Best 35 Things To Do In Melbourne
Melbourne is not only the most liveable city in the world, but it is also one of the solo travellers’ friendliest cities in the world. With so many places to visit, you can easily spend a week in the city without getting bored. I’m lucky to have been alone in Melbourne several times while exploring Australia solo, and over the years, I discovered more and more of this great Australian city.
Here are the best things to do alone in Melbourne to recommend to any female solo traveller visiting Australia.
The Best Free Things to do in Melbourne
It’s hard to beat the multitude of things you can see and do in Melbourne, and many are for free. Here are my hand-picked top 10 free things to do in Melbourne alone.
Explore the city on the hop-on-hop-off free trams
The tram network is completely free within the Melbourne CBD and the Docklands. You can hop-on-hop-off without having to purchase a ticket, as long as you travel within these areas. Using the free trams is a fun way of getting familiar with the city and seeing the main attractions, including the Botanical Gardens, the Zoo, The Melbourne Museum, Queen Victoria Market. I really love using the trams, and they are best combined with a self-guided walk.
Don’t miss out on a ride of the 35 Free Tram; this is the tourist route that stops off at the major point of interest in the city ring, and the great thing about it is that it has a recorded guide during the journey. So it’s really informative for the first-timers to Melbourne. The route starts from Federation Square, and it goes in a loop via Flinders Street. You will be able to tour as much as you want, crisscrossing the CBD too. You can get a Melbourne free tram zone map from the visitor centre or click on the link to download it.
Go on a first orientation walk of Melbourne.
If you are travelling alone in Melbourne, this is an excellent way to start your city’s explorations if you visit for the first time. While volunteers offer these orientation walks for free, you need to book yourself at the visitor’s centre in Federation Square here to secure your place. This free walk is on every day, rain or shine, and it is a must-do thing.
Take a free guided walk of Fitzroy Gardens.
The free guided walk of Fitzroy Gardens is one of the most excellent Melbourne walks. They run them every Saturday morning at 10.00, offering an insight into the historic buildings and insight into nature and native wildlife. You can get there from the city with the tram 75 or 48. And start your visit at the Fitzroy visitor centre.
Located at Federation Square, ACMI showcases moving images in various forms through exhibitions, festivals, films, and creative and great educational workshops. Even if the arts isn’t one of your interests, you will be surprised, give it a go: this place is a must-see-thing in Melbourne, offering brilliant ways to engage with the moving image.
Go on Melbourne self-guided walks.
There are seven walks that you can do by yourself. And they are all fun and different. From historical venues, lush green parklands, to spectacular bridges, sculptures, to the waterfront with a promenade walk along Southbank, to arcades and street art lanes in the city heart, here is the full list of self-guided walks.
Relax at Federation Square
This is going to be your starting point for many of the activities and explorations of Melbourne city. It’s a large square just opposite Flinders Street Station, with a free wifi connection, cafes and museums. It used to be Melbourne’s main visitor centre; it has been moved due to the renovations works. This is Melbourne’s main square for live stream events, like the Australian Open and public festivals.
Visit the Melbourne Visitor Centre
Grab the free and informative Melbourne What’s On so that you have an update of all activities and Melbourne events during the time you are there. Note: the Visitor Centre has moved from Federation Square to their new location at 90-130 Swanston Street Corner Little Collins and Swanston Street.
Go to the Arts Centre Melbourne
The Arts Centre Melbourne is a must-do thing for all art lovers. Just a short walk from Federation Square, art exhibitions are running regularly, and the entrance is free.
Relax at the State Library of Victoria
Another vital hub for solo travellers in Melbourne is the State Library. I always love to spend my time there, either visiting a new exhibition, browsing through books or sitting in the reading lounge area or just using the great free wi-fi. This is one relaxing thing to do in Melbourne.
Visit Melbourne’s historic churches.
There are quite a few new churches in Melbourne like St. Pauls’s Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In St. Michael Church (on Collins Street), there is also a free organ recital on Thursdays at 1.00 pm. This is something to do on your self-guided walks of the city.
All Fun Things to Do in Melbourne
Melbourne is famous for its thriving coffee and food scene, and without a doubt, there is no shortage of places to eat and drink in Melbourne CBD. Here are my best tips for exploring Melbourne’s best food.
Melbourne Laneways and Arcades
Melbourne is famous for its Laneways and Arcades Shopping. They are the city’s real heart and soul, and one of the unique things to do is take a stroll through them. This is where the intimate insider life, the pulse, and creativity take place. It’s where you find one-off shops, cosy tiny bars, unique coffee shops and vivid city street art. From over 180 lanes, only a small number of them have been transformed into beautiful city life.
Explore the best Laneways Restaurants in Melbourne
My favourite places are Blender Lane for street art and Hardware Lane for food. Here below a list of the must-see lanes in Melbourne and great places for shopping:
- Flinders Lane is the starting point of all food lanes tour. Located between Swanston and William Streets, it has excellent eateries, shops and cafes.
- Hardware Lane is one of the top places among all food lanes. From Bourke Street to Little Bourke between Queen and Elizabeth Street, it offers some of the finest dining places, with live music, especially Mediterranean food (Italian and Greek). Hardware lane continues from Londsdale Street to Little Londsdale Street. From little Londsalde Street is worth peering sideways into other small streets of Warburton Lane, Ranksin Lane, Niagara Lane. Another good laneway for food is Mc Killop Street (between Bourke and Little Collins Street).
Browse and shop in Melbourne best Arcades
Melbourne’s best arcades are The Block Arcade and the Royal Arcade, but there are a few more.
- The Block Arcade is the finest example of 19th-century architecture with its mosaic-tile flooring and a translucent curved glass ceiling. Here you can queue to enter the Hopetoun Tea, browse through Haigh’s Cholocate, visit Gewürzhaus and fine spices from all over the world.
- From there, walk through to the Royal Arcade, the oldest arcade in Australia offering a collection of boutiques and unique shops. From Russian dolls to candy and chocolate shops, strolling along this heritage arcade is a true feast of the senses.
Explore Melbourne Laneways Graffiti
Melbourne Lanes are also well-known for their graffiti art and stencil works. And the city boasts some of the best street art lanes in Australia.
- Hosier Lane and Rutledge Lane are probably the most iconic street art laneways because of the skilled artists who painted them, and these lanes are the most photographed by tourists and locals alike. While Hosier lane is one of the must-see street art lanes, there are many smaller lanes for great street Graffiti. My favourite lane is just a few minutes walk from Queen Victoria Markets: Blender Lane.
If you like arts, you must take a walk and see all the famous street art in Melbourne.
And here is the Map of the Melbourne Laneways.
Savour the best Melbourne Food Markets
Melbourne’s QV markets are the most popular venue for their yummy food and for its summer Outdoor Cinemas, the best site to experience a film under the stars and a top thing to do in Melbourne at night. The QV Outdoor cinemas start beginning of December and are on every night from Thursday to Sunday.
I also suggest exploring the atmosphere at the South Melbourne Markets, which are lesser-known markets in Melbourne, and I find them unique with a great vibe, ample spaces and many cosy sites where to grab a coffee and a delicious lunch.
Enjoy Food Walking Tours
The best way to explore Melbourne’s top places for food is to join a guided tour. They are either focusing on coffee and sweets or with rooftop bars to ethnical cuisine and historical laneways and street art, quirky Melbourne cafes, and trendy restaurants. You can check out this page for more info about Melbourne-day-tours.
Get lost in China Town.
This is an excellent area, right in the heart of Melbourne city, if you want to eat good and inexpensive Asian Food, freshly prepared. Take a stroll along the many small China Town Lanes to discover local street art, hidden cafes and small shops. There are more lanes for food; try Tattersalls Lane between Russell and Swanston Streets, or Market lane full of exotic and unusual flavours of Dumpling bars, German and Japanese restaurants.
Adventure Activities in Melbourne
If you love to get active, these are the best ways to spend time outdoors and enjoy your time. Here is a list of fun outdoor activities to do in Melbourne throughout the year.
Explore Southbank on Foot
Take in Melbourne by strolling along the Yarra River. This is a fabulous Melbourne city walk that you can start from Federation Square or the Crown and Convention Centre. It’s a beautiful walk and fun thing to do on a sunny summer day that allows you to view the city from the river’s banks while crisscrossing over the bridges. Southbank is very popular with solo joggers, bikers and buskers over weekends. There is a weekend market with arts and crafts stalls. It is also the perfect spot for dining out and another great thing to do in Melbourne at night for free.
Take a Bike Ride to Brighton
Cycling is something the city of Melbourne takes pride in. And one of the most usual outdoor things locals do and a fun thing to do if you are alone in Melbourne. There are many cycling paths all around the town and in its surrounding areas. You can hire a bike everywhere. My favourite bike ride from the city is the one from South Melbourne, through the Port of Melbourne all along the coast, to St. Kilda and further down to Brighton. It’s about a 20km return bike ride, really worth it if you like nature, the beach and fun things to do during the day. There are vantage points and lookouts with a beautiful view of Melbourne along the way.
Explore the St Kilda Market on a Sunday
St. Kilda is one of the best free things to do in Melbourne on a Sunday. You can spend all day in St. Kilda, starting with a jog or a stroll along the beach. You can then visit the street market, which is open till midday, have lunch in one of the street cafes or patisserie and finish your day with a stroll to the St. Kilda’s pier and watch the sun go down over the city. St. Kilda is also a great place to visit for a Saturday night promenade walk and fine dining.
Visit The Royal Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens are not too far away from the city centre. If you love plants, flowers, and greenery, then this is the place for you. With over 10,000 species of plants, this place is a like little oasis right inside Melbourne city. The site has its charm, and everything here is calm and serene, as you find yourself surrounded by majestic trees and tranquil lakes.
Things to do in Melbourne at Night
There are many more things that Melbourne offers, like seeing it from the air perspective. I love viewing cities from the air. It gives a different aspect of urban life, and I like exploring new ways of doing it. Here are my picks for Melbourne, from rooftops to hot air balloon rides.
Visit the best rooftop bars.
There are quite a few rooftops bars in Melbourne offering magnificent views over the city, and many rooftop bars have live music or outdoor cinema. In the CBD, I can recommend the Curtain House Rooftop Bar and Cinema on Swanston Street. Another popular place among all rooftop bars in Melbourne at QT. If you want to enjoy Melbourne’s top building breathtaking view, go to the Sofitel Hotel, up to the top attic floor for a panoramic city view from the hotel toilets.
Take a Ride on The Melbourne Star
If you are visiting the Melbourne Docklands, then going up in the Melbourn Star is a must-do. For 36 dollars, you can go for half an hour ride and take in the sky. You will not see all of Melbourne from there, though. It shows you the south-western side of the city. And it is probably best to do it late afternoon, as you can enjoy a beautiful view of Melbourne at sunset.
Enjoy the sunset in Melbourne from the Eureka Tower.
It is another excellent option to see Melbourne from the air with its beautiful buildings, the botanical gardens and the south-end suburbs. I have been to the Eureka Tower a couple of years ago and loved the view over Melbourne at sunset. You can easily spend hours there, taking photographs of the city. My tip is to get there at least 1 hour before sunset to make the lightest reflections.
Watch a Night Cinema
One of the favourite things to do among the locals is to watch a night cinema in summer. There are many locations where you can do it in the CBD and Melbourne’s suburbs. The most popular one is the Moonlight Cinema at the Melbourne Gardens, a magical place for open-air old and new movies. If you are alone in Melbourne and prefer a place in the city, the QV Cinema at the QV markets is the ideal place for 16 Dollars ticket, a fun night guaranteed in the city’s heart.
If you love a particular place, then the American express open-air cinema in St. Kilda is spot-on. If you are looking to spend a lovely Saturday night in Melbourne with fine dining, relaxing and watching top-notch movies beachfront, this is the place to be, either alone or with a romantic partner.
Enjoy Melbourne in Summer
Summer is the best time to visit Melbourne, and if you plan to visit by yourself, there are many festivals and summer events to choose from over the summer months. Here is a list of things to do in summer.
Take a Hot-Air-Balloon Flight
If you want to experience something unique and adventurous, a hot-air balloon ride is a different way of experiencing the city. On my hot-air balloon trip over Melbourne, we couldn’t get close to the city because of the wind conditions. However, we saw much of the beautiful surroundings and marvelled at Melbourne’s silhouette waking to a new day. It’s one of the best things to do in Melbourne in summer.
Popular Summer Events in Melbourne
Here is a list of the best events not to miss out on if you are visiting Melbourne in the Summer:
A top traditional cultural event celebrated all over Australia and in the world too. From the official flag-raising ceremony to the parade, this event sees thousands of people coming together, proudly waving the Australian flag and celebrating one nationality. With the most vibrant culture and most diverse community globally, the Australia Parade brings around 60 ethnic groups. Check out how Australia Day is celebrated around the world.
The Midsumma Festival
This is a vibrant, fun event in Melbourne organised by the LGBTI community. It starts on 16th January with the Carnival held at Alexandra Gardens, hosting over 120 stalls. Dances, performances, and visual arts will entertain people for three weeks on the streets of Melbourne. The milestone of the Midsumma is the Pride March. On 31st January, various groups walk from Fitzroy Sreet down to St. Kilda while singing, dancing and cheering their slogan in colourful bizarre costumes.
The Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
If you visit Melbourne in December, this event opens up to a month of cheerful Melbourne CBD events. Next to the Christmas Tree, 11 city buildings, including the State Library, Melbourne Goal and Southgate, will be lit in the best Christmas Lights. On the Town Hall Building, there will be majestic light projections with entertaining stories.
Enjoy Night Events in Summer
Besides the various Outdoor Cinemas and Rooftop Bars, there are quite a few more events in summer worth checking out. Here are two top-notch events:
The New Years’ Eve fireworks
The New Years’ Eve Fireworks are the pearl of all festive Melbourne events. If you plan to visit Melbourne at the end of the year, make sure you don’t miss out on this. There are usually various locations in Melbourne where to watch them, on Southbank.
The White Night Melbourne
It is probably Australia’s and Victoria’s most celebrated cultural event. Inspired by the international Nuit Blanche, it’s an all-night free cultural event. From visual art, music, and films to various innovative performances from local and international artists, showcasing their work in parklands, laneways, museums and cultural halls of Melbourne.
Must-see Sports Events in Melbourne
Melbourne is a paradise for sports and sports events. From basketball to rugby, cricket, Australia League, tennis and many more, here are a couple of events worth seeing if you visit Victoria and Melbourne in summer.
The Australian Open in January
This is the most important summer sports event. For those passionate about tennis, this is an event not to miss out on. I was lucky to be in Melbourne during The Australian Open in 2019 and loved it.
The F1 Grand Prix
At the end of the summer, in March, it is another great sport event in Melbourne held close to the city centre and saw visitors from all over the world.
Visit the Best Melbourne Museums
Museums are always one of the best places to visit to learn more about a particular city’s culture and history. Melbourne has plenty of museums dedicated to culture, sports, music and medical achievements. I have visited many on my solo trips and listed down a few below, and you can try visiting one or a few of these depending on what interests you most.
My favourite Museum is the National Gallery of Victoria, also known as NGV. This is the oldest and most visited museum in Australia. Even on a short visit or a weekend getaway, you must enter to admire the amazing stained glass ceiling, finished in 1968, and it’s the largest stained glass ceiling in the world.
1. Melbourne Museum
This is the largest museum in the Southern hemisphere and surely lives up to its expectations. The museum is a natural and cultural history museum and is quite a touristy place in Melbourne. Here you can discover the origin of life in Victoria over 600 million years, look at some prehistoric creatures, and also explore the seas in the Science and Life Gallery,
2. Immigration Museum
As the name suggests, it is a museum primarily displaying Australia’s immigration history and thus explores Victoria and Australia’s multicultural identity. Along with documenting immigration history, the museum also hosts various travelling exhibitions.
3. National Sports Museum
If you follow cricket or watch cricket matches, you must have heard of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Within the walls of this iconic cricket stadium, you can find the National Sports Museum, which celebrates Australian Sport and also the history of MCG. The iconic place features the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame and the Australian Football Hall of Fame. If you are lucky enough, you might even get to watch a game of cricket live.
Some more museums you can tour are the Hellenic Museum, Grainger Museum, Medical History Museum and the Chinese Museum.
What to do around Melbourne
You don’t need to drive long distances; there are many places to see around Melbourne in its beautiful countryside. Melbourne is hard to beat for the variety of attractions that you can see and things you can do within a short and nice drive from the city.
Only one hour drive from Melbourne CBD, you can taste wines, and beer and drive through picturesque hills. With over 50 wineries in the Yarra Valley region and the most known offer on-site restaurants with wine-and-food tastings and speciality food events throughout the year. It is a little paradise for food lovers.
Close nearby, you can also visit Healesville, the largest wildlife sanctuary in Southern Australia that I highly recommend visiting all native Australian animals.
Here is my selection with all day-trips you can do alone from Melbourne city.
These are all the best things to do in Melbourne when you travel alone and are by yourself. There are undoubtedly many more that you will discover on your visit. I suggest planning 3 to 5 days on your first visit. Here below is a list of travel resources, I use to plan all my solo trips to Australia.
How to get to Melbourne from the Airport
If you fly into Melbourne Tullamarine airport, from any other city in Australia, the best and cheapest way to get into the city is to take the Skybus from terminals 3 or 4, the domestic terminals. Sometimes you may also land in terminal 2 or 1, depending on which airline you fly. The Skybus ticket fare is 19.75 dollars one way or 36.50 for a return ticket.
You can purchase the digital machine ticket and pay with a credit card, outside the arrivals, at the shuttle bus stop. It takes you to Southern Cross station in the CBD, and from there, you can get a metro train ticket to get to your final destination. If you are travelling to Melbourne’s surroundings, more Skybus services ride to Southbank, St. Kilda, Docklands and more places. You find all information on their website here.
How to get around Melbourne
If you plan to stay a couple of days in Melbourne, you are better off purchasing a 2-hour ticket for 4.50 dollars. But if you plan to stay longer, a good thing to do is get a Myki card if you plan to use public transport to get around in and around Melbourne. Check all fares here.
You can also read more about the MyKi Card in my review of all the transport cards n Australia.
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More Related Articles for Visiting Melbourne:
The Best Places to Travel Alone in Australia
All Destinations and Places to Visit in Austalia
The Rocky Travel Solo Guide to Australia
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November 14, 2015 @ 6:58 pm
I heard lots of positives about Melbourne, but didn’t expect to see penguins there! 😀
November 22, 2015 @ 11:15 am
You can see little penguins in Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary, but you should go to Phillip Island (140km from Melbourne) where the largest penguin colony of Australia (over 30thousands) live! 🙂
November 14, 2015 @ 9:04 pm
Melbourne looks like a great place to visit! What a wide range of things to try,
December 2, 2015 @ 12:11 pm
Yes, Fiona. I’d dare say: Melbourne is no. 1 Australian City for an overall great travel experience! 🙂
November 14, 2015 @ 9:08 pm
It is good to know that there are free walking tours as well as food tours in Melbourne. It really adds a lot to a city and I hope they start doing them here in Sardinia too!
November 15, 2015 @ 2:59 pm
It’s hard to beat Melbourne on the “free-things-to-do”. I believe every city should offer some sort of free-guided-tours…. Those in Melbourne are run by volunteers and are great to make you fall in love with the city and dive into the Melbourne’s vibe. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
November 15, 2015 @ 2:12 am
We’ve been considering a move to Australia in about 8 months, and Melbourne is at the top of the list. I’m always excited to read about all the fun things to do there and how friendly the people are. That’s encouraging!
November 15, 2015 @ 3:02 pm
Wow Laura, what a news! Moving to Australia, where from? Australina people are very friendly and Melbourne is in my opinion the friendliest among the Australian cities for welcoming travellers! 🙂
November 15, 2015 @ 11:56 pm
4 weeks in Melbourne? You lucky thing!! 😀 I must say of all the things you’ve listed the air balloon ride would be something really special I would love to do. It’s on my bucket list and I couldn’t think of a lovelier place than Melbourne to experience it for the first time 🙂
November 16, 2015 @ 10:16 am
Hi Mel, I really enjoyed the hot air balloon ride. It was the first for me ever. You may be lucky enough to float over Melbourne CBD… you never know what the wind will be like! Enjoy Oz! 🙂
November 16, 2015 @ 1:15 am
A great list. I haven’t been but looks very helpful. Especially appreciate the list of free tours. I always enjoy those.
November 16, 2015 @ 10:18 am
Yes Melbourne offers lots of free things worth checking out. Thanks for stopping by Megan! 🙂
November 16, 2015 @ 3:32 am
Melbourne looks amazing. I’ve never been to Melbourne, but I’ve been jonesing to get back to Australia and I may have to check it out. I love that public transportation is free!
November 16, 2015 @ 10:20 am
The free trams in Melbourne CBD is new! It’s the highlight that makes Melbourne stand out from all Australian cities! Hope you make it back to Australia soon! 😉
RaW | Ramble and Wander
November 16, 2015 @ 8:53 am
I went to Melbourne almost 2 years ago and totally loved it! Well, apart from the expenses 🙂 Took the free walking tour, explored the street art scenes and even went on a day trip to Yarra Valley and some place else I don’t remember off hand now. It’s great to know that now the tram rides are all free! Anything to reduce the cost of travelling there is most certainly welcome! 🙂
November 16, 2015 @ 10:23 am
To me, Melbourne is the travellers’ friendliest city in Australia, and the “free tram rides” in the CBD is the cherry on the cake, one of the many free things that you can enjoy when visiting Melbourne! 🙂
November 16, 2015 @ 10:48 am
Great list! Definitely going to have to try the hot air ballon one!
November 16, 2015 @ 11:44 am
Great post! I’ve never been to Melbourne – my family live in Adelaide so we always go that direction. But I really want to do the neighbours studio tour!
November 16, 2015 @ 12:40 pm
Glad you enjoyed the post, Sophie! 🙂
May 28, 2017 @ 10:53 am
I’m a Melbournite who has lived in London for 13 years and each time I go back to see family I discover something fabulous. A few year back we did a great boat trip over to Williamstown, ate amazing fish and chips, lazed in the sunshine and ate scrumptious ice-cream. Very pleasant indeed! Also the Melbourne Arts Centre has some excellent free exhibits – last Christmas, it was an homage to Melbourne girl Kylie Minogue!
June 16, 2017 @ 1:43 am
Michela thank you for sharing! What a lovely article and the photos are amazing too! I love how you put together these information on Top 20 things to do in Melbourne for the solo traveller. Easy to read, very relatable and great tips! Can’t wait to read more!
November 3, 2020 @ 5:12 am
Melbourne looks stunning. I’ve never been to Melbourne however now I am truly eager to go there. what’s more, it’s incredible that public transportation is free!