It's hard to go wrong in Melbourne. The city is bursting with things to do and below is only a small list. Read on to find out what the best sights in Melbourne are, what admission hours you have to think about, and how much it costs to enter.
Read on: Full Melbourne Travel Guide
Visit Laneways and Arcades
Victorian (18th century) arcades are some of the best sights to walk through while in Melbourne. Each holds a unique blend of shops to explore. Campbell Arcade and Block Arcade were two of my favorites. Around the arcades are also laneways, a Melbourne staple. These alleyways have turned into part art exhibit (with fabulous graffiti) part hipster shops and restaurants. My favorite laneways were ACDC Lane and Hosier Lanes. Honestly, though the best way to experience these is the less research the better.
Discover Street Art
You won't be able to miss it. Every inch that can be covered in street art is and you will find plenty of opportunities for selfies in the urban landscape.
Read on: The best Instagram spots in Melbourne
The gardens are gorgeous to walk around and are a peaceful spot to bring some cheese and crackers for a picnic. The streets that line the gardens have some of the most gorgeous houses that are also excellently maintained relics from the Victorian time. One of the best sights inside the garden is the Royal Exhibition Building. Find out more about that below.
Royal Exhibition Building
Unfortunately, it was closed while I was there and will remain under renovation until 2020. Even if you head to Melbourne before then the beautiful Victorian building is a sight to behold even from the outside. The structure is the only surviving Great Hall from the times of magnificent International Exhibitions.
An area that should be at the very top of your Melbourne bucket list is definitely Federation Square. It is the heart and soul of Melbourne where many come to relax, celebrate, or even protest. The ground of the square is laid with over 460,000 cobblestones and from the square, you can see many iconic landmarks.
Top Tip: If you are on a budget in Melbourne, the square offers free tours every day (except Sunday) at 11 am. Spots are limited, make sure to arrive early. The square also has free wi-fi and if you need a charge up for your mobile head to the visitor center.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Another free thing to do in Melbourne, great if you are on a budget in Australia, is to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens. The complex is huge, 94 acres, so be sure to wear some walking shoes. You can also hire a bike outside and ride it along approved paths throughout the park. During the summer the gardens have various theater performances, check their website to see what's on. You can enter and wander at your leisure from 7:30 AM till sunset.
Flinders Street Railway Station
Melbourne’s first railway station, built in 1854, deserves a spot on the list - as well as love and respect. The station towers over the Yarra River with its beautiful neoclassical architecture and stunning dome. Inside is just as stunning but do be aware you will find it busy and bustling at any time of day.
Queen Victoria Market
Not to be confused with the shopping haven/huge mall known as Queen Victoria Market in Sydney, the one in Melbourne is an open-air market with over 600 stalls. Operating for over 130 years you can find fresh produce and plenty of gourmet and organic goods in the deli hall. Also, don't miss an excellent cup of coffee at Market Lane Coffee.
National Gallery of Victoria
The NGV as it's known is housed in a square unassuming building. Inside the gallery holds an extensive collection of works from classical Rembrandt to iconic Picasso. Some of the best exhibitions in the world make a stop here so be sure to check out the lineup online before you go. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm and admission is free for all permanent galleries.
State Library of Victoria
Please listen to what I say here. You cannot miss the State Library. I know, it's just a library, right? WRONG. The neoclassical building opened in 1856 and has been expanded continuously to one of the most gorgeous buildings I have ever stepped foot in. The gorgeous La Trobe Reading Room was added in 1913 and with natural light from the dome, many famous Melbourne writers have written great works here. The library also has exhibits and art throughout the building. I would plan to spend a decent chunk of the day here. Admission to the State Library of Victoria is free.
Shrine of Remembrance
This was one of my favorite things to do while in Melbourne. The large monument was built in 1928 (completed in 1934) and is a memorial for Victorians killed in WWI. The classical design was based on the ancient - and now lost - wonder of the world, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Don't miss a visit to the upper balcony for beautiful panoramic views of the Melbourne skyline. Inside, and under, the Shrine is a wonderful museum. Admission is free.
Read on: Melbourne Packing List
If you are traveling to Melbourne with kids you should make a stop at the Melbourne Museum. Admission is free for children and students. Adults pay $14. Wander through dinosaur fossils and a fantastic taxidermy hall and learn about Victoria's cultural as well as natural histories. To avoid waiting in line purchase your tickets online and if you want to visit the IMAX (right next door) you can buy a combined ticket to save money.
Eureka Skydeck 88
At 88 stories high, the stunning 360-degree views of Melbourne are something you shouldn’t miss. Although, if you are traveling Melbourne on a budget you should take a pass, the ticket is a bit expensive. If you do plan on going try to plan your visit on the clearest day possible for the best views. Head to their website ahead of time to purchase a ticket to beat the line and also save you money!
Adult ticket: $21 Children under 16: $12.50
Open every day from 10 am to 10 pm with last entry at 9:30 pm.
Top Tip: While it is cool to upgrade your ticket for 'The Edge' experience ($12 for adult upgrade, $8 for children upgrade) you cannot bring your camera in there and have to pay $15 extra for a photo taken by a staff member. That means a total ticket for one adult to enter the Skydeck, experience 'The Edge', and get a photo is $48. Pretty steep.
I know, I have listed an entire neighborhood/suburb as a 'thing to do' in Melbourne. I'm the worst. But in all seriousness St. Kilda is one of the coolest, bohemian inspired neighborhoods in Australia and you shouldn't miss it. Many trams travel to St. Kilda from the city making it easy to access. If you have a sweet tooth you won't want to skip Monarch Cake Shop on Acland Street.
The hours vary for Luna Park so be sure to check online before you go. The old-timey amusement park, with its iconic Mr Moon open mouth smile - a perfect backdrop for Instagram photos - will surprise you at how much fun it actually is. You can purchase an unlimited ride ticket for $50 (adults) or $40 (children).
Planning a trip to Australia in general, can be overwhelming. Everyone has an opinion on this beautiful location and you may be frozen and unable to plan anything. Rest assured that no matter what you choose to do in Australia or where you choose to stay in Australia you're going to have a beautiful time.
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing an Australian travel guide along with you. Here are some of the travel guides I used during my trip...
And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (tessajuliette at gmail dot com).