Blockbuster sporting events: Formula 1, Grand Slam Tennis and more
Melbourne is Australia’s sport capital, with more huge annual events than any other city in the Southern Hemisphere. Each summer, the Australian Open tennis is quickly followed by the Australian Grand Prix, which brings the Formula 1 circus to town.
As one of the world’s largest stadiums, the Melbourne Cricket Ground has hosted the 1956 Summer Olympic Games and 2015 Cricket World Cup final. It is also the spiritual home of Australian Rules Football: catch an AFL match at the MCG and get a real taste of Aussie sporting culture!
For a more civilised sporting experience, the biggest horse racing event in the Australian calendar also takes place in Melbourne. The Melbourne Cup is as much about dressing up and drinking fizzy wine as about the horses… an experience not to miss.
Narrow streets, lined with cafes, bars, street art, restaurants and independent shops… what’s not to love about Melbourne’s Laneways? Bristling with energy, these streets dating back to the 19th century are the epitome of modern urban life.
The lanes were originally designed to serve the grander streets of the Central Business District but they are now the city’s cultural arteries. One essential stop is Hosier Lane, which is the prime location for street art.
Along with the open-air Laneways, the Royal Arcade and Block Arcade date back to Melbourne’s gold-boom days as the world’s richest city. Both are glorious (see our Shopping tips
Great Ocean Road
The name itself conjures up spectacular imagery, but what awaits you along the Great Ocean Road will astonish you. Starting at Geelong, south-west of Melbourne, the road hugs the coastline and takes you through some of Australia’s most inspirational scenery.
Famous surf breaks await at Bells Beach and Johanna Beach, or you can ride your first waves in Torquay. Koalas doze in Bimbi Park, where you can meet the Australian icons up close. Further along the coast, Southern Right Whales are not uncommon during the winter months, when mothers come with their calves.
The 12 Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks near Port Campbell, counts as one of Australia’s major natural attractions and an essential stop. It is also home to around 800 little penguins. If you would rather travel by foot, you could consider the Great Ocean Walk (or just bits of it), a 104km walking route that takes in some of the more accessible parts of the Great Ocean Road.
For penguins and koalas within easy reach of the city, alongside wallabies, kangaroos (whom you can feed by hand) and seals, Phillip Island is the place to go. Each evening, hundreds of little penguins waddle out of the water to their home on the beach, and you can watch them with binoculars.
The island is also a popular destination for experienced surfers and has hosted various pro tournaments.
Melbourne museums and galleries
The National Gallery of Victoria (or NGV) is the oldest public art museum in Australia and houses an impressive collection of national and international works including a large selection of photography.
180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3006.
At the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), explore the history of cinema in a spectacular, high-tech environment.
Federation Square Flinders Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
A visit to the State Library is worthwhile to see the La Trobe reading room and national antihero Ned Kelly's armour. There are also regular exhibitions.
328 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
The National Sports Museum at the MCG will give you an insight into Melbourne and Australia’s sporting heritage. This is your chance to understand cricket, rugby and Aussie Rules Football.
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Brunton Avenue, Melbourne VIC 3000
For a sense of Melbourne’s opulence during the gold rush, the World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building is an exceptional example of Victorian architecture on a grand scale.
9 Nicholson Street, Carlton VIC 3053