Melbourne has so much to offer visitors that it can be tricky to know where to begin.
If you are visiting the city for the first time, here are five top sights and attractions. You’ll see all of them on our Melbourne city tours and hop on hop off bus tours. Try and find time to explore them in more detail during your stay.
1. Federation Square
When in Melbourne all roads lead to ‘Fed Square’, as the locals call it. The quirky, angular architecture caused an uproar when it was built but Federation Square has become a much-loved landmark. This one-stop cultural precinct is home to the Ian Potter Centre (part of the National Gallery of Victoria) and Australian Centre of the Moving Image (ACMI). With cafes, restaurants, bars, and event and exhibition spaces, there’s always something happening in this bustling precinct.
2. National Gallery of Victoria
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) holds the honour of being Australia’s most popular public art gallery and, aside from some temporary exhibitions, it’s also absolutely free of charge. Its extensive collection includes works spanning centuries and genres, and throughout the year it runs a programme of contemporary cultural events encompassing design, fashion, art and architecture.
3. Melbourne Cricket Ground
If Melbourne has a heart, it beats from the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The ‘G’ is the spiritual home of the city’s many sporting traditions — most notably Australian Rules Football (AFL). If you have the chance to attend a match during your visit, it’s quite an experience! The behind-the-scenes guided tour is a must-do for diehard sports fans.
4. St Kilda Beach
While it’s famous for the grotesquely smiling mega-mouth of Luna Park, there’s far more to enjoy on the St Kilda foreshore than just fairground attractions. Tantalise your tastebuds at the drool-worthy cake shops of Acland St, take in the exquisite architecture of the historic Palais Theatre and St Kilda Pier, and, if you’re there at sunset, you can even encounter penguins around the breakwater.
5. Melbourne Museum
Melbourne Museum is the city’s definitive showcase of cultural and natural history, and the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere. Along with the incredible living rainforest, the most popular exhibitions are the huge blue whale skeleton and the taxidermied hide of the legendary Aussie racehorse Phar Lap. There are regular touring exhibitions and joint tickets are available for the IMAX theatre. Take a stroll next door around the historic Royal Exhibition Building, which dates back to 1880.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Julietta Henderson is a Melbourne-based travel and feature writer. Originally planning to visit London for six months, she ended up staying for ten years and now divides her time between her home in Australia and several months of the year in the UK, Italy and France. Julietta has travelled extensively through Europe, North America, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia and Russia, and believes the keys to a great travel experience are an open heart, an open mind and an open-ended ticket.
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