14 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Melbourne

Jul 22, 2021

Melbourne is a vibrant city in an enchanting location, Australia's "garden state," perfect for city or country escapes and for a holiday that will remain indelibly imprinted on your memories.

With more than 400 days of sunshine a year and Mediterranean climate, Melbourne's outdoor attractions are varied and exciting. There are coastal walks and beaches, tram rides and bird-watching, bike rides and boating, and a creative culture in everything from street art to contemporary theater.

Melbourne is a great base for day trips to state parks, wineries, or other regions. And of course, visiting Melbourne is like stepping into the heart of Aussie living: embracing and fun-loving. For many Aussies, it's the best-known tourist destination in the world.

The following attractions provide a few ideas for things to do in and around Melbourne. For more on what to see and do, refer to our Travel Guide: a brief introduction to Australia.

Queen Victoria Market

Photo of Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market: en.wikipedia.org

Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market dates back to 1873 and now houses over 50 market stalls where local and international vendors sell everything from fresh fruit to clothing and food. It is the second largest market in Australia, second only to Sydney's Greenhills market. Although it's mostly locals and visitors enjoying this busy market, it can be an interesting day out for families, as the aisles are well kept and there is a good variety of goods for sale.

Royal Exhibition Building

Photo of Royal Exhibition Building
Royal Exhibition Building: en.wikipedia.org

While not quite as grand as London's Albert Hall or Paris' Palais de Chaillot, the official Royal Exhibition Building (inaugurated in 1888) in Melbourne's suburban city of Carlton, designed by Melbourne architect Claude William Godey, is a faithful copy of one of London's finest gothic-style exhibition halls. It is also one of the world's largest underground vaults, spanning 576 square meters (6,140 square feet) and enough space for 1,400 exhibits. This makes it perfect for touring, as you can take in a vast amount of information in a short space of time. A highlight of a visit is the open-air gallery, where special exhibits showcasing the artists and photographers who've worked within its walls are on display.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Photo of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria: en.wikipedia.org

Officially established in 1982, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne is the newest addition to the Australian botanic gardens. It is one of the most important botanic gardens in the Southern Hemisphere, and is also renowned for its one-of-a-kind Conservatory, which has a number of exotic plants and a variety of animals, including a tiger, anteaters, and orangutans. The gardens also boasts a fully-functioning greenhouse and contains the oldest collection of begonia in Australia.

Parliament House

Photo of Parliament House, Melbourne
Parliament House, Melbourne: en.wikipedia.org

Built in the Italian style in 1865, Parliament House was once home to the Melbourne and District Trades and Labor Council. It originally housed the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly until both were moved to the old Parliament House at the end of the 19th century. Today it is a splendid example of Italianate architecture and is said to have the best domed roof of any building in the world. The Victoria Market, formerly a water pumping station and laid out in 1861, sits just a few blocks from the house, where Victorian bakers, butchers, grocers, fishmongers and other vendors ply their trade.

Melbourne Museum

Photo of Melbourne
Melbourne: en.wikipedia.org

Melbourne Museum was founded in 1841 and holds over one million items in the collections. They range from prehistory artifacts to stamps, cricket bats, and a full recreation of the Queen's dressing room, all housed in the Colonial Conservatory, a unique glass-roofed structure. Inside the Conservatory, the collections include Aboriginal rock paintings, great African art, and a lot more. Other highlights of this museum include a record collection containing more than 400,000 records in 78 languages, a special collection of instruments and costumes from opera and ballet, and fine art exhibitions throughout the year. You can pay to visit the galleries, attend programs, or book tours in the small yet interesting museum shop.

Princess Theatre

Photo of Princess Theatre (Melbourne)
Princess Theatre (Melbourne): en.wikipedia.org

The Princess Theatre is a grand 1920s theatre with a rich history of entertainment. Founded in 1866, the Princess Theatre Company moved into its present venue in 1882. Today, it's one of Melbourne's leading entertainment venues. If you're visiting on the 8th of each month, you can enjoy free live music on Monday nights. Be sure to drop by for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, the highest-grossing lingerie show in the world.

Flemington Racecourse

Photo of Flemington Racecourse
Flemington Racecourse: en.wikipedia.org

Plummeting 80 meters underground, Flemington Racecourse, Australia's biggest and most popular horse racing venue, is also the largest such venue in the Southern Hemisphere. If you want to see the world's greatest thoroughbred racehorses in action, the annual Melbourne Cup is run in this superb track. Designed in the shape of a racehorse with some stunning modernist touches, this world-famous racecourse is set in the center of Australia's second-biggest city and can be reached by the city's light rail network, tram, trains, or buses.

National Sports Museum

Photo of Australian Sports Museum
Australian Sports Museum: en.wikipedia.org

The National Sports Museum, located in the CBD of Melbourne, Australia, commemorates a rich sporting history in Australia and is one of the largest sporting museums in the world. Renovated to its former glory by renowned Australian architect Glenn Murcutt and designer Andrew Ervin, the National Sports Museum pays tribute to one of Australia's greatest sporting achievements, the Olympic Games. As well as the main gallery, the museum is home to temporary exhibitions celebrating the achievements of Australia's athletes over the last century. There are over 1,000 different items of memorabilia and national sporting insignia are on display.

Federation Square

Photo of Federation Square
Federation Square: en.wikipedia.org

Federation Square was built as the site of Melbourne's original Town Hall and many of the city's most historic buildings and structures are located there. A large modern convention centre, offices and shops surround the historic buildings that date back to the early 1900s. Federation Square also hosts a variety of free events, which includes free Sunday events such as the Buskerfest. Melbourne also has a number of excellent museums, including the Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Planetarium and the National Gallery of Victoria. Many of these are open during the day and some museums are free, though not all.

Flinders Street Station

Photo of Flinders Street railway station
Flinders Street railway station: en.wikipedia.org

Flinders Street Station was built as the terminus of the first European bridge crossing of the Yarra River, linking Melbourne with the port of Geelong in 1853. Originally there were platforms only on the ground level, and then the Station Tower was built in 1870 above them. The station is best known for its clocks, shops and restaurants. Inside the station are detailed murals, some of which tell the history of Australia's cities and towns. An exhibition called "Australian Urban Design" explores Australian urban design, with models of different Australian cities and some of their surrounding suburbs. If you get hungry during your visit, there are many good eating options.

Arts Centre Melbourne

Photo of Melbourne city centre
Melbourne city centre: en.wikipedia.org

Melbourne's Arts Centre is located in the middle of the city, very close to the transport hubs and has many attractions. It is an art and culture hub of Victoria. The Centre covers over 90,000 square meters with various events that take place throughout the year. Some of the arts included at the arts centre are: the Gallery of Modern Art, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and the National Gallery. Things to do at arts centre include visiting the Gallery of Modern Art, and watching an international ballet performance. During the winter, it is possible to visit the Antarctic at the Australian Antarctic Division. When visiting arts centre Melbourne, make sure to bring your coat because Melbourne's winters can get very cold.

State Library of Victoria

Photo of State Library Victoria
State Library Victoria: en.wikipedia.org

With over a million books, this state library is perhaps the biggest in Australia. Located in Melbourne, it contains a rich collection of books and periodicals, manuscripts and audiovisual materials on local and world history and culture, and scientific and biographical writings. One of its highlights is an exhibit on the subject of homelessness in Victoria. As the story of homelessness in Australia is a short and sad one, this exhibit is particularly worth seeing. State Library of Victoria, 1 Cathedral Square, Yarra Street, Richmond, VIC, Australia.

Coburg Gardens

Photo of Coburg, Victoria
Coburg, Victoria: en.wikipedia.org

Possessing a spacious layout and one of the largest indoor water features in Australia, the 170,000-square-meter (1800-acre) Coburg Gardens are more than just a lovely place to take a leisurely stroll. It's also one of the world's great art galleries, showcasing the works of national and international artists in a lavish Victorian-style art gallery. There are more than 250 galleries and art exhibitions on display in the gardens, along with topiary gardens, a vegetable garden, aquatic center, and an ice rink. Visitors also have access to Coburg's Spa Retreat, an oasis of calm set in the grounds, and an indoor theater and bar. If you are planning a relaxing vacation in Australia, the Coburg Gardens may be just the spot.

Hyde Park

Photo of Hyde Park, Sydney
Hyde Park, Sydney: en.wikipedia.org

One of the most idyllic corners of Australia is near Melbourne's city center, close to the harbor and just down the hill from the leafy expanse of Hyde Park, the historic city's centerpiece. Home to the park itself and a string of residential neighborhoods with grand villas built for the city's elite after World War II, the area is a city in its own right, with markets, restaurants, and cafes. There are several different ways to get here. The first is to take the inner-city light rail, accessible from Flinders Street, Melbourne Central Station, and Collins Street stations. The second is to use the park's extensive network of walks, including the World Heritage-listed gardens.