Places to Visit in Melbourne: Melbourne Travel Guide
I’ve just been turning out the travel guides from my big trip and today I’m excited to be sharing my Melbourne guide, with all the best places to eat and top things to do in Melbourne!
Before we visited Australia, we had heard from several people that Melbourne reminded them a lot of San Francisco. And after spending a few days in Melbourne city, I can definitely see why. The two cities have a lot in common, like hipster cafes (that are obsessed with single-origin, third wave, insert-other-trendy-coffee-jargon-here coffee), gritty alleyways with interesting street art, a poppin’ foodie scene, moody weather, an appreciation for art, and wine country just a short drive away. So we felt pretty comfortable and at home in Melbourne!
Psst heading to Melbourne? Check out these other travel guides to help you plan your trip!
It was also funny to see that once we were in Australia, Aussies are definitely in either the Sydney camp or Melbourne and favor one strongly over the other, sorta like how in California people are either pro LA or pro SF (with Sydney obviously being LA and Melbourne being SF). A good chunk of our time in Melbourne was spent eating and drinking, with a couple day trips outside of the city. All the details from our trip are below, and of course, here’s my custom Google map of Melbourne with pins dropped for all the best eats and things to do in Melbourne.
By the way, it’s pronounced “Melb’n,” not “Mel-born.” Don’t embarrass yourself, please. ? Just kidding, Aussies are incredibly nice and they won’t make fun of you if you say Melbourne wrong. But they will applaud your pronunciation if you say it right.
Where to stay in Melbourne: We stayed in Collingwood, which is a super hip neighborhood that reminded me a bit of the Mission in SF. We stayed in this gorgeous airbnb, and we absolutely loved it! The apartment was very chic and spacious and we were so comfortable there. We seriously wanted to move in! We also loved how central it was and how easy it was to get around from there. And there were tons of amazing restaurants (especially brunch spots! mmm) within just a couple minutes walk. It was the perfect place to come home to after a busy day of exploring Melbourne.
Places to Visit in Melbourne: Day 1
Breakfast at Proud Mary. On our first day we walked right across the street from our Airbnb to grab breakfast at Proud Mary. The asparagus with black rice, a soft boiled egg, and miso puree (pictured above) was absolutely to die for! Their coffee was great too.
National Gallery of Victoria. The National Gallery of Victoria is Melbourne’s big art museum, and Australia’s oldest and largest museum. They have all kinds of different collections as well as rotating exhibits, and I was super excited to find out that we were there just in time to see a Yayoi Kusama exhibit. This one was called “flowers obsession,” and visitors got to cover the interior with fake flowers (similar to the dots exhibit I saw in Seattle). TeamLab had an exhibit there as well (I always love their interactive light installations) and there were several other really cool temporary exhibits. We spent a good chunk of our day here and I’d highly recommend it! Did I mention it’s free?!
Botanical Gardens. Since the Royal Botanic Gardens are right by the NGV, we strolled around there for a bit before crossing the Yarra river in search of lunch. It was a pretty stroll and would be a nice spot for a picnic, but not necessarily something to write home about or go out of your way for.
Gazi for lunch. I asked our first Uber driver in Melbourne what her favorite restaurant is, and she said Gazi for delicious Greek street food. Based on her recommendation, we went here for lunch on our first day and I have to say, they did have some pretty awesome wraps. The food was really good, although I did feel like the portions were a little on the small side. Oh, and the service was terrible. We sat around waiting forever for someone to bring us a menu, and again for someone to take our order, and my drink never came. It was a late lunch and the restaurant was pretty empty too, so I really don’t know what the deal was. All that to say, the food was good, but slightly small, so it’d be a good spot for a snack. And don’t expect speedy service.
Centre Place Laneway and ShanDong Mama Mini. Centre Place is one of Melbourne’s quintessential laneways (or “alley”s, for us Americans), with some fun spots to pop into for eating and shopping. Even though we had just had lunch, we really wanted to try ShanDong Mama Mini, since we had read all about how they have the best dumplings in Melbourne. It smelled incredible when we walked into this tiny little spot, so I knew we were in for a treat. We ordered a few different dumplings (their dumpling menu is massive, so it was hard to narrow down our choices), and they were all fantastic. Definitely recommend coming by here for their dumplings!
Drinks at QT Hotel rooftop bar. As I mentioned, I love getting recs from locals when we’re traveling, and a couple from Melbourne who we met during our trip to the Great Barrier Reef recommended the Rooftop at QT as one of their favorite rooftop bars. We grabbed a couple of drinks here and loved watching the sun go down from the patio.
Bang Bang for dinner. After lounging around and drinking at QT, we made our way a bit off the beaten path and outside of central Melbourne to Bang Bang for dinner. First of all, their space is gorgeous and the restaurant’s aesthetic at night is warm and inviting. Their outdoor patio looked like it would be really fun on a warm night as well. Second of all, their Thai food was soo delicious! We did their “Feed Me” menu where you basically sit back and relax while the chef decides for you and sends out dishes with the perfect balance. Everything was fantastic, including the service, and we absolutely stuffed ourselves (our waitress was hilarious and was making fun of Omied for having such a pained look on his face from over-eating ?). Don’t forget to save room for dessert!
Places to Visit in Melbourne: Day 2
Breakfast at South of Johnston. I had the corn and zucchini fritters with a poached egg and smoked salmon and it was prettyyyyy bomb. Btw, I really appreciated that most brunch places in Melbourne had some epic avocado situation on their menu, as it really made me feel right at home. ?
Wine tasting in Yarra Valley with Epicurean Tours. We had heard a lot about Yarra Valley and how it’s the perfect day trip from Melbourne for a lovely day of wine tasting. We signed up for a tour with Epicurean Tours and it was seriously so much fun! Our tour guide Bill was wonderful and was just so darn friendly and knowledgeable. We had thought about doing research ourselves on which wineries to visit and renting a car for the day, but we quickly realized that driving ourselves (on the opposite side of the road than we’re used to) and wine tasting sounded like a bad combination. So glad we decided to book a tour—it was so nice to be able to sit back and relax (and cat nap, because day drinking is hard) on our way to each winery. In case you are looking for individual winery recs in Melbourne, here’s where we went:
De Bortoli. We started our Yarra Valley wine tasting off with a bang at De Bortoli. We did their wine and cheese pairing and omg it was divine. The wines were perfectly matched with four different, locally made cheeses and the flavor pairings were spot on. The pairing is only $14, which compared to Napa where I’ve paid $75 for something similar, felt like such an amazing deal.
Yarra Valley Farmer’s Market. We happened to be in the Yarra Valley on a day when their Farmer’s Market was happening (third Sunday of every month), so we stopped by to peruse and sample all the handmade goodies.
Badger’s Brook Estate for lunch and wine tasting. Our next stop was the beautiful Badger’s Brook Estate, where we had lunch at their restaurant, Tramonto Bar & Kitchen, before heading to their tasting room for more wine tasting. I had their incredible lamb burger for lunch (so juicy and delicious omg), and we really enjoyed their wine tasting.
Helen & Joey Estate. This was probably my favorite stop on our wine tasting tour! The estate is absolutely gorgeous and they usually have kangaroos hanging out around the vineyard. We saw a couple hopping around and I pretty much died of happiness, they were so cute! Their wines are also amazing, and I especially loved their dessert wines, which weren’t overly sweet and syrup-y.
Dinner at Ides. After our day of wine tasting in the lovely Yarra Valley, we made our way back to Melbourne and had a wonderful dinner at Ides. They do an incredible tasting menu with delightful dishes and surprisingly playful presentation. Simple-sounding starters like their sourdough bread and peanut butter ended up being an explosion of flavors (I’m still dreaming about that peanut butter spread!). They also have a really impressive and extensive wine and beer list, and Omied did the beverage pairing with his dinner, which was amazing. Since I’m a lightweight, I just sipped on some of his beverage pairings. ? If you’re looking for a special night out at a beautiful restaurant (that’s also unpretentious and very welcoming), Ides is the perfect spot.
Places to Visit in Melbourne: Day 3
Great Ocean Road. The winding Great Ocean Road along the south coast is known for its picturesque views of beautiful beaches and steep cliffs. It’s 150 miles long, so you won’t be able to see the whole thing in a day trip from Melbourne, but you can definitely hit up some of its most famous spots (like the 12 Apostles) with a tour.
Rice Paper Scissors for dinner. Another spot recommended by locals, Rice Paper Scissors is a super delicious Asian fusion restaurant. You’d think that by this point in the trip, after eating different types of Asian food throughout Sydney and Melbourne we’d be sick of Asian fusion, but nope! Their small plates are all meant to be shared, and we pretty much just went with our server’s recommendations for plates and loved them all. If you’re not able to get into Rice Paper Scissors since they can get pretty booked up, they also have a sister restaurant, Rice Paper Sister (cute, I know), that our local friends told us was just as yummy.
Places to Visit in Melbourne: Day 4
Brunch at Alimentari. We had the yummiest brunch at the adorable Alimentari (once again a killer local rec from a Melbournian. Super thought I just made that word up, but I just Googled it and it’s a real term.). The Collingwood location is #instagramgoals, as was everything on their menu. ?
Messina. Don’t miss stopping by Messina for some of the most amazing Gelato you’ve ever had!
Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes. We went down to Brighton Beach to check out the very Pinterest-worthy Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes. The weather was terrible and we ended up hiding in the bathrooms for a half hour while it poured, but when there was finally a break in the rain we ran out to snap some photos of these cool Victorian bathing boxes. I did a whole post with more pics from this iconic spot here.
Walk along the river and discover Melbourne’s street art. Melbourne is known for its laneways and street art, so we strolled around some of the city’s most famous spots like AC/DC Lane and Hosier Lane. If you really enjoy art, I would recommend stopping by the Arts Centre Melbourne.
Pasta Adagio for dinner. We had an absolutely amazing Italian meal at Pasta Adagio, a homey Italian restaurant in the Richmond area of Melbourne. Chef Carmine served up several of his signature dishes for us, including his reinvented carbonara. SUCH a treat! We loved chatting with Chef Carmine about his move from Italy to Australia, and his inspiration behind Pasta Adagio’s opening and cuisine. The homemade cured meats with gnocco fritto was something I’d never had before, but one of my favorite dishes—so simple yet so flavorful. His ragu and pana cotta were equally fabulous, and we left absolutely stuffed, but so happy we got to try this gem!
Sadly, I didn’t get to visit all the spots I wanted since we didn’t have enough time so here’s a list of spots that I would highly recommend taking some time to check out:
If you’re into cricket and want to see a game live in action, I would take a day tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. If cricket isn’t your thing but you love sports, check out their National Sports Museum. If you want to tour the entire city without walking, you should ride the City Circle Tram that takes you all around Melbourne. You can find a stop almost anywhere in the city or you can hop on at Flinders Street Station.
The Royal Exhibition Building and the Old Melbourne Gaol are both beautiful historic places that will show you more of what Melbourne is about. The Mornington Peninsula is also a beautiful place to stay for a weekend with gorgeous views and plenty of fun activities like shopping, golfing, or taking a spa day.
If you’re traveling with a family definitely check out the Puffing Billy Steam Train or the Yarra River Cruise for very fun and beautiful views of Melbourne. The SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium seems to be another one of Melbournes popular tourist attractions for families. Phillip Island is also a very fun spot for a day trip to watch the Penguin Parade or watching Australian fur seals lay around the rocks.
Visiting Melbourne? Check out my other Melbourne travel guides.
Taking the tram is the best way to get around Melbourne. The City Circle Tram will take you all around the city and is easy to navigate.
The time to visit Melbourne is between March and May or September to November since these are their off-seasons.
– National Gallery of Victoria
– Royal Botanic Gardens
– Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building
– Wine tasting in Yarra Valley
– Great Ocean Road
Melbourne is a great place to visit. There are plenty of activities and attractions to do and there are amazing food options.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.