Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria. It is also a major business and culture centre in Australia. As one of the most liveable cities in the world, Melbourne offers one of the best food, culture, art, and scenic experiences in Australia.
Melbourne offers a great selection of attractions to visit. If you are only visiting Melbourne CBD, it may take as little as only 1-day to visit its essential CBD attractions. However, for the best Melbourne experience, you will need at least 4-day to explore its CBD and surrounding suburbs.
In this article, I have put together a detailed 4-day itinerary for visiting Melbourne for the first time. Information on how to get around Melbourne & the best place to stay in Melbourne is also provided for your convenience.
How to Get Around Melbourne
Melbourne has a great public transport system, with trains, trams, and buses. This expansive public transport system can take you to most of Melbourne’s attractions in a decent time frame. If you are only exploring Melbourne CBD, you can also take advantage of Melbourne CBD’s free tram zone, which is very convenient and can save you lots of unnecessary walks.
You can also drive around Melbourne in a private vehicle. However, from my experience, it can be difficult to drive around Melbourne when you are not familiar with the roads. This is especially true during peak hours.
In addition, there are toll roads around Melbourne. The costs of these toll roads can add up quickly, and I have once scored myself over AUD 30 toll in one day (accidentally) during a visit to Melbourne.
Parkings are also very costly in Melbourne. Finding a free carpark around Melbourne CBD and popular Melbourne attractions can be near impossible.
Therefore, public transport services are the most convenient and cost-effective way to get around Melbourne, especially in Melbourne CBD and the inner suburbs. If you do not wish to use public transport, ride-share services, such as Uber and Didi, may be a better option.
Where to Stay in Melbourne
There is a huge selection of accommodations in Melbourne, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious 5-star hotels.
For convenience, it is best to stay in Melbourne CBD, so you can have its major attractions and eateries within easy walking distance. Melbourne CBD is also the central hub for many public transport routes.
Southbank is another great location to base yourself in Melbourne. Southbank provides a stunning riverfront view and is only one bridge away from Melbourne CBD. It is also an art district and provides a buzzing nightlife.
For budget-friendly options, you can never go wrong with a YHA hostel. Melbourne Central YHA is located within Melbourne CBD & only a short distance from Flinders Station and Southern Cross Station. Alternatively, you may wish to also check out Flinders Backpackers for its superb location and budget-friendly accommodations.
For serviced apartments or Aparthotels, I highly suggest Punthill Apartment Hotel-Flinders Lane. It is centrally located and with all amenities for a smooth stay.
If you are after a 5-star hotel, there are quite a few choices around Melbourne. You may wish to check out either Next Hotel Melbourne or QT Melbourne for a great value 5-star hotel stay on your upcoming Melbourne trip.
Day 1: Melbourne CBD
For the first day of this 4-Day Melbourne visit, we are going to explore Melbourne CBD, get acquainted with many famous Melbourne landmarks, taste the amazing food Melbourne has to offer, and experience Melbourne’s laneway culture.
Here is a list of must-visit attractions in Melbourne CBD. Depending on where you are staying in Melbourne, you may wish to visit these attractions in a different order.
You can take a tram to commute between these attractions, but I suggest walking between these attractions where possible to better experience this vibrant city. Regardless of your mode of transport, there will be a lot of walks involved, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Station (aka Flinders Station) is located at the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street. It is the oldest and the busiest train station in Victoria. In addition to being a busy transporting hub, Flinders Street Station is also an important Melbourne landmark, owing to its distinctive appearance.
Flinders Station was rebuilt in 1905 into its current shape. This yellow and maroon-coloured building complex stretches over 2 blocks along the Yarra River. It also stands out among nearby buildings with its green-coloured domes, pointy clock tower, and perfectly aligned departure clocks above its front gate.
St Paul’s Cathedral (Melbourne)
Diagonally across the intersection from Flinders Station, you can then find the glorious St Paul’s Cathedral.
St Paul’s Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral, built in 1891. Sitting on the eastern corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street intersection & in the city end of Princes Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral captures the attention of many passersby with its grand Gothic Revival design.
Make sure you also check out the impressive interior of St Paul’s Cathedral. The interior of St Paul’s Cathedral is simply awe-inspiring, with its contrasted bluestone stripes.
During my recent visit to St Paul’s Cathedral, Luke Jerram’s Gaia was also on display within the cathedral, which made this place look even more majestic. Gaia is a 7-metre wide, internally lit sphere that represents the planet & rotates every 4 minutes.
Flinders Lane is located between Flinders Street and Collins Street. With many smaller laneways branching out, Flinders Lane is home to many of Melbourne’s best diners and street arts.
A walk along Flinders Lane, you can find a range of sophisticated restaurants, quirky cafes, and colourful mural arts. If you are looking for somewhere to eat, Degraves Street is usually a good starting point. For art lovers, Hosier Lane and AC/DC lane are great spots for some colourful mural arts.
For the fashionistas, you can also find a good selection of boutique stores and high-end labels along Flinders Lane. With that being said, you may wish to check out the neighbouring Collins Street as well.
Speaking about shopping, make sure you also check out Melbourne Central Shopping Centre.
Melbourne Central Shopping Centre is built on top of Melbourne Central Railway Station and can appear just like any other shopping centre if you don’t know what you are looking for. However, make sure you take a walk inside to view the iconic Coop’s Shot Tower
Coop’s Shot Tower was initially built in 1889 as a shot tower to make lead bullets. It is currently serving as a Shot Tower Museum to showcase its history.
To preserve this iconic shot tower during the development of Melbourne Central, a 20-storey high glass dome was built to house Coop’s Shot Tower within the shopping centre. Because of how unique and photogenic Coop’s Shot Tower and its dome look, the view of Coop’s Shot Tower has become one of the most Instagrammed landmarks in Melbourne.
Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market is the largest open-air market in Australia. First opened in 1878, Queen Victoria Market has largely maintained its original shape over 140 years later & is showcasing a vibrant marketplace from the Victorian era.
In addition to admiring this 19th-century marketplace, you can also find a vast selection of fresh produce and speciality stores in Queen Victoria Market. With a diverse variety of bakeries and diners available, Queen Victoria Market is also the perfect spot to sample some lunch.
State Library of Victoria
Established in 1854, the State Library of Victoria is the oldest public library in Australia. The grand building of the State Library of Victoria houses a vast collection of reading materials and is one of Australia’s busiest libraries.
In addition to admiring this Victorian-style building from the outside, make sure you also check out its glamorous interior, especially the La Trobe Reading Room.
La Trobe Reading Room was first opened in 1913. It is an octagonal reading room & 34.75-metre in diameter and height. This grand reading room is complete with a glass dome, which makes this structure even more impressive. Make sure you check it out!
St Patrick Cathedral
As the largest cathedral in Australia, the grand building complex of St Patrick Cathedral can be seen from a few blocks away, even from the buzzing Melbourne CBD.
Built with distinctive bluestones and surrounded by a stunning garden, St Patrick Cathedral is worth a visit on any given day. Although access to its interior is not always available, you can still get a good view of its glorious interior from its front door.
Parliament House and the Old Treasury Building are also nearby & you may wish to pay a visit to these landmarks as well.
Fitzroy Gardens is a peaceful public garden along the eastern fringe of Melbourne CBD. This 64-acre of classic Victorian-era garden is a great place for a relaxing stroll and some fresh air near Melbourne CBD.
Within Fitzroy Gardens, you can find lush tree-lined avenues, beautiful fountains and sculptures, a flower-filled conservatory, a magical fairy tree, a picturesque Model Tudor Village, and the famous Cooks Cottage. It is a beautiful attraction for all ages to enjoy.
Day 2: Southbank
After exploring Melbourne CBD on day 1, we are going across the Princes Bridge to explore the other side of Yarra River, Southbank.
Princes Bridge is a historic bridge built in 1888. It spans across the peaceful Yarra River & connects the busy Swanston Street from central Melbourne and St Kilda Road on Southbank.
From Princes Bridge, you can obtain one of the best views of Melbourne CBD, Southbank, and the Yarra River. This view is even more spectacular at nighttime when the skyline is lit up with various city lights.
Melbourne was built on the fertile agricultural land along the Yarra River in the 1800s. Although Yarra River is no longer the lifeline of Melbourne, it still serves a significant role in the everyday lives of Melbournians.
Make sure you take a walk along the peaceful Yarra River to experience the vibrant atmosphere along the river bank. Better still, why not check out one of the riverfront diners for a brunch or dinner along the beautiful Yarra River, as true Melbournians will.
The area along Yarra River is also one of the major hubs for vibrant nightlife in Melbourne, which you may also wish to partake in at some point during your visit to Melbourne.
Crown Melbourne is the largest casino in Australia and the southern hemisphere. Spans over two blocks along Yarra River in Southbank, Crown Melbourne is also the largest and most noticeable building complex in Southbank.
Although famous for its gaming areas, Crown Melbourne is also a hub for restaurants, entertainment, luxury shopping, and luxury resorts. Make sure you pop into this grand building complex and have a wander if time allows.
Eureka Tower is the third tallest skyscraper in Australia and offers the highest public observation deck in the southern hemisphere. Sitting on the southern bank of Yarra River, this 285-metre high observation deck (Melbourne Skydeck) offers the best 360-degree view of the entire Melbourne area.
At Melbourne Skydeck, you can also step into the Edge, a transparent glass cube that extends out of Eureka Tower at almost 300-metre above the ground, to explore the views of Melbourne from midair. It can be an exhilarating experience, which you may wish to check out as well.
Cost: As of July 2022, a general admission ticket to Melbourne Skydeck is AUD 28 per adult; an additional ticket for the Edge is AUD 14 per adult.
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
Founded in 1863, the National Gallery of Victoria (commonly referred to as the NGV) is the oldest and most-visited art gallery in Australia. Its huge collection of Australian and international arts is currently housed at two different sites: the NGV building on St Kilda Road in Southbank (NGV International) and the Ian Potter Centre near Federation Square (NGV Australia).
The NGV building on St Kilda Road houses a vast collection of international arts from Asia, Oceania, Europe, and America. There is also a large collection of contemporary arts within NGV International, which make this place well suited for every taste.
A range of popular temporary exhibitions can also be found across the two different NGV sites, which makes NGV a fabulous place to visit over and over again.
Cost: Entry to the National Gallery of Victoria is free, but certain popular exhibits may require a ticket to enter. You can find these temporally exhibits and their costs here on the NGV website.
Shrine of Remembrance
The Shrine of Remembrance is a memorial for honouring the service and sacrifice of Australians who served in war and peacekeeping.
Completed in 1934, the Shrine of Remembrance is one of Australia’s largest war memorials. It is also a site for the annual ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day services.
This enormous memorial can be accessed from the visitor centre (located on the botanic gardens’ side). Within the Shrine of Remembrance, you can find a 40-metre-long Wall of Medals and a massive display of artefacts from WW1 to the present.
If you follow the gallery to the central crypt, you can also find access to the balcony at the Shrine of Remembrance. From the balcony, you can obtain a spectacular panoramic view of Southbank, Melbourne CBD, and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria – Melbourne Gardens
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria was first founded in 1846 & has been an essential part of Melbourne’s cityscape.
In addition to its original site near Melbourne CBD, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria also established a second site in Cranbourne in 1970. For this 4-day Melbourne trip, we will only be visiting its Melbourne Gardens for convenience.
The Melbourne Gardens is established on 94 acres of gentle slope along the southern bank of Yarra River. Besides the beautiful riverfront view, you can also enjoy some tranquil lake views in Melbourne Gardens. In addition, within Melbourne Gardens, you can also find over 8000 species of plants from all around the world & indulge in a lavish high-tea across the lake.
For people with limited mobility or who do not wish to walk the entire length around this huge garden, an open-air minibus (the Explorer) is available at Melbourne Gardens for a small fee. The Explorer bus is accessible from the visitor centre, which is only a short walk from the front entrance.
Cost: Access to both Melbourne Gardens and Cranbourne Gardens are free. If you wish to take an Explorer bus around Melbourne Gardens, it will cost AUD 10 per adult (July 2022). Up-to-date pricing can be found here on their website.
Day 3: Explore Melbourne’s Vibrant Suburbs
The beauty of Melbourne resides in not only its buzzing CBD but also its vibrant suburbs. So, on the third day of this Melbourne trip, we are going to explore a few of the most popular suburbs around.
Royal Exhibition Building & Melbourne Museum
Established in 1880, the Royal Exhibition Building is one of the last few remaining exhibition buildings from the International Exhibition movement. Nowadays, in addition to being used as an exhibition centre, the Royal Exhibition Building is also used for a variety of other events throughout the year.
Make sure you take a walk through the beautiful Carlton Gardens to visit the glamorous Royal Exhibition Building via its gate on Victoria Street. From this angle, you will have the best view of the picturesque Carlton Gardens and the palace-like Royal Exhibition Building.
If you happened to be visiting on a day when the Royal Exhibition Building is open to the public, make sure you also check out the inside of this building to admire its stunning dome and artworks.
Just behind the Royal Exhibition Building, you can find the award-winning Melbourne Museum. For the curious minds, you may also wish to check out the vast culture, history, and science exhibits within this modern museum.
After visiting the Royal Exhibition Building and Melbourne Museum, make sure you take a short walk to visit Melbourne’s oldest suburb, Fitzroy.
Established in 1839, Fitzroy has become Melbourne’s most populated suburb & a vibrant cultural and culinary hub. A walk around Brunswick Street and Johnston Street in Fitzroy will find you several popular pubs and cafes, serving a great variety of foods and beverages.
As Melbourne’s oldest suburb, Fitzroy is also in no short supply of Victorian-era architecture and is home to an extensive collection of terraced buildings.
As a vibrant suburb, Fitzroy is also home to a number of art establishments and live-performance venues. You can also find a range of colourful mural arts around many street corners in Fitzroy.
Collingwood & Keith Haring Mural
Collingwood is another vibrant inner Melbourne suburb located right next to Fitzroy.
Similar to Fitzroy, Collingwood is also filled with beautiful Victorian-era buildings, quirky cafes, and art precincts. For art lovers, make sure you also check out the newly established Collingwood Yards.
Collingwood Yards is located on the buzzing Johnston Street in Collingwood. It was first opened in March 2021 as an art precinct for artists, studios, and art galleries. It is a great spot for artists to get connected and be inspired. There are also a few shops, a cafe, and a rooftop bar on-site to suit everyone’s needs.
On the side of the Collingwood Yards building complex (along Johnston Street), you can find one of the most famous mural arts in Melbourne, the Keith Haring Mural. It was completed by the internationally-renowned Keith Haring in 1984 & one not to be missed if you are interested in mural arts.
Located in South Yarra, Prahran Market is a historic fresh produce market with a modern twist.
Built in 1881, the exterior of Prahran Market is screaming a Victorian-era charm & looks nothing like a fresh produce market with its arched entrances.
Once stepped inside Prahran Market, you can find not just your regular fresh produce but also a great selection of hard-to-find produce and speciality stores. With many gourmet bakeries and cafes, Prahran Market is certainly a foodie’s paradise.
After checking out Prahran Market, you may wish to also check out another vibrant Melbourne suburb, Prahran.
In addition to the boutique stores and quirky cafes along Chapel Street, make sure you also take a walk around Prahran to check out its Victorian and Edwardian terrace buildings. Famous landmarks you may wish to look out for in Prahran also include Reads Emporium and Prahran City Hall.
Chadstone Shopping Centre
Chadstone Shopping Centre is located in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs, only 25-minute away by car or 35-minute away by public transport from Melbourne CBD. It is Australia’s largest all-inclusive, suburban shopping complex & known as The Fashion Capital.
Within Chadstone Shopping Centre, you can find over 550 retail stores, over 30 luxury brands, and a great selection of dining options. For those not interested in shopping, you can also find entertainment at Chadstone’s Legoland and Hoyts. A luxurious 5-start hotel stay is available at Chadstone as well.
Day 4: Beach Day
On the last day of this Melbourne trip, we are going to relax at a few of Melbourne’s well-known beachfront locations.
Brighton Beach is a 30-minute drive or a 25-minute train ride from Melbourne CBD. It is one of Melbourne’s most popular beaches & well-known for its Brighton Bathing Boxes.
Brighton Bathing Boxes are a group of 96 colourful wooden beach huts, well-aligned along Brighton Beach’s foreshore area. They were initially built in the 1800s by local residents as changing rooms when wandering the streets in bathers or changing on the beach was illegal.
Nowadays, ownership of Brighton Bathing Boxes is still in the hands of the local residents, but these colourful beach boxes have become more of a local landmark than a change room. Each year, thousands of visitors come to Brighton Beach not just to bathe on its sandy beach but also to admire the picturesque Brighton Bathing Boxes.
Access to Brighton Beach is free. You are allowed to stroll freely along the beachfront and take photos of Brighton Bathing Boxes. However, ownership of the bathing boxes is for local residents only, and the bathing boxes are not allowed to be rented out either.
Paid car parks are available at Brighton Beach. You can also find free off-street parking in nearby side streets. However, these free off-street parking spots are mostly 1-hour parking only.
Point Ormond Lookout
Point Ormond Lookout is located on top of a small grassy hill near Elwood Beach, between Brighton Beach and St Kilda Beach. There is also a well-maintained walking trail (Bay Trail) cutting through Point Ormond Lookout, along the beautiful Port Phillip Bay.
From Point Ormond Lookout, you can obtain a spectacular view of Melbourne CBD and the stunning Port Philip Bay. It is a great place for a casual stroll and a picnic.
There are plenty of paid carparks near Point Ormond Lookout, but free carparks are few and far between. Hence, you may wish to visit Brighton Beach by public transport, then follow the scenic Bay Trail to visit Point Ormond Lookout and St Kilda Beach. Alternatively, ride-share services are also widely available in this area.
St Kilda Beach
St Kilda Beach is just over 20-minute away from Melbourne CBD by car or tram. It is Melbourne’s most popular beach & a great spot for swimming, water activities, and socialising.
St Kilda Beach is also home to the famous St Kilda Pier, which is a concrete pier & stretches all the way to the iconic St Kilda Pavilion. St Kilda Pier is a popular spot for fishing and leisure walks. Towards the end of St Kilda Pier, you will then find the St Kilda Breakwater.
St Kilda Breakwater is important in providing calm, swimmable water at St Kilda Beach. It is also well-known for being a fairy penguin colony. A designated viewing platform is available near the end of St Kilda Pier for visitors to view those cute fairy penguins return back to their rookeries between the rocks of St Kilda Breakwater after sunset.
Luna Park Melbourne is the oldest amusement park in Australia and has been operating for well over 100 years. Luna Park is famous for its iconic Mr Moon entrance and its exhilarating roller coaster rides. Being conveniently located near St Kilda Beach, it is also a great place to spend a fabulous afternoon for all ages.
Cost: Entry ticket to Luna Park is priced according to your age and the number of rides you are planning to partake in. For more detailed information, you may wish to check out their website here.
Princes Pier is a historic pier located in Port Melbourne. In my opinion, Princes Pier is one of the most picturesque sunset locations near Melbourne. With only a brief car/tram ride from Melbourne CBD, a visit to Princes Pier is highly recommended.
At Princes Pier, you will find a stunning sight of exposed pylons towards the end of this refurbished pier. These pylons are from the original Princes Pier, constructed between 1912 and 1915. These perfectly aligned pylons stretch deep into the bay & form one of the most Instagrammed sights in Port Melbourne.
Paid car parking spots are available around Princes Pier. You can also find a few free off-street parking spots around.