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
Royal Botanic Gardens
By Rebecca Russo, Nicola Dowse and Cassidy Knowlton |
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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 this week.

50 super fun things to do in Melbourne

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

Peruse the sheds at Queen Victoria Market

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What is it?  Queen Victoria Market is an open-air market that's packed with veteran stallholders who are passionate about fresh produce (and are happy to tell you about it). 

Why go? 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 market has evolved into more than just the place to get your weekly shop. Pro-tip: be mindful of the market's opening hours before visiting as it's closed Monday and Wednesday.

Don't miss: Hot jam doughnuts from the American Doughnut Kitchen van. These doughies should be in a museum: they’ve got just the right amount of oily crunch, the dough is flavoured with vanilla and stuffed with a sticky and sweet red dollop of strawberry jam, and they’re covered quite liberally with sugar.

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Melbourne International Comedy Festival Town Hall Crowd
Photograph: Jim Lee
Comedy, Comedy festival

LOL until your face hurts at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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What is it? The Melbourne International Comedy Festival – held in March/April every year – does much like the box says. It's a world-class comedy festival that takes over every corner of Melbourne's CBD, and it's impossible to miss. 

Why go? The whole city is talking about the shows you have to see; the pink-and-yellow banners line CBD streets; and of course, hordes of audience members gravitate to the Melbourne Town Hall, tickets in hand. As the third-largest international comedy festival in the world, MICF boasts more than 400 shows to choose from.

Don't miss: It's impossible to see everything, so we suggest rocking up at the Town Hall in the evening and checking out what's on for the night. You could ask the festival's friendly staff for recommendations, take a chance on an up-and-comer who's flyering out front, or you could keep a close eye on social media (especially Twitter) to see what everyone is raving about.

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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

What is it? The Astor is an Art Deco cinema 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.

Why go? 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.

Don't miss: Revel in the glory of this beautiful old relic with cheap tickets on special days throughout the week. There are $14 tickets on Magic Mondays, Wicked Wednesdays and Fantastic Thursdays.

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Restaurants

Tuck into dumplings at HuTong

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What is it? From the beginning, Hutong was the Melbourne byword for xiao long bao, and while the competition for great dumpling joints is running hot, this place is still dear to our collective hearts. 

Why go? Everything is top-notch, but it's the place to go for those soupy xiao long bao. We'd also suggest the wontons with hot chilli sauce. And the dry chilli chicken. Oh, and the pork spare ribs and the snow pea shoots with garlic if they've got them. Basically everything. And it's BYO. 

Don't miss: If you're in Chinatown, it'd be a shame not to 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

What is it? Victoria's premier wine region, the Yarra Valley, is all rolling green hills, swaying vineyards and old farmhouses. Plus! It's less than an hour's drive from the CBD.

Why go? 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, Maddens Rise and Rochford Wines, but don't forget to fill up on some cheese from Yarra Valley Dairy while you're there.

Don't miss: The free tastings at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. Seriously, do not miss this. 

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Generic AFL match
Photograph: Creative Commons
Sport and fitness

See an AFL game at the MCG

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What is it? Victoria's favourite sport. Australian Rules Football was born here, and to this day the Melbourne Cricket Ground (known more colloquially as the 'G) is the best place to see it all go down. 

Why go? It's a bloody good time, no matter what team you're barracking for. 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.

Don't miss: Seeing a game of AFLW, as well. The women’s league of the AFL hit the big time a few years back, and what better way is there to support the athletes than heading along to a game? The AFLW season starts in February and ends in late March.

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Bar at Beneath Driver Lane
Bars, Cocktail bars

Drink a cocktail at hidden bar Beneath Driver Lane

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What is it? An underground bar in Melbourne's CBD, Beneath Driver Lane certainly cuts the mustard amongst some of Melbourne's coolest hidden bars.

Why go? If you like cocktails, whisky, blues, good service and eating Reuben sandwiches at 2am, Beneath Driver Lane is the basement of your dreams. Occupying an old bank vault in the CBD, this bar has a speakeasy feeling that’s rare in a city whose subterranean spaces are sorely underused. 

Don't miss: Getting to know the well-rounded back bar that boasts a 100+ bottle selection of whiskies, including unicorns like Yamazaki 18 and Pappy Van Winkle. 

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Degraves Street, Melbourne
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Things to do

Explore Melbourne's laneway icon, Degraves Street

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What is it? In a city that's world famous for its laneways and arcades, Degraves Street is arguably one of the best. 

Why go? It's a Parisian-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.

Don't miss: A scoop of incredibly tasty housemade gelato from Pidapipo.

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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

What is it? Hot air balloons aren’t just for the countryside – they fly over Melbourne's pretty city too.

Why go? If you can handle dragging yourself out of bed well before dawn then the flight really is worth it. Unsurprisingly there are 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.

Don't miss: A flight over the Yarra Valley is equally as impressive.

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Sofitel Melbourne
Photograph: Booking.com
Travel

Go for a wee at the Sofitel (seriously!)

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What is it? Luxury hotel Sofitel boasts one of the best views of the city... in its swanky sky-high bathrooms. 

Why go? We're not even exaggerating here. Sofitel's loo 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.

Don't miss: While you're up there, consider having a cocktail at the luxe Atrium Bar on 35.

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The Toff in Town
Bars

Dance until dawn at The Toff in Town

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What is it? The Toff in Town is one of the swankiest bars in town. Climb the stairs at vertical laneway Curtin House and you'll find a private booth bar to the left and an excellent band space to the right. 

Why go? This cosy little red-curtained room has hosted a wealth of talent, both home and from far away. It's a fun haunt and one that reeks of character in an already vibrant Melbourne scene. Get right up and sweaty at the foot of the stage or sit back and sample the menu of delicious eats and the extensive range of drinks on offer.

Don't miss: Heading upstairs to super popular Rooftop Bar for a drink among the city's rooftops. 

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Abbotsford Convent Supper Market
Museums

Stroll around the historic Abbotsford Convent

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What is it? The Abbotsford Convent 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.

Why go? 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 convent. It's also an excellent place to roam, explore or just relax on the green hills and amongst the gardens. 

Don't miss: Checking out the work of local artists in the galleries, the gorgeous animals at the Collingwood Children's Farm, and going for 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

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

What is it? 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.

Why go? 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. But 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.

Don't miss: The plain croissants are the OG, but we're also particularly fond of the almond croissant. Lucky for us, Lune also opened an outpost in Melbourne's CBD

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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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What is it? Adelphi Hotel's rooftop pool, which has swiftly become one of the most photographed pools in Melbourne.

Why go? 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. You don't have to be a guest of the hotel, though you do have to pay. Grab a spritz and your beach towel, and you'll be golden.

Don't miss: An overnight stay in the hotel itself. Located within a hulking 1938 building on the busy CBD hotspot that is Flinders Lane, the Adelphi Hotel is a nice landing spot for those who value edgy design, location and first-rate service.

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Spleen Bar
Bars

Check out free live comedy at Spleen Bar

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What is it? This unpretentious bar at the top end of Bourke has been doing its thing for close to 15 years. "Its thing" being cheap drinks and snacks in cosy, lounge-like atmosphere with stand-up comedy Monday nights.

Why go? It's free! Plus, you can see some of the best comedians in Melbourne and beyond. It's a prime opportunity for well-known names to try new material. The quality is remarkably consistent, and the atmosphere is often electric.

Don't miss: Regular comedy nights happen all across Melbourne, including big-name comics trying out new stuff at the European Bier Café every Thursday night, young artists getting their break at Catfish Comedy every Tuesday, and shit can get wonderfully weird at Melbourne's longest-running weekly improv show the Big HOO-HAA! on Friday nights.

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Centre Place, Melbourne Street Art 2017, Photo credit: Graham Denholm
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Art, Street art

Snap some street art at Centre Place

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What is it? This Diagon Alley-looking laneway boasts great food, shopping and some of Melbourne's best street art

Why go? Laneways throughout the CBD regularly get a repaint, so it's worth checking in on some of our favourite street art spots (including AC/DC Lane, Croft Alley and the super popular Hosier Lane) numerous times throughout the year. 

Don't miss: Getting the best shot. If you want to take photos without people walking through your shot, we suggest waking 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

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What is it? 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.

Why go? 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.

Don'tmiss: 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

What is it? Melbourne caffeine queen Proud Mary’s is a Collingwood café and coffee roaster that has been brewing a damn fine cup of coffee since 2009.

Why go? Melbourne is a coffee city, we know this. Although you’re rarely more than a hundred metres from a good brew, there still are some standout roasters like Proud Mary's. 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.

Don't miss: If you like what you taste, Proud Mary’s offer a fortnightly coffee subscription delivered straight to your doorstep.

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Clothes at Alpha60
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Shopping, Designer

Wear a piece of Melbourne fashion at Alpha 60

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What is it? Alpha60 is a local label that epitomises Melbourne’s penchant for comfortable yet stylish gear, with plenty of baggy cuts and dark colours.

Why go? 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."

Don't miss: 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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What is it? Australia's national museum of TV, film, games, art and digital culture.

Why go? There's always something eye-opening to find at ACMI. It's 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.

Don't miss: 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.

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Carlton Wine Room
Restaurants

Have a meal at Carlton Wine Room

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What is it? Time Out Melbourne's Restaurant of the Year for 2018, Carlton Wine Room boasts some serious Melbourne food pedigree.

Why go? Owners Andrew Joy and Travis Howe can count Cumulus Inc, Cutler and Co, Tonka and Coda on their resumés, but it's head chef John-Paul Twomey who's bringing instant classics to the kitchen. Essentially, it's the dream team who are representing everything that's great about Melbourne dining right now.

Don't miss: The potato focaccia, which Twomey has perfected to contain both a strong, exterior crunch and light, interior airiness. It comes served in four fingers with a pool of the soft, creamy and super lactic cheese stracciatella, plus shaved zucchini and a dose of bright chive oil. It’s bread and dip, but not as you know it.

Time Out says
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Ben Oliver leading a Drinking History Tour
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Walks and tours

Walk and learn on a Drinking History Tour

What is it? If you find walking tours too sober and pub crawls declassé, join guide Ben Oliver on a Drinking History Tour.

Why go? You'll hit classic Melbourne landmarks like Federation Square, the Forum, the MCG, AC/DC Lane, the Old Treasury Building, Chinatown and more, but also stop at two bars en route. You'll learn fascinating stories about Melbourne's seedy past, including tales of murder, brothels and a centuries-old unsolved mystery. 

Don't miss: There are plenty of great tours happening around Melbourne, so don't just limit yourself to one!

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Arts House
Theatre

See a show at Arts House

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What is it? One of Melbourne's best small theatres, Arts House is where you can go when you don't have the dollars to catch a mainstage show. 

Why go? Going to a smaller theatre will no doubt reward you with cutting-edge, locally made theatre for at least half the cost. Committed to contemporary performance in all its guises, Arts House presents an innovative year-round program of national and international works, including theatre, dance, live art, digital and visual art. 

Don't miss: Arts House also presents annual festivals –Festival of Live Art (FOLA) and Dance Massive – and provides the creative community with multiple artistic development programs.

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

Taste Michelin-starred food for less than $10

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What is it? Singaporean street food outlet Hawker Chan landed in Lonsdale Street at the end of 2017 and has been popular ever since.

Why go? Street food and Michelin stars might not seem the likeliest of bedfellows, but Hawker Chan sure makes it work. 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. 

Don't miss: The Michelin star rating comes from how Hawker Chan prepares its chicken: after making the soya marinade from scratch, chefs soak the whole chicken in it overnight. And it only costs $6.80.

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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

What is it? Hamer Hall is known for its theatre performances and concerts, but its balcony offers one of Melbourne’s best views.

Why go? It's one of the only times where 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 step outside its warm, red walls to absorb the riverside.

Don't miss: A show while you're there! It's one of the city's best concert halls.

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

Discover the best of St Kilda

What is it? Most famous for the smiling face of the Luna Park gates, immortalised in programs like The Secret Life of Us, St Kilda is a one-of-a-kind bohemian suburb in Melbourne's south.

Why go? It's one of Melbourne's most eclectic suburbs. 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 fairy penguins. The black-and-white cuties are there all year round, but the best viewing is in summer after sunset.

Don't miss: 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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Block Arcade
Photograph: Supplied
Shopping, Boutiques

Live life luxuriously at Block Arcade

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What is it? If you visit just one arcade in Melbourne, make sure it’s the Block Arcade.

Why go? 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.

Don't miss: Buying something at Haigh's. If you do, staff will also offer you a free sample choccy.

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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

What is it? A cute Carlton shopfront serving some of the best gelati in Melbourne.

Why go? Pidapipo's Lisa Valmorbida graduated from a gelato university in Italy. Naturally, her signature flavours include fior di latte, ricotta and fig, rosemary and chestnut and a rare rhubard and vincotto swirl; but to these she adds a rotating selection of adventurous seasonal flavours. Some of her ingredients – including cheese from St Kilda's La Formaggeria – may not fit with your idea of gelato, but somehow, she always makes it work. Whichever scoop you choose, you can't really go wrong.

Don't miss: A scoop of the Baci or banana milk gelato on brioche (the Italian way), and don’t skip on the Nutella on tap.

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Readings: Carlton
Things to do

Have a night-time book hang at Readings

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What is it? 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.

Why go? The 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.

Don't miss: Checking out this book shop's illustrious Lygon Street neighbours, including the arthouse Cinema Nova, fromagerie Milk the Cow and famous Italian pasticceria  Brunetti

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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

What is it? Heide Museum of Modern Art is a torchbearer for Australian modernism but also champions contemporary Australian art – in the spirit of its founders John and Sunday Reed, patrons and collectors who fostered the local modernist movement in the 1930s and 1940s. 

Why go? 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.

Don't miss: 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

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What is it? Rooftop Bar is a bar... on a rooftop ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Why go? 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.

Don't miss: Getting friendly with the vertical lane that is Curtin House while 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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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

What is it? The National Gallery of Victoria, the grand modernist building that sits pretty on St Kilda Road, is also Australia's oldest and most popular art museum.

Why go? 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 portraits 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”.

Don't miss: Spending 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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Shopping at Cathedral Arcade
Photograph: Mark Chew
Museums

Wind your way through the Nicholas Building

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What is it? This Art Deco icon is a creative hive that was built in the ’20s.

Why go? 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.

Don't miss: Recreating your own version of local musician Courtney Barnett's 2015 video for 'Elevator Operator'.

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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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What is it? This expansive garden is home to a cool 8,500 plant species, zen lakes and lush lawns.

Why go? 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.

Don't miss: Having a picnic in the gardens. 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 resco nook in no time. 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

What is it? All hail Melbourne's iconic music pub the Tote, a venue that's been keeping Melbourne's rock'n'roll dream alive since 1980.

Why go? 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.

Don't miss: 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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Half Moon Bay
Photograph: Flickr / Ian Cochrane

Go for a drive down Beach Road

What is it? A windy coastal road that shows off the best of Melbourne's bayside suburbs. 

Why go? Running along the south-eastern side of Port Phillip Bay, Beach Road stretches from Brighton all the way to the southern point of Mordialloc. On a sunny day, it's a positively glorious drive, especially if you're keen on a dip in the ocean and curious to see how the other half live. 

Don't miss: Taking a dip at Half Moon Beach. The name isn’t for nothing – Half Moon Beach curves around just like a crescent moon. It also has the added benefit of being at the bottom of scrub-covered cliffs.

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Stomping Ground
Bars, Breweries

Grab a Melbourne-made beer straight from the source at Stomping Ground

icon-location-pin Collingwood

What is it? Melbourne has a long and proud history of brewing top-notch beer. 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.

Why go? 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. 

Don't miss: Taking a tour of the premises and seeing where your beer is made.

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Outside at the forum
Theatre

Catch a show at the Forum

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What is it? Built in the 1920s, the Forum is a tribute to Moorish architecture was saved from dereliction and Christian Revivalists by rock’n’roll. Nowadays, it's host to something the biggest names in rock (everyone from Nick Cave to Courtney Barnett have played there over the years), comedy and theatre.

Why go? 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.

Don't miss: Looking down – the 2017 refurbishment has 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

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What is it? An old car factory was converted into a huge permanent beer garden and food truck park called Welcome to Thornbury.

Why go? Fun fact: if you ask any Melburnian what their favourite car is, the 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. 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.

Don't miss: This venue is dog-friendly, so either bring your dog or go to have a squiz at everyone else's adorable doggos. 

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Brighton Beach Boxes
Photograph: Udey Ismail
Things to do

Go for a swim at Brighton Beach

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What is it? 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.

Why go? Brighton Beach is famous for its iconic colourful bathing boxes, which line the foreshore along the beach. 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.

Don't miss: If the wind picks up, it's also a great place to try some kiteboarding. 

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Melbourne zoo seal and trainer
Photograph: Chris Phutully
Museums

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

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What is it? A massive display of the animal kingdom right outside Melbourne's CBD.

Why go? You can 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. Be sure to say hi to the lion pride before you leave (follow the roars). 

Don't miss: 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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What is it? The hottest brunch seat in town, Higher Ground is a gorgeous café-restaurant located in a heritage-listed former powerhouse.

Why go? Brunch rules in Melbourne. There's no denying it. And one of the best places to go is Higher Ground. 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.

Don't miss: The 15-metre ceiling is impressive but not as impressive as the signature dish: a huge ricotta hotcake drizzled with maple syrup, seeds, grains, cream, seasonal fruit and some 'grammable flowers.

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

Ride along the Merri Creek trail

What is it? A gorgeous walking and bike trail that runs alongside the Merri Creek in Melbourne’s north.

Why go? It 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.

Don't miss: Stopping 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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What is it? Melbourne's aquarium lets you wind your way throughout the world’s aquatic ecosystems, from tropical reefs through to arctic waters. 

Why go? For one, you can 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.

Don't miss: Spending some serious time in the shark tunnel. If there aren’t hoards 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 at the Reverence Hotel

What is it? Knowledge is power (and free jugs of beer) at Footscray's Reverence Hotel for Mind Out Trivia.

Why go? You can put your brains to the test with a round of extra special pub trivia. Mind Out Trivia happens every Wednesday night and attracts huge numbers for its charismatic host and bizarre themes (in the past there's been conspiracy theories, British comedies and dogs).

Don't miss: 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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Inside at Attica
Photograph: Colin Page
Restaurants

Try the billy tea and hot jam doughnuts at Attica

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What is it? If you'd like to eat at one of the country's finest dining establishments, Attica is the place.

Why go? 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.

Don't miss: Telling everyone you know about getting a table at Attica. Seriously, you'll be talking about this experience for years to come. 

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Beer at Pixel Alley
Bars, Craft beer

Button mash Street Fighter at Pixel Alley

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What is it? The king of video game bars, Collingwood's Pixel Alley.

Why go? 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. 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.

Don't miss: 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. 

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Searoad Ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento
Photograph: Searoad Ferries

Take the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento

What is it? While the distance between Victoria's two peninsulas, from the township of Queenscliff to the township of Sorrento, is only 10 kilometres, it can only be traversed by ferry

Why go? This ferry ride is one of the most picturesque (and convenient) ways to travel between Melbourne’s southern coasts. If you're lucky, you might be able to see dolphins hanging out in the bay.

Don't miss: The boat. But don’t worry if you do. Ferries depart Queenscliff harbour and Sorrento pier every hour on the hour, seven days a week.

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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

What is it? One of the north's greatest dining institutions, Moroccan Soup Bar.

Why go? 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.

Don't miss: Doing as the locals do and bringing your own Tupperware to eat your meal across the road in the Edinburgh Gardens.

Time Out says
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Heide Makers Market
Shopping, Markets

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

What is it? A huge arts and crafts market held every second Saturday of the month. 

Why go? 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. At the Heide Makers’ Market, you can pick up the wares of those more creative than you. 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 Heide’s new and permanent collections.

Don't miss: Going for a stroll around the lush sculpture gardens (there are six acres of gardens all up).

Find more great things to do in Melbourne

Tree of Codes
Photograph: Joel Chester Fildes
Theatre

The best theatre and musicals in Melbourne this October

This month we welcome the happy mayhem of Melbourne Festival – and boy howdy are you spoilt for choice, whether your tastes run to blockbuster musicals, independent theatre, new writing or experimental dance. Don't spend all your dollars, though: Melbourne Theatre Company and Malthouse have announced their 2018 seasons, as has the Australian Ballet.

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People browsing through clothing at a market stall
Photograph: Supplied
Shopping, Markets

The best markets in Melbourne

Borrow your nanna's tartan shopping trolley and venture out to one of Melbourne's best markets for farm-fresh produce, designer homewares, vintage fashions and tasty street food.

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Pouring drinks at Bar Liberty
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Cocktail bars

The 50 best bars in Melbourne right now

Here is Melbourne viewed through the bottom of a glass: from its world-beating cocktail lounges to its down-and-divey saloons. These bars represent the pinnacle of Melbourne drinking.

Princes Bridge. Melbourne
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Things to do

The best free things to do in Melbourne

Guess what? Not everything in Melbourne costs a bunch of money. From art shows to coffee tastings, there are a bunch of things to do in this fine city that you can do for free – here are our favourites.

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Great Otway National Park
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Travel, Short getaways

The best day trips from Melbourne

If you're looking for a break from the inner-city grid, there's no better cure than a day trip from Melbourne. The state of Victoria is full of friendly neighbourhood towns, whether you're in the mood for a winery tour, a road trip or a national park to explore.

Think you know your city?

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