Things to do in Melbourne • Restaurants, attractions and more

Time Out Melbourne’s editors offer their insider's guide to things to do in Melbourne – the best restaurants, museums and attractions and much more...

Things to do in Melbourne • Restaurants, attractions and more
By Jenny Valentish

Restaurants and cafés  |  Museums and attractions  |  Live music and clubs  Art and galleries  |  Gay and lesbian Melbourne  |  The best Melbourne hotels  Melbourne overview

Proud inhabitants of Victoria's capital will often make a claim for it as Australia's cultural heart – and despite what they say in Sydney, they'd have a good case. But the diverse spread of cafés and restaurants in Melbourne and its vast range of museums and attractions might leave Aussie explorers wondering where to start. In this city guide to Melbourne, the Time Out Australia team give away their insider's tips on the best things to do in Melbourne; where the top budget and luxury hotels are, where to eat out, and what galleries and areas offer the best in art and culture - not to mention advice on where to go to experience the best Melbourne clubs, pubs, bars and live music. They also give their hottest tips on Melbourne gay and lesbian clubs and bars

(And for a full, up-to-the-minute guide to Melbourne events, venues, restaurants, bars, culture and more, visit the Time Out Melbourne website.)

Melbourne overview

Known for having more of a European feel than the other Australian cities (right down to the weather - Crowded House wrote 'Four Seasons in One Day' about its unpredictability), Melbourne is celebrated as the country's culture hub. As well as its vibrant music and arts scene, it's a UNESCO City of Literature, and home to the Melbourne Festival (for international arts); the Melbourne International Comedy Festival; Fringe Festival; Food and Wine Festival; Indigenous Arts Festival; Music Week; Cabaret Festival; Burlesque Festival... in fact, you name it and there's probably a festival for it.

The city sits on a grid, albeit at a jaunty angle. The central business district is bisected by the Yarra River, with the Arts Precinct on one side and the shopping malls and laneways - home to Melbourne's infamous street art - on the other. Just to the west lies the Sports Precinct, including the Melbourne Cricket Ground, itself immortalised in a song or two. Melburnians (note the lack of an 'o' in the spelling of Melburnians) take their sport very seriously, in fact. 'Aussie rules' football is the name of the game, with March to September being premiership season of the Australian Football League.

And what of the natives? Well, ask a Sydneysider and they'll tell you Melburnians are arty types with tight black jeans, abstract tattoos and bushranger beards (for gents at least). They're tram-riding, fixie bike-riding, coffee-quaffing culture critics, probably with a food blog or two, or a sideline in selling crocheted owls at one of the city's many, many arts and crafts markets. Those are all despicable stereotypes, though - just what Melbourne's come to expect from that rival city of shallow effect...

=Museums and attractions=

Luna Park, St Kilda

Opening in 2002, Federation Square initially attracted some controversy for its bold, conspicuous design but has since become a central point for Melburnians and hosts a huge range of performances and public events each year. Located on the edge of Fed Square is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. ACMI is Melbourne's home of film, boasting an impressive calendar of exhibitions, screenings and workshops. Across the street lies Flinders Street Station, perhaps the defining landmark of Melbourne, known for its impressive dome and the many clocks that hang at its entrance. Stretching for two full city blocks, the station first opened in 1909.

Just over the river from the CBD is the fancy strip known as Southbank. This cultural hub is the home of the Crown Casino, Melbourne Arts Centre, National Gallery of Victoria (including NGV Australia at The Ian Potter Centre, and NGV International), Melbourne Exhibition Centre and the city's tallest building, the Eureka Tower.

Right in the middle of the CBD lies the striking State Library of Victoria which first opened in 1854. Inside is a huge collection of books, newspapers, maps, manuscripts and audio and visual content while the lawn out the front is a popular resting spot.

Sitting majestically on top of the hill at the Eastern edge of the city is Melbourne's Parliament House. While the building opened to its first parliament sitting in 1856, work is said to be incomplete with constant extensions and renovations planned for the grand white, columned structure.

In the heart of Carlton, Melbourne's Italian district, is the World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building; a grand centre that, since opening in 1880, has played host to countless art shows, concerts, exhibitions and more.

At the seaside suburb of St Kilda you can walk through Melbourne's most recognised giant mouth to Luna Park; a 100 year old amusement park on the busy promenade that's complete with roller coasters, carousels, a ferris wheel and the famous scenic railway.

Museums and attractions details

Federation Square Swanston St, Melbourne 3000.
+613 9655 1900.

ACMI Cnr Swanston & Flinders Sts, Melbourne 3000.
+613 8663 2200.

State Library of Victoria 328 Swanston St, Melbourne 3000.
+613 8664 7000.

Parliament House
Spring St, East Melbourne 3002.
+613 9651 8911.

Royal Exhibition Building 9 Nicholson St, Carlton 3053.
+613 9270 5000.

Luna Park
18 Lower Esplanade, St Kilda 3182.
+613 9525 5033.

More things to do in Melbourne

Restaurants and cafés in Melbourne
Museums, sights and attractions in Melbourne
Live music and clubs in Melbourne
Art and galleries in Melbourne
Gay and lesbian Melbourne
The best hotels in Melbourne
Melbourne overview

Visit the Time Out Melbourne website