When in Victoria, Australia wanted to go sightseeing in Melbourne. How was it and what did we see in the Australian metropolis of four million people?
To get to the sights we mostly walked. We also used the free circle tram and, when needed, other trams to more distant locations.
We will now tell you what the top sights of Melbourne are and where you will find them. Now, let’s dive into Melbourne!
Where to begin: Melbourne Flinders Street Station
Even when Melbourne is a city spread on a huge area most of the sights are packed into the limited downtown zone.
For that reason we will start in Central Melbourne and then get further away into all four directions, north, east, west and south.
This was our Melbourne sightseeing itinerary:
Melbourne Sightseeing Itinerary on the Map
Map of Melbourne sightseeing itinerary
The map shows the itinerary to popular Melbourne attractions, supposing you travel by car.
However, you can easily walk the same itinerary in a day or two. An exception is the South Melbourne Foreshore where you will need to travel by tram.
If you get tired of walking, it’s good to know that Melbourne has a very good public transport system. And that there’s a free tram zone covering the city centre – and a free, tourist-friendly Circle Tram:
The Melbourne City Circle Tram
The Melbouorne Circle Tram
Melbourne delights its visitors with a free Circle Tram. The tram makes a loop around the city centre and you are free to hop on and off as you like.
Most of the top sights exist along the route or a short walk from it so feel free to use the tram!
This is the Melbourne Circle Tram route map: Public Transport Victoria: Free Tourist Tram
Melbourne City Tours
In addition there are, of course, organized city tours if you want to join them. They basically take you to the same sights and possibly to some others further away.
One more Melbourne tram:
A modern Melbourn tram
Now about the city centre:
Melbourne Central Business District
We will start with the Melbourne Central Business District.
The CBD is a busy area with modern buildings and glassed skyscrapers, and beautiful historic buildings in between. Like the city’s main railway station at Flinders Street that you can see in the photos.
Christmas trees on Melbourne’s Federation Square
Right opposite to the main station is Melbourne’s public living room Federation Square.
A modern square where the locals can sit down and relax. And meet at the cafes and bars, not to forget the exhibitions in the building.
The ultra modern Federation Square complex
Read more about Federation Square and its museums in this post: Yarra River Walk through Central Melbourne.
Street views of Melbourne Central Business District
Melbourne Town Hall
More tourist sights within the Melbourne CBD are the Town Hall in the southern part of it and the State Library building at the north end.
The Town Hall preparing for Christmas
Then, Bourke and Swanston Streets are the busiest shopping streets of Melbourne while Collins Street too has a row of upmarket shops.
To satisfy all shopping needs,, there also are the normal shopping malls inside blocks.
Shopping in Melbourne: Bourke Street
Melbourne CBD in a photo gallery:
Click on the small photos and they will open up in a gallery.
The CBD is perfect for a city walk, even during hot Australian summers. The many trees lining CBD streets provide shade from summer heat – and protect from winds at winter time.
Read more about the Melbourne CBD winter time in the post Yarra River Walk through Central Melbourne.
Sightseeing in Melbourne: Chinatown
The gate of Melbourne Chinatown
Melbourne’s Chinatown is in the north eastern part of the CBD, covering many blocks of the city.
Easy to guess that this is the center of the growing Chinese immigrant population, and for all others the Melbourne Chinatown is a favourite place to come to.
The Melbourne Chinatown is well known for its many Chinese and Asian restaurants and shops selling Chinese products. There’s also a big Chinese Museum.
Sightseeing in Melbourne: The Southbank
The Yarra and the Southbank
As the name says Melbourne’s Southbank is the area south of the Yarra River.
The quarters south of Yarra have some famous sights, mainly museums and entertainment centres, and a long row of popular cafés and restaurants along the riverbank walking area.
Southbank has the Eureka Tower, the highest building of the southern hemisphere.
The Eureka tower offers tourists a splendid view over the whole Melbourne area, in all four directions. Recommend, take the lift up, just for the views!
The Yarra and the Southbank
The photos show what the Southbank pedestrian area on Yarra River looks like in early autumn, at the time when the trees are turning yellow.
To see the Melbourne Southbank in winter time check out the post Yarra River Walk through Central Melbourne.
Melbourne Southbank pedestrian zone
From Southbank you can easily walk back to the CBD, just choose one of the many Yarra bridges.
Melbourne Immigration Museum
Sightseeing in Melbourne: Immigration Museum
Immigration Museum is to the north of Yarra. It presents interesting personal stories of women, men and children who left behind what they had to find a new life in Australia. The journey from Europe was long and risky and the weeks on the fully-packed ships was a hard time for the emigrants.
People from over 100 countries moved to Australia for different reasons, often for poverty, a crisis or a war, or just a wish for a better life. In Britain and elsewhere in Europe they also encouraged people to migrate.
Starting from early settlers from Britain to recent migration from Asia this museum helps understand how Australia was built, not forgetting the original Australians.
Immigration history on a Yarra walking-bridge
History and immigration statistics from almost all countries of the world is shown in numbers on a walking-bridge. A very interesting exhibition.
And of course migration to Australia has not ended, far from that: today one out of four Australians is born overseas in a different country and almost one fourth of Australians speaks another language than English at home.
Today’s Australia looks more like a multicultural than a British or European society.
Sightseeing in Melbourne: Fitzroy Gardens
Melbourne Fitzroy Gardens
The Fitzroy Gardens are a few blocks east of the CBD. The green park is heritage listed and a popular picnic spot for the locals.
Australia’s oldest building Captain James Cook’s cottage and its herb garden is located in Fitzroy Gardens. It is an interesting sight and reminds us of Australia’s exciting history. You are free to visit the historic cottage and the herb garden behind it.
Captain James Cook’s cottage
At night you can see possums that live in many of the old trees of the park.
Some more views of Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens:
When walking through the park on a summer Saturday afternoon there were two weddings going on. And at the same time there were families preparing for their picnics: carrying garden furniture, white table-clothes, food and wine for their park parties. And then decorating it all.
Melbourne Museum and Carlton Gardens
Not a long way from Fitzroy Gardens is the Melbourne Museum.
The museum has eight galleries that give visitors an insight into Australia’s and Victoria’s nature, culture and history. The exhibitions are planned to interest both adults and kids.
Melbourne Museum, sightseeing in Melbourne
The same museum also has an exhibition on local Aboriginal culture. You’ll find the exhibition at the Bunjilaka Cultural Centre.
There is also a forest room where you can learn about Australian bushfires and the regeneration of forest that has always happened through them. We didn’t know that Australian nature so badly needs bushfires.
Next to the Melbourne Museumis the huge Unesco World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building:
Carlton Gardens and Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne
Sightseeing in Melbourne: Lygon Street
The Italian street of Melbourne
Lygon Street is also called Little Italy and it is the home of the big Italian community of Melbourne.
Street cafes and eateries serve traditional Italian food and coffee and you can hear Italian spoken by the locals.
Europe or Australia?
Sightseeing in Melbourne: Queen Victoria Market
A view of Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne
The Queen Victoria Market is the next Melbourne attraction: a bustling market from 1878.
Generations of Melbournians have done their weekly fruit, vegetable, fish and meat shopping in this place and they still do it.
Saturday is the busiest shopping day.
Local wine being sold on Victoria Market
Walk here for a while and you’ll see how delicious food and wines Australia produces.
Now we have seen the main sights of Melbourne, the city centre, Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne Museum, Lygon Street and Victoria Market.
Maybe you still want to see what Australian beach life is like?
South Melbourne Beach
South Melbourne Beach
This is an optional itinerary you can take any time if you get tired of the city. At some point it might happen you just start feeling it’s beach time. No problem, in Melbourne it is easy to get to the beach, just take the tram.
The South Melbourne beach is the closest beach to the city, and there’s one more beach you can reach by tram: the famous St. Kilda beach a bit further south.
If you want to see more around South Melbourne you can head east to the centre of the South Melbourne suburb. There is the beautiful Albert Park with a lake with black swans. This is the place where the Melbourne Formula Grand Prix races are held each year in March.
If you like you can continue south to the beach suburb of St Kilda that also has penguins hiding at the end of the pier. On your way back (take the tram) you can stop and see the Royal Botanic Gardens which you can read about here.
We hope you enjoyed our self-guided Melbourne sightseeing tour and that you will have a good time in Melbourne, Australia!
For more information on Melbourne and its surroundings check out these posts:
More about Melbourne
- You can see penguins and possums right in Melbourne: Melbourne Penguins and Possums Self-Guided Tour
- A river walk in winter Melbourne: Yarra River walk in Central Melbourne
- A huge Melbourne event is the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix held each autumn.
- How did it feel to return to Melbourne from Europe and start living there one more time? Settling in Melbourne for Work and Living
The official Melbourne travel website: Visit Melbourne
Day Trips from Melbourne
- The Great Ocean Road is a must see when in Melbourne. The post Great Ocean Road Self Drive Trip will guide you.
- Phillip Island is a popular day trip from Melbourne: Phillip Island Self Drive from Melbourne
- Yarra Valley is a popular day trip destination as well: Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges Drive
Drive from Melbourne to Sydney
Melbourne to Sydney coastal drive in a campervan
- We rented a campervan for the scenic drive from Melbourne to Sydney: Melbourne to Sydney Drive along Coast