50 things to do in Melbourne before you die

You'll never be wondering what to do in Melbourne again with our bucket list of Melbourne attractions and fun things to do
Fed Square on Australia Day
Photograph: John Gollings
By Time Out editors |
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Wondering what to do in Melbourne? Take a look at our ultimate bucket list: 50 fun things to do in Melbourne, plus what makes the city great, from the food to the festivals and everything in between. For a deeper look into two of our greatest pastimes – eating and drinking – browse our guides to Melbourne's 50 best restaurants and 50 best bars.

RECOMMENDED: See the best events happening in Melbourne today.

Best things to do in Melbourne

1
The Night Market at Queen Vic Market
Photograph: Ewen Bell
Shopping, Markets

Peruse the sheds at Queen Victoria Market

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In Sydney it's Paddy's, in Melbourne it's the Queen Vic. The open-air Queen Victoria Market is loud and proud, packed with veteran stallholders who are passionate about fresh produce (and are happy to tell you about it). It's popular with locals as their go-to for fresh fruit, veggies, meat and an outstanding variety of dairy and smallgoods, but it has also become something of a 'must visit' for tourists. And why not? With a huge number of stalls selling clothes, accessories and other bric a brac the markets have evolved into more than just the place to get your weekly shop.

Time Out tip: Be mindful of the market's opening hours before visiting (it is closed Monday and Wednesday) and be sure to get a hot jam doughnut before you leave.

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Rhythms of the Night projection art on the Royal Exhibition Building at White Night Melbourne
Photograph: supplied

See all the art at one of Melbourne's many festivals

A well-curated arts festival will make a city’s residents experience familiar spaces in new ways. Never is this more evident than with the luminous White Night festival in February, or with the Comedy Festival in April, Melbourne Fringe in September or Melbourne Festival in October.

Time Out tip: If you normally enjoy catching a show or two, then make this the year that you go deeper; we’re talking parties in the festival hubs, free talks and events and two or three shows in a night (but never four... trust us on that).

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An interior shot of the bar at Boney with a bartender behind the
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Clubs, House, disco and techno

Dance until dawn

While our friends up in Sydney fight the good fight against the nightlife-crushing lockouts, Melburnians are dancing until the small hours nearly every night of the week. No self-respecting techno fan hasn’t emerged like a vampire from Revolver on a Monday morning. On a Saturday night, head to Laundry Bar for a sweaty hip-hop party, or get down to some old-school disco at the Toff in Town. Be sure to check out which Melbourne DJs are playing at Boney, Ferdydurke and Howler if you're outside the city.

Time Out tip: Follow your dance sesh with a song at one of the city's best karaoke joints

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Outside at Melbourne's Astor Theatre
Photograph: Creative Commons
Film, Special screenings

See a classic at the Astor Theatre

icon-location-pin St Kilda

The Astor is an Art Deco gem that's been in operation as a cinema since 1936. It's actually the last single-screen cinema of its kind in continuous operation in Melbourne. Beautiful gold curtains frame the screen, and the entire experience feels like you've flashed back to old Hollywood. The theatre boasts a program of new and classic films in 35mm, 70mm and digital formats, and it's a cultural hub for movie fans, with double features, remastered classics, new and independent movies, film festivals and special events.

Time Out tip: Revel in the glory of this beautiful old relic with cheap tickets throughout the week: there are $12 tickets on Magic Mondays, $12 tickets on Wicked Wednesdays and $13 tickets on Fantastic Thursdays.

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A close up shot of 8 dumplings in a bamboo steamer at Din Tai Fu
Photograph: Vince Caligiuri
Restaurants, Chinese

Tuck into cheap dumplings at Chinatown

When you’re craving dumplings in Melbourne, head straight for the red paifang (Chinese-style arches) on Little Bourke Street. Melbourne’s Chinatown has existed in some form since the 1860s, and to this day it’s the place to go for top-notch noodles, wontons and bao. Our pick of the litter is HuTong, whose delectable dumplings won them the People’s Choice Award at the 2015 Time Out Food Awards. It’s all good, but it would be a shame not to try a house special like the soupy xiao long bao or wontons with hot chilli sauce.

Time Out tip: Belt your lungs out post dumpling frenzy at one of Chinatown's karaoke joints.

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Hot air balloon Yarra Valley
Travel, Short getaways

Take a day trip to the Yarra Valley

It's easy to forget that the Yarra Valleywith its rolling green hills, swaying vineyards and old farmhouses, is less than an hour's drive from the CBD. The cellar doors of the region's famous wineries are open every weekend, and the winery restaurants are becoming some of the most sought-after dining destinations out of Melbourne. Our picks of the region are TarraWarra Estate, Yering Station and Giant Steps, but don't forget to fill up on some cheese from Yarra Valley Dairy while you're there.

Time Out tip: If you're thinking of staying the night, the historic Balgownie Estate has glamping accommodation just steps from their vineyard and cellar door.

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Generic AFL match
Photograph: Creative Commons
Sport and fitness

See an AFL game at the MCG

icon-location-pin East Melbourne

Don’t be one of those people who only loves footy on Grand Final Day. Rug up, get a pie, a hot jam doughnut and a beer, yell like a bastard, heckle the umpires and have a right old laugh at the little tackers having a crack during half-time at the 'G.

Time Out tip: Just yell 'ball!' when you don't know what's going on – everyone else will join in, regardless of what's actually happening on the ground.

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Bar Americano
Photograph: Supplied
Bars, Cocktail bars

Drink a cocktail at a hidden bar

At tiny CBD cocktail joint Bar Americano, swig back one of Matt Bax’s ever-changing classics-driven cocktails, which are short on ingredients yet deeply complex. You’ll pay a premium for a drink in this laneway cupboard, but you’ll come out a changed person. And if you can find the door, order the fanciest espresso cocktail in Melbourne at Eau De Vie. The Espresso Zabaione is impressive with either vodka, tequila or rum and comes with a vanilla mousse on top that the bartender blast chills with liquid nitrogen upon serving.

Time Out tip: Windsor's Boston Sub is hiding something very cool in their fridge – we'll leave it up to you to find this one.

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Hot air Ballooning over Melbourne
Photograph: Roberto Seba
Things to do, Walks and tours

See the Melbourne sunrise from a hot air balloon

Hot air balloons aren’t just for the countryside – they fly over Melbourne city too. If you can handle dragging yourself out of bed well before dawn then the flight really is worth it. Unsurprisingly there’s not a lot of people around at sunrise, and drifting over the city in the dawn light feels surreal. Where you start, travel and land in your balloon is always a mystery as the flights are determined by the each day’s conditions – meaning you might see some of your favourite Melbourne locations from above or discover some new gems.

Time Out tip: It’s no colder up in the air than on the ground, so dress accordingly.

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Sofitel Melbourne
Photograph: Booking.com
Travel

Go for a wee at the Sofitel

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No, seriously. Many a Melburnian has taken Sofitel's lift 35 floors up to get to their loo with a view. This is not so much a toilet as a powder room: golden drapes frame the floor-to-ceiling windows, from which you can see all the way out to the Dandenongs, as well as the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Shrine of Remembrance, the 'G and even out to the sea.

Time Out tip: While you're up there, consider having a cocktail at the luxe Atrium Bar on 35.

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Degraves Street, Melbourne
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Things to do

Explore Melbourne's laneway icon, Degraves Street

Melbourne is world-famous for its laneways, and Degraves Street is arguably one of the best. It's a Parisien-looking lane that connects Flinders Lane and Flinders Street and boasts a bunch of cafés with on-street dining. We'd suggest settling in for a glass of red before picking up a nifty gift (or something for yourself) from artisan stationary store Il Papiro or a piece of handmade jewellery from Sine Qua Non.

Time Out tip: Degraves connects to Centre Place, another great Melbourne laneway, which is basically Melbourne's answer to Diagon Alley. You'll find food, shopping and plenty of street art here.

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Abbotsford Convent Supper Market
Museums

Stroll around the historic Abbotsford Convent

icon-location-pin Abbotsford

You can feel the weight of the past as soon as you step into the grounds and look up to the gothic spires of the Abbotsford Convent. The complex began as a convent in the late 1800s, and was also a commercial laundry, orphanage and aged care facility. These days, it’s a hub for artists, makers, community radio broadcasters and teachers – as well as a beautiful place to explore.

Time Out tip: Check out the work of local artists in the galleries, then roam the green hills and gardens and have a vegetarian feast at Lentil as Anything, the restaurant run by volunteers where you pay what you feel the meal is worth.

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Croissants at Lune Croissanterie
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants, Patisseries

Try the best croissant in the world at Lune Croissanterie

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Lune Croissanterie's croissants earned the venue the top spot on Time Out Melbourne's best patisseries list, and they were dubbed "the world's best" by a writer for The New York Times. Not a bad gig for brother-sister team Kate and Cameron Reid. But as with many celebrated Melbourne eateries (ahem, Chin Chin), such high accolades often mean crowds. The lines snake out of the door nearly every day, in fact. The pastries fly out of the shop by noon most days, so don’t tell us we didn’t warn you. Does Lune really cut the mustard? In short, yes. Created in a climate-controlled lab, Lune croissants are almost mathematically perfect: crisp and golden with visible layers of delicate pastry. This isn’t really so unusual when you consider the fact that Kate Reid used to be a racing car engineer.

Time Out tip: Lucky for you we put together a handy list of places to get Lune croissants without the huge queues

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The Big HOO-HAA!
Comedy, Stand Up

Check out a regular comedy night

You’re already on top of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, so why restrict the LOLs to three weeks every year? Seeing stand-up in its natural habitat – regular comedy nights – is wild, unpredictable and lots of fun. Big-name comics try out new stuff at the European Bier Café every Thursday night, young artists get their break at Catfish Comedy every Tuesday, and shit gets wonderfully weird at Melbourne's longest-running weekly improv show the Big HOO-HAA! on Friday nights.

Time Out tip: In the weeks leading up to the Comedy Festival, international headliners may pop up unexpectedly at your favourite regular night.

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Croft Alley, Melbourne Street Art 2017, Photo credit: Graham Denholm
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Art, Street art

Spend a day snapping street art

You have to try pretty hard not to see street art in Melbourne. You’re probably already familiar with the works splattering Hosier Lane and Centre Place, but there’s way more to Melbourne’s street art scene than just those haunts. Laneways throughout the CBD regularly get a repaint, so to speak, not to mention all the street art out of the city. Take a tram up to the inner north and you’ll be rewarded with some primo street art like the ‘Welcome to Sunny Fitzroy’ mural on the side of the Night Cat and the Keith Haring work in Collingwood.

Time Out tip: If you want to take photos without people walking through your shot, wake up early.

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First Peoples -  Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum
Museums

Learn stories of the traditional owners at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre

icon-location-pin Carlton

A venue within Melbourne Museum, Bunjilaka was developed to empower Aboriginal people to interpret their own cultural heritage for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Here you can celebrate the vibrant cultures of Indigenous Australia with exhibitions about traditional performances, storytelling rituals and artworks. It's a museum must see.

Time Out tip: Make time for the Deep Listening space, where you can listen to Victorian Aboriginal people telling the stories of their culture from the time of creation to today.

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Generic coffee
Restaurants

Taste the house blend at Proud Mary's

icon-location-pin Collingwood

Melbourne is a coffee city. Although you’re rarely more than a hundred metres from a good brew, there still are some standout roasters. One such caffeine queen is Proud Mary’s, a Collingwood café and coffee roaster that has been brewing a damn fine cup of coffee since 2009. Founder Nolan Hirte is dedicated to bringing customers closer to the origins of their daily joe, and you can really taste the coffee love. Your black or milky cup of caffeinated happiness will cost you $4, so you’ll have plenty moolah left to get something tasty from the café menu.

Time Out tip: If you like what you taste, Proud Mary’s offer a fortnightly coffee subscription delivered straight to your doorstep.

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Kuwaii shoot
Shopping

Wear a piece of Melbourne fashion

Alpha60 is a local label that epitomises Melbourne’s penchant for comfortable yet stylish gear, with plenty of baggy cuts and dark colours. Designer Alex Cleary, who founded the label with his sister Georgie, says “not only do we have to look stylish in Melbourne – we have be somewhat practical [for the weather]. Want to fit into Melbourne? Just add layers.” Kuwaii is another defining Melbourne label. Founder Kristy Barber produces all her clothing and footwear locally – and they’re meant to last a lifetime. “The girls of Kuwaii are consumers with a conscience. They care about beautiful things, but they are also very savvy about what they buy. We’re also known for being a colourful brand, which stands against the idea that Melburnians only wear black!” Both Barber and Cleary agree that Melburnians harbour a real appreciation for local designers in the city.

Time Out tip: If you're looking to strike out from the all-black-everything memo, give Gorman a try – this Melbourne born label has a penchant for bright colours and in-your-face designs that Melburnians love to sport.

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Australian Centre for the Moving Image 2016 exterior 01 feat signage courtesy ACMI 2016 photographer credit Renee Stamatis
Photograph: Renee Stamatis
Museums

While away an entire day at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

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There's always something eye-opening to find at Australia's national museum of TV, film, games, art and digital culture. ACMI has hosted some of the most exciting and popular exhibitions in Melbourne over the last decade. What makes them so well visited is often their broad, pop culture appeal; recent examples include international big-hitters like Wallace & Gromit and Friends, David Bowie Is and DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition. While there, take in some quality cinema in one of ACMI’s two state-of-the-art theatres, play some cutting-edge video games (or even Mario Kart) in the Games Lab and exit through the gift shop for some great film-related shopping.

Time Out tip: If all that art has you hankering for hops, Beer Deluxe next door is your jam. Here you'll find local craft beers and good burgers.

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Osteria Ilaria octopus
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants, Italian

Eat the ‘nduja octopus at our Restaurant of the Year

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In 2017, Osteria Ilaria took out Time Out Melbourne’s gong for Restaurant of the Year, the affordable Little Bourke Street Italian restaurant joining the ranks of Embla, Kappo and Brae. It’s not really as bare bones as a traditional Italian osteria, but nevertheless Ilaria’s approach to cooking feels uncomplicated. Although octopus can go rubbery wrong, it doesn’t at Osteria Ilaria. Whole baby octopus comes chargrilled till the tentacles are just black and served atop a spicy ‘nduja sauce. Unlike Tipo 00 next door you won’t find a long list of pastas – just one. The paccheri with Crystal Bay prawn, tomato and sorrel puree and prawn oil gets full points and negates the need for more pasta on the menu.

Time Out tip: Trust the sommeliers to pick your drink – they know their stuff.

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A shot of the Centre Place laneway in the Melbourne CBD
Things to do, Walks and tours

Walk and learn on a fun walking tour

There's walking through Melbourne, and then there are walking tours of Melbourne. Even if you've lived in this fair city your whole life, there are always new secrets to be discovered. You can discover something new about Melbourne on a Hidden Secrets tour or take a guided walk through the ancestral lands of the Kulin Nation during the Royal Botanic Gardens' Aboriginal Heritage Walk. Feel like getting spooked? Shiver-inducing true stories are the speciality of Melbourne's most popular ghost tour operators, Lantern Ghost Tours.

Time Out tip: Looking for a 100 per cent free tour of Melbourne's sights and culture? The fluro-green shirt-wearing I'm Free Walking Tours will suit.

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Soy Sauce chicken by Hawker Chan
Photograph: Jessica Lindsay
Restaurants, Singaporean

Taste Michelin-starred food for less than $10

icon-location-pin Ashburton

Street food and Michelin stars might not seem the likeliest of bedfellows, but Hawker Chan sure makes it work. The Singaporean street food outlet hit Lonsdale Street at the end of 2017 and has been popular ever since. It’s not uncommon to see people queueing up outside the venue before it opens, eagerly awaiting their serve of soya chicken, rice and beans. Sounds simple, but sometimes simple dishes are the hardest to perfect. The Michelin star rating comes from how Hawker Chan prepare their chicken: after making the soya marinade from scratch they soak the whole chicken in it overnight. And it only costs $6.80.

Time Out tip: Have a backup dish in mind if you can’t get the soya chicken – it regularly sells out.

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Adelphi Hotel rooftop pool Dec 2017
Photograph: Meagan Harding
Hotels

Have a dip in the Adelphi Hotel rooftop pool

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Adelphi Hotel's rooftop pool is probably one of the most photographed pools in Melbourne. The reason? Well a glass-bottomed section of the pool actually cantilevers out over Flinders Lane, meaning you can spy all the tiny ant people scurrying along while you're submerged in water. After an upgrade in late 2017, the rooftop pool deck is looking as fresh as ever. Grab a spritz and your beach towel and you'll be golden.

Time Out tip: Find more inner-city gold with our guide to the best hotels in Melbourne.

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Arts House

See a show at one of Melbourne’s smaller theatres

Don’t have the dollars to catch a mainstage show? You’re in luck, because venturing into small- to medium-sized venues like Arts House, Red Stitch, La Mama or Fortyfivedownstairs will reward you with cutting-edge, locally made theatre for at least half the cost.

Time Out tip: If you want bigger names, we've got the goss on getting cheap-as-chips theatre tickets too. 

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Melbourne CBD skyline from Southbank
Photograph: Roberto Seba
Music

Get a bird's eye view from the balcony of Hamer Hall

icon-location-pin Southbank

You don't need to ride an elevator for a beautiful city vista. Venture up the stairs on the outside of Hamer Hall (accessed from the bank of grass next to Arts Centre Melbourne) and you'll find one of the finest (and least known) vantage points of the Yarra and city skyline.

Time Out tip: Take your theatre date here after a show to impress them with your deep Melbourne knowledge.

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Sunset at St Kilda Pier
Photograph: Roberto Seba
Things to do

Discover the best of St Kilda

First, head to Luna Park (Australia’s oldest amusement park) and hit the original rides still in operation, including the Scenic Railway, which opened in 1912, and the merry-go-round, built in 1913. Next, take in the sunset while you stroll down Jacka Boulevard to St Kilda’s breakwater for a peek at a healthy-sized colony of little penguins (also called fairy penguins). The black-and-white cuties are there all year round, but the best viewing is in summer after sunset. Just remember: don’t climb on the rocks (that’s where they lay eggs and rear young), don’t use flash on your camera and don’t feed or touch them.

Time Out tip: If the ocean seems intimidating, go for a dip at the St Kilda Sea Baths. You'll still get beautiful views of the bay, but with the added benefit of an aromatherapy steam room and café.

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Heide Museum of Modern Art 2015 Heide III exterior photographer credit Jeremy Weihrauch
Art, Galleries

Picnic in the sculpture garden at Heide Museum of Modern Art

icon-location-pin Bulleen

Once you’ve completed your encounter with contemporary Australian artists inside the gallery, head out to Heide's green sculpture park, tip your hat to the corrugated iron cows and find a spot near the riverbank. In this blissful pastoral setting, you can almost sense the presence of members of the famous ‘Heide circle’, among them Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker and Joy Hester.

Time Out tip: We'd suggest hopping on your bike and riding towards Heide if you're feeling energetic. It's a rather pleasant ride right next to the Yarra.

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Rooftop bar, Curtin House
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Bars, Cocktail bars

Have a gravity-defying drink up at Rooftop Bar

icon-location-pin Melbourne

For a city with such temperamental weather, we sure do love a rooftop bar. Our city is basically covered by them, but the most popular is Rooftop Bar. Once you ascend the seemingly endless flight of stairs up Curtin House (passing Cookie and the Toff in Town along the way), catch your breath and quench your thirst while taking in the heart and soul of Melbourne from above. Kick back on the fake grass, or huddle under the heating and lose yourself in the spectacular view.

Time Out tip: Get friendly with the vertical lane that is Curtin House when you're there. This six-storey building houses some of Melbourne's most interesting tenants, from bookshops to hairdressers, restaurants to high fashion mavens.

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Food at Moroccan Soup Bar
Photograph: Amanda Summons
Restaurants

Get a bang-for-your-buck feast at Moroccan Soup Bar

icon-location-pin Fitzroy North

One of the north's greatest dining institutions is Moroccan Soup Bar. Contrary to what the name suggests, this is not a bar, nor is soup the main event. While it certainly is Moroccan, you should know that this tiny venue has no menu, no booze and no meat. But for a steal at only $23, you can score yourself a hefty vegetarian spread full of sticky pots of lentils, vegetable tagines and world-class chickpea bake.

Time Out tip: Do like the locals do: bring your own tupperware and eat your meal across the road in the Edinburgh Gardens.

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Dosso Dossi’s portrait of Lucrezia Borgia
Courtesy of NGV (cropped)
Art, Galleries

Spend quality time with a real treasure of the NGV’s permanent collection

icon-location-pin Southbank

Given the near-constant rotation of fabulous special exhibitions at the NGV, you’d be forgiven for neglecting the equally impressive (free!) permanent collection. Next time you visit, make sure you spend a good few minutes with Dosso Dossi’s portrait of Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara (1519-1530). It’s one of the only known portrait of the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI, which makes it, as NGV curator Laurie Benson explains, “a unique record of one of the most famous women in history”.

Time Out tip: Spend some time in the NGV's backyard. Head out through the atrium and grab a quiet spot on the grass among the sculptures.

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Pouring chocolate over ice cream cone at Pidapipó Gelateria
Restaurants

Get a scoop (or two) of gelato at Pidapipo

icon-location-pin Carlton

Trust Pidapipo's Lisa Valmorbida to make some of the best gelati in Melbourne – she did graduate from a gelato university in Italy, after all. Ask for a scoop of the Baci or banana milk gelato on brioche (the Italian way), and don’t skip on the Nutella on tap.

Time Out tip: Need some formaggio to go along with that gelato? Head a few doors down to Milk the Cow, Carlton's licensed fromageri, which serves cheese and wine flights well into the night.

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Shopping at Cathedral Arcade
Photograph: Mark Chew
Museums

Wind your way through the Nicholas Building

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This Art Deco icon is a creative hive that was built in the ’20s. Exploring its ten storeys is an unparalleled shopping adventure: you’ll find boutique retailers, jewellers, art studios and bespoke tailors. Top picks include RetroStar (a small department store for vintage clothes and accessories), Brendan Dwyer (bespoke cobbler), L’uccello (specialist haberdasher) and Mattt (studio and retailer for beautifully designed and crafted handmade satchels). This was actually the last building in Melbourne to have lift operators.

Time Out tip: You can have a little peek at the building in the video for local musician Courtney Barnett's 2015 song 'Elevator Operator'.

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Traditional Ethiopian curries served on injera flatbread
Flickr: Rod Waddington
Things to do

Eat Ethiopian food in Footscray

Footscray’s Ethiopian community has made the western suburb the go-to place for your injera and stew fix. Get your crash course in vegetarian-friendly Ethiopian at Addis Abeba (220 Nicholson St), Dinknesh Lucy (227 Barkly St) for a hearty meal that’s kind on the wallet, and Cafe Lalibela (91 Irving St) for the Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

Time Out tip: Do as the locals do and ditch the cutlery. The best way to eat this food is with your hands.

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Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Things to do, Walks and tours

Get back to nature in the Royal Botanic Gardens

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Melbourne is lucky enough to have its Royal Botanic Gardens smack bang in the middle of the city. Being so accessible, the gardens are ideal for a picnic or even just somewhere different to eat your workday lunch. The expansive grounds means you’re rarely forced to awkwardly face off with someone for a good spot of turf. Around Ornamental Lake seems like the obvious scenic choice for your go-to picnic location, but that’s exactly why you should think again. Explore the gardens thoroughly and we reckon you’ll find your favourite new al fresco nook in no time.

Time Out tip: If you forget your lunch make a beeline for Jardin Tan for Vietnamese cuisine.

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The Tote exterior
Music

See a gig at the Tote

icon-location-pin Collingwood

All hail Melbourne's iconic music pub the Tote, a venue that's been keeping Melbourne's rock'n'roll dream alive since 1980. Did you know the Tote is the only pub in Melbourne to ever spark a full-scale protest, led by Australia's royalty of rock, when draconian licensing laws threatened to shut the place down back in 2010? Luckily the rockers and the pub prevailed, with live music reigning here every single week.

Time Out tip: While rock still prevails on most nights, the Tote has diversified and now hosts DJs, pop acts, folk bands and queer nights.

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Stomping Ground
Bars, Breweries

Grab a Melbourne-made beer straight from the source

icon-location-pin Collingwood

Melbourne has a long and proud history of brewing top-notch beer, now more than ever. Thanks to the craft beer boom, micro-breweries have popped up all over the city. If you’ve got time for only one then make sure it’s Stomping Ground. These beer barons are the same people behind the Local Taphouse and GABS Beer, Cider and Food Fest. The massive beer hall welcomes all sorts, from beer buffs to families with tots. You can even take a tour and see where your beer is made.

Time Out tip: There are no credit card tabs at Stomping Ground, so download the Clipp app beforehand.

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Outside at the forum
Theatre

Catch a show at The Forum

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Built in the 1920s, this tribute to Moorish architecture was saved from dereliction and Christian Revivalists by rock’n’roll. The Forum is now host to something the biggest names in rock (everyone from Nick Cave to Courtney Barnett have played there over the years), comedy and theatre. Stepping out onto the Forum floor is an exercise in wonder – the ceiling is cerulean blue and dotted with tiny lights to mimic the night sky, while the walls form the façade of a gothic courtyard. Rock has never looked so good.

Time Out tip: Look down – the 2017 refurbishment have unveiled the Forum’s original mosaic floor from 1929.

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An outside shot of the dining area at Welcome to Thornbury showi
Bars

Try (and fail) to taste every food truck at Welcome to Thornbury

icon-location-pin Northcote

Fun fact: if you ask any Melburnian what their favourite car is, their answer will be “a food truck”. Like food cooked on a barbecue, there is something inexplicably tastier about food that’s been made in a truck. For the biggest range of meals on wheels visit Welcome to Thornbury. The old car factory has been converted into a huge permanent beer garden and food truck park. There’s room for up to seven food trucks on site, and roughly 80 different trucks rotate through the venue every month including Mr Burger, Fancy Hank’s, Super Taco and Levain Doughnuts. Try your darndest to eat from every truck, but remember there’s no shame in failing either.

Time Out tip: Increase your odds by bringing your mates along and trying a bit of everything on offer.

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Brighton Beach Boxes
Photograph: Udey Ismail
Things to do

Go for a swim at Brighton Beach

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While our friends from Sydney might scoff at Melbourne's attempt at beaches, little do they know one of the city's best beaches is actually one of the best places to kick back, have a swim and watch a pretty epic sunset over Port Phillip Bay. Brighton Beach is famous for its iconic colourful bathing boxes, which line the foreshore along the beach. If the wind picks up, it's also a great place to try some surfing.

Time Out tip: If the lure of purchasing one of these boxes for yourself is too good, fair warning: a 2016 sale of a box went for a cool $326,000.

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Melbourne zoo seal and trainer
Photograph: Chris Phutully
Museums

Spend the day (and maybe the night) at Melbourne Zoo

icon-location-pin Parkville

Watch the world flutter by at the butterfly room, visit the colourful residents of the aviary and trek through the Trail of the Elephants to visit the close-knit family of big-eared beauties – Melbourne Zoo has all the animal action. There’s always something going on here, from the Zoo Twilights concert series in summer to keeper talks and zoo high teas. Say hi to the lion pride before you leave (follow the roars). Rather befriend the cute and cuddly? The underground tunnels at the meerkat enclosure mean you are *this* close to the adorable action.

Time Out tip: For the wildest night of your life book in for a Roar ‘n’ Snore – a zoo sleepover where you camp in the historic elephant exhibition.

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Berry fruits and yoghurt at Higher Ground
Photograph: Vince Caligiuri
Restaurants, Cafés

Grab brunch at Higher Ground

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Brunch rules in Melbourne. There's no denying it. And one of the best places to go is Higher Ground on the bottom end of Little Bourke Street. This café-restaurant has 130 seats across three levels of a heritage-listed former powerhouse. The 15-metre ceiling is impressive, but not as impressive as their signature dish: a huge ricotta hotcake drizzled with maple syrup, seeds, grains, cream, seasonal fruit and some 'grammable flowers.

Time Out tip: If you go on the weekend, there will be lines – there's no way around it. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a book and order coffee and a croissant from the outside food cart while you wait.

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Yarra Trail bikes
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Things to do, Games and hobbies

Ride along the Merri Creek trail

The trail running alongside the Merri Creek in Melbourne’s north offers some quiet reprieve from the city, and you can easily walk, run or cycle along the trail. From the serene Abbotsford Convent, the flat 7.5-kilometre trail to CERES Community Environment Park takes 30 minutes on a bike.

Time Out tip: On your way, stop by the Merri Creek Labyrinth – the mini-Stonehenge installation was created by the community and features a Wishing Tree, on which visitors are invited to tie a secret wish.

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Aquarium_01.jpg
Museums

Get fishy at the Melbourne Aquarium

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Wind your way throughout the world’s aquatic ecosystems, from tropical reefs through to arctic waters. Gasp at the aquarium’s huge saltie, coo at the gentoo and king penguins, and be mesmerised by luminous jellyfish and sea dragons. You can even book out parts of the aquarium for parties or weddings.

Time Out tip: Spend some serious time in the shark tunnel – if there aren’t hordes of schoolchildren around, lie on your back and watch the majestic prehistoric giants drifting overhead.

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Outside At Reverence Hotel
Photograph: Vince Caligiuri
Bars, Pubs

Go for a round of pub trivia

Fancy yourself a bit of a general knowledge whiz? Put your brains to the test at a pub trivia night around Melbourne, where questions on anything from film to sport are supplemented by cool beers and food specials. One of the best of the lot happens at The Reverence Hotel in Footscray. Mind Out Trivia happens every Wednesday night and attracts huge numbers for its charismatic host and bizarre themes (in the past they've had conspiracy theories, British comedies and dogs).

Time Out tip: While you're quizzing, make sure you make the most of the Rev's excellent menu of (mostly vegan) Mexican eats.

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Block Arcade
Photograph: Supplied
Shopping, Boutiques

Live life luxuriously at Block Arcade

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If you visit just one arcade in Melbourne, make sure it’s the Block Arcade. It was built in the 1890s, and it certainly lets you know it. We reckon the fanciest-looking entrance is via Collins Street, though the grandeur certainly smacks you in the face if you sneak in from Block Place. With the high, domed glass ceilings, extravagant cornices and an ornate tiled floor the Block is like a set from Harry Potter. Even the arcade's retailers fit the wizarding world brief with fancy chocolate shops, old-fashioned tea rooms, jewellers, watchmakers and more.

Time Out Tip: Buy something at Haigh's and they’ll also offer you a free sample choccy.

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Readings: Carlton
Things to do

Have a night-time book hang at Readings

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It’s not often that you see crowds hanging out at a bookshop at 10pm on a Saturday night, but that’s Readings for you – proof that there’s still a place for great independent bookshops. Their original Carlton outpost took out the top prize at the 2016 London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards, and for good reason: aside from its unparalleled range, helpful staff and great atmosphere, the shop has a strong history of community outreach and support for local authors with their literary prizes.

Time Out tip: Each Readings store is a little bit different – St Kilda hosts music gigs, Hawthorn has a café, and Doncaster has a soundproof reading nook.

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Inside at Attica
Photograph: Colin Page
Restaurants

Try the billy tea and hot jam doughnuts at Attica

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If you'd like to eat at one of the city's finest establishments, Attica is the place. It won't be cheap, we'll warn you. But if you're willing to shell out $275 for a once-in-a-lifetime degustation, one of the most memorable touches of the night is the trip out to the garden that you'll take before dessert is served. Here the Attica team will serve you hot jam doughnuts (a very Melbourne snack) and bush tucker tea made from gumbi gumbi (also known as native apricot), which is used by Indigenous people for its medicinal qualities. It's one of the most incredible, but intricately simple Melbourne dishes you'll ever have.

Time Out tip: if you're looking to try one of Melbourne's best fine dining establishments without having to splash your rent money, take a look at our guide to doing Melbourne's fancy restaurants on the cheap.

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Beer at Pixel Alley
Bars, Craft beer

Button mash Street Fighter at Pixel Alley

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Video games have come a long way since the 1980s, but at Pixel Alley you can still be king of the arcade. We’ve got a thriving themed bar scene in Melbourne, and Pixel Alley really fits the brief well: it’s fun, doesn’t take itself too seriously and is still affordable enough for the average punter. In addition to being packed to the brim with retro arcade games and pinball machines, Pixel Alley serves a dozen or so game-themed cocktails, like the 1-Up Mojito, Bowser or Kirby’s Dream as well as beer, wine and spirits. While there’s nothing quite like destroying your fingers on Street Fighter, you can also play Pac Man, Megaman, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and Frogger – and there’s also pinball.

Time Out tip: Pixel Alley is right by the 86 tram, so it’s super easy to get home after a late night gaming sesh.

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Searoad Ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento
Photograph: Searoad Ferries

Take the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento

The way the city of Melbourne is mapped out, it kind of looks like we’re giving Port Phillip Bay a long-armed hug. The distance between the two peninsulas, from the township of Queenscliff to the township of Sorrento, is under 10 kilometres, but it can only be traversed by ferry. Lucky for us, this ferry ride is one of the most picturesque (and convenient) ways to travel between Melbourne’s southern coasts. Don’t worry if you miss the boat; ferries depart Queenscliff harbour and Sorrento pier every hour on the hour, seven days a week.

Time Out tip: If you're lucky, you might be able to see dolphins hanging out in the bay.

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Heide Makers Market
Shopping, Markets

Get a double dose of culture at the Heide Makers’ Market

We love our art galleries, we love our markets, but most of all we love it when art galleries host markets. Like when the Heide Museum of Modern Art teams up with Rose Street Artist Markets and has a beautiful stall-and-bunting baby. Every second Saturday of the month the museum hosts the Heide Makers’ Market, where you can pick up the wares of those more creative than you. You can find art, handicrafts and food at the markets, and once you’ve had your fill and/or run out of money take a squiz at the Heide’s new and permanent collections. Or go for a stroll around the lush sculpture gardens (there’s six acres of gardens all up).

Time Out tip: Slept in this month? You’ll find many of the same stalls at the weekly Rose St Markets in Fitzroy.

On a budget?

People dancing at Bella Union Bar
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

25 things to do for under $25 in Melbourne

Strapped for cash? We can’t help you pay your rent, but we can tell you where to get your kicks on the cheap – including drinks specials, free gigs, comedy nights, hikes and galleries.

Need more? Take a look at this

Patrons enjoy Silent Comedy at Arbory Bar and Eatery
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Things to do

Things to do in Melbourne this week

Wondering what to do in Melbourne this week? We can help. Check out our guide to all the fun things to do in Melbourne, from free events to exhibitions, theatre shows, live music and more.

Think you know your city?

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