Top Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
Boasting lush gardens, towering glass buildings, and endless restaurants, cafes, and culture, Melbourne is a fantastic destination to add to your ever-growing 'to visit' list. After all, it's no coincidence that we've chosen to base the Scrubba wash bag office here despite most of our staff originally hailing from out of town! If that's not enough to convince you of Melbourne's magnificence (we might be just a little biased, after all) allow us to share some of our favourite places and activities that have helped Melbourne earn the title of Most Liveable City in the World for seven years running:
Street art simply abounds in Melbourne and according to our managing director, Ash, it's one of the city's best assets:
"There's always something new to see and consider - countless stories projected in a constantly changing artistic landscape that brings together voices from incredibly diverse backgrounds. It's impossible to get bored."
Street art that powerfully showcases Melbourne's unique colours and forms - as interpreted and imagined by diverse artists of both local and foreign origin - is rife throughout this pulsating city. Exploring a wide range of locations is therefore recommended to truly appreciate the reverberating harmonies of art, architecture, and culture that tumble out of Melbourne's unique urban spaces. The welcome splash of colour in approved zones throughout the city firmly banishes the monotonous grey scale typical of many metropolises and never fails to provoke thought and encourage new ideas in its admirers. To fully appreciate the scope of this creativity and to immerse yourself in the artistic ambience of Melbourne's street art scene, consider taking one of the popular street art tours. The best part? As public galleries that celebrate freedom of artistic expression, the art that adorns Melbourne's many lane-ways, like the artistic styles and influences behind it, is constantly changing, meaning you can explore, ponder, and rediscover over and over again.
Iconic Buildings from Flinders Street Station to Federation Square:
As a former student of architecture, our office administrator, Jacqui, jumped at the chance to share some of the Melbourne locations that have helped encourage her to put down permanent roots here. Hailing from Canberra, she says:
"Melbourne offers a great range of architectural styles that never cease to amaze. Particularly notable is the city's juxtaposition of old and new."
Indeed, nestled between those shimmering high rises and glossy office blocks lie some truly beautiful, or at least thought-provoking, examples of both Victorian and more modern architecture. Perfectly encapsulating this dichotomy and conveniently located opposite each other are the iconic Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, the former a dominating, Edwardian Baroque station that has lain at the heart of Melbourne's urban development for more than a hundred years, the latter a modern, bustling square that hosts everything from restaurants and bars to major cultural attractions, events, and tourism experiences.
Those interested in older architecture can feast upon the Unesco World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building, constructed in 1880 in familiar Victorian style, and the eternally impressive, neoclassical State Library of Victoria, opened in 1856. For a more modern affair, delve into the Melbourne Museum, the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere and an important space for the blending of history, culture, education and contemporary society. The Eureka Skydeck, which offers some fantastic views of the city from its 88th floor observation deck, the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere, is also a must-see.
For something a little less outwardly grand that nevertheless offers an incredibly rich experience, it's hard to look past the simple and refined National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), complete with its expansive collections that span thousands of years and encapsulate near-infinite ideas and expressions. Founded in 1861, the gallery is Australia's oldest art museum and remains its largest and most visited.
Although we love all the locations listed here, there are so many more beautiful places to visit in Melbourne, so be sure to do your research before you arrive to avoid missing out on something special!
Royal Botanic Gardens:
"There are few things I would consider more pleasant than strolling through the Royal Botanic Gardens on a warm, sunny day. Even if it's out of my way, it's a detour I always want to take."
So says Sarah, our office administrator who, although born in Melbourne, moved to the UK at a very young age and has only recently returned to her city of birth.
Established in 1846, the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens' collection of more than 8,500 species of plants from around the world lushly spills over 38 hectares. A true oasis, it proudly hosts the pulsation of life that persists despite the industrial clamour of the city than surrounds it. Dedicated to the conservation of plants and committed to horticulture, science and education, the Botanic Gardens are an incredibly important facet of Melbourne and it's not uncommon to see visitors and locals alike sprawled out under the shade of the expansive trees, reading, chatting, or simply enjoying the fresh air and the ambience of nature on a warm spring day.
One could spend a day or more ambling along the smooth paths that wind neatly through the lawns, admiring the diverse flora and the abundant fauna it attracts, so you should definitely devote at least a couple of hours to exploring the area and getting back to nature in the heart of the city. While visiting the gardens, don't forget to stop by the Shrine of Remembrance. One of the largest war memorials in Australia, it's dedicated to the men and women who have served in the conflicts in which Australia has participated.
Coffee and Cafe Culture:
One of my all time favourite things to explore in Melbourne is its streets, eternally littered with unique stores and colourful characters. A first-generation Melburnian, I've grown up in the city's expanding suburbs, can't imagine my life anywhere else, and am incredibly grateful that my family made the decision to put down roots here after leaving the UK.
One of Melbourne's most striking acquisitions over the years, and indeed one of the things for which the city is now perhaps best known, is its bustling coffee culture. Melburnians just love a good brew and are particularly fond of local, often niche cafes, far preferring these to the larger chain stores that often struggle to penetrate the thriving coffee network that has filtered into even the farthest-flung corners of the city.
If you want to fearlessly plunge headfirst into Melbourne's quintessential coffee beat, why not head for Degraves Street? This narrow, pedestrian thoroughfare connects to Flinders Street Station and is simply teeming with alfresco dining experiences, not to mention the very cafes and examples of artistic expression, that are integral to the heart and soul of Melbourne.
Another hidden gem accessible from Degraves Street is Campbell Arcade. Connecting to Flinders Street Station via an underpass lined with iconic salmon tiles, this thoroughfare and underground shopping precinct is loaded with unique shops peddling all manner of crafts from independent and local fashion to handcrafted jewellery - and yes, of course more of that coffee we mentioned earlier, because Melbourne's affinity for caffeine persists both above and below ground. The arcade is also notable for its 12 glass display cabinets, "The Dirty Dozen". Managed by the Creative Spaces program, it showcases diverse work from a range of artists, scientists and engineers, just to name a few. It's a must-see for all those planning to travel to Melbourne.
Queen Victoria Market:
Hailing from Adelaide and never one to shy away from vivid descriptions, our copywriter, Anna, lists the famed Queen Victoria Market as one of her favourite destinations:
"I just love the unique sights, sounds and smells of the Queen Vic Market. There's a blend of history and culture that has somehow merged with urbanisation and the modern shopping experience to form a colourful, pulsating meeting space that never fails to sprinkle a welcome, rustic flavour over the city."
Bustling with eager shoppers looking for a bargain amongst the heritage sheds and boasting an atmosphere that is alive with the perfumes of all manner of dishes, seething with the calls of sellers shouting out the benefits of their product, and shimmering with the colours and textures of infinite goods, Queen Vic Market demands full sensory engagement for maximum enjoyment. Clothing, jewellery, and souvenirs abound at this 7 hectare, open-air market - one of the largest in the world - while meat and fish can be purchased at competitive prices in the deli halls. The only surviving 19th-century market in Melbourne's Central Business District (CBD), the Queen Vic Market is an important cultural icon of Melbourne. Stroll the stalls to uncover hidden wonders or make like a local and pick up a few hot jam doughnuts from the famed doughnut van that has operated since the 1950s, is still run by the family of the original owner, and has become a tradition for regular visitors.
We just love Melbourne and nothing excites us more than the opportunity to share it with others. And seeing as it's impossible to capture Melbourne's thriving atmosphere and rich history in any real detail in this scant list (not to mention the beauty of the rest of Victoria and Australia), you'll just have to come check it out for yourselves. There's no better time to start your southern adventure, but beware - you may find yourselves unwilling to leave!