The city that has been voted the world’s most liveable – multiple times – is also one of the best to visit, as it offers a diverse range of attractions. A giant observation wheel, a sacred sports ground, museums, historical prisons and the oldest building in Australia are just some of the 30 must-see attractions in Melbourne.
Prominently positioned opposite Federation Square and diagonally across from Flinders Street Station, St Paul’s Cathedral was consecrated in 1891 and built on the 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.
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.
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.
While St Kilda might be Melbourne’s more famous beach – with its historic pier and resident fairy penguins –Brighton Beach is arguably even more spectacular, with brightly coloured beach huts and great views over the city skyline. Easily accessed by train from the CBD, make sure you leave some time to explore. The streets here are also home to some cool cafes and magnificent heritage buildings, all with that signature Melbourne bohemian vibe.
Established during the Victorian gold rush in the 1850s, Melbourne’s Chinatown is both the oldest in the southern hemisphere and the oldest continually inhabited Chinese settlement in the Western world. An architectural and cultural gem, Chinatown is so much more than just the place to go for Chinese and Asian food in the city – there is also the Chinese Museum, the famous Chinese New Year festivities and the Asian Food Festival, shopping, cocktail bars and street art.
One of Melbourne’s most famous attractions – other than its coffee – is its street art. With one of the largest open-air art exhibitions in the world, Melbourne’s art scene is vibrant, multicultural and continually changing. Take a wander around the streets and laneways and enjoy a free, self-guided tour of one of Melbourne’s alternative treasures, or join a street art tour run by street artists to see the best of the best.
Just under an hour from Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges are the perfect natural escape from the city. With excellent hiking trails, secret gardens, picturesque viewpoints over the city and even an old steam train – Puffing Billy – visiting the Dandenong Ranges feels like entering another world. Don’t miss the Burrinja Cultural Centre, a community-based arts hub with an impressive collection of indigenous and oceanic art, an Indigenous cultural garden and multiple gallery spaces.
This interactive art experience in The District Docklands is not your typical gallery. Here, visitors can touch, interact and play with the art. Take a selfie with angel wings, or fool your friends into thinking you’re standing in front of the Taj Mahal. There are more than 100 paintings across 11 gallery zones. The ticket price includes unlimited time, and staff are on hand to provide guidance. Having reopened in following renovations in 2019, the gallery offers daily tours.
Additional reporting by Cassie Wilkins