Sightseeing in Melbourne is a breeze on the Victorian capital’s iconic double-decker hop on hop off buses. Choose from two routes — the City Tour and the St Kilda Tour, both with recorded commentary. Purchase a 24 or 48-hour pass, which include unlimited opportunities to hop on and off at designated stops. Duration: 24/48 hours
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Hop on hop off bus tours are a great way to get your bearings in a new city and plan what you want to explore further.
City Sightseeing Melbourne’s tours on their distinctive red double-decker buses are no exception. There are two routes around the Victorian capital and a total of 27 stops — giving visitors the opportunity to get to most of the top things to see and do, and to hop on or off as often as they like. The recorded commentary shares information about the city’s landmarks and attractions along the way.
The City Tour (red route) has 15 stops, and takes in the best known tourist attractions within or close to the CBD. Buses run every 40 minutes. The St Kilda Tour (black route) has 12 stops linking the centre of Melbourne with the trendy bayside suburb of St Kilda. Buses on this route operate every two hours. Here’s a rundown on what you can expect on both.
Watch our video of this experience:
A Melbourne Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour is the ideal way to see the Victorian capital’s key sights, and in this video we preview some of the highlights of the City Route.
The City Tour takes around two hours if you don’t hop off at any of the stops. Leaving Federation Square, one of the city’s most popular public spaces, the bus heads south to skirt the city’s arts precinct. It then makes a beeline for the Docklands — the harbourside residential and entertainment area that has been developed over the past 20 years. Here you can take a stroll along the water and admire the public art.
Back in the CBD, you’ll pass the historic food halls of the Queen Victoria Market — a Melbourne institution and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
Passing the terrace houses of Parkville and the University of Melbourne, the bus soon arrives at Melbourne Zoo. The zoo has been a cherished landmark for Melburnians for more than 150 years, and is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. A guided tour (free with your entry ticket) with a volunteer guide is a great way to explore.
If you’ve ever wondered how Melburnians became so obsessed with coffee, hop off in Lygon Street in the heart of Melbourne’s Little Italy precinct. Following World War II, thousands of Italian immigrants made Melbourne their new home, and many settled here in Carlton. One enterprising fellow had the foresight to bring an espresso machine from his homeland and the rest, as they say, is history.
After passing the parliamentary precinct — which boasts some of the city’s finest period architecture, the bus reaches the Melbourne Cricket Ground — the final City Tour stop. Known simply as ‘the G’ to locals, the stadium has hosted the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games, rock and roll royalty, and even a Pope!
The MCG is best known as the home of Australian Football (AFL) and cricket. The sound of 90-odd thousand people cheering on their team has been likened to the noise of a low flying jet. The stadium is also home to the outstanding Australian Sports Museum.
The St Kilda Tour also departs from Federation Square. On the way to the bayside suburb made famous by a number of Aussie TV dramas, the tour passes by the striking Shrine of Remembrance — the city’s monolithic war memorial, the Botanical Gardens and Albert Park Lake.
Trendy St Kilda is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, and the beach is always packed on a hot day. There are plenty of pubs, cafes, restaurants and live music venues in the area.
Acland Street — the café strip famous for its cake shops, is just a short distance from where the bus stops. Given there’s a two-hour break in St Kilda until the next bus, you’ll have plenty of time to walk off some of the calories you might choose to consume, with a stroll along the St Kilda foreshore to the historic pier. If you happen to visit on a Sunday, you can also browse the St Kilda Esplanade Market.
Luna Park is one of St Kilda’s best known attractions. The huge grinning face that presides over the entrance is possibly the most photographed object in Melbourne. The amusement park boasts the oldest continuously operating roller coaster in the world.
The return journey to the city is via Beaconsfield Parade with its spectacular bay views. There are further stops at Station Pier, Port Melbourne, and Crown Casino.
The two tours provide hassle-free transfers between the city’s top attractions. Tickets are available for 24 or 48 hours from the time you first board. The two-day option is recommended if you plan to get off the bus a lot and explore. Sitting on the open top deck does provide exceptional views but it can make the commentary difficult to hear. You’ll need to weigh that up when deciding where to sit.
Additional images: Bigstock
Louise Reynolds made up her mind at the age of about four that she would one day travel the world — and has so far visited around 30 countries across five continents and the Pacific. A hopeless Francophile, she has a particular love for France, its language and pretty much all things French. Louise’s favourite way to see the world is on foot and her boots have taken her walking on famous trails in Europe, South America and New Zealand. She also has a passion for her home state of Victoria and loves exploring its diverse regions.