring”, twilight music concerts and behind-the-scenes tours of some of the precincts, the Melbourne Zoo offers animal lovers a fun experience.
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