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Best places to visit in Melbourne and its surrounds

Explore the must-see destinations in and around one of the world’s trendiest cities.

Melbourne is a very cool city peppered with fabulous street art, chic neighbourhoods, sleek architecture and rooftop bars. In addition to modern city living, you can lose yourself in nature just outside the metropolitan area. With so much on offer, a trip to Melbourne is sure to keep you busy.

Whether your preference is food, nature, wineries, entertainment or all of the above, read on to find the best spots to track down.

Top spots to check out in Melbourne

Image: Visit Victoria

1. Fitzroy

"Fitzy", as it’s called locally, is a trendy and artistic neighbourhood known for its bohemian vibes. The area attracts young professionals and students thanks to its unique bars and restaurants. You can also find street art dotted around the suburb, as well as galleries in many of its terraced houses.

Brunswick Street is popular for shopping and nightlife, while Gertrude Street offers more eateries, art and design.

  • Best for: Food and drink, street art, trendy shopping.
  • How to get there: You can take a train to Fitzroy from Flinders Street station (20 minutes), walk from Flinders Street station (35 minutes), or catch a tram from Southern Cross station (22 minutes).
  • Top things to see and do: Spend a night on the town on Brunswick Street, find the trendiest bars to grab a cool cocktail, discover local street art, spend an afternoon in a cafe people-watching, and relax in Fitzroy Gardens.
  • How long do I need? Half a day.
  • Recommended tour: Join a street artist on a Fitzroy Street Art Tour and get to see the best examples in the area, learn about the underground art, and visit the Rose St. Artists' Market.

2. Flinders Street Station

Standing tall in the heart of the CBD, Flinders Street Station is one of Melbourne’s most iconic structures. It’s a popular rendezvous spot for locals and travellers alike, who arrange to meet under its famous row of clocks.

The station is one of the busiest in the Southern Hemisphere. The upper floors were built to house a gym, library and lecture hall and a ballroom.

  • Best for: History.
  • How to get there: Walking is possible from anywhere in the CBD (maximum 40 minutes), take a train from Southern Cross station (7 minutes), or catch a tram on the City Circle loop.
  • Top things to see and do: Grab a bite to eat on the main concourse, hop on a train to enjoy some of the sights outside the city, or join a tour to learn about the building’s history.
  • How long do I need? 30 minutes is enough to view all of Flinders Station.
  • Recommended tour: Spend an afternoon on a Central Melbourne Walking Tour discovering the city’s culture and visiting its most famous sights.

Image: Visit Victoria

3. Federation Square

This popular and dynamic public square in Melbourne’s CBD was designed as a focal point for the city’s cultural and civic activities. As well as year-round attractions and events, it is home to an array of restaurants, bars and specialty stores.

Whatever time of year you’re visiting Victoria’s capital city, you’ll find something of interest going down at “Fed Square”.

  • Best for: Entertainment, events, art, culture.
  • How to get there: Walk from Flinders Street station (1 minute), catch a train from Southern Cross station (7 minutes), or take a tram on the City Circle loop.
  • Top things to see and do: Visit the Ian Potter Centre to view Australian art, discover the ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image), grab a bite to eat and get involved in an event.
  • How long do I need? Half a day.
  • Recommended tour: Take a minibus ride with a Cultural Melbourne City Tour from Fed Square and learn more about Melbourne’s cultural highlights.

4. Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most scenic drives and runs along the Victorian coastline between Torquay and Allansford. The road stretches for 243km and is included in the Australian National Heritage List.

Today the route is famous for its natural rock formations, predominantly the Twelve Apostles, as well as prime surf spots, charming towns, and a chance to see wildlife up close.

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Image: St Kilda Melbourne

5. St Kilda

St Kilda is a buzzing beachside suburb that attracts backpackers, families and fitness lovers. You’ll find joggers running down the boardwalk and travellers filling the trendy restaurants and bars on Acland and Carlisle streets.

The once glitzy resort area is now a popular spot for music and festivals, and provides a relaxed vibe on the edge of the city.

  • Best for: Foodies, relaxation, families.
  • How to get there: Trains and trams are available from Flinders Street station (30 to 40 minutes) or Southern Cross station (25 to 35 minutes).
  • Top things to see and do: Stay for sunset and spot fairy penguins, chill out on St Kilda Beach, jump on some rides at Luna Park, visit the St Kilda Sea Baths and take a walk along the pier.
  • How long do I need? Half to whole day.
  • Recommended tour: A St Kilda Seaside Walking Tour enables you to learn the history of the area, see art deco buildings and meet some of the local penguins.

6. Yarra Valley

The Yarra Valley is a well-known wine production region close to Melbourne. The area is filled with lush, green land and vineyards, and is one of the most popular areas to visit from Melbourne for a day trip.

There are over 80 cellar doors you can visit; but as well as a wine tasting, you’ll also find mouth-watering food, scenic sights, breweries and art galleries.

  • Best for: Food and drink lovers.
  • How to get there: Driving to the Yarra Valley from Melbourne CBD takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. You can also take a , or take the train to Hurstbridge, Lilydale or Belgrave and then catch a bus.
  • Top things to see and do: Try some of the local wines, enjoy the view from above in a hot air balloon, have a meal paired with wine, and get outdoors on a .
  • How long do I need? 1 to 2 days.
  • Recommended tour: On a you can learn wine tasting techniques, try wines at four wineries and enjoy a delicious lunch.

7. Phillip Island

Phillip Island sits off the southern coast of Victoria and is a popular day trip from Melbourne. It's most famous residents are the fairy penguins. Visitors gather at dusk to watch the penguin parade as penguins emerge from the water onto the land.

You can also visit an area known as The Nobbies to see a colony of fur seals, as well as the famous ex Grand Prix track, for car and motorcycle racing.

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Image: Visit Melbourne

8. Docklands

Once part of the shipping industry, Melbourne Docklands is now a harbour development that sits on the water surrounded by high-rise buildings. It is dominated by the colourful Melbourne Star observation wheel and offers a wide range of activities and experiences.

Many people visit Docklands to catch a sports game at Etihad Stadium, go shopping or dine at one of the waterside restaurants.

  • Best for: Entertainment, dining, water activities.
  • How to get there: Walk from Southern Cross station (13 minutes), catch a train from Flinders Street station (15 minutes) or take a tram from Flinders Street station (20 minutes).
  • Top things to see and do: Take in the views of the city from the Melbourne Star, experience a V8 racing motion simulator, dine on a seafood meal by the water, shop your heart out, take a sunset cruise.
  • How long do I need? Half a day.
  • Recommended tour: Hop on a Port of Melbourne and Docklands Sightseeing Cruise for panoramic views of Melbourne’s skyline and sights.

9. Dandenong Ranges

Less than an hour outside Melbourne you can escape the bustling city and surround yourself with nature. The beautiful Dandenong Ranges is a low range of mountains that reaches a height of 633 metres at Mount Dandenong.

Enjoy breathtaking scenery along the many walking and hiking trails, and drop into the hilltop villages and local arts and crafts centres.

  • Best for: Nature, active travellers.
  • How to get there: Drive from Melbourne (1 hour and 10 minutes from the CBD) or catch the train from Belgrave station.
  • Top things to see and do: Hop on the Puffing Billy steam train, hike or cycle through the mountains, get adventurous ziplining, visit some of the gardens and take in the views at SkyHigh, said to be the highest natural viewing point in Victoria.
  • How long do I need? Half to whole day.
  • Recommended tour: Experience the area’s beauty on a Healesville Sanctuary Puffing Billy Steam Train Tour where you’ll ride through the mountains and see local wildlife up close.

10. CBD Laneways

A famous and much-loved part of Melbourne culture is its colourful, bustling city laneways that connect the major streets throughout the CBD. Covered in street art and filled with cafes that lure you in with the smell of fresh coffee, the laneways offer a special Melbourne experience that is tucked away from obvious view.

Delicious food, trendy locations, hidden corridors and cool bars add to the unique and artsy atmosphere.

  • Best for: Cafe lovers, street art.
  • How to get there: The laneways are woven throughout Melbourne CBD and can be reached on foot from Flinders Street station (20 minutes maximum).
  • Top things to see and do: Snap a picture at AC/DC Lane, grab some coffee at Centre Place, watch street artists on Hosier Lane, try a drink at one of the unique bars at Meyers Place and taste the best chocolate in Melbourne.
  • How long do I need? Half a day.
  • Recommended tour: Join a Laneways Walking Tour of Melbourne for the best spots for coffee and chocolate, as well as must-see street art.
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