Melbourne is a hip, dynamic metropolis with an exciting city center, unique inner-city neighbourhoods, and lush green parks and mountain ranges where you can enjoy Australian nature at its best. So, what is Melbourne famous for?
The city is known for its numerous laneways, cultural diversity, excellent dining options for all budgets, and incredible street art. It’s also known as the world’s coffee capital and for being voted the world’s most livable city on a regular basis!
Flinders Street Station
After claiming that Melbourne lacked a “obvious” landmark, I can’t help but notice the irony of starting this list with what is arguably the city’s most famous landmark!
Flinders Street is Australia’s oldest railway station, with a station dating back to 1854. The brick icon that we now know and love was completed in 1910, when it was nothing more than a small wooden building.
Flinders Street Station is the busiest in the Southern Hemisphere, with over 100,000 people passing through its grand archways on a busy day. It is famous for the phrase “meet me under the clocks,” which refers to meeting someone at the front entrance, beneath the nine clocks that show the departure times for the city’s main lines.
It’s official: Melbourne has the best coffee in the world, according to over a thousand users of the booking.com website.
Melbourne is a coffee lover’s paradise, with trendy cafes around every corner. It’s difficult to walk a few steps without seeing a new café or a passerby holding a takeaway coffee cup. Melburnians take their coffee very seriously, and they are known to make the best cup of coffee in Australia (and arguably, worldwide).
Brighton Beach is one of Victoria’s most famous beaches and the best inner Melbourne beach, with its multi-colored beach huts being one of Melbourne’s most famous sights.
The National Gallery of Victoria was founded in 1861, making it both the country’s oldest and largest art gallery. The gallery was established during the Gold Rush era of the nineteenth century, when there was a voracious appetite for fine art.
The National Gallery has amassed an impressive collection over time, as well as a reputation to match. Its collection includes over 70,000 pieces ranging from original Australian Aboriginal art to post-colonial works. It’s best to spend the entire day here, arriving early in the morning to avoid long lines. After your visit, take a walk along the Yarra River’s Southbank for some city sightseeing.
There are also several Aboriginal art galleries in Melbourne’s city centers and surrounding areas, as well as a large collection of Aboriginal art at the City Gallery (inside Town Hall), the Flinders Lane Gallery, the Ian Potter Museum of Art, and the NGV International.
Aboriginal art is celebrated around the world for its beauty and symbolism, and Melbourne is an excellent place to learn about the significance of art in indigenous culture as well as the beauty of the artworks.
There are dozens of wonderful markets dotted around Melbourne, ranging from bi-monthly farmer’s markets in almost every suburb to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest open-air market.
The most well-known of these is Queen Victoria Market, which offers everything from gourmet foods to basic fruits and vegetables, cheap touristy curios to one-of-a-kind artwork. If you’re not looking for anything specific, you’ll probably find it here. This is the ideal place to browse if you have no specific plans (and holder of that statistic from the first paragraph).
The Art of the Street
Melbourne, Australia is best known for its famous street art, which can be found all over the city. A walk down the famous Hosier Lane will reveal street art that reaches all the way to the tops of buildings and all the way down to the cobblestone floors.
The city council has designated certain areas as approved for street artists, and the street art here is of exceptionally high quality and changes on a regular basis; it’s a great way for budding street artists to gain experience in the artistic side of graffiti, and having structured locations for this amazing creative outlet helps to reduce the levels of graffiti elsewhere, while also adding a great urban vibe that both tourists and locals enjoy. A map of Melbourne’s street art can be found here.
There’s even a Melbourne street art tour led by street artists for those interested in learning more about what they’re seeing, how it’s made, and who’s involved in this fascinating underground art scene.
Food from All Over the World
Melbourne, Australia is a city built on immigration, which contributes to the city’s eclectic and diverse food scene. The iconic food here has been passed down through families and adopted into Australian culture, whether it’s Chinese dim sims, Greek souvlaki, Italian Parmi, British meat pies, Vietnamese Banh Mi, or Lebanese flatbread.
Every one of this city’s 321 suburbs has something unique to offer. Food is as important to Melburnians as coffee and (shudder) AFL, whether it’s Greek food in Oakleigh, Lebanese bakeries in Coburg and Brunswick, Italian delis on Lygon Street, or Asian markets in Footscray.
The Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is another fantastic day trip within striking distance of Melbourne Australia! You can drive through some legendary towns and stop at great beaches like Bells Beach (famous for pro surfing) and Torquay.
If you’re familiar with Australia, you’ve probably seen a picture or two of the Great Ocean Road.
With the world-famous coastline just outside the city, you can plan a road trip all the way to Adelaide, or simply a day trip to see The Twelve Apostles.
There are a lot of camping spots and house rentals along the way, so you can go for a weekend getaway. With over 200 kilometers of breathtaking coastal views, I guarantee you’ll learn something new about this spectacular road with each trip.
The city is Australia’s unofficial sporting capital. The Melbourne Cricket Ground, also known as the MCG, is without a doubt the most well-known venue in the city. When it’s full, it can hold over 100,000 people, and while it’s known as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, it also hosts Aussie Rules Football matches. Other well-known sporting venues include the Rod Laver Arena, which hosts the Australian Open tennis final, and Flemington Racecourse, which hosts the famous Melbourne Cup horse race.
Melbourne Australia has a number of stadiums and events that support a variety of sports. The Australian Open (Tennis) in Hisense Arena, the AFL (Australian Football League), the Melbourne Cup (horse racing), a number of cycling competitions such as the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, and the Grand Prix (Formula 1 car racing) at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit are just a few examples. There are also a variety of fitness resources available, such as multiple gyms located throughout the city.
The penguin parade on Phillip Island is world-famous. Every night at dusk, a colony of little penguins emerges from the water at Sutherland Beach, waddling home from a busy day at sea.
“While the parade is a great event,” our Melbourne expert said, “I’m a bigger fan of Phillip Island’s Koala Conservation Centre, its elevated boardwalks a handy spot to catch a glimpse of Australia’s cutest marsupial.” Fur seals can even be seen at the aptly named Seal Rocks from October to December. Late October is the best time to see them, so bring your binoculars. Phillip Island is located 87 miles southeast of Melbourne at the entrance to Westernport Bay.
Walking distance from the city center, the Botanic Gardens provide an oasis of calm, peace, and greenery just outside the urban bustle.