The Best Outdoor Activities in and around Melbourne

The Best Outdoor Activities in and around Melbourne
© martin berry / Alamy Stock Photo
Consistently voted one of the world’s most liveable cities, Melbourne is a haven for outdoor activities due to its beautiful parks, vibrant culture and of course, stunning beaches. So, whether it’s a day by the beach, an easy cycle or an ocean adventure, read on to discover how to make the most of the great outdoors during your stay in Melbourne.

Run for the hills

Whether you’re an avid runner, or just looking to stretch your legs while you’re in town, Melbourne has an impressive choice of routes to choose from. From St Kilda’s Foreshore Trail, to local favourite the Tan Track which runs around Melbourne’s beautiful botanical gardens, there’s a route for runners of all aptitudes.

Opt for a run and you’ll get a built-in tour of what the city has to offer: views across the Yarra River, sea breeze, a bustling town centre and several impressive parks. So lace up and get moving.

Head to the beach

Relaxing on the warm sand, enjoying the sea air, dipping your toes in calm, cool waters – there’s nothing quite like a day at the beach. Melbourne has plenty of places to test the surf or take out a boat, and a wealth of beaches where you can lie back, grab a bite to eat or have a swim. Brighton Beach, Kerford Beach and Williamstown are all popular options, while Altona offers a boat-free zone for those keen to swim in the quiet.

There’s more than just the sand and sea. Brighton Beach has 82 iconic Victorian bathing huts, ideal for memorable holiday snaps. Williamstown is home to the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary, a haven for the area’s sealife.

Brighton Beach, Melbourne, Australia © Kelly Defina / Getty Images

Down by the riverside

There are all kinds of water-based activities on offer in Melbourne, and many can be found on the Yarra. The river, which winds its way through Melbourne’s Central Business District, is a perfect playground for watersports. Try stand-up paddle boarding or take a spellbinding sunset kayak trip to see the glowworms in the Yarra Cave.

You can charter a yacht, and stop at many of the picturesque spots along the Yarra. If you’re lucky, your trip will coincide with the annual Moomba Festival, a huge celebration across the city, with many events taking place on the Yarra at the start of March. Or, you can keep dry and watch the annual Dragon Boat spectacle in February, as teams race their ornate craft down the river.

Get your sea legs

If salt water is more your thing, then head to Port Philip Bay to find numerous places to hire boats, try snorkelling, charter a yacht or test the surf.

The calm waters of St Kilda are great for paddle boarding or taking out a canoe. The waves of Brighton Beach make it a magnet for surfers as well as swimmers, and offer decent opportunities for fishing too.

If you’ve got time, then the Mornington Peninsula is a must-see, around 70km (43.5mi) from the city centre. The famous Gunnamatta Beach is not a place to take your first tentative ride on a surfboard; it’s very much for the experts, but the rugged coastline makes this a perfect spot to take in the sea air.

Kitesurfers at St. Kilda Beach in Melbourne, Australia © Rob Arnold / Alamy Stock Photo

Take a tour on two wheels

A city built for cycling, you can pedal at your leisure, stopping off at cafés along your route, or enjoying the parks (while avoiding the runners). The gentle downhill makes coasting to the seafront a breeze.

Sadly Melbourne’s bike-share scheme was closed down in 2019, but you won’t have to look far to find a bike hire shop. There, you can pick up a bike, lock (as well as mandatory helmet) and hit the road.

Relax at the market

If all that activity sounds a bit much, then you’ll love a relaxing visit to Queen Victoria Market. Home to 600 small businesses, it offers a variety of food, great coffee and handmade products as well as street entertainment.

The market has been part of Melbourne life for 140 years. Alongside the restaurants, cafés and shops you’ll find plenty of fresh produce – and if you’re overwhelmed by the choice then the market offers special foodie tours to take you directly to the tastiest offerings

People shopping at the Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne © Tracey Whitefoot / Alamy Stock Photo