June 1, 2022

what to do in melbourne for a day

Written by Amelia

ah, the big question of what to do in Melbourne for a day.

Melbourne and its surroundings are incredibly diverse and offer a range of activities — from rich arts and cultural events to nature experiences and a day at the spa.

Whether you’re looking for exciting things to do in Melbourne this weekend or family-friendly activities throughout the week, take your pick from our list of must-dos and must-sees in the Melbourne area (naturally, we’ve also included some Mornington Peninsula activities).

wander the royal botanic gardens.

These 170-year-old gardens — which span 38 hectares of land right near the CBD — are spectacular in any weather (including hot days, when they provide welcome coolness and shade). Wander the grounds and marvel at the 8500 species of plants, enjoy a meal at onsite cafe The Terrace, sign up for forest bathing or be taken on a boat ride via Punting on the Lake. You can also take an Aboriginal Heritage Walk, or engage in a very quintessential Melbourne activity: walking the perimeter of the Gardens, known as “The Tan”.

The Royal Botanic Gardens regularly features special after-dark events, so the Gardens also make a great option if you’re looking for what to do in Melbourne at night.

venture through the Queen Vic Market.

Located just to the north of the CBD, the Queen Victoria (‘Vic’) Market has been running since 1878 and is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere. You can find everything here, from delicious artisan breads and cheeses, fresh produce and hot jam donuts to clothing and souvenirs.

There are also seasonal night markets, where you can enjoy scrumptious food from a wide variety of vendors and live music under twinkling fairy lights.

Queen Victoria Market - Image courtesy of Visit Victoria

take a trip to the mornington peninsula.

While Phillip Island has its fairy penguins and the Great Ocean Road offers a magnificent coastal drive, we can’t go past recommending a day spent visiting the Mornington Peninsula for activities.

There’s an impressive array of things to do on the Mornington Peninsula. Apart from breathtaking beaches and nature walks, the Mornington Peninsula is home to a plethora of award-winning wineries and restaurants. It’s also where you’ll find Peninsula Hot Springs, of course.

Peninsula Hot Springs offers over 50 globally-inspired wellness experiences — from hot geothermal mineral pools and saunas to cold plunge pools and massaging showers, so it’s ideal in all weather conditions. Plus, there’s the Spa Dreaming Centre if you fancy a day at the spa.

explore melbourne’s laneways and rooftops.

If you want to feel like a local, do as the Melbournians do. Sip on a latte in Degraves Street — known for its vibrant cafes and European feel — and then walk up to Hosier Lane to admire the street art. From there, it’s a short stroll to Italian restaurant and Melbourne institution Pellegrini’s for dinner. If you’re wondering what to do in Melbourne at night, the city is famous for its rooftops, and from Pellegrini’s you can make your way to Siglo or Madame Brussels for a rooftop cocktail.

Chinatown is also in this part of the city. Melbourne’s Chinatown is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western World, and it’s where you’ll find plenty of locals tucking into a cheerful meal.

Cape Schanck Boardwalk - Image courtesy of Visit Victoria

see a film at an historic cinema.

Melbourne weather can vary between very hot and quite cold (sometimes on the same day!), so it’s great to have some indoor activities up your sleeve when visiting.

There’s nothing like enjoying a great movie in an aesthetically beautiful, historic cinema — and Melbourne has plenty of them. In the CBD you’ll find the Kino, while there is also the beloved Nova on Lygon Street to the north, the gorgeous Astor in St Kilda to the south, the art deco Rivoli in the eastern suburbs, and The Sun Theatre in Yarraville to Melbourne’s west (just to name a few).

peruse melbourne’s museums and exhibitions.

Melbourne is well-known for its thriving arts and culture scene. Art-lovers can visit the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV International) to see 75,000 works of art from all over the world, plus there are rotating exhibitions throughout the year and activities for teens and kids. Just down the road is the NGV Australia, which houses Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian artworks.

There’s the Melbourne Museum in Carlton, which provides an instant immersion in Victorian history and culture and features a beautiful Forest Gallery, Melbourne Gallery and Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, plus an IMAX theatre and plenty of other treasures. The LUME at Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre is currently hosting a Monet & Friends exhibition, which is an incredible multi-sensory journey of 360-degree light projections and classical music. As if these options weren’t enough, there is also the fascinating Immigration Museum and Scienceworks.

If you’re looking for what to do in melbourne for a day you could easily spend hours immersed in these gorgeous places — especially if the weather outside is less than appealing.

National Gallery of Victoria - Image courtesy of Visit Victoria

cycle along the yarra river.

The city of Melbourne is built around the Yarra River (known among the Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people, as Birrarung). It runs from Mount Baw Baw in West Gippsland and winds through the city centre before opening out into Port Phillip Bay.

Pack a picnic, rent a bike for the day and make your way along the river to take in some of the city’s natural beauty. Or, for an even more immersive experience, hire a kayak and take a guided or unguided journey along this significant waterway.

appreciate the architecture

While planning what to do in Melbourne for a day, admiring the architecture should be high on your list. Flinders Street Railway Station, the main train station for the city, is an impressive Edwardian style building constructed in 1909.

Across the road, there’s the architecturally unique Fed Square, which was only built in 2002 but has become an essential part of the city. Fed Square is home to restaurants, the Koorie Heritage Trust, and the ACMI video museum, plus regular performances and various screenings on the big screen.

There is also Melbourne Central, which was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa and built in 1991 around a nine-storey historic shot tower. Here you’ll find a giant Seiko Marionette clock (gifted to the City of Melbourne by Japan) and puts on a show every hour, on the hour for delighted passers-by. Melbourne Central also has great shops, restaurants, a cinema and a train station.

The Melbourne Skydeck — part of one of the tallest buildings in the world — has the highest observation deck in the Southern Hemipshere at 300 metres. It also boasts a “Voyager Theatre”, where participants are taken on a virtual reality journey through 16 iconic Melbourne experiences, a bar, and the restaurant “Eureka 89”, led by award-winning chef Renee Martillano.

There is really no shortage of things to do in Melbourne this weekend (or whenever you’re visiting), and we’ve only just scratched the surface on Mornington Peninsula activities — but if you do venture down to Peninsula Hot Springs, we’d be only too happy to give you some more of our favourite local tips.

Melbourne City Skyline - Image courtesy of Visit Victoria

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