Explore Melbourne on foot
One of the best ways to learn about Melbourne is on foot, with an experienced guide pointing out nooks and crannies you might otherwise miss and telling entertaining stories about Melbourne's colourful past. But walking and learning are thirsty work, no? Enter Drinking History Tours, which will take you on a tour down laneways, up alleys and through hidden parts of Melbourne to teach you about the city's hidden gems and secret histories. And most importantly, the tours include stops at three fantastic Melbourne bars along the way. Federation Square, Wed 6pm, Sat 4.30pm. $85
The first thing you'll be told on the Chocoholics tour is to pace yourself. Heed that advice because you're going to be tasting a lot of coverture chocolates and desserts over the tour. Your guide will take you through some of the city's dinkiest arcades and laneways in the search for Melbourne's finest chocolate, with tasting, discounts and insight from professional chocolatiers at every stop. You'll even learn how to taste chocolate like a pro. Block Arcade (Elizabeth St entrance), Wed & Fri 2pm; Sat noon & 3pm; Sun 3pm. $99, $49 for kids.
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 begin at the Gardens’ Visitor Centre. Royal Botanic Gardens, Mon-Fri, Sun 11am-12.30pm. $12-$35.
Once an important meeting point for the Kulin Nation and later a convent run by Irish nuns, this Abbotsford site has been through many guises over the years. Abbotsford Convent. Sun 2pm. Free.
Shiver-inducing true stories are the specialty of Melbourne’s most popular ghost tour operators. Wander through Old Melbourne, explore Williamstown by lamp light, investigate the paranormal in Point Cook, or see if you can spend the night in Pentridge Prison. Various locations and times around Melbourne. $29-$184.
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 intersting 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? Hidden Secrets also offers food-related tours, including a progressive degustation. Various locations and times around Melbourne. $95-$190.
No trip to Melbourne is complete without visiting the ever-changing Hosier Lane, but there’s more to Melbourne Street art than that. Melbourne Street Tours run tours of the city’s urban art with practicing street artists as the guides. Various locations around Melbourne. Tue, Thu, Sat 1.30-4.30pm. $69.
Locals might have seen the fluoro green wearing I’m Free Walking Tour guides hanging around the Arts Centre or State Library, but have you ever stopped to join them? As their name suggests this operator runs 100 per cent free tours of Melbourne’s sights and culture (you can also pay what you can afford). Try out their Melbourne Sights Tour to see a different side of the city. Various locations and times around Melbourne. Free.