20 Must-Visit Attractions in Melbourne, Australia
The city that has been voted the world’s most livable – six times – is also one of the best to visit, as it offers a diverse range of attractions. A giant observation wheel, sacred sports ground, museums, historical prisons and the oldest building in Australia are just some of the 20 must-see attractions in Melbourne.
At 297.3m tall, Eureka Tower was, until recently, the tallest building in Melbourne and is currently the third highest in Australia. After being launched to the 88th floor via a 38-second elevator ride, visitors can take in the 360-degree view on the Eureka Skydeck. Thrill seekers can also step out onto the Edge – a three-metre glass cube that suspends the bravest souls 300 metres above ground.
Established by the Melbourne Cricket Club in 1853, the MCG, or the ‘G’ as it’s known to locals, is the home of Australian sport and considered a hallowed ground for AFL fans. With a seating capacity of 100,024, the MCG is the largest sporting facility in the southern hemisphere, and every year it hosts the AFL Grand Final. The MCG also houses the National Sports Museum, which celebrates Australian sport.
Accessibility & Audience:Accessible (Wheelchair), Family Friendly
Atmosphere:Loud, Architectural Landmark
Victoria’s most notorious criminals including bushranger Ned Kelly and Jack the Ripper suspect Frederick Bailey Deeming were among those imprisoned and executed at the Old Melbourne Gaol. Today, the complex operates as a museum with memorabilia including death masks and Kelly’s gang weapons on display. Visitors can also take ghostly night tours through the building, which is said to be haunted.
Atmosphere:Indoors, Historical Landmark
Located in the Carlton Gardens, the Melbourne Museum is the largest museum in the southern hemisphere. Roam beneath towering dinosaurs, discover the Melbourne story, see indigenous artefacts at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, stroll through the living Forest Gallery and come face to face with Phar Lap. Additionally, the museum features IMAX Melbourne.
Accessibility & Audience:Family Friendly
Prominently positioned opposite Federation Square and diagonally across from Flinders Street Station, St Paul’s Cathedral was consecrated in 1891 and rests on-site where the first Christian service in Melbourne took place in 1836. Designed by William Butterfield, the gothic-style Anglican Cathedral was visited by Pope John Paul II on 28 November 1986.
Atmosphere:Peaceful, Architectural Landmark
Situated in the Fitzroy Gardens, Cook’s Cottage is the oldest building in Australia and once belonged to the parents of explorer Captain James Cook, the man who discovered the Southeast coast of Australia. Deconstructed and shipped over from England, the cottage was reassembled brick by brick in 1934. These days, the building allows visitors to step back into the 18th century and connect with the history of Captain James Cook.
Home to a collection of more than 73,000 works of art, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is the oldest and most visited art gallery in Australia. See masters such as Cézanne, Picasso and Rembrandt, as well as celebrated Australian pieces such as Tom Roberts‘ Shearing the Rams. NGV also holds exhibitions such as Melbourne Winter Masterpieces and events including NGV Friday Nights.
Obscured by Melbourne’s urban jungle, Melbourne Gardens is a 94-acre sanctuary comprising of 10,000 native and exotic plant species, selected for their value, rarity and diversity. Among the plants there are sweeping lawns and peaceful lakes, as well as two cafes to rest at after gallivanting around the vegetation.
Since opening in 2002, Federation Square has become the heart and soul of Melbourne. The multi-use piazza features three public spaces, including a big screen, an array of restaurants and bars, and theatre and event spaces, as well as ACMI, the Ian Potter Centre and the SBS Television and Radio Headquarters.
Atmosphere:Touristy, Architectural Landmark, Photo Opportunity
As the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, the Queen Victoria Market has a lot to offer shoppers. Wander through the historic sheds and discover fresh produce, hot doughnuts, souvenirs, homewares and more. QVM also hosts Wednesday-night markets, where the historic sheds come alive with food stalls and live music.
Atmosphere:Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark
Stretching along the Yarra River you’ll find an assortment of restaurants, hotels and bars, as well as Southgate, Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex, Melbourne Exhibition Centre and the Sunday market. Take a stroll or a boat ride, enjoy views of Melbourne’s skyline, and see the remarkable Gas Brigades, which send fireballs into the sky every night.
Described as “the southern hemisphere’s only giant observation wheel”, the Melbourne Star is 120m high and has 21 cabins, all of which offer ever-changing panoramas. During the 30-minute rotation, passengers will see the city, Port Phillip Bay, Mount Macedon and Arthur’s Seat.
Famous for being Australia’s oldest public library and one of the world’s first free public libraries, the State Library of Victoria has a collection of over 2 million books. While there are seven reading rooms, the most magnificent is the octagonal La Trobe Reading Room. The library also holds the diaries of Melbourne founders John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner, and the original armour worn by Ned Kelly.
Atmosphere:Quiet, Historical Landmark
Enter through Mr. Moon’s gaping mouth, and you’ll arrive at a theme park that has been delighting Melbournians since 1912. St Kilda’s Luna Park features the Scenic Railway, which dates back to the park’s opening and is the oldest continually operating rollercoaster in the world. Luna Park also offers a myriad of fun rides for the whole family, including the Ghost Train and the Pharaoh’s Curse.
Brimming with character, the narrow laneways and arcades in Melbourne feature al fresco dining, boutiques and welcoming cafes. Explore the oldest surviving arcade in Australia, the Royal Arcade and the heritage-listed Block Arcade, as well as the charming Centre Place and Degraves Street.
Modelled after London Zoo, Melbourne Zoo is Australia’s oldest zoo and is located only 4km from the city centre. The menagerie is home to over 320 different animal species, both native and exotic. Among the best exhibits are the magnificent Trails of Elephants and the Tropical Butterfly House. Today, the zoo is dedicated to the conservation of animals.
Situated in Federation Square, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image is “Australia’s only national museum of film, video games, digital culture and art”. ACMI features two cinemas and two exhibition galleries, as well as the permanent interactive exhibition Screen Worlds, which explores the story of the moving image. The exhibition includes hundreds of costumes and props, as well as Cate Blanchett’s Oscar Award.
Built to honour the Victorians who served during World War I, the Shrine of Remembrance has since become a memorial to all Australians who have served in war. Open daily, the Shrine is a place for solitude and reverence, and exhibitions including Galleries of Remembrance offer a glimpse into the Australian military service.
Geared towards curious young minds, Scienceworks offers immersive presentations and exhibitions that seek to explain the mysteries of the universe. Opened in 1992, the purpose-built museum features a planetarium, the Tesla Coil Lightning Room, a historical pumping station and Sportsworks, which looks at the science behind movement.
City Circle Tram
Melbourne is famous for its trams, so no trip to the city would be complete without riding the City Circle Tram. This free service allows passengers to travel through the city on the historic burgundy W-class tram, hopping on and off as they wish. The entire journey takes an hour to complete and passes many places of interest around the city.