Melbourne has many attractions, indoors and outdoors, to suit all age groups and interests.
If you like getting out and about, there are some lovely parks and gardens to explore. On a good day you can walk for miles, along the Yarra River, through the Alexandra Gardens, and then into the Kings Domain, which has the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Queen Victoria gardens, and the iconic Shrine of Remembrance, with its perpetual flame.
Family attractions are abundant here, with the Melbourne Zoo being a real highlight. Like your creatures in water? Then visit the very trendy Melbourne Aquarium, which invites you to not only look but feel as well! You could easily spend a day at the Melbourne Museum, and near there is the Imax theatre. Kids and adults will also love Scienceworks, where science really is fun.
A trip to the iconic MCG (Melbourne Cricket ground) is a must. Even if you don’t get to see a game of AFL or watch a test match you can still explore the Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum here.
The arts precinct in Melbourne will satisfy your cultural side, with the National gallery of Australia hosting some rare international exhibitions as well as highlighting some of Australia’s most famous artists. Just across the road is Federation Square, with its weird and trendy design that really got Melbourne talking when it was under construction. It is a great location for art and entertainment, as well as just sitting around and watching the world go by.
Australia is home to one of the Earth’s most diverse populations of marine life. We’re surrounded by ocean, so it seems logical that we should have some pretty decent aquariums. And Melbourne certainly does. Opened to the public in 2000, Melbourne Aquarium quickly cemented its reputation as one of the world’s best.
This facility hosts an amazing collection of animals from Australia and beyond, including a large contingent of ocean life from Antarctica. Some of Melbourne Aquarium’s most popular residents include hammerhead sharks, king penguins, green sea turtles, and the awe-inspiring giant pacific octopus. In addition to the large range of permanent exhibits, the aquarium regularly hosts temporary exhibitions and special features.
If you want to get closer to the action, the aquarium offers the chance to scuba dive with sharks and giant sting rays. This activity is suitable for those without diving experience, and a brief training course is provided beforehand.
Swimming amongst the most feared creatures of the deep is an experience you’ll never ever forget.
Like all wildlife centres in Australia, Melbourne Aquarium is committed to conservation efforts. By visiting the aquarium you are supporting further research and campaigns to preserve our precious marine environments, both in Australia and around the world.
Captain Cooks Cottage
Located in the spectacular maze of winding pathways and towering trees of the historic Fitzroy Gardens is Captain Cooks Cottage. Here in the city centre of Melbourne you can get a true glimpse of Australia’s colonial history. The cottage was transported directly from the Yorkshire village where Captain James Cook was born.
Captain Cook was one of the first explorers to voyage to Australia’s coast, and here in the original cottage of his childhood you can take a step into history and learn through your senses. Discover Melbourne’s rich cultural history through guided tours and self exploration to discover how this one little cottage became one of the cities greatest landmarks.
You and your guests can learn all about Captain Cook’s life, his voyages, and his explorations around a then unchartered globe. The Discovery centre on site will allow you to truly understand how life was in 18th Century England and help you get in touch with what it was that made Australia what it is today. Through sound recordings and set dressings you get the chance to truly experience the atmosphere of a family meal in the cottage to celebrate the homecoming of the prodigal son, Captain James Cook.
As a souvenir, you can take home a picture perfect replica of you as a member of an 18th Century family, or send a postcard back home via the specialised Captain Cook postal service. Around the cottage are the smells and sights of a classic cottage garden where you can learn all about the natural remedies of herbs and plants.
To top off the afternoon there is nothing better than a lazy walk through the Fitzroy gardens, where sunlight, greenery, and calm manicured lawns await you.
Address: Fitzroy Gardens, Wellington Pde, East Melbourne
Phone: 03 9419 4677
Melbourne’s most modern must see attraction is truly one of a kind. Nothing anyone tells you about the Eureka Skydeck will prepare you for the amazing views that you experience when you reach the top. The highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere, Skydeck 88 has all the trimmings to really get your heart pumping.
Designed with spectacular views in mind, two lifts will take you higher and higher to level 88 in less than 40 seconds. When you reach the top a glass cube slides out from the building with you inside. Incredible panorama views wait as you float above the spectacular Melbourne city.
With lots of entertainment for the whole family, there are a host of activities for you to engage in. Touch and discover ‘serendipity’ whilst you explore the six meter long Table of Knowledge and follow the LED floor and wall display.
Located right in the Heart of Melbourne’s entertainment district of South Bank, you will find that Eureka Skydeck is an incredible night out. The designers have done an incredible job of finding the subtle balance between excitement and technology, which allows you to explore all of the exciting options that the future has in store.
Interactive entertainment and education are combined with the most amazing views of the beautiful city landscape you will ever find and let you see Melbourne and the future in a different light.
Address: 7 Riverside Qy, Southbank VIC 3006
Phone: 03 9693 8888
For the true Australian Wildlife experience right in the heart of the internationally renowned Yarra Valley, there is only one place, Healesville Sanctuary. The sanctuary covers 70 acres of bushland, which offers visitors a chance to experience up-close and personal encounters with Australian wildlife in their natural habitat. The animals that you could meet include kangaroos, koalas, wombats, dingoes, emu’s, Australian birds of prey, and the ever endearing platypus.
The Healesville Sanctuary features large walk through habitat exhibits that allow the visitors to experience the day to day life of Australian wildlife that are often too shy to be seen out in the wild. Many Australian native animals are nocturnal and the sanctuary has a very well designed and set up nocturnal exhibit to ensure that visitors don’t miss out on seeing any of the animals that they desire.
With attractions, events, and shows, the Healesville Sanctuary has something for everyone. The expert team that mans the Australian Wildlife and Health centre are always busy at the sanctuary working to help save and protect Australian wildlife and care for animals that are sick or have been injured. Sanctuary visitors get a chance to talk with the team and share in stories of animal rescue, as well as learn about rehabilitation and release.
Sanctuary guides offer free tours, and the Eco-rangers can take you out into one of the last remaining pieces of Yarra Valley Bushland to spot wildlife. There is morning tea served in the Bush Hut, or, if you prefer a more modern Yarra Valley approach to dining, the Sanctuary Bistro provides a sample of the local food and wine that have made the valley so famous.
Healesville is 65 kilometres east from the centre of Melbourne, and commercial tours are available. However, it is also quite possible to go there by public transport. Take a suburban train to the Lilydale terminus, which takes just over an hour from the centre of Melbourne, with trains operating every thirty minutes.
Then change to bus no. 685 to the Sanctuary. Buses leave from Lilydale at 9:40, 10:15, and 11:35 on weekdays, 11:40 and 13:40 on Saturdays, and 10:55 on Sundays. Return services from Healesville to Lilydale depart at 12:34, 13:55, 15:40, 17:30, and 18:50 on weekdays, 12:20, 15:05, and 17:05 on Saturdays, and 15:15 and 17:15 on Sundays. The bus takes nearly an hour each way. If you purchase a ticket for Zones 1, 2, and 3, it can be used on the bus as well as the train. The Sanctuary is open daily from 9:00 until 17:00
Address: Badger Creek Rd, Healesville
Phone: 03 5957 2800
Hot Air Balloons
Melbourne was the birthplace of hot air ballooning in Australia, and since 1986 people have been taking to the Victorian skies to marvel at the early morning cityscape. Melbourne is well-known as Australia’s most attractive city. And if you think it’s pretty on the ground, wait until you see it from the air.
A hot air balloon tour offers an unprecedented view of Melbourne’s natural surroundings, as well as the major landmarks. Federation Square, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Botanic Gardens—you’ll see it all, and from an angle you never would have imagined. In clear weather you can gaze out beyond the city to the harbour and Westgate Bridge, and see the Yarra River emptying into the pristine waters of Port Phillip Bay.
The balloon crew are professional, fun-loving, and dedicated to making your experience an unforgettable one. They are always on hand to point out the sights as you float gracefully and silently above Melbourne.
They say the best part of any journey is arriving home, and a hot air balloon trip in Melbourne will have a very memorable ending indeed. After landing, you’ll be escorted to the luxurious Langham Hotel, on the exclusive South Bank of the Yarra River. Here a gourmet champagne breakfast awaits you—the perfect conclusion to a once-in-a-lifetime journey over Australia’s most beautiful city.
If you are looking for some serious fun in the city, then Luna Park has everything you need for thrills, chills, and spills. Melbourne’s Luna Park is not only the cities most famous family entertainment venue, but has a history all of its own that makes it a true Melbourne Icon. For many generations families have screamed, laughed, and cried on the rides and delighted in the fun that they have together within this exciting theme park.
A true galaxy of amusement, Melbourne’s Luna Park is located right in the heart of St Kilda, one of Melbourne’s most popular tourist destinations. With the spectacular array of shopping on Acland Street on one side, and St Kilda beach on the other, Luna Park has a location that puts it on every tourist map.
From adrenaline pumping rides like the Pharaoh’s Curse to excitement from the Spider or the Shock Drop, the bigger kids (and adults) have plenty to keep their hearts racing and their jaws dropping. For the families and the little kids there are plenty of friendly rides to ensure everyone is having a wonderful time. For the whole family, the Silly Serpent, Railway, and Red Barron can be enjoyed together, and it truly isn’t a trip to Luna Park without a ride on the famous Carousel.
Luna Park is always reinventing itself with live shows, new rides, and new attractions to ensure that it stays modern and offers something for every guest. With great food options, relaxing areas—as well as a landscaped park right outside the gates for when it’s time to catch your breath and take a time out, you will find plenty of great choices for everyone at Luna Park.
Address: 18 Lower Esplanade, St Kilda
Phone: 03 9525 5033
Puffing Billy is a steam-operated narrow-gauge railway running in the Dandenong Ranges forty kilometres to the east of Melbourne city centre. For almost a century Puffing Billy has travelled the 13km track from Belgrave to Emerald Lake. Passengers ride in open carriages taking in the breathtaking scenery of the Dandenongs. Every May hundreds of runners pit themselves against Puffing Billy’s big brother G42 in a unique 13km fun run, racing the train. Belgrave Station, Belgrave (03 9754 6800). To get there, you can take a train from City to Belgrave.
Lots of fun can be had exploring science and technology at the Scienceworks Musuem in Spotswood, 5km from Melbourne’s city centre. There are hands on exhibitions, live demonstrations, tours, activities, and shows all designed to satisfy curious minds. You can immerse yourself in deep space in the Melbourne Planetarium, the only digital planetarium in the Southern Hemisphere. Booker Street, Spotswood (03 9392 4819). Train from city to Spotswood on Werribee line. Ferry link from Southgate.
For an African Experience only 30 minutes from Melbourne city, Werribee Zoo offers all that and more. Werribee Zoo is an open range safari attraction that allows guests to explore the wild plains of the African savannah and view the native animals roaming the grounds. This is an amazing chance to see rhino, giraffe, antelope, zebra, and hippo grazing, bathing, and feeding in a habitat that is as close to natural as possible, and yet so close to the second largest city in Australia.
The Werribee Zoo offers plenty of attractions for guests big and small, including open vehicle adventures, canoe safaris, tours, and viewing the Lions feeding. For those feeling adventurous and wanting a complete safari experience, the Werribee Zoo offers an overnight adventure where you and your guests can get up close and personal with the African wildlife whilst enjoying all the trimmings. A BBQ feast, great accommodation, and waking up to the sounds of the savannah is a once in a lifetime adventure.
For those just wanting to view the animals and rest and relax, the Zoo offers a Bistro and Function centre, a Safari Shop, and big, beautiful open picnic areas for you to enjoy.
With an easy location so close to Melbourne city, only 30 minutes by car, the Werribee Zoo is not only spectacular but easy to access. Whether you want the adventure of animal encounters or just a truly beautiful place to relax, the Werribee Zoo offers something for everyone. Educational, fun, and a great place to experience something truly different, the Werribee Zoo is accommodating to guests of all ages and groups of all sizes.
Address: K Rd, Werribee
Phone: 03 9731 9600
If a day in the sun with the animals is what you are after, the multi award-winning Melbourne Zoo is sure to be a dream come true. Spectacular grounds covering 55 acres of botanic gardens will welcome you as you stroll down the pathways to view over 300 animal species in naturalistic habitats.
From the dense smells and sounds of the Australian bushland through to the misty warmth of the Asian rainforest and the dry heat of the African savannah, you can experience it all in a day. Take the journey of a life time, without ever leaving the city! There are free guided tours to enjoy throughout the day. If you are lucky, you might even be able to catch the dynamic ‘meet the keeper’ presentations, where you can talk to real zoo keepers and learn all about handling and caring for the animals.
In the summer time, the Melbourne Zoo offers Twilight Nights on selected evenings, which is a wonderful time to see animals that are nocturnal and often hide from curious eyes during the day. On these special nights the Zoo offers food, live music, and entertainment for families and friends to enjoy the balmy summer evening that Melbourne has to offer within one of the most beautiful landscapes in the city.
From Sea to Savannah and beyond, the Melbourne Zoo has animals and creatures from all around the world; just watch as your children delight in the surroundings, the close up encounters, and the fun that the Melbourne Zoo has to offer. You might find that even the not-so-young learn something new too!
Address: Elliott Ave, Parkville VIC 3052
Phone: 03 9285 9300