Melbourne's central business district

Credit: Gb27photo for stock.adobe.com

Planning your first trip to Melbourne? From the best time to visit and what to pack for each season to where to stay and mastering the public transport system, here's your ultimate guide.

Welcome to Melbourne, the Victoria capital city that'll leave you wanting more – just like a catchy song you can't get out of your head.

Imagine vibrant street art. The sweet aroma of coffee chases you down hidden laneways. A contagious buzz that'll sweep you off your feet.

When you’re travelling to Melbourne with no idea where to start, it’s easy to get lost in everything it has to offer, but we’re here to make things nice, simple, and exciting.

Here, we'll cover everything you need to know before you go – from the best times to experience Melbourne's unique energy to how to navigate the city like a local. We’ll cover how the weather adds a touch of spontaneity, where the perfect hotspots to relax and recharge are, and, of course, uncover the must-sees and dos that make Melbourne truly unforgettable. 

Everything that makes Melbourne, well, Melbourne. Your urban adventure starts here.

Melbourne travel guide

Best Time to Visit Melbourne

City Circle Tram at Flinders st Station, Melbourne

Credit: Memory Box Photography for Visit Victoria

The best time to visit Melbourne depends on what you're looking for, but weather, prices, and crowds are usually the biggest factors.

For the ideal combination of them all, the best time to visit Melbourne is during the shoulder season of March - May (autumn). These months offer sunshine and comfortable temperatures without the peak season crowds and prices.

But as above, the time to visit really depends on what you’re looking for as an individual. The good news is that it’s never a bad time to visit Melbourne - with so many things to do, see, eat and experience, you’re always guaranteed a good time. But let's take a look at some of the considerations that may impact when you decide to travel to Melbourne!

 

Weather considerations for travelling to Melbourne

Guildford Lane - Brick Lane Coffee

Credit: Shannun Higgins for Visit Victoria

Melbourne's weather has a personality all its own – think of it as a date with a touch of spontaneity! One minute, it's sunny and warm; the next, it could toss in a refreshing rain shower. 

But that's part of the charm, right?

To explore the city at its best, aim to visit in autumn (March - May). Think crisp mornings that turn into sunny afternoons – perfect for wandering those hidden laneways or strolling along the beach. It's the season when Melbourne feels its most inviting.

If you’re looking for a backup choice, many travellers agree that Spring (September - November) is the next best time to visit Melbourne, for all the factors that include comfortable temperatures and low tourist crowds.

And if rain isn’t your thing, February and March tend to have the lowest rainfall levels, clocking in at a mean rainfall of 39mm and 37.8mm, respectively.

But, to give you a little lowdown of what the entire year looks like (and you can bet that Melbourne’s weather offers unique experiences through each season), here’s what you need to know:

  • Spring (September - November) averages temperatures of 9.6 - 19.6°C, which is lovely for outdoor adventures with milder temperatures and fewer crowds, though some rain is possible - perfect for exploring places like the Royal Botanic Gardens.  
  • Summer (December - February) brings hot days with average daily temperatures between 14 to 25.3°C - with some days as hot as 40°C! Summer is ideal for venturing to the beaches and Victoria’s coast, rooftop drinks, and it’s prime time for the Australian Open Tennis tournament, Lunar New Year, and the Midsumma Pride March.
  • Autumn (March - April) has temperatures typically falling between 10.9 and 20.3°C. It strikes a balance between summer heat and winter chill, making it a great time to immerse yourself in Melbourne's cultural heart. 
  • Winter (June - August) has cooler temperatures between 6.5 and 14.2°C, but therefore, fewer tourists, letting you experience Melbourne's authentic daily rhythms.

 

Budget and crowd considerations: When to score the best deals

Crowds at the Australian Open 2023, Melbourne

Credit: Aaron Francis for Visit Victoria

Every city's got its expensive high seasons and its budget-friendly periods, and Melbourne's no different. Summer (December - February) is school holiday time, so expect prices to soar with the temperatures. Prices also tend to be more expensive between December and March when events, including the Australian Open and the Australian Grand Prix, draw large crowds, so bear this in mind! 

That said, there’s more going on during this time –  the festivals are in full swing, and there’s lots to see and do, so it can be worthwhile.

But if you’re looking for a trip that's as awesome as it is wallet-friendly, here's your insider tip:

Aim for autumn (March - May) or winter (June - August).  

You’re more likely to find cheap deals on hotels and flights, snag reservations at those must-try restaurants, and maybe even have enough left over for a cheeky shopping spree at those Melbourne markets everyone raves about.

The takeaway?

Melbourne's got something for everyone every season.

Love the buzz of a crowd? Summer's your time to shine. Crave cosy vibes and sweet deals? Winter's calling your name. No matter the season, Melbourne always serves an experience as unique as the city itself.

 

Events & activities: There’s always something on in Melbourne

Australian Open. Melbourne

Credit: Emily Godfrey for Visit Victoria

Melbourne's calendar is packed year-round, but if you’re looking to visit for a particular reason, here are some of the key event times to note:

  • Sports fans, get your tickets to the Australian Open in January and book that flight to Melbourne for AFL Grand Final weekend in late September.
  • Foodies, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is your March must.
  • Comedy lovers, April's all about laughs at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
  • Motorsport addicts, rev those engines for the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix™ in late March/April.
  • Motorcycle mavens, the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in late October is a high-speed thrill.

And that's just a taste. Cultural and sporting events sprinkle the whole year, so no matter when you visit, there's something to spice up your trip.

 

Melbourne weather

Wet weather on Bourke St, Melbourne

Credit: Ain Raadik for Visit Victoria

Melbourne is known for its dynamic, "four seasons in one day" kind of weather, surely adding a touch of spontaneity to your trip. However, its temperate climate means comfortable temperatures for exploration year-round.

While a chance of rain exists any time of year, Melbourne is generally split neatly by the four seasons – summer, autumn, winter and spring.  

If sunshine and beach days are your priority, plan your trip during the hotter months, December to February. The cooler seasons offer a different charm – cosy cafes, vibrant foliage, and fewer crowds.  

No matter when you visit, come prepared for a touch of unpredictability – it's all part of Melbourne's unique personality!

 

Summer (December - February): As hot as it gets

The sun's got your back, beaches are calling your name, and the whole city is buzzing with summer energy.  Think festivals, rooftop bars, and long, sun-kissed days that turn into balmy nights.

What to pack:
  • Breezy outfits for those hot days: Bring light fabrics; think linen, cotton...anything that lets your skin breathe. 
  • Sun protection: Sunscreen and a hat are your non-negotiables. Swimsuit (or two!) Beach days? Poolside hangs? Be prepared for those spontaneous dips that make summer awesome.
  • A light jacket or cardi: Because, hey, Melbourne weather loves a surprise. Evenings can get a little cooler, so having a layer handy is always smart.

 

Autumn (March - May): Melbourne's golden hour

Think of autumn as Melbourne's most photogenic season. The leaves paint the city in shades of gold, and there's a crispness in the air that makes exploring a total delight. Get ready for days that can be warm one minute, cool the next – but that's just an excuse to show off your layering skills! 

What to pack:
  • Layers: Mornings might be crisp, afternoons sunny – think t-shirts with a light jacket or cardigan, ready to adapt on the fly.
  • A trusty jacket: Something that'll shield you from a brisk breeze, especially towards the evening.
  • Comfortable shoes: Autumn is made for long walks through parks and exploring those hidden city gems.

 

Winter (June - August): Embrace the cosy side of Melbourne

Okay, you won't see snow in Melbourne, but winter definitely brings a chill that'll have you craving warm cafes, art galleries, and all things snuggly.

What to pack:
  • Warm clothing: Think cosy sweaters, a solid winter coat, and all your favourite toasty outfits. 
  • Stylish and snug accessories: Scarves, gloves, and beanies are practical and the perfect way to add some winter flair to your look.
  • An umbrella: Melbourne's rain doesn't take winter off, so having a compact umbrella on hand is always a smart move.

 

Spring (September - November):  When Melbourne wakes up with a fresh vibe

Get ready for a burst of colour and a sprinkle of unpredictable weather – that's spring in Melbourne for you!  Picture blooming gardens, buzzing outdoor events, and a mix of sunny days with the occasional refreshing shower. 

What to pack:
  • Your layering game, strong as ever: Think light jackets, tees, and cardigans you can mix and match depending on the day's mood.
  • A waterproof jacket: Because spring showers are part of the fun! Stay dry and keep exploring.
  • Comfortable walking shoes: Spring weather is perfect for exploring Melbourne's parks and hidden gems. 

Remember, packing for Melbourne's moods is all about versatility and a touch of adventure!  

With all this in mind, it’s important to note that the secret to Melbourne packing isn't just about the weather. It's about embracing the city's ever-changing personality. 

Each season brings its own unique vibe – from bustling summer energy to cosy winter charm.  So pack for the forecast, and don't forget a touch of adventure! 

This way, whether you're sipping coffee in a hidden laneway or strolling along the beach, you'll be ready to soak up every bit of Melbourne's magic.

 

Melbourne transport 

Tram passing St Paul's Cathedral, Swanston Street, Melbourne

Credit: Josie Withers for Visit Victoria

Melbourne's a city that knows how to keep things moving. Whether you're fresh off the plane or ready to explore beyond the city centre, you've got options to get you where you need to go.

 

Arriving in Melbourne

Chances are, you'll be flying into Melbourne Airport (also known as Tullamarine) - whether that’s from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or the Gold Coast. It's the main hub, about 23 kilometres from the city.

If not, you’ll typically be landing at Avalon Airport, which is a little further out. 

There’s also Essendon Airport in the mid-northwest and Moorabbin Airport in the mid-south, but these offer limited passenger flight opportunities and a deeper focus on general aviation and cargo.

Airport to city: The easy way

By far the easiest way to get from airport to Melbourne city centre is using the Skybus.

Tickets cost AU$23.90 one way and take you right from the terminal to the city centre in just 30-40 minutes. 

Buses run seven days a week, depart from terminal to city and city to terminal every 15 minutes, and tickets are valid for three months.

This is a godsend if you need to change your flights or something unforeseen happens. All Skybuses have free Wi-Fi and ample luggage space.

Of course, you do have other options.

The classic choices of Uber and taxis are always waiting at the airport. They offer a direct route to your accommodation, but the cost can vary depending on traffic. The average cost of a taxi to Melbourne CBD is $70, and more for a Maxi Cab service. Uber prices will vary depending on availability and demand. 

While a more costly option, catching a taxi or rideshare is more direct and only take about 25 minutes.

Pro tip: Heading in the same direction as other travellers? Split a rideshare to save some cash!

So, as you can see, setting from the airport to the city of Melbourne is a breeze, leaving you more time to plan your first coffee stop!

 

Getting around Melbourne: Like a local, no matter where you land

Melbourne's got your transport covered with a public system as diverse as its restaurants. Trams, trains, buses...they work together to get you where you want to go, no car necessary!

But first, let’s talk about the absolutely essential Myki transport card - your key to freedom when travelling around Melbourne 

Myki Cards

If you plan on using the trains, trams, and buses in Melbourne and the surrounding area, you’ll need a Myki card.  This smart card allows you to track and pay for where you’re travelling to, making it much easier to get around without worrying about tickets, travel zones, and all that other confusing stuff.

The Myki card costs $6 to buy (non-refundable), and you simply tap it when boarding a tram, train, or bus, enjoy the ride, and tap when you exit (thus, the Myki system can calculate how much to charge you). 

A smartphone app version is also available if your device supports wireless taps.

Now, there are two types of passes to consider when travelling to Melbourne:

  1. Myki Pass: You choose the zones you want to travel in and how many consecutive days you want to use the card. You can buy 7-day versions or anywhere between 28 and 365 days.
  2. Myki Money: You load up with money and get charged simply by tapping it when getting on or off a mode of transport; the money is deducted from your account automatically.

Note: You won’t need a Myki card to use the free tram zone in Melbourne’s CBD - you can just hop on and off as you please.

While you should always check the prices before you travel, know that it’s pretty inexpensive to travel around.

A Myki Money daily fare costs $10.60, and that allows you to travel freely around Zones 1 and 2 at your leisure, so you don’t need overthink it. 

Again, you can use the Myki app or buy a card at one of the many travel stations.

Melbourne Flinders Street Train Station in Australia

Credit: f11photo from stock.adobe.com

Trams

Melbourne's trams are an icon you'll want to ride. They're not just charming; they're a super convenient way to zip around the city. The best part? The city centre has a FREE tram zone—perfect for those short hops between cafes and must-see spots, so watch for the 'Free Tram Zone' signs at tram stops.

Outside the CBD area, prices vary depending on where you travel. 

Trains

Your ticket to further adventures - When you want to explore beyond the city limits, trains are your go-to. They connect the bustling centre to those quieter suburbs and even reach out to stunning regional areas.

Buses

The network's unsung heroes—buses go where trams and trains don't, making them perfect for exploring hidden neighbourhoods or heading to dreamy coastal spots.

Taxis, ride share and car rentals

If you’re planning on riding solo or want a little more privacy or convenience, taxis and rideshare apps are always available. Taxi stands can be found throughout the city, while rideshare services like Uber and DiDi are readily available.

And if you’re looking for complete freedom, there are plenty of popular rental car companies  throughout the city that can give you ultimate travel flexibility – especially if you’re planning on taking some day trips from Melbourne.

Heads up: City traffic can get heavy, and parking, especially in the inner city, is often pricey. You’ll also need to face the famous hook turns, so bear this in mind and weigh your options based on your travel style, wants, and needs!

The secret to getting around Melbourne is its taking advantage of its mix of options.  Whether you're hopping around the city centre or venturing further afield, there's a way to get there that fits your budget and lets you explore at your own pace.

 

Where to stay in Melbourne: Find your perfect neighbourhood vibe

Melbourne's like that box of assorted chocolates – each neighbourhood has its own tempting flavour. Are you craving a buzzing central hub? A quiet artist's retreat? Or maybe a hip spot with cafes galore?  If you’re travelling to Melbourne for the first time, you might feel overwhelmed by all of the choice.  

Let's find the perfect place to unpack your bags and start your Melbourne adventure!

 

Melbourne CBD: The city's beating heart

Best for: First-timers wanting the full experience, savvy business travellers, and those who crave a non-stop buzz

View of colorful graffiti artwork at Hosier Lane in Melbourne CBD

Credit: Javen from stock.adobe.com

Picture Melbourne's iconic laneways, bustling cafes, grand historic buildings, some of the most audacious street art in the city, and a constant hum of energy. That's the CBD in a nutshell.

Why make this your base camp?

  • Attractions at your doorstep: Federation Square, Queen Victoria Market...all those must-sees are a short stroll away.
  • Sleep in your way: From swanky hotels to budget-friendly digs, there's a place to rest your head for every style (and budget!).
  • Shopaholics, this is your paradise: Big brands, tiny boutiques, and quirky vintage finds – your wallet might need a break.
  • A thriving nightlife: Rooftop bars, hidden cocktail lounges, live music...the CBD keeps the party going long after the sun sets.

Think of it as Melbourne's all-in-one package: a bit of history, a dash of culture, and a whole lot of fun.

 

St Kilda: Where the beach is your backyard

Best for: Sun worshippers, those craving a chilled-out coastal vibe, and anyone who loves an excellent beachside party.

St Kilda beach aerial with Melbourne City Skyline in the background

Credit: Darren from stock.adobe.com

Sand between your toes, the gentle sound of waves crashing, and the iconic Luna Park smiling down on you. It’s the best of both Australian coastal life and thriving inner-city culture. 

Welcome to St Kilda!

Why you'll love it here:

  • Beach life is the best life: St Kilda's sandy stretch and sparkling water are your playground. Swim, sunbathe, or stroll the bustling esplanade.
  • Hotels with a view (and a vibe): Choose from laid-back hostels or charming hotels, many with epic ocean vistas.
  • Party 'til the sun comes up: St Kilda's got your after-dark fun covered. From chilled-out pubs to live music venues, there's always something happening.
  • Penguin alert: Don't miss the adorable fairy penguins hanging out at St Kilda Pier. Cuteness overload guaranteed!

St Kilda is Melbourne's seaside escape, where the days are sunny, the nights are lively, and a relaxed atmosphere is always on the menu.

 

South Yarra: Live the high life, Melbourne style

Best for: Shopaholics with impeccable taste, foodies seeking the hottest tables, and those craving a touch of urban glamour.

Chapel Street, South Yarra, Melbourne

Credit: Josie Withers for Visit Victoria

Think designer boutiques lining the street, the clink of champagne glasses, and lush greenery peeking out from hidden courtyards.  That's South Yarra in a nutshell.

Why it's a slice of heaven:

  • Shop 'til you drop on Chapel Street: This is where high fashion lives. Browse designer stores chic boutiques and leave with bags full of treasures.
  • Foodie paradise: From trendy cafes to Michelin-worthy restaurants, Toorak Road is a feast for the senses.
  • A breath of fresh air: The Royal Botanic Gardens are your escape from the bustle – think sprawling lawns, stunning landscapes, and maybe a picnic basket filled with gourmet goodies.
  • Sleep in style: South Yarra's hotels are the definition of luxury. Think plush rooms, rooftop pools, and service that makes you feel like royalty.

South Yarra is where Melbourne's refined side shines. Treat yourself to a fabulous stay and indulge in the finer things in life.

 

Fitzroy: Where creativity meets coffee

Best for: Art lovers, vintage hunters, caffeine addicts, and anyone who loves a neighbourhood with serious personality.

Brunswick Street - Fitzroy

Credit: Emma Godfrey for Visit Victoria

Street art explodes across weathered brick walls, a kaleidoscope of colours and hidden stories. The irresistible scent of coffee drifts from cafes where creatives gather, their conversations blending with the hum of the city.

Every corner feels alive – vintage finds beckon from shop windows, live music spills from hidden bars, and undeniable energy tells you this place is something special.  Welcome to Fitzroy, where Melbourne's soul is laid bare.

Why you'll want to unpack your bags here:

  • Street art central: Lose yourself in a maze of hidden laneways filled with incredible street art that transforms walls into masterpieces.
  • Caffeine fix with a side of cool: Fitzroy's cafes are legendary. Think hole-in-the-wall gems, quirky baristas, and the perfect brew to start your day.
  • Brunswick Street beats: This iconic street is a treasure trove of vintage finds, independent record stores, and bookshops with that perfect musty-page smell.
  • Accommodations with character: From cosy guest houses to stylish apartments, Fitzroy's got places to stay that are as unique as the neighbourhood itself.

Fitzroy is like Melbourne's soul laid bare – a little edgy, a lot of heart, and endlessly inspiring.

 

Docklands: Where city meets waterfront

Best for: Anyone craving a sleek, modern vibe, foodies on the hunt for the next hot spot, and sports fans ready for game day.

Yarra River in Sunset and Clear Sky at Docklands, Melbourne, Australia

Credit: Tor from stock.adobe.com

Glass towers pierce the skyline, a testament to Melbourne's ever-evolving spirit. Sleek boats glide across the harbour, leaving ribbons of light in their wake. 

The air crackles with a sense of possibility – trendy cafes hum, waterfront restaurants beckon, and the energy of a city on the rise is undeniable. This isn't the Melbourne of cobblestones and history; it's a glimpse into the future, bold and exciting.

Why it's worth checking out:

  • Foodie alert: Docklands' dining scene is on the rise. Think trendy waterfront restaurants and hidden gems popping up all the time.
  • Game on!: Sports fans, this is your mecca. Marvel Stadium is a stone's throw away, putting you in the heart of the action.
  • Modern digs: Docklands does sleek and stylish right. Upscale hotels and serviced apartments offer waterfront views and all the latest amenities.

Docklands is Melbourne's rising star, a vibrant mix of urban energy and waterfront excellence.  Think of it as a taste of the city's future.

 

Southbank: Where arts and entertainment collide

Best for: Culture vultures, anyone seeking a dash of riverside glamour, and those who love a little casino excitement.

Evans Walker Bridge. Southbank, Melbourne

Credit: Josie Withers for Visit Victoria

The Arts Centre's dramatic spire dominates the skyline, a beacon of Melbourne's creative spirit. Below, the Yarra River shimmers, reflecting the city lights and the anticipation of a night out.  

Cafes spill onto the promenade, the air filled with laughter, the clink of glasses, and the promise of an unforgettable evening. This is Southbank – where art meets urban energy, and the possibilities feel endless.

Why you'll love it here:

  • Culture at your fingertips: Think world-class galleries like the National Gallery of Victoria, breathtaking theatres, and a calendar packed with performances. 
  • Crown Casino: Roll the dice! Craving a touch of Vegas-style glitz? The Crown Hotel & Casino complex is where you'll find it, with gaming, shopping, and top-notch restaurants.
  • Stroll the promenade: Enjoy stunning river views as you wander the Southbank Promenade, which is lined with cafes and buzzing with energy.

Now remember, every Melbourne neighbourhood has its own distinct personality.  Where you choose to stay becomes part of your unique experience, a story to tell when you return home. Choose wisely, and let your Melbourne adventure unfold!

Things to do in Melbourne: What to see, play, and taste

Federation Square, Melbourne

Credit: Robert Blackburn for Visit Victoria

Melbourne's got secrets hidden down every laneway, the aroma of amazing coffee chasing you around corners, and a creative spirit that's absolutely contagious. From iconic spots to tucked-away gems, get ready for an unforgettable experience in Australia's cultural capital. 

Here's your sneak peek at the must-dos that'll make your heart sing 'Melbourne, I love you'!

  1. Federation Square: Love it or hate it, it's pure Melbourne. This bold, modern space is where art, culture, and events collide (and sometimes clash!). Check out the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, admire the unique architecture, or soak up the buzz at one of the many festivals held here. (Google Maps)
  2. Flinders Street Station: Step back in time (and catch your train!) Those iconic clocks, the grand facade...this station is a Melbourne landmark.  Snap a photo, then hop on a train to explore more of the city's hidden corners. (Google Maps)
  3. Royal Botanic Gardens: Escape the bustle and connect with nature This sprawling 94-acre oasis is a breath of fresh air just minutes from the bustling CBD. Meander through lush landscapes admire exotic plants, and maybe even treat yourself to a picnic surrounded by beauty. (Google Maps)
  4. Take a few laneway adventures: Explore vibrant laneways overflowing with murals, cobblestone streets, and hidden cafes – start your journey on Degraves Street and Centre Place. To truly unlock the stories and history behind the art, take a street art tour and uncover hidden meanings in iconic locations like Little Bourke Street, Coromandel Place, Meyers Place, and throughout the CBD! 
  5. Queen Victoria Market: Immerse yourself in the vibrant bustle of Australia's largest open-air market! Indulge in fresh produce, discover unique ingredients, and meet passionate traders. Uncover the market's rich history on a guided foodie tour, or grab a map and explore on your own – parking and an Information Hub (corner of F Shed and Queen Street) make your visit easy. (Google Maps)
  6. Embrace Melbourne's music scene: This city loves a good gig. Iconic spots like The Corner Hotel and The Palais Theatre host everyone from local legends to big-name acts.  Rock, indie, jazz...find your groove at intimate bars or massive concert halls.
  7. Coffee crawl, Melbourne-style: Melbourne is a haven for serious coffee lovers, from hole-in-the-wall spots where the focus is purely on the perfect brew to vibrant cafes bursting with personality. Explore neighbourhoods like Fitzroy and Brunswick Street for a taste of the city's legendary coffee scene, where every corner offers a new and exciting caffeine adventure.
  8. Shop 'til you drop on Chapel Street: Indulge in Melbourne's vibrant retail therapy scene on iconic Chapel Street. From quirky boutiques and independent designers to established brands and vintage stores, this buzzing strip caters to every taste and budget. (Google Maps)
  9. Enjoy riverside refreshments: By far one of the best ways to soak up the city vibes is with a drink by the Yarra River. Choose from a variety of trendy bars, casual pubs, or rooftop restaurants – all offering stunning riverside views. Enjoy a refreshing beverage, watch the world go by, and experience Melbourne's dynamic atmosphere.
  10. Go on a art aficionado's adventure:  Embark on a cultural journey at the National Gallery of Victoria. Explore a diverse collection spanning centuries and continents, from Indigenous Australian art to European masterpieces. Don't miss the vibrant temporary exhibitions and innovative programs – there's something to inspire every art enthusiast. (Google Maps)
  11. Join the crowd's roar at the MCG: Footy, cricket, concerts...this iconic stadium is where Melbourne comes together to cheer (and sometimes argue) about their favourite teams. Even if you're not a die-hard sports fan, the energy is infectious! (Google Maps)
  12. Spark your curiosity at Scienceworks: Let your inner scientist run wild! This hands-on museum is a blast for kids and adults alike, with interactive exhibits, a planetarium, and a whole lot of "whoa, that's cool!" moments. (Google Maps)

Want to experience the real Melbourne?  Embrace the things that locals love, and you'll leave with memories that go far beyond the typical guidebook sights.

 

Places to Visit Near Melbourne

Melbourne's urban buzz is undeniable, but a different kind of magic awaits just a short drive away.

Trade city streets for stunning vistas, bustling markets for quaint villages, and discover Victoria's diverse beauty. Let's explore beyond the expected and find the heart of Australia that’s ideal for day trips.

 

Mornington Peninsula: Melbourne's seaside escape

Millionaire's Walk in Mornington Peninsula

Credit: Jesse Hisco for Visit Victoria

Mornington Peninsula is located south of Melbourne city, about an hour and a half by train or car (buses tend to take between 2 and 4 hours, so probably best avoided), and has so much to offer.

What makes it special:

Stunning beaches, award-winning wineries, outdoor adventures…Mornington Peninsula is where locals go to recharge.

Why you'll love it:
  • Beach bliss: Swim, surf, or sunbathe on pristine shores, perfect for lazy days or catching waves.
  • Vineyard hopping: Taste your way through the region's top wineries, with views that are just as delicious as the wine.
  • Outdoor adventures: Hike coastal trails for ja
  • ropping scenery, or unwind in the natural geothermal waters of the Peninsula Hot Springs.
  • Foodie paradise: Fresh seafood, farm-to-table dining, and gourmet goodies at every turn.
  • Golf lover's dream: Tee off on world-class courses with 
  • w-dstunning ocean backdrops.

The Mornington Peninsula is Melbourne's weekend playground. From indulgent escapes to active adventures, it's got something to make everyone's getaway unforgettable.

 

The Great Ocean Road: Where nature steals the show

Aerial Shot of Great Ocean Road, Australia

Credit: Judah from stock.adobe.com

The Great Ocean Road stretches along the southwest coast of Victoria, offering a 243-kilometre scenic journey unlike any other. Now, the best way to enjoy this is to hire a car and hit the road, and depending on how much time you have will determine how far you’ll go. 

But however long you drive for and whatever car you have, the breathtaking views make it well worth the trip.  However, you can join a guided tour for a hassle-free experience and to see the highlights, such as the Twelve Apostles or Torquay (just over an hour’s drive away).

What makes it special:

 This isn't just a drive; it's an epic journey along a coastline carved by wind and waves. Get ready for unforgettable views at every turn.

Must-see marvels along the way
  • The Twelve Apostles: These iconic rock formations stand tall against the crashing waves, a testament to the power of nature. This is a must if you can get to it. 
  • Surf's up: Ride the legendary waves at Torquay, or find your own secret beach paradise tucked along the coast.
  • Beyond the beach: Lush rainforests and cascading waterfalls of the Great Otway National Park offer a different kind of adventure.

The Great Ocean Road is more than a road trip; it's a journey through some of Australia's most breathtaking scenery. Buckle up, roll down the windows, and let the wild beauty of Victoria wash over you.

 

Yarra Valley: Wine, views, and a touch of indulgence 

Farm in Yarra Valley Melbourne

Credit: VietDung from stock.adobe.com

The Yarra Valley, known for its rolling hills and world-class wineries, lies northeast of Melbourne. It's easily reached within an hour's drive, making it a perfect day trip. 

For those without a car, several tour companies offer guided Yarra Valley experiences with transportation included.

What makes it special:

It's tour wine country escape - rolling vineyards, gourmet delights, and a relaxed pace that are worlds away from the city. This is where Melbourne goes to unwind in style.

Why you'll love it:
  • Vineyard adventures: Explore award-winning wineries, sample delicious varietals, and learn what makes Yarra Valley wines so special.
  • Sky-high views: Float above it all in a hot air balloon at sunrise. The patchwork of vineyards and rolling hills is a sight you won't forget.
  • Foodie paradise: Amazing wine deserves amazing food. Think farm-fresh produce at charming cafes, gourmet cheese and chocolate tastings, and restaurants with views that rival the dishes.

The Yarra Valley is about slowing down and savouring the good things in life.  Let the stunning scenery and delicious flavours transport you.

 

Daylesford: Where relaxation is an art form

Daylesford from above

Credit: Safari Global for Visit Victoria

Daylesford, nestled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, is about an hour and a half drive northwest of Melbourne. Its natural mineral springs and wellness focus make it a popular spa retreat. You can easily reach Daylesford by car, or opt for a train journey to nearby Woodend and then complete the trip by bus.

What makes it special:

It's your chance to escape your stress, Think bubbling mineral springs, soothing spa treatments, and a slower pace that melts away city stress.

Why it's worth the road trip:
  • Healing waters: Soak in the natural mineral springs that have drawn people to Daylesford for centuries. Choose from luxury bathhouses or a more rustic, natural experience.
  • Boutique bliss: Stroll charming streets lined with unique shops, art galleries, and cafes overflowing with character.
  • Recharge in nature: Enjoy scenic walks around Lake Daylesford or climb Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens for incredible views of the area.

Daylesford is where you go to breathe deeply, treat yourself, and leave feeling refreshed and renewed.

 

Phillip Island: Wildlife wonders and beachside fun

Aerial view of Phillip Island, near Melbourne

Credit: The View From Here for Tourism Australia/Visit Victoria

Phillip Island, a haven for wildlife lovers, can be found south of Melbourne. It takes approximately two hours to reach by car (four hours by train or bus) and then a short ferry across to Tankerton Pier. 

This charming island offers stunning beaches, the iconic Penguin Parade, and an opportunity to see a variety of Australian wildlife up close.

What makes it special:

Picture adorable penguins waddling ashore at dusk, stunning beaches perfect for swimming or surfing, and a chance to see playful seals up close.

Why you'll love it:
  • Penguin parade: This heartwarming spectacle is a bucket list experience. Witness hundreds of little penguins returning home after a day at sea – it's pure magic.
  • Seal Rocks adventure: Take a boat tour and get up close and personal with Australia's largest fur seal colony. Watch them play, sunbathe, and maybe even catch a wave!
  • Beach bliss: From family-friendly shores to epic surf spots like Smiths Beach, soak up the sun and sea on this island paradise.

Melbourne is a city that stays with you long after you leave. From hidden laneway art and buzzing cafes to stunning natural landscapes and unforgettable wildlife encounters, there's something for everyone. Whether you yearn for vibrant city energy or crave relaxing escapes, Melbourne delivers an experience unlike anywhere else.

Now that you've armed yourself with all the essentials, it's time to start planning your dream Melbourne adventure. Remember to let your curiosity lead the way, embrace the unexpected, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Melbourne awaits!