Ultimate Melbourne 5 Day Itinerary
Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia, bursting with pleasant quirkiness and brimming with artistic spirit. Melbourne is known for it’s thriving and diverse food scene, world-class coffee and it’s array of colourful neighbourhoods. Continuously voted as the World’s most liveable city, Melbourne is often overlooked by it’s larger counterpart, Sydney, but Australia’s second city is more than worthy of your time.
I absolutely adore Melbourne. It was where I spent most of my time while in Australia (a very short-lived time!) I settled into this city really quickly, Melbourne easily became yet another “home away from home” for me and I think part of that is because it reminded me so much of London. Everything right down to the houses screamed England, St. Kilda reminded me of my little home near the seaside and jam donuts were a thing again!
This comprehensive 5 day Melbourne itinerary organises your time for you so that you see the best of Melbourne in 5 days!
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How To Get To Melbourne
– Melbourne airport, also known as Tullamarine, is the main airport for international arrivals. There are three other smaller airports servicing the city of Melbourne, Avalon Airport, Essendon Airport and Moorabbin Airport.
– The Skybus is the cheapest way to get into the city centre from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport. A one-way ticket costs $19 and can be purchased either on the website or at the airport. There are a total on nine routes operating daily. The timetable for each will vary so make sure you check out the website for operating times.
How To Get Around Melbourne
The best way to get around Melbourne is by tram. Melbourne is famous for it’s tram system which runs all over the city. If you are travelling within the CBD, trams are free to take as part of the “Free Tram Zone”. If you are travelling to an area outside of the CBD then you’ll need a Myki card.
Myki cards can be purchased from any 7/11 and since there are tons in Melbourne you shouldn’t have a problem finding one! You can also top up your card at any 7/11 or if there is a machine at the tram station. Single journeys are $2.50 each and the card caps at $9.00 so if you are using the card multiple times a day you won’t spend over $9.00 on the card.
Buses and trains can also be used to get around Melbourne, depending on where you need to get too. Both buses and trains use the Myki card.
Where To Stay In Melbourne
The great thing about Melbourne is that there is an abundance of places and areas to stay. Since there are many different recommended areas, I have split my recommendations to reflect this along with budget.
If you are backpacking through Australia you may want to opt for a hostel, and Melbourne has some of the best! Since I was a solo traveller in Melbourne, I stayed in hostels while I was there. It was more affordable for my trip and I was able to meet tons of people to explore the city with. I stayed at both Base backpackers and Flinders Hostel and both were great for different reasons.
Base Backpackers St. Kilda – Base backpackers is in a really good location. The Skybus drops off right outside and many tours pick up from the bus stop too. Acland Street is a 5 minute walk and the esplanade and beach just a few minutes more. There are tons of coffee shops bars and eateries nearby too, as well as a 7/11 and Woolworths. Base is a party hostel, so just keep this in mind if you are looking for a quieter experience.
Flinders Hostel – Flinders is right in the heart of the CBD. A really easy and convenient location since the tram picks up directly outside and Flinders Street Station is a 2-minute walk. Grocery stores such as Coles and Woolworths are easily accessible. This hostel is huge but the rooms are bigger than Base backpackers. You can drink alcohol in the common room until 10pm each night which is one of the reasons I liked this hostel! Again lots of noise from people/doors as the building is old it echos!
United Backpackers – I never stayed at United Backpackers but it was my second choice when moving to the city. I did have lots of friends that had stayed here and had good things to stay! United Backpackers is a stones throw away from Flinders and is located on Degraves Street, so a good prime location!
As for hotels, there are many areas and rating levels when booking hotels in Melbourne. I’ve done some of the research for you and have compiled a short list of hotels for varying budgets below;
Arise Australia – Southbank Area
Rydges Melbourne – Melbourne CBD
Stamford Plaza – Melbourne CBD
WRAP on Southbank – Southbank Area
Crown Towers Melbourne – Southbank Area
QT Melbourne – Melbourne CBD
Park Hyatt Melbourne – East Melbourne
The Langham Melbourne – Southbank Area
Day 1 – Botanical Gardens, Southbank and Shrine of Remembrance
Day 1 of this Melbourne itinerary takes things a bit slower since this may be an arrival day. Day 1 explores the Southbank and surrounding area just south of the CBD
Brunch is an absolute must when visiting Melbourne. With an abundance of places competing for Melbourne’s best brunch spot, it’s hard to choose one (don’t worry you have 5 days in Melbourne!)
Manchester Press is a cute cafe tucked away down a dimly lit alley. Although it’s location isn’t on the main road, it’s incredibly popular with both locals and tourists alike. Manchester Press is famous for it’s bagels, you’ll find toppings such as smashed avocado, chorizo and smoked salmon.
Shrine Of Remembrance
The Shrine of Remembrance is one of Australia’s biggest War Memorials, built to honour the Men & Women who served during WW1. Experience panoramic views from the steps of the Shrine. This also makes a great spot to watch the sunset over the city. You can visit the inside of the Shrine until 5pm daily you can always visit the grounds after. Free tours are available to book through the website and depart at 11am, and 12:45pm
The Shrine is open between 10am – 5pm and is free to visit.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Enjoy a tranquil oasis at the Royal Botanical Gardens, featuring a garden of 10,000 plants sprawling across 94 acres. The Royal Botanic Gardens are conveniently located on the St. Kilda Road right in the heart of Melbourne, making it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle.
With 11 lawns in total and a myriad of flora and fauna, you can easily spend an entire day at the Gardens. How long you spend here is up to you since there is no time limit or entry fee. It’s also a great place to bring a picnic on a sunny day. You can always pick up some cheeses, cured meats and antipasto from the Queen Victoria Market and make the gardens your next stop!
National Gallery Of Victoria
The National Gallery of Victoria or NGV is Australia’s oldest and most visited art museum. Founded in 1861, the grey facade and waterfall entrance make this art gallery instantly recognisable in Melbourne.
The NGV’s collection houses around 75,000 works of art. Among these are works from artists such as Andy Warhol, Picasso and Monet. You’ll also find seasonal exhibitions, contemporary sculpture and native artworks.
Entry to the NGV is free
Cruise Along The Yarra River
One of the best ways to see Melbourne is through it’s waterways. The Yarra river runs through the city splitting Melbourne in Half. On one side is the Southbank with the CBD lying to the north. Taking a Yarra River Cruise is the perfect way to see all of Melbourne’s amazing buildings.
Have Drinks At Arbory Afloat
There’s nothing better than an ice cold beverage on the water on a hot summers day! Arbory afloat is one of the best bars in Melbourne and is essentially a floating bar on the Yarra River – an extension of The Arbory. Arbory Afloat is here for a good time not a long time and has a limited run during the summer months. If you’re visiting any other time of year, head to The Arbory, which is a permanent bar along the shores of the Yarra River.
Witness Melbourne From Above At Eureka Skydeck
The Eureka Skydeck is Melbourne’s answer the the Rockefeller in New York. I’m a nerd when it comes to Observation decks and Melbourne was no exception. The Eureka Skydeck is located on the Southbank of the city and is located on the 88th floor. I really love seeing different cities from above and as usual I’d recommend coming just before sunset. As there is no time limit here you can get to see the city during the day, sunset and night.
Walk Along The Southbank
Finish your first day of this 5 day Melbourne itinerary by taking a stroll along the Southbank. This lively neighbourhood lights up at night and is the place to go for shopping, dining, drinking, and nightclubs. You’ll find a slew of bars and restaurants along the Southbank featuring al fresco dining and most offer nightly dinner specials for around $20.
End the night getting your gamble on at the famous Crown Melbourne, Melbourne’s premier entertainment venue. Featuring three hotels, restaurants, shopping and entertainment district, spa and the famous casino.
Day 2 – City Circle Tram & Brunch
Day 2 of this Melbourne 5 day itinerary explores Melbourne’s most famous attractions including the tramways and laneways
Tour The City Via The City Circle Tram
Hop aboard the City Circle Tram, one of the most popular attractions in Melbourne. The City Circle Tram is the perfect introductory tour of Melbourne, complete with onboard commentary about the cities best sights and attractions. The best part? It’s completely free! Many visitors use this option as a free “hop on hop off” service.
You can hop onto the number 35 (city circle line) at the Flinder’s Street Station or check out the map route for your nearest stop. The whole loop takes around 60 minutes.
Brunch At Higher Ground
Indulge in Melbourne’s cafe culture at Higher Ground. Continuously rated as one of Melbourne’s best breakfast and brunch spots. Higher Ground ticks all the boxes: great coffee, unique dishes and a laid back atmosphere. Set in a modern warehouse, Higher Ground uses fresh local produce in all it’s dishes.
Indulge At Queen Victoria Market
No trip to Melbourne is complete without visiting the famous Queen Victoria Market. Operating since 1878, Queen Victoria Market is home to over 600 businesses. You’ll find vendors selling everything from clothes to souvenirs and fresh produce. The Deli Hall is the most impressive and offers local cheeses, wines, cured meats and coffee shops. You could easily spend hours here.
On Wednesday nights, Queen Victoria turns into a foodies dream at the night food market. Everything from Greek to Portuguese foods can found at the night market. With so many options its hard to choose! So make sure you visit during your 5 days in Melbourne.
The market is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays (night market) Thursdays, Friday, Saturdays and Sunday.
Learn About Australia’s Roots At The Immigration Museum
The immigration Museum sits in what once was the Old Customs House. This museum documents Australia’s immigration history, along with temporary travelling exhibitions. In the Discovery Centre people can search for their family history. Tickets can be purchased online on through the Immigration Museum Website.
Meet Friends At Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street station is one of the main transportation hubs in Melbourne. Famous for it’s art nouveau style architecture, Flinders Street station is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. Flinders Street station is one of the cities most famous meeting spots for Melbournians. Locals often meet on the famous entryway steps under the row of clocks.
Degraves Street & Centre Place
Melbourne’s artistic spirit comes alive in it’s famous laneways. One of the best things to do in Melbourne, the Laneways are a treasure trove of independent shops and eateries. You could spend hours weaving in and out of these eccentric alleyways.
Head to Degraves Street first, lined with picture perfect cafes and dessert shops like something out of a Parisian postcard. Check out Donut Time for a sweet treat, Metro Burgers for an Aussie kangaroo burger or Pidapipo gelato to cool off on a hot day.
At the end of Degraves Street you’ll find Centre Place – one of the most popular Laneways in Melbourne. Centre Place is far more narrow than Degraves, almost like walking through Diagon Alley. The gritty charm of Centre Place is it’s biggest attraction. There are plenty of casual eateries and coffee shops in Centre Place to sit and people watch.
Coffee And Cake At Brunetti
Brunetti easily became one of my favourite places in Melbourne. This Italian café is located on Flinders Lane and is the ultimate place to come for pizza, coffee and cake. I happen to love all three of those things so made a few return visits here. It’s a casual eatery, so no dining reservations needed which makes it the perfect place to stop for lunch or a snack. The cakes and pastries are to die for – especially the pistachio eclair!
Go Back In Time At The Block Arcade
I instantly feel at home in Melbourne since several aspects of this city really took me back to my hometown of London. The arcades were one of many things that reminded me of London.
The Block Arcade is the most beautiful shopping arcade to take a walk through and window shop. It’s reminiscent of London’s Burlington Arcade. There are old fashioned barber shops as well as Australian chocolate shops.
Afternoon Tea Hopetoun Tea Rooms
A trip to the Block Arcade is never complete without experiencing the grandeur of the Hopetoun Tea Rooms. Named after Lady Hopetoun, the wife of Victoria’s First Governor, the Hopetoun Tea Rooms opened in 1892, the same year as the Block Arcade itself.
If you want to experience afternoon tea, or as the Australians say “high tea” the Hopetoun Tea Rooms is the place to come. Of course, even if you just want tea and cake that’s fine too! Being from London, afternoon tea is always an experience I seek out in a city.
Unfortunately I only found the tea rooms at 4pm which is far too late for afternoon tea! I arrived at the tea rooms at 4:30pm with 30 minutes to spare. Service here is great in my opinion, especially as I only gave the ladies 30 minutes to brew tea and have cake! (You can’t rush good tea or cake)
Search Out The Street Art At AC/DC & Hosier Lane
A city fuelled by art, Melbourne’s laneways are exploding with creativity. Hosier Lane and AC/DC lane are the main laneways to get your street art and Instagram fix. Hosier Lane is awash with colour and every inch is covered while AC/DC Lane features murals on a larger scale.
The Laneways in Melbourne are an ever changing landscape with artists filling the streets with new artwork every day. Take time to wander the lanes as lesser known streets have some of the best street art, you’ll find murals all over the city.
Get Your Shopping Fix At Bourke Street Mall & Royal Arcade
If you find you need some retail therapy during your 5 days in Melbourne, Bourke Street Mall has got you covered. Bourke Street Mall is a pedestrianised (with trams!) shopping area. Myer and David Jones are the two main department stores in Melbourne and all your top brands can be found there. There are also stores like H&M and Pandora.
The Royal Arcade is another of Melbourne’s famous Victorian Arcades. The entrance to Royal Arcade is located on Bourke Street and is a nice area to wander through. There are some independent shops inside as well as unique/quirky stores and the famous Koko Black chocolates with a cafe.
Day 3 – Day Trip From Melbourne to St. Kilda
Day 3 of this 5 day Melbourne itinerary takes us 25 minutes south of the Melbourne CBD to the seaside town of St Kilda. Time to slow down and enjoy some of Australia’s beach culture.
Brunch at Matcha Mylkbar
Matcha Mylkbar is a staple in St. Kilda, and many people flock here for their brunch fix. Featuring a full vegan menu, Matcha Mylkbar has something for everyone.
Although not a vegan myself, this creative cafe caught my attention and I just had to try it for myself. If none of the food takes your fancy, definitely pop in to try one of their latte concoctions. I tried the Smurf Latte which is made up of live E3 algae, pineapple, ginger, coconut and almond milk, so good!
St Kilda Beach & Brighton Beach Boxes
Although Australia’s most famous beaches are in Sydney and Queensland, St. Kilda has it’s own charm about it. I loved taking a stroll along this beach, it’s very reminiscent of Santa Monica and the chilled laid back lifestyle of Southern California. If you want to head further afield, you can check out the famous Brighton Beach boxes. This is quite a ways from St.Kilda beach so just make sure you have the time and means to get there and back!
While the best surfing in Victoria is down in Torquay and Angelsea, the calmer waters in St. Kilda are perfect for paddle-boarding!
Get Your Thrill On At Luna Park
One of the things I loved about St. Kilda was it’s retro-ness, in some ways it reminded me of Santa Monica. Luna Park is like the Australian version of Santa Monica’s Pacific Park. Luna Park is an iconic landmark along St. Kilda’s esplanade, the facade brings life and colour to the beach front.
Luna Park was one of the last things I did before I left Australia and I had such a fun time here! The rides are old-school fairground rides. Typical fairground snacks can be found at all food outlets, the hot jam donuts were amazing.
Watch Comedy Or Live Music At The Palais Theatre
Just next to Luna Park is another famous landmark, the Palais Theatre. Built in 1927 this old-style picture palace is one of Australia’s largest seated theatres with a capacity of almost 3000.
If you’re really into the arts and theatre, the Palais theatre hosts a myriad of live shows including music, comedy and ballet. The perfect rainy day Melbourne activity!
Say Hello To The Penguins At St. Kilda Pier
Take a walk along the pier to meet some of St. Kilda’s most famous residents.
One of the most popular things to do in St. Kilda is a visit to the Penguin colony at the end of St. Kilda Pier. The cutest residents in Melbourne come here to nest late at night. If you stop by at sunset and after you’re almost guaranteed to spot a few of these cuties. Definitely one of my highlights of my time in Australia.
Please just remember to respect the boundaries and keep your flash turned off!
Day 4 – China Town & Melbourne’s Best Architecture
On Day 4 this itinerary takes you back into the CBD to learn a little more about both Australia’s and Melbourne’s history and culture.
Eat Chinese Food & Shop In China Town
I always enjoy checking China Town in big cities and Melbourne’s doesn’t disappoint. There are an array of places to eat in China Town and the most amazing bakeries I’ve ever seen. If you’d like to learn more about the history of Melbourne’s China Town you can also explore the Chinese Museum.
Hightini Bottomless Brunch
The Garden State Hotel hosts one of Melbourne’s most unique brunch experiences. The Garden State Hotel’s Hightini is where bottomless brunch meets high tea. The carefully curated menu offers 3 tiers of decadent offerings paired with staple cocktails such as Espresso Martinis and followed with a cheese plate to finish.
Read A Book At The State Library Victoria
If you’re looking for free things to do in Melbourne, take a visit to the stunning State Library of Victoria. Established in 1854 the State Library is famous for it’s La Trobe Reading Room. With a collection of over 2 million books it is Australia’s busiest library.
Tour The Royal Exhibition Building
Melbourne has wonderful architecture in every direction you look, from it’s British roots all the way to it’s modern present. One of the buildings you absolutely have to check out is the Royal Exhibition Building. This is a architectural gem and one of the only Exhibition buildings left in the world. The outside is stunning, but the inside is even more impressive. This majestic beauty was the first building in Australia to achieve a world heritage listing.
The Exhibition Building is located inside of the Carlton Gardens, so you can go for a leisurely walk after visiting.
Tours are available of the Exhibition Building and leave from the Melbourne Museum. Find out more through the website.
See Parliament In Action At Parliament House
Take a walk along Bourke Street and visit the Parliament of Victoria. Parliament House opened in 1856 served as the meeting place of the Parliament of Australia between 1901 and 1927 when Melbourne was the capital of Australia.
Parliament is open to the public during the year except weekends and public holidays. Visitors are welcome into the building during the hours when Parliament is sitting. Visit the official site to check out the Calendar. Public tours are also available through the website.
Learn About Australia’s Beginnings At Cooks Cottage
Experience a part of Australia’s history at Cooks Cottage. Located in Fitzroy Gardens, Cook’s Cottage was the home of British explorer James Cook. Originally built in Yorkshire in 1755, the cottage was dismantled, shipped to Australia and rebuilt brick by brick, making it the oldest building in Australia.
Tickets can be purchased at the visitor centre in Fitzroy Gardens.
Federation Square & St. Paul’s Cathedral
Federation Square stands out among the older architecture surrounding it. This modern space was created to host public events for the arts & culture.
The Ian Potter Centre, Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the Koorie Heritage Trust can all be found in Federation Square. It also houses a variety of Cafés and Coffee Shops. Check out the Federation Square website for current events.
Opposite this contemporary area is St. Paul’s Cathedral which stands in stark contract to Federation Square. St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of many icons in Melbourne and was constructed in 1891. The Cathedral is free to visit during opening hours and tours are available for parties of 5 or more with a $5 donation per person.
Grab Sushi To Go
If there is one thing I discovered in Melbourne that I think the rest of the world needs, it’s a Sushi Hub. What is Sushi Hub? Sushi Hub is a chain of restaurants that brings sushi into the world of fast-food.
I fell in love with Sushi Hub the first time I laid eyes on it, the counter is full of all sorts of sushi rolls and nigiri. Many locals often pick up a roll to go and will eat it walking through the city.
Having lived in North America for four years before I arrived in Australia, Sushi was neither cheap nor can you buy good sushi on the go. The prices at Sushi Hub range on average from $1.50 to $3.50. On average I’d spend around $10 – $15 and go find a nice grassy spot in the city to go eat.
Experience The Broadway Of Melbourne
Just like the bright lights of Broadway and London’s West End, Melbourne has its very own collection of theatres hosting all your favourite musicals. With over 20 theatres in Melbourne you’ll be sure to find a show you love. Previous runs have featured shows such as Come From Away and Harry Potter & The Cursed Child.
Day 5 – Day Trip To Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road Tour
Seeing the Great Ocean Road is a bucket list item when visiting Australia. Since the Great Ocean Road is located entirely in Victoria, it makes for the perfect day trip from Melbourne.
The Great Ocean Road stretches 243km along the southern coast of Australia and was built by WWII soldiers after they returned home from the war. It was subsequently dedicated to all who fought during the war and is the longest war memorial in the world.
There are several options when choosing a Great Ocean Road Tour. You can opt to hire a car yourself and do a self drive tour, or you can let someone else do the driving. While the Great Ocean Road can be seen in a day, it’s often a very long day with an early start. With day trips, you’ll only get to see the highlights of the Great Ocean Road. However there is far more to this amazing coastline, and depending on your time limits you may want to consider a multi-day trip.
I took a 3 day tour along the Great Ocean Road and am so happy I decided to do it over several days. My particular tour ended in Adelaide, however there are many options, including 2 to 4 day tours and tours that return to Melbourne.
Other Attractions Near Melbourne
Sea Life Centre Aquarium – Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium is a great trip if you’re traveling with kids or simply want to learn about marine life.
Melbourne Gaol – The Old Melbourne Gaol is a former jail turned museum. The building was operational between 1842 and 1929 and once housed Australia’s most infamous inmate, Ned Kelly.
Melbourne Star Wheel – Hop on board the Melbourne Star for 360 views of the city. The Melbourne star is located in Docklands and takes you on a round trip reaching a height of 120 metres.
Day Tours From Melbourne
Although the Great Ocean Road is the most popular day trip from Melbourne, there is plenty more to see and do further afield! If you are spending longer than a week in Melbourne or simply looking for something different to do outside of the city then here are some more ideas for your trip:
Phillip Island: If you didn’t quite get your fix of cute penguins at St. Kilda Pier, head over to Phillip Island. While the penguin colonies here are one of it’s biggest attractions there is far more to Phillip Island.
Wilsons Promontory: Wilsons Promontory is a National Park in Australia and a great day trip from Melbourne. The beaches here are beautiful. Depending on the time of year you may be able to spot Southern Right Whales or Orcas in this region.
Yarra Valley Wine Tasting: The Yarra Valley is Victoria’s premiere wine region. No trip to Melbourne is complete without having gone wine tasting in the Yarra Valley. There are many options for tour to the Yarra Valley. Most will consist of 4-5 wineries along with a visit to the famous chocolate shop (they have amazing free samples) and the cheese farm (again mmmm!)
The Grampians: The Grampians is a National Park in Victoria and one of the most beautiful places I have been. Theres quite a lot to do in the Grampians so if you can do an overnight stay I’d highly recommend it. I hiked the Pinnacle in the Grampians and it was a really enjoyable hike with amazing views to match.
Mornington Peninsula: The Mornington Peninsula is an easy day trip from Melbourne as it’s on the mainland just south-east of Melbourne and St. Kilda. The Peninsula hot springs and Ashcombe Maze & Lavender Gardens are two of the most popular activities in the Mornington Peninsula.
How Many Days in Melbourne Is Enough?
This is kind of an open ended question – What kind of traveller are you? Are you backpacking through Australia for 3 months? Are you here on a 2 week vacation? Are you moving to Melbourne on a working holiday visa?
Truth is, you could live in Melbourne and still not see everything this city has on offer. However assuming you are travelling through Australia (whether it be 2 weeks or 3 months) I would recommend anywhere from 4 days to a week in Melbourne.
It’s a no brainer that you won’t get to see everything, but you will get to see most of the top sights and attractions in Melbourne that the city is famous for! I spent a total of 7 days in Melbourne my first time in the city and I felt that this was a perfect amount of time as it allowed me to slow a little and really appreciate the city!
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