Victoria’s capital, Melbourne, sits on the banks of the Yarra River and around the shores of Port Phillip Bay. Melbourne boasts a packed program of festivals and events, Australia’s best and most stylish shopping, has a lively passion for eating and drinking, and supports a flourishing arts scene.
Melbourne is a blend of bustling laneways, world-class restaurants and captivating museums. The locals love their coffee, and serve it up in abundance at cosy cafes. There’s always a sense of excitement here – whether its in the city’s fascinating flavours or fierce sporting rivalries. Attend a sports event, drink a cocktail on a rooftop and uncover the stories hidden within Melbourne’s art-filled alleyways.
Need somewhere to start? Check out the best itineraries for Melbourne below!
Take in the picturesque 'Paris End' of Collins Street in Melbourne's CBD. It's easy to find romance in the scattered light through bare branched trees and the twinkle of high-end fashion stores.
Wet streets glisten, and cosy cafes beckon as Melbourne's iconic trams trundle by. Head down to the St. Collins Lane collection of boutiques and the historic Block Arcade.
Follow your nose to emerge on Collins Street, and admire sparkly things at Tiffany & Co. Enjoy modern Italian for lunch at award-winning Tipo 00, then pick sweets for your sweet at La Belle Miette, purveyor of divine macrons.
Collect your ticket for a matinee show in Melbourne's East End. Try a 2.00pm session for musical lovers and book ahead for the best seats.
Movie lover? Make an afternoon date with Kino Cinemas. Collect your prosecco, popcorn and tickets under the Sofitel.
Later, select an elegant Melbourne bar and critique the show. Cosy up over a glass of red at Kirk's Wine Bar, or ease into your evening upstairs at French Saloon bistro, gazing out over the terrace, as city lights flicker to life.
Treat your taste buds at one of Melbourne's finest restaurants. Book a date with romance at Cutler & Co., Il Solito Posto, Lesa or French Saloon bistro. Try exquisite modern Japanese restaurant Kisume, or opt for classic fine Italian fare at Grossi Florentino.
Up late? Head to Siglo upstairs, pint sized Bomba's rooftop, basement wine bar Juliet, laneway cocktail den Arlechin, or the much lauded Embla – for a nightcap with a generous measure of romance.
Early riser? Full of beans? Chase down a neon pink sunrise on a Yarra Sunrise Running Tour, while the rest of the city sleeps. Warm down over coffee at a top café.
Ready to impress? Roll out of bed and into a classic car, courtesy of d'Luxe Classic Car Tours. Let your driver show you the city's architectural icons, romantic parks and gardens, bayside boulevards and the best neighbourhood pockets. Stop off for coffee and fresh-baked croissants along the way.
Slept in? Linger over Sunday brunch at Higher Ground or Richmond-based sibling Top Paddock, then explore more of Melbourne's neighbourhoods.
From the CBD, catch a tram a short hop north to bohemian Fitzroy. Pick out a Melbourne-made keepsake at Rose St. Artists Market, then refuel with superior caffeine at Industry Beans.
Trace the grid: down Brunswick, along Gertrude and up Smith street. Take in colourful street art, galleries, boutiques and hip cafes. Stop off at Marion or Archie's All Day, and lock eyes over a perfect drop and tasty snacks.
Stay in the hood for fancy dinner at Saint Crispin, or stroll over to leafy Carlton as the sun dips and the light turns golden.
For a relaxed, bustling vibe, share authentically rustic pizza at Carlton's Kapric. Or pop into Neighbourhood Wine in Fitzroy North, for the kind of cosy, casual atmosphere that makes conversation flow easily.
Find dessert on Lygon Street and split your affections between gelateria Pidapipo and the cheese board at Milk the Cow. Top it off with a drink at the intimate Heart Attack & Vine.
Got more time to spend in romantic Melbourne? Rediscover the Summer of Love every day at Revolutions: Records and Rebels, or Thursdays after dark with some of Australia's best rockers – at Talking About A Revolution.
Detour to South Melbourne for markets, cafes and boulangeries.
Brunch at The Crux & Co, then head to South Melbourne Market – alive with colourful locals, up to their elbows in an abundance of fresh produce.
Nearby The Kettle Black does a beaut breakfast with carefully crafted coffee. And Chez Dré bakes fresh bread and pastries to make you swoon.
As the sun goes down, head to the bayside suburb of Port Melbourne.
Pop into Clooney Kitchen and Bar for a great wine selection and a bite to eat from the mod-Oz-Asian menu. Or maybe a romantic booth seat and flickering fireplace sounds inviting? Book your spot at Ciao Cielo for rustic Italian dishes, served in fine surrounds.
On Wednesdays until August, Queen Victoria Market becomes the Winter Night Market after dark. Layer up and head on over for global street food, mulled wine and free live music.
Two days in Melbourne gives you the chance to scratch the surface and get to know the city.
Catch Melbourne from a height in a hot air balloon ride at dawn, and rev up to explore with a gourmet breakfast. Spend the morning with Melbourne Sports Tours, visiting the sports capital’s revered Flemington Racecourse and the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Foodies may prefer to chase the aroma of fresh coffee and gastronomic goodness in the city’s laneway cafes and restaurants. Feast on Thai treats at Chin Chin or elegant, seasonal dishes in loft-inspired Cumulus Inc. Admire Melbourne’s famed street art and duck into small, independent galleries and workshops in the afternoon.
Watch night fall with a riverside cocktail at Arbory. Cross the river for dinner at Fatto, an ideal spot to admire the city lights, and round it out with a leisurely stroll along Southbank. Return to the city’s laneways to raise a glass in a stylish bar or two.
Join a bicycle tour or hire some wheels and freestyle to the inner-city neighbourhoods of Fitzroy, Collingwood and Carlton. Cruise hip streets and multicultural neighbourhoods, and taste your way through celebrated Queen Victoria Market.
Jump on a tram to cosmopolitan beachside playground St Kilda. Join locals for a little exercise along the palm-lined foreshore or set sail on Port Phillip Bay. Roam Fitzroy Street’s eating and drinking spots, and salivate at the window displays of Acland Street's cake shops.
Relax with an afternoon drink at seaside Captain Baxter. Shuffle along the foreshore at sunset to Pontoon for a casual meal, or head upstairs to the Stokehouse for swanky seafood dining. Further along the Esplanade, Donovans is the place for fine dining with views to match.
Extend your night into the early hours of morning at the lively Prince of Wales Hotel, people-watching in the public bar or dancing to big-name punk, indie, rock and electronic acts in the upstairs bandroom. Trump it all at the revamped, legendary Esplanade Hotel – you can satisfy all your entertainment needs at The Espy’s three band stages, 12 bars and two restaurants.
Take the littlest family members to soak up the sights and sounds of Chinatown. Impress their little fingers with dolphin-shaped dumplings and touchscreen ordering at Chinese eatery China Red.
Start out on Southbank where the kids can run around while you stroll with your hard-earned coffee. Take them down to marvel at the aquatic wonders at the aquarium, keep with the marine theme and make like pirates at Polly Woodside, or give them a bird's-eye view of the city from Eureka SkyDeck.
Feeling the competitive spirit? Squeeze in a late-morning tee-off at Holey Moley mini golf, the craziest round of golf you'll ever play.
Pack a picnic and explore the Botanic Gardens. In summer, catch a show in the gardens – outdoor theatre, staged for kids big and small. If outdoors isn't an option, check out the kids' events program at the Arts Centre, National Gallery of Victoria and State Library of Victoria or book in for a matinee session of one of the big shows in town.
For interactive play, see what's on at ArtPlay at Birrarung Marr, a great kids' space running workshops and activities in music, art, theatre – any kind of play – for babies and children.
If the little ones (and you) are still going, consider a visit to Melbourne Central where the family can choose from a range of eateries and flop in front of a movie.
Throw all the animals in together and take the family to one of Melbourne's zoos. Let the kids run free at the Growing Wild exhibit at Melbourne Zoo or head out to Werribee Open Range Zoo for a safari adventure.
Spook the kids with ghost stories or have them arrested by the charge sergeant at the Old Melbourne Gaol. Nearby, roam the Carlton Gardens then explore the many and magical exhibits at the Melbourne Museum. See bugs, dinosaurs, Phar Lap and more. Take the littlest ones to the children's gallery, designed just for the under-eights. If time allows, get wide-eyed at the adjoining IMAX cinema. For dinner, expect a warm welcome for the bambinos at family-friendly Italian eateries on Lygon Street, Carlton.
Step into a world of creativity, colour and building fun at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne. Kids can watch their favourite LEGO characters come to life in the 4D Cinema or get hands-on with the thousands of LEGO bricks in themed build and play areas. Check out global and local landmarks made from over a million bricks in MINILAND, or hop on a LEGO-themed ride for a thrill.
Take the whole family to Scienceworks in Spotswood for an awesome interactive afternoon of super science. Kids little and big alike will love the Lightning Room, powered by a giant Tesla Coil capable of generating more than two million volts of electricity, and the planetarium. Keep up the adventure with a ferry to Williamstown, to check out the passing boats and of course, for fish and chips for dinner.
Spend the afternoon in St Kilda, exploring the beach and running riot at iconic amusement park Luna Park. Ride rollercoasters and dodgem cars till you can no more, and when the little bellies have settled, go on an ice cream mission to Acland Street. If there's room for dinner, consider Republica on the foreshore, where you can relax with a wine and distract the littlies with views of the beach and boats. Just after sunset, head down to the breakwater to see the locals' favourite families come home from a hard day's fishing: the St Kilda penguins.
Begin your gin journey at Brogan's Way Distillery in Richmond. Opt for a tasting flight option or a classic gin cocktail. Gintellectuals can book into a masterclass to learn about the art of gin-making, or take a tour of this working distillery.
Wander up to Victoria Parade and hop on the 96 tram. Alight at Lansdowne Street and head up to Gertrude Street, where you'll arrive at The Everleigh. This intimate cocktail den has a range of gin-based mixtures on their menu. Try one now, or take home a bottled negroni or martini for later.
Head back down to Victoria Parade and jump on the 86 tram, to make your way to Parliament Station. From there, it's a short stroll to the Little Lon Distilling Co. Housed in a heritage-listed building, this 20 seat bar and distillery offers intimate gin tasting and masterclass experiences. Sample from their unique small-batch collection and learn about the history of both the distillery and Little Lon, while munching on plates of cheese and charcuterie.
Take in the old-worldly glamour of 1806, a plush CBD bar with an extensive range of gin nestled behind the counter. Pair your pick with the perfect tonic, or choose a gin-based cocktail from their chronologically arranged menu. Grab a quick bite at late-night institutions Trunk Dinner and Stalactites, or dive into a pile of pasta at Pellegrini's.
Gin takes a starring role at Romeo Lane – take a seat at the bar, pick a cocktail and take it sloe. Or jump for juniper at art-deco inspired Lily Blacks, where spirits are sourced from far and wide. Nearby Pizza Pizza Pizza offers slices of - you guessed it - pizza, that you can grab on the go.
Continue on to basement cocktail bar Gin Palace - Melbourne's original gin bar. The 200 gin options behind the bar will really lift your spirits. Opt for the eponymous cocktail at Andrew McConnell's sensational Gimlet.
Take a tram along Collins Street to the eclectic State of Grace, and settle into a velvet seat. Order a dinner feast or pick your way around delicious late night bites. Head to their rooftop for a tipple with a view, or navigate your way through the secret entrance to hidden cellar bar, Fall From Grace. This three-level venue hosts regular bottomless 'G&Tea' parties, where gin and tonics are paired with sweet and savoury bites.
Flip this itinerary to start your spirit-ual journey at Patient Wolf Distilling Co, just outside the CBD. Sample their full range with a tasting flight, order a classic cocktail or opt for a more experimental combination.
Or, make the journey north to Brunswick Aces Distillery, creators of Australia's first non-alcoholic gin, for alcohol-free cocktails at their newly-opened bar.
Melbourne laneways, Melbourne, Victoria © Robert Blackburn, Tourism Victoria
Start your trip to Melbourne in its pulsating city centre. A free City Circle tram runs throughout town, starting at Flinders Street Station, and takes in must-see attractions such as St Paul's Cathedral, Parliament House and the Royal Exhibition Building. Hop off the tram at Flagstaff Station and take a five-minute stroll to Queen Victoria Market. The market has been a Melbourne landmark for more than a century and offers an incredible range of local and imported gourmet foods. Grab a coffee from Market Lane Coffee, in the Deli Hall, and a spinach and cheese borek from the Borek Shop. Hop back on the tram to Federation Square. This is Melbourne's cultural heart, home to cutting-edge art at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and an extensive range of Aboriginal works at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Don't miss the Aboriginal-owned Koorie Heritage Trust, also located in Federation Square, which houses captivating ranges of artefacts, paintings, photographs and oral history recordings with the aim to preserve and promote local Koorie culture. Explore the galleries before sitting down to lunch at one of the many restaurants on nearby Flinders Lane – Chin Chin and Coda are both standouts.
Point King Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria © Derek Ross, Tourism Australia
Hire a car from Melbourne and drive just over an hour south to the Mornington Peninsula, home to bay and ocean beaches, wineries, orchards and acclaimed restaurants. At the town of Sorrento you can follow the stunning clifftop Millionaire’s Walk, an undulating 1.5-kilometre (0.9-mile) return track, which takes in breathtaking views across Port Phillip Bay. Afterwards visit Peninsula Hot Springs to take a dip in natural thermal springs, enjoy a Turkish steam bath (hammam) or book one of many wellness experiences. Book in a long lunch at Paringa for a quality meal overlooking the rolling slopes of the vineyard outside.
The Mornington Peninsula is home to more than 50 cellar doors, most of which specialise in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Try a carefully curated wine flight at small-batch winemaker Crittenden Estate, or blend your own bubbly with winemaker Michael Lee at Foxeys Hangout. The region is also well known for its premium craft breweries, such as Red Hill Brewery, Mornington Peninsula Brewery and True South. You can also sample the region's most delicious produce on a Wine Food Farmgate trail, choosing from a range of themed gourmet itineraries. Stay overnight in a luxury villa or take the easy drive back to Melbourne.
If you have an extra day, there are plenty more day trips to discover. Take in the highlights of the Great Ocean Road with a trip to Lorne, or sip some of the country's best wine in the Yarra Valley. Visitors with a weekend to spare should check out a few of the best destinations around Melbourne.