When we visited Sydney, our friends (who had just moved from Melbourne and hence were urging us to visit), described it as Sydney’s more fun sister. Effectively, if met you both of them at a party, Melbourne is the ‘sister’ that you’d expect to spend all night at the party, laughing chatting and dancing with you! Sydney is arguably shinier but Melbourne has character and flair – all the making for a great city to visit!
Effectively, if you both of them at a party, Melbourne is the ‘sister’ that you’d expect to spend all night, laughing chatting and dancing with you! Sydney is arguably shinier but Melbourne has character and flair – all the making for a great city to visit!
Melbourne is also not like any city you get in most places across the world either. Sure most cities can boast an iconic skyline, fantastic nightlife, really good food and a rich history but there are very few that have amazing beaches to throw into that mix too!
Melbourne effectively lets you eat your cake and have it – all the attractions (and distractions) you’d want in a major city – along with access to some amazing natural sights are all here. Suffice to say, if you’ve never visited Melbourne, it certainly deserved a place on your travel plans! (Even, if you’ve been – it’s always worth going back to!)
With that in mind, let’s get started with 10 sights you have to see when you’re in this fantastic Australian city! 😁
1.) Federation Square
The fact that Federation Square totally polarised public opinion in Melbourne when it opened in 2002 kinda makes it even more interesting to see. It opened in 2002 to mark 100 years of federation, and its sleek, geometric modern design is a huge contrast to the historical Victorian buildings around it. Events and entertainment are frequently held in the outdoor performance area of Federation Square, so there’s a good chance there’ll be something going on when you visit.
Events and entertainment are frequently held in the outdoor performance area of Federation Square, so there’s a good chance there’ll be something going on when you visit.
Random sidebar: It’s also the largest free Wi-Fi site in Australia and I’ve yet to meet a traveller who doesn’t love free Wi-Fi! 😆
2.) St Paul’s Cathedral
There has to be at least one cathedral on every sightseeing itinerary, doesn’t there? Okay, fine there doesn’t tut St Paul’s isn’t on here simply to fill a quota; it’s genuinely stunning.
Built in 1868 it’s a breathtaking example of Gothic Revival architecture in Australia. It’s free to enter (save that cash dolla y’all!), so make sure to pop inside for a gander when you’ve finished admiring the impressive exterior.
3.) Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building
If you only visit one museum on your trip to Melbourne make it this one. It’s collections are extremely diverse, ranging from its Aboriginal Centre (Bunjilaka) to its children’s museum. The building itself is impressive to see from outside, and the sprawling gardens and parkland which surround it are a great pace to explore or stop for a picnic.
The building itself is impressive to see from outside, and the sprawling gardens and parkland which surround it are a great pace to explore or stop for a picnic.
4.) Eureka Tower
This impressive skyscraper is 91 stories high, crowned and plated with gold. Its gold plating is a nod to the prospectors of the Victorian goldfields, whose 1854 rebellion (The Eureka Stockade) bequeathed its name to the tower. Appreciate the glimmering facade from the ground, then head up to the Skydeck on the 88th floor for an unrivalled view of the city below.
Appreciate the glimmering facade from the ground, then head up to the Skydeck on the 88th floor for an unrivalled view of the city below.
5.) The Melbourne Cricket Ground
Whether you’re a sports fan or not, the MCG has hosted enough iconic sports events that it it’s now considered a piece of history rather than just a sporting ground.
It hosted the first ever Test cricket match in 1877, as well as the 1956 Olympic Games, the 2006 Commonwealth Games, and the 1992 World Cup. Sport is a big part of Aussie culture so, even if it’s not a big part of yours, definitely pop in here.
6.) Captain Cook’s Cottage
It’s worth seeing Captain Cook’s Cottage if only to marvel at the fact that it has been transported from Yorkshire, England, to where it stands today in Fitzroy gardens. Past this novelty, it offers an insight into Cook’s exploration of Australia, and is set in beautiful well-kept garden land with a Spanish-style conservatory nearby.
7.) Check Out The View From The Melbourne Star
Once you’ve soaked up some of Melbourne’s history, head over to Docklands, the city’s most modern district. Docklands is a waterfront village bursting with parklands and places to eat, so it’s the perfect place to unwind, explore and tank up on some amazing Australian food! (Melbourne actually has a really fantastic food scene).
It’s also home to the Melbourne Star, an observation wheel which offers simply incredible 360 degree views of the city from a 40-storey height.
8.) Royal Botanic Gardens
These gardens, spanning around 40 hectares, are popularly regarded to be amongst some of the finest in the world. You can see over 50,000 plants here (impressive right?), including a few rarities. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a fascinating tour through the heritage of Australia’s indigenous culture with the gardens’ Aboriginal Heritage Walk.
After exploring the gardens all morning, grab yourself a pick-me-up at one of Melbourne’s best coffee shops, Manchester Press they make a mean espresso. On the other hand, if you want a great breakfast and amazing coffee, head over to Axil Coffee Roasters – although quite busy, it’s well worth the rush. Their eggs and cappuccino is too yummy to miss.
9.) Shrine of Remembrance
This is one of the city’s more sombre sights, bound to inspire you to look back at the sacrifices made by those lost in the First World War.
The shrine was erected in the Kings Domain Gardens shortly after the war ended, and is still the focal point for ceremonies held each year on 25th April for ANZAC Day, and on 11th November for Remembrance Day. Consider viewing the shrine at night, as it’s almost even more impressive when it’s all lit up against the contrasting darkness.
10.) The Dandenong Ranges
One of the best things about Melbourne is that you only have to travel an hour out of the city to get to some real, unspoilt natural beauty – that’s the whole eating-your-cake-and-having-it deal I mentioned earlier.
Take a day away from the rush of city life to enjoy the verdant rainforest and flowing waterfalls of the Dandenong Ranges. Scope out the mountains’ lookouts offering views of the city and its surrounding countryside, and explore the charming surrounding villages to see what Melbourne has to offer beyond the bright city lights.