[Updated 27th of December 2015]
I have been living for 10 years in this city and, although I am travelling a fair bit, whenever back at home I am always around looking for the best places to visit in Melbourne. Admittedly there are many of them and you will enjoy your stay here. If you are here with kids and family I highly recommend these tourist attractions: the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, the Melbourne Zoo and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Check the latest info on their website, they have so many things going on that only checking the published calendar will give you an idea of the extent of activities. I definitely suggest to match a visit of the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium with the feeding of the penguins (a great fun) meanwhile a walk to the lake for a tea brake is definitely a must at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Beside the common places suggested by many sites what could be the other attractions that stand out and make a difference to your visit in Melbourne? What are the hidden sightseeing places or the hidden corners of a well know tourist attraction?
I am a photographer and I can’t stop myself taking photos (see the Top 5 sites to take a picture in Melbourne for more info). For each place to visit in Melbourne I have also added a section that may help with your photography
The National Gallery of Victoria and the Ian Potter Centre
Obviously the NGV is a well known gallery, I can surely say that it is the most famous gallery in Melbourne. What probably many people do not realise is that a substantial part of the National Gallery of Victoria is actually free to entre. There are as well areas dedicated to the kids, making a great introduction to the art world
Feeling like in a cathedral at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), Melbourne
The National Gallery of Victoria is located in St.Kilda Road. Beside the main exhibition, which has usually an entrance fee, everything else is free (that was my experience with the many visits I did). The website gives enough info and floor plans to organise your tour. On summer Sundays they have also concerts in the backyard, a great place to relax and have a coffee.
The Ian Potter Center has a similar concept of free and pay-for exhibitions. This is the gallery where I had my best art experience in Melbourne. I saw some great exhibitions of new artists. I had also the possibility to interview Ian Strange (Kid-Zoom) a new raising Aussie artist now living in USA.
There are some great corners to take photos here. The Great Hall with glass ceiling by Leonard French (see photo above) is the place to be at NGV. Use your wide angle lens here or your mobile with the stitching feature to have a great panoramic photo including part of the ceiling. Move to the external backyard for more shots, you will find some interesting and different corners there. Have some abstract shots around the NGV (see photos below)
The Ian Potter Centre has not really a great space for your photos, but, once you finish here, move to attraction #9 which is just across the road
Hosier Lane and the Melbourne Street Art movement
I can without any doubt define Hosier Lane as THE open air gallery for street art. It was easy for me to include this attraction in the places to visit in Melbourne because I love graffiti! Another great thing is that it is close to the Ian Potter Centre, next to Federation Square and nearby some well known cafes and restaurants.
Is it a tourist attraction as such? Graffiti was not considered art but now it is and, especially based on the number of people visiting this area, I can definitely say that Hosier Lane is one of the most popular attraction in Melbourne, and it’s once again free
Hosier lane is a must visit place when in Melbourne
Do not stay only in Hosier Lane. There are another two places you want to go. The first one is Rutledge Lane, which starts right in the middle and goes around to come out few meters later. It looks dodgy and smelly. It can be smelly, because of the garbage bins from the nearby restaurant, but it’s not that dodgy, it’s a well know area although quite intimidating to the new comers.
The second tip is to have a view from the top. Go back to Flinders street, turn right and enter the Flinders Gate Carpark. Take an elevator to the second last floor and walk to the edge in front of you. Here you have a view from the top, pretty unique (there is a net, it’s rather safe, no worries).
Visit the area in the night for your best photos. Many reasons, the colours will pop up, less people around, almost the area for yourself, graffiti photos have a great contrast with the dark around you. Try also few photos looking up to the sky (see photo below). Last tip here is to take the elevator to the rooftop of the Carpark, great opportunities again.
Hosier Lane is a must visit place when in Melbourne
Melbourne Hosier Lane, graffiti upside down
It’s time to move on in our sightseeing places 😀
Flinders Street Station and the iconic 9 clocks
Why coming here, because this is definitely an iconic Melbourne place. Anybody that has visited the city but has not come to Federation Square and Flinders Station has missed something. The building has been completed in 1909 and it is one of the city’s most recognisable landmark. Walk around the station through the tunnel between Elizabeth Street and Southgate and experience some of the most beautiful tiles graffiti. Really a remarkable area to visit
Based on my experience there are two ways to have a better photo here. First, check around for a high point of view, this could be a building closeby (see photo below) or even better a multi-storey car park. Second, if you are in a city, check for the sunset light reflected by any skyscraper around. In the case above I waited for the sunset light coming from a closeby glass building which worked as a gigantic light reflector. Come here around 2 hours before sunset to take advantage.
Photo of Flinders Street Station captured from the Blindside Gallery (entrance in 7/37 Swanston Street)
Flinders Street Station is also a great place to capture some Street Photography shots. For this reason I like to come here around 8am and 5pm when the commuters come and go. That leaves any photographer many opportunities (see photo below)
From Federation Square grab any tram (except #1) direction St.Kilda and stop at Kings Domain for attraction #7 of our list of places to visit in Melbourne
Shrine of Remembrance
There are two good reasons to come here.
The first is to have a moment of reflection and read about how cruel can be the war. This is a memorial to the men and women of Victoria who served in World War I and is now a memorial to all Australians who have served in war.
City View from the Shrine of Remembrance
The second one is about the best view of the city that you can have from the first level, outstanding.
Yes, walk up one level and enjoy the view and grab the right moment for your photos. Remember to bring respect to the people there to remember the own dears, the same behaviour you would have in a temple or a church. The front side offers the view to the CBD (above) meanwhile from the back you have a view to St.Kilda (below)
View to St.Kilda from the Shrine of Remembrance
Back to the city for a coffee and a book…..what??? let’s go to #6
State Library of Victoria
Why coming here? To wander around this beautiful building, read the newest magazines , access free internet (even the computer is provided), visit the Library cafe, one of the best in Melbourne. Do you want more excuses? Check these photos.
The State Library Victoria in Melbourne
The dome at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
The Stawell Gallery exhibition at the Victoria Library of Melbourne
There are few free art exhibitions here as well. Check the program on the State Library of Victoria website.
The place to be here is the Dome. Once you enter through the main door, pass the security check and take the elevator on your right side to the top level. The view of the Dome is magnificent. You can walk down through the levels to enjoy other points of view
The Melbourne Cricket Ground
You cannot miss the Melbourne Cricket Ground during your stay. This is the biggest stadium in the southern hemisphere, with over 100 thousand seats. It’s a majestic building that will definitely stand out as one of the top places to visit in Melbourne.
You can here take a guided visit through the stadium and you can also enjoy the National Sports Museum. This place will be surely liked by adults and children as there are dedicated sections to everybody. It’s for every sport with relations to Australian events. You will find the motorbike of Stoner that won the MotoGP, the bicycle of Cadel Evans used at the Tour De France, there is a full section about the Olympic games with memorabilia of the Australian Olympians and so much more.
Inside the National Sports Museum with Olympian Trevor Vincent (museum guide twice a week)
From inside the MCG looking towards the city
How much freedom do you have moving around the MCG? Probably not as much as you would like but you have few opportunities. The place is enough interesting to forget about photography 😀
And remember this place has always a big crowd when AFL is on, most of the Saturdays and Sundays. The Australian Football League is a real event, especially in Victoria, not to be missed. It’s great place to take your kids.
The unusual and unexpected rooftop
I am sure you want to go back with some funny photos and great stories about the grungy side of the city. Here it is your opportunity. I definitely include a visit to the Easey’s bar/cafe.
Easey’s cafe/bar in Collingwood
Sometime it pays off to look up in the sky. This is for sure an unusual architectural decision. The impact is really amazing.
Do not expect anything spectacular in the restaurant upstairs, american burgers and a beer. But you do not come here for the food , you come here for the trains and the good view of the Collingwood area. It can be quite busy in the weekend
Birrarung Marr Park, the best view of the city
It has been a long day, it’s almost sunset and I am close to Federation Square. Well….it’s the right time to have a short walk to the Birrarung Marr Park where you can experience the best colours and view of the city on sunset time. The Yarra will be on your left side and the city on your right side. The lights are turning on, just a nice time to chill out and enjoy a long moment before keep walking to the next place to visit in Melbourne.
The Birrarung Bridge
Wait to take the photos of the Birrarung Bridge till the blue hour, just after sunset. The city lights will be all on and the view will become really magnificent. Use the bridge as lead-in lines for more impact (see the free tutorial How to use lead-in lines in landscape photography for more info)
The Yarra river, the underrated walk
One of the most underrated walk in Melbourne is definitely on the right side (downstream) of the Yarra River. You can start your walk from the Birrarung Bridge and finish in Docklands. Best time is night time with the city and Southgate lights turned on.
The long ride to the city of Melbourne, the Jim Stynes bridge
Except for the Jim Stynes bridge, where the sunset is definitely the best time to be there, all of the other sites come out great in night time. In summer this is the perfect spot to be, fresh and cool.
Indecision, indecision, indecision….
I have definitely many doubts who to add as number 1 in the places to visit in Melbourne. I have decided to go for three of them. You choose based on the attraction you would like to experience
Are you with kids?
Go for the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. The view is really awesome and kids love it. In the area you have places where you can eat with kid meal options as well. Nearby there is also an indoor playground that kids absolutely love beside a wide shopping area and, if you are keen to try ice skating, thee is also that option.
Are you into arts, architecture and museums
Have a look to the The Royal Exhibition Building of Melbourne in Carlton. It’s usually open on weekends with activities and sometime during the week as well. The website gives more information and guided tours as well. The Melbourne Museum is right in front of this beautiful building. Beside the History of Melbourne permanent exhibition there are so many other interesting events and temporary exhibitions you can check on the website.
The Royal Exhibition Building of Melbourne in Carlton
Cycling across the Melbourne Museum park – James Bond 007 exhibition was one in 2014
Are you looking for a quirky experience?
Have a visit to the Graffiti Chamber under South Yarra. This is a real hidden and secret place to visit in Melbourne. Hard, if not impossible, to find it on any other guide. It is basically a subterranean chamber in a huge storm drain network which you can access from the Yarra river. DO NOT come here after a storm obviously or few rainy days, it’s just a dangerous place to be in that days. Beside that days, is it a safe attraction I should add in my list? It’s really your call. It’s underground and definitely you should not visit it alone. Some of the photos below will give you an idea.
These are actually 12 places to visit in Melbourne. I should change the title and the indexing….way too much work and I like this finale with 3 options. There are so many tourist attractions in the city. Sightseeing places around Melbourne is a must, my 2c suggestion is not to stick only with the well know places as the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, the Melbourne Zoo or the Royal Botanic Gardens
Enjoy the city and let me know your comments, your plan, your photos. It will help me to improve and write a newer and better list of places to visit in Melbourne
Full Map of places to visit in Melbourne
Map of the places to visit in Melbourne
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