Melbourne is a world-class city in which to live. Just ask anyone who chooses to call it home. Or indeed any of the people responsible for awarding it the title of the ‘world’s most liveable city’ on no less than seven occasions since 2000. But it’s not just residents who love Melbourne. The millions of people who visit it every year do as well.
That’s because the city has a unique vibe that is unlike anywhere else in Australia. Not to forget a collection of world-class sights and attractions that are the envy of most other capital cities in the world. If you are heading to the city, particularly for the first time on a long weekend, you might feel a little daunted by the prospect, given its sheer size and scale. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
Here is our suggestion of the perfect 3 day itinerary for Melbourne. Stick to this schedule, and you’ll see many of the city’s main highlights over the course of 72 hours.
The Perfect 3 Day Itinerary For Melbourne
Get your bearings around the CBD
On your first morning in Melbourne, it would be a good idea to get your bearings around the city. Initially you should do this by sticking to the area in and around the CBD.
This is where you will find many of its most iconic landmarks and attractions.
Head to Federation Square
Arguably the heartbeat of the city is Federation Square. So, this is as good a place as any to begin your tour of Melbourne.
Located across the street from Flinders St Station, which is the city’s main transport hub, you’ll find plenty of cafes, restaurants, bars and shops surrounding it.
This area also features several museums and galleries – the city is after all, the cultural capital of Australia. So, you might want to check out the Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building. Both of these are in Carlton Gardens and exhibit history, art and culture through their displays.
The ACMI, or rather the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, is somewhere else you might want to visit too. It regularly hosts art, film or culture-based events that you might find of interest.
Before you do any of that though, it’s worth taking in the magnificence of Flinders Street Station. It is one of the most attractive and oldest buildings in the city and is also a fabulous place for people-watching.
Visit the National Gallery of Victoria
If you only have time to visit one cultural attraction when you are in Melbourne, make it the National Gallery of Victoria.
Undoubtedly one of the most impressive art galleries in the country, it is renowned for its fantastic exhibitions which have featured the work of Van Gogh, Dior, Escher and Calver.
You won’t need to pay to peruse their permanent collection. But as it does get busy, it is worth visiting it early or just before closing time to maximise your enjoyment.
Peruse the laneways
One of Melbourne’s most striking features is its iconic laneways.
Famous around the world for the vibrant street art and graffiti that adorns its walls, some of the best examples of this can be seen at Union Lane, Hosier Lane, AC/DC Lane and Tattersalls.
As well as the art, the laneways are known for their excellent coffee shops and eateries, particularly around Centre Place, Hardware Lane and Degraves Street.
If you get something to go, then you’ll be able to save time by combining eating with your exploration.
Queen Victoria Market
Just a stone’s throw from Hosier Lane you’ll find Queen Victoria Market.
Renowned for being one of Australia’s best food markets, this is a terrific place to come for coffee, fresh doughnuts and a host of other street food snacks.
Over on Coventry Street, the South Melbourne Market is also a fantastic option for both food and general shopping.
Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens
One of Melbourne’s most beautiful attractions is the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens.
Founded in 1846, it covers 38 hectares which gently slopes down to the river, comprising a breathtaking mix of stately trees, vibrant garden beds, shimmering lakes and immaculate lawns.
If you brought some food at the laneways or Queen Victoria Market, the gardens make an excellent destination for a picnic. Though if you didn’t, you can also buy food there too.
The gardens are free to enter, although you will have to pay to punt on the lake or partake in any of their tours.
Tour the MCG
The MCG is one of the world’s great stadiums, so when in the city you should not miss the opportunity to go there.
Also known as the ‘G’, it is regarded as the home of cricket and AFL, although football is also regularly played there as well.
Aside from sports, it is also a venue for concerts and other musical performances. The likes of Guns ‘n Roses’, Eminem, Billy Joel and Ed Sheeran have all performed there in recent years.
If you happen to be in town when a game is on, then try to get tickets to watch. Just to be a part of the unique atmosphere which is created by the crowd.
Should no game be on, you can always go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the ground to discover more about Australia’s proud sporting history.
If you are not acrophobic, then you should take the opportunity to visit the Melbourne Skydeck.
You’ll find it on the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower. An imposing 297.3 m skyscraper situated within the Southbank precinct.
Situated just a couple of kilometres away from the MCG, this wonderful viewing deck showcases incredible panoramic views of the cityscape for as far as the eye can see.
Our recommendation would be to get there an hour before sunset. That way you will get to see the city by day from your lofted vantage point, as well as at sunset and under the lights of night.
Grab Dinner at Chinatown
Melbourne has a reputation for being the food capital of Australia and nowhere is this better illustrated than in Chinatown.
After a full day of sightseeing and walking you will no doubt be very hungry. So this is the perfect place to head to.
The roots of the city’s Chinatown can be traced back to the 1850s when the lure of seeking their fortune in the gold rush era brought many Chinese migrants to the city.
You’ll find Melbourne’s Chinatown to be an intoxicating mix of food stalls, restaurants, shops, fashion boutiques, bars and karaoke venues.
Starting at the eastern side of Little Bourke Street, it includes several alleyways, arcades and laneways that you could easily spend hours wandering around.
Visit the seaside
The chances are day one would have taken a lot out of you. So, what better thing to do for day two than to visit the beach?
St Kilda is a great place to head to and it is very easy to reach on account of the several tram services that run regular services there.
Whilst there why not do the following?
Visit St Kilda Pier
A true icon in the city, St Kilda’s Pier should be your first port of call.
The long jetty is lovely to walk on, especially on a sunny day when the water glistens from the sun.
There are plenty of places to grab a coffee and a quick bite to eat and it’s another good destination to people-watch. Or penguin watch for that matter.
Yes, you read that right. Penguins. The pier famously houses a colony of little penguins who reside beneath it!
Stroll around Luna Park
If you are visiting the city with children, you should definitely factor in some time at Luna Park. Even if you don’t, it’s still a very fun place to go!
For over 110 years, Luna Park has been Australia’s oldest, continuously operating theme park.
During a visit here, you’ll be able to ride the famous Scenic Railway that skirts around the perimeter of the park. You will also be able to have your photo taken underneath the iconic huge smiling clown face that act as the park’s main entrance.
Visit Brighton beach
Brighton Beach is one of Melbourne’s best-loved beaches and you’ll want to spend a bit of time here sunbathing, swimming and generally relaxing.
There are lots of cafes and bars where you can grab something to eat and drink, as well as funky boutique shops to peruse.
You should also take the opportunity to check out the famous and colourful beach boxes that line the foreshore.
An institution in the area, there are 82 such boxes overall, many of which have been handed down from generation to generation of families over the years.
Enjoy a night of Pinot and Picasso
After returning to your hotel to shower and freshen up, why not treat yourself to an evening of Pinot and Picasso in Melbourne?
This fabulous activity allows you to embrace your inner artist and oenophile through a refined paint and sip experience.
With a paintbrush in one hand and a nice glass of red in the other, you can tap into the city’s creative scene to enjoy and produce a masterpiece of your own.
There are 13 venues throughout the city, many of them situated near excellent restaurants. So you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one near your accommodation.
Venture into the suburbs
On your last day in Melbourne, you’ll want to make the most of your time there. So, it is probably best to stick to a couple of shorter journeys that involve venturing into the suburbs.
You can choose whichever ones you want to visit, but we suggest Collingwood and Fitzroy.
Collingwood is a trendy, cosmopolitan suburb that is home to many Gen Y professionals. There are plenty of cafes to enjoy a delicious breakfast or brunch at, but once you have fuelled up, then why not consider the following?
Go on a Street Art Tour
If you loved the urban art you saw at the laneways in the Melbourne CBD, then you should check out the scene at Collingwood (and later in Fitzroy too).
Whether you do this independently or via an organised tour is up to you. Though we would recommend the latter, simply because you would get all the backstories associated with their artists and some of the works.
Visit the Collingwood Children’s Farm
Although it promotes itself specifically, the Collingwood Children’s Farm is for animal lovers of all ages.
A very cool urban farm, it has lots of horses, chickens, cows and sheep on site, among several other animals.
As they are a not-for-profit organisation, should you visit the farm, you will be doing your bit to help support vulnerable Victorians within the local community. Particularly those who are struggling to cope with adversity.
Head to the Abbotsford Convent
Sprawled across 16 acres, the Abbotsford Convent is a terrific place to head to if you are a culture vulture, as it houses the largest multi-arts precinct in Australia.
Home to over 100 studios, it incorporates everything from galleries and a radio station to several green spaces and a school which are well worth checking out.
There are also several café options within the premises too.
Enjoy a craft beer
Throughout Melbourne, there are several top-quality breweries that produce exceptional craft beer.
One of the leading lights in this scene is The Stomping Ground, which is an independently run establishment on Gipps Street.
Adjudged the ‘Best Brewpub in Australia’ by Beer & Brewer magazine four years in a row, it is well worth coming here to sample their range if you are a zythophile.
Fitzroy is only a ten-minute walk from Collingwood, so you should take the opportunity to check it out.
There is an eclectic mix of boutique shops, gift stores, cafes and restaurants within the suburb, as well as some lovely markets and parks.
Start off at Brunswick Street, which is the main street in town, and then venture about as your curiosity dictates.
Have a night out at the CBD – clubbing
After leaving Fitzroy, you’ll not have much time left. So why not go out with a bang by painting the town red?
There are lots of places you can head to for a fantastic meal, including Movida, Naked for Satan, Sunda and the Pascale Bar & Grill. (Reservations are recommended for all places)
Once you’ve enjoyed an excellent meal, you can then dance the night away at any nightclub of your choice. We’d recommend Radar, Chaise Lounge, Revolver Upstairs or New Guernica. All of which are banging!