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The best tours in Melbourne

From street art and hidden bars to delicious dumplings, here are the best sightseeing tours in Melbourne

Adena Maier
Edited by
Adena Maier
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Have you just arrived in our fair city and want to know where to start? Or are you a local who loves Melbourne and wants to discover our hidden secrets? These tours are definitely the place to start. From food to laneways, drinking to ghosts, these tours are the best way to get to know Melbourne. 

Want to find Melbourne's best street art? Or feel like stretching your legs on one of Melbourne's best walks

Best tours in Melbourne

Whether you're a tourist or a local, you're bound to discover something new about Melbourne on a Hidden Secrets tour. The laneways and arcades tour will take you in and out of Melbourne's famous back alleys, teaching you some interesting history along the way. Block Arcade and Royal Arcade are covered, as well as some much less well-known places. For example, did you know about EW Cole's giant three-storey book arcade? Very little remains of it, but it was once the pride of Melbourne – and a morality tale about the dangers of keeping monkeys in bookshops. Hidden Secrets also offers food-related tours, including a progressive degustation. Various locations and times around Melbourne. $99

A history of Melbourne's food culture is, in many ways, a history of Melbourne. From Chinese immigrants during the gold rush to Italian, Greek and other waves of new Melburnians brought their culinary traditions with them. The tour starts at the top of Spring Street and travels down through the CBD, pointing out famous Melbourne eateries and their histories along the way. Highlights include Spring Street Grocer (and its intriguing cheese cave), Florentino (now Grossi Florentino), Pellegrini's, and Chinatown gems like HuTong. Or course there are snacks along the way (a coffee, ice cream, egg tart and curry puff on the day we went), plus lunch is included. The tour also includes plenty of suggestions for excellent restaurants to try in the future, so bring a notebook. Departs Princess Theatre, every Fri & Sat 10.30am. $139.

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Parliament House Tour

3. Parliament House Tour

You don't have to have political aspirations to enjoy the tour at Parliament House. For one, it's free, and who doesn't like a freebie? Aside from walking in the same hallowed halls as our current and former state pollies, the tour takes in the incredibly ornate architecture and reveals some of the building's less illustrious moments. Like when a cricket ball broke Queen Victoria's arm (sort of). Parliament House, daily. Free.

Old Melbourne Gaol Ghost Tour
Photograph: Time Out

4. Old Melbourne Gaol Ghost Tour

More than 100 people were executed at Old Melbourne Gaol, making it ideal for a ghost tour. The 'Ghosts? What ghosts!' tour will have you walking around the gaol in the dark while learning all about the mysterious (and reportedly true) ghost sightings that happened there. See ghostly photos, hear gruesome tales and step inside the incredibly haunted cell 17 (if you dare). Guests also get ten minutes at the end of the tour to look around the gaol with the lights on – or see if they can snap a spooky photo of their own. Old Melbourne Gaol, various nights. 8.30-9.30pm (arrive 8.15pm). $35-$38. 

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Highlights of Melbourne Cruise
Photograph: Viator

5. Highlights of Melbourne Cruise

Discover Melbourne's history and highlights on this guided Yarra River cruise. On your two-hour journey, you'll cruise past towering skyscrapers, lovely urban gardens and lush banks. There will be ample opportunities to photograph the skyline as you listen to onboard commentary from your guide. Various times, from $45.

Melbourne is known for its abundance of street art, but sometimes it's hard to know where to find the crème de la crème. That's where this tour comes in. Across three hours, you and the crew will get an in-depth look at Melbourne's street art scene, including a visit to the famous Blender Studios. Departs from ACMI, Tue, Thu & Sat. From $80. 

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Royal Botanic Gardens Aboriginal Heritage Walk
Photograph: Supplied

7. Royal Botanic Gardens Aboriginal Heritage Walk

Take a journey into ancestral lands of the Kulin nation in this guided walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens. Kicking off at 11am Sunday through Friday, this tour gives visitors insight into how the local people lived within different environments found within the gardens, from forest to rainforest and nearby wetlands. The tour includes a traditional Tanderrum smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country, and visitors discover traditional uses of plants for food, tools and medicine. The tour finishes with a refreshing cup of lemon myrtle tea. Tours are suitable for adults and children over five, and they begin at the Gardens’ Visitor Centre. Royal Botanic GardensSun & Thu from $40.

Who doesn't love a bargain?! This eight-hour tour will give you the inside scoop on Melbourne's best discounts across popular shopping strips like Swan Street and Bridge Road. Save on everything from shoes, handbags, clothing and housewares. Departs from 14 Russell Street, Saturdays; $149.

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Dome to Catacomb Tour
Photograph: Benjamin Ashton

9. Dome to Catacomb Tour

First established in 1854, the State Library of Victoria houses upwards of 2 million books, with thousands of Melburnians passing through its hallowed halls daily. The library is home to some of the city’s most interesting heritage spaces, and hopping on a free 90-minute Dome to Catacomb Tour is your best bet to see it all, from top to bottom. Visitors will get an aerial view of the famous Domed Reading Room from the Library’s sixth floor and learn the history behind its construction (fun fact: those rickety wooden chairs have remained in that room since 1913!) You’ll see collection storage areas not usually open to the general public and descend towards the original Melbourne Museum catacombs. It’s a rare opportunity to sneak a peek behind the scenes of this remarkable building. State Library of Victoria, various days and times. Free.

Every Melburnian has a strong opinion on where you can find the best dumplings in our city, and now it's time for you to figure out the truth for yourself. Join a guided tour through Chinatown that'll have you sampling a variety of dumplings at different venues. Departs 40 Elizabeth Street on Wednesdays at 6pm; from $85.

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Melbourne Cricket Ground tour
Photograph: Emily Godfrey

11. Melbourne Cricket Ground tour

The historic Melbourne Cricket Ground (known by locals as the 'G) is the beating heart of Australia's sporting capital. It's one of the largest stadiums in the world, and it has been in a state of almost constant renewal since being built in 1853. If you can't get enough of your sport, then the MCG tour is a must – as is imagining yourself as a player as you step out onto the ground from the changing rooms (which, incidentally, smell exactly as you'd expect). And this is just the beginning of the tour: your knowledgeable guide will lead you through the MCC Long Room, the MCC Library, the media centre, the cricketers' viewing room and up to the City Terrace, which offers one of Melbourne's best skyline views. Cricket nerds will froth over the chance to see portraits of Sir Donald Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar, and no matter your level of interest in cricket or AFL, the experience offers a fascinating slice of Melbourne history. Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), every 30 minutes, 9am-4pm daily. Exceptions include game days, hours vary on Saturdays. $30.

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