Melbourne is quite well-known for its hidden things; whether that be concealed bars, secret cafes, quirky museums, or undiscovered attractions. Fortunately, we’re here to uncover some of the most underrated things you need to do in the city. From bars that look like science laboratories to the best place for plane viewing, here are Melbourne’s best kept secrets.
Up close and personal to planes
Near Melbourne Airport, there’s a designated Aircraft Viewing Area. Located at the intersection of Oaklands and Sunbury Road, you are directly in the path of planes taking off and landing. Because you are close to the airport boundary, the planes are just metres above your head. Hence this is most definitely a loud – but nonetheless underrated – thing to do in Melbourne for travel and plane lovers.
Aircraft Viewing Area, Oaklands Road, Bulla, VIC, Australia
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
SisterWorks is a non-profit organisation that evolved from a group founded by Luz Restrepo, when she arrived in Australia as a Colombian political refugee in 2010. It helps women migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers become settled and financially independent in Australia. The SisterWorks store in Richmond stocks handmade wares from 88 different women. By purchasing a product, you are directly helping a migrant family. Some of the items for sale include scarfs, food products, children’s toys, jewellery, and greeting cards.
The Croft Institute is literally located down a dark, graffiti-covered alley in Melbourne’s Chinatown. The ground floor bar is fitted out to resemble a science laboratory, with a large collection of test tubes, beakers, and Bunsen burners. The first floor are the toilets, which are also decorated in an odd fashion. Finally, the second floor was a former gymnasium, but is now a dance floor with a real turf bar. The Croft Institute is the place to visit for custom cocktails.
No, that isn’t a typo. Lyon Housemuseum is a Melbourne innovation, where ‘museum and living are brought together in a single building’. It’s believed to be the world’s first purpose-built residence and museum that’s open to the public for pre-booked tours and selected events. Lyon Housemuseum was designed by Corbett Lyon, an architect and collector who coined the term housemuseum. Artwork and artefacts from some of Australia’s leading contemporary artists are juxtaposed against the house’s domestic furnishings.
Wunderkammer comes from the German word for cabinet of curiosities. People would display collected oddities inside a glass cabinet, and the tradition is still followed today. Wunderkammer in Melbourne has a lot of rare and unusual products for sale, including scientific and medical instruments, taxidermy animals, shells and animal teeth, butterflies, minerals, anatomical models, medical books, and fossils. If you’re looking for an odd gift or souvenir, check out Wunderkammer.
Join a studio audience
Some people don’t realise that they can join the studio audience of one of the many TV shows that film in Melbourne. It’s a fun and free thing to do in the city, especially if you watch that particular show. Visit the Pope TV Facebook page for up-to-date information on what is filming. Some of the programs you could be a part of include The Project, Have You Been Paying Attention?, The AFL Footy Show, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, Rockwiz, and Millionaire Hot Seat.
Have a punt
Yarra River cruises are quite popular in Melbourne. But what many people don’t know is that you can also cruise on a wooden punt in Melbourne. Punting on the Lake takes guests on a scenic journey on the Ornamental Lake in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. The professional punters act as tour guides as well, informing visitors about the garden’s wildlife, plants, and history. You can do evening, sunset, and high tea punt packages, too.
Punting on the Lake, Gate A, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Behold The Break Room
Have you ever wanted to unleash your fury and smash some plates? Well, you can do just that at The Break Room. The concept is not simply about violence, but ‘harnessing those destructive tendencies in a controlled and fun way’. Visitors are dressed in safety gear and led into a break room with crockery and a baseball bat, where they can do what they want in a specified amount of time. It’s a cathartic stress reliever, and perhaps the best kept secret in Melbourne.
Located on Melbourne’s infamous Lygon Street, there is more than meets the eye at Jimmy Watson’s. Firstly, the restaurant and wine bar is a Melbourne institution, which was established in 1935. But then there’s stairs leading to the Wolf’s Lair, a cosy and comfortable rooftop bar. Between these two concepts is The Courtyard, a leafy oasis with heaters come winter. Finally, there’s the newest member of the Jimmy Watson’s family, Thin Red Line. The new bar is located upstairs as well, and has its own private entrance. So, which will you choose?
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.