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July 17, 2017updated Dec 20, 2023

Things to do in Melbourne

By Lauren Jade Hill

While some people know Melbourne for its diversity of arts and culture, others celebrate this laid-back city for its abundance of outdoor space, both in the city and within its immediate surroundings. We take a look at the best things to do in Melbourne for an insight into the qualities it’s defined by.

Arts and Culture

From urban art studios to revered fine arts institutions, and from cutting-edge creations to historic artifacts, Melbourne has a great deal to uncover within its museums and galleries. The National Gallery of Victoria is the ideal place to start as Australia’s oldest and largest museum with a collection containing over 73,000 works of art. From there you can then seek out some of the more specialist sites, such as Heide Museum of Modern Art, which combines art and architecture with social history and landscape, and the national museum of film, video, digital culture and art, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

Said to be the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere, Melbourne Museum places the focus on natural and cultural history, but there are many more museums that are also worth visiting, from the National Sports Museum—located within Melbourne Cricket Ground—to the city’s Immigration Museum.

City Life

Whether it’s the café culture or street markets that draw you in, these local favorites provide unrivaled insight into life in the city. The cultural precinct Federation Square is one of Melbourne’s main gathering spots as it becomes the setting for events throughout the year, with a collection of eating and drinking venues and some of the city’s major museums within its perimeters. Dating back to the 1850s, Chinatown is another distinct neighborhood to explore for its Chinese Museum, historic buildings and authentic Chinese restaurants.

Two of the most popular markets in the city are then the South Melbourne Market and Queen Victoria Market. While the formers sells fresh produce and global fare in an indoor market space, the latter sells a variety of items and covers around seven hectares, making it the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Outdoors

Perhaps the most internationally celebrated green space here is the Royal Botanic Gardens. Located near to the center of the city, the Melbourne Gardens take up more than 38 hectares with more than 50,000 plants. Alternatively, pay a visit to the historic Fitzroy Gardens,  or the largest area of natural bushland in Melbourne, Yarra Bend Park. For further exploration, head out of the city to Victoria’s coastline and vineyards.

Where to Stay

The Langham

Appealingly located on Melbourne’s Southbank promenade, this five-star hotel is known for the views it affords of the Yarra River and city skyline. The hotel exhibits classic elegance, from the sumptuously furnished rooms to the award-winning restaurant Melba, Aria Bar & Lounge and decadent Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood. The Asian-inspired Chuan Spa then provides a setting for pampering, as well as being home to a fitness studio and swimming pool.

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Grand Hyatt Melbourne

Considered one of Melbourne’s stalwart grand hotels, the Grand Hyatt proves to be a continual draw for its opulence as well as its setting on Melbourne’s high end Collins Street. What’s more, the hotel is home to an eclectic range of dining venues, including signature restaurant Ru-Co, and experiences including High Tea in Style by Cristina Re. To balance the emphasis on gastronomy, the hotel houses the City Club Health & Fitness Center.

Sofitel Melbourne on Collins

Also on Collins Street, the Sofitel is another of the leading five-star hotels here, combining its luxury amenities with more contemporary design, fusing Australian style with French influence. This French identity can also be seen in No35 Restaurant, which offers modern cuisine, and the contemporary Atrium Bar on 35.

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