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Melbourne in 3 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

In a long weekend you can visit some unmissable destinations in the second largest city in Australia, Melbourne. Here is an itinerary for you to optimize your time.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

9 min read

Melbourne in 3 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Melbourne |©Wesley & Brandon Rosenblum

Melbourne is a coastal city in the southwest of Australia, where an interesting cultural and architectural contrast prevails. You will find historic buildings, skyscrapers, an art district, squares, trendy stores, restaurants, bars and much more. In addition, the town is surrounded by a series of beautiful natural areas.

During your stay you can visit St. Peter's Cathedral, see street art and sample oriental cuisine in China Town. You will also visit the National Gallery of Victoria, explore the Healesville Shrine and Phillip Island, the Yarra Valley among other of the best things to do in Melbourne that I will tell you about.

Day 1: Melbourne's historic center, street art, the State Library and Chinatown

Flinders Street Station|©David
Flinders Street Station|©David

The first day of your Melbourne itinerary will be dedicated to seeing some of the highlights of the city 's Central Business District. You will see Flinders Station, Federation Square and St. Paul's Cathedral, appreciate the street art, visit the State Library of Victoria and ChinaTown.

Stroll through downtown Melbourne and see some iconic buildings

This day's adventure begins in Downtown Melbourne (10-minute walk from the city's Central Business District). In this area, you'll get an up-close look at three buildings of cultural and architectural interest, usually incorporated into any of the guided tours of Melbourne.

  • Flinders Station, which was Australia's first steam railway station, erected in 1854. You will see its facade and the accompanying clock tower.
  • Federation Square. This open-air space is about 72 meters from the station and was built over the railroad lines. In this square, you will occasionally see dozens of people in front of a giant screen watching sporting events such as the Australian Open, etc.
  • St. Paul's Cathedral, a Catholic place of worship dating from 1891, built in stone in a neo-Gothic architectural style. You will only have to walk about three minutes from Federation Square.

Book a guided tour of Melbourne

See Melbourne's street art

About a five-minute walk from the above destination, you can embark on one of Melbourne's best street art tours. You'll be left breathless by the ingenuity and colorful artwork on the alleyway walls, ideal for some photo ops.

Whether you take a Melbourne street art tour with a guide or on your own, here are some of the places you'll discover:

  • Hosier Lane. This street is lined with stencils by local artists. For example, the work of Adnate, a portrait of an Aboriginal child.
  • AC/DC Lane, with works alluding to the guitarist of the Australian punk band AC/DC, Malcolm Young. Also, an amazing mural of a man with an uprooted tree over his shoulder.
  • Duckboard Place. In this alley you will enjoy many works, the most notable being that of the street artist Banksy.

Book a street art tour

The Victory State Library

From the previous destination, you will have to walk about 16 minutes in the direction of Russell St and you will find the Victoria State Library. It is a building erected in 1854.

When you arrive at the library, you will be able to contemplate its neoclassical facade and inside you will have access to more than 2 million books. And, if your visit coincides with the summer season in Melbourne, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air lying on the grass in the garden surrounding the building.

Chinatown in Melbourne

The next stop is Chinatown, located about seven minutes walk from the previous destination. There, you can delve into oriental culture, shop and even embark on one of Melbourne' s best food tours in the restaurants of this neighborhood.

Some of the places to visit in Chinatown include the following:

  • The Chinese Museum, with historical artifacts, oriental art collections, dragon gallery where you will see the Dai Long and the Millennium Dai Long.
  • The Emporium Melbourne, which is a shopping mall with fashion stores.
  • The MidCity, a shopping center with a variety of sushi restaurants, fusion food, noodle houses, cafes, tea houses, bars, among other places, ideal to start a gastronomic tour of Melbourne. In addition, you will find cinema, souvenir stores and more.

Book a food tour in Melbourne

Day 2: The Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens, SEA LIFE Aquarium and the Southbank Waterfront

Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne|©Marian Pollock
Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne|©Marian Pollock

The plan for this day is to explore the art, nature and history of the city. All this, without leaving aside the leisure and gastronomy. To do so, you will visit the National Gallery of Victoria, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Shrine of Remembrance, the SEA LIFE Aquarium and the Southbank Promenade.

The National Gallery of Victoria

This day's tour starts at the National Gallery of Victoria, located about a 10-minute walk from Flinders Station (downtown Melbourne). In this precinct, you can contemplate an art collection of more than 76,000 works: artifacts, paintings, sculptures, among others.

In this museum and gallery you can see works such as Blue Eyes by Françoise Gilot, which stands out for being the first work belonging to the School of Paris to join the permanent collections. Also, Boulevard Montmartre, Morning, Cloudy Weather by Camille Pissarro, acquired by NGV, among others.

  • Price: free admission.
  • Hours: daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne

From the National Gallery of Victoria you will have to walk about 12 minutes along Linlithgow Ave to the next stop on your itinerary: the Royal Botanic Gardens. This is a beautiful natural setting within the city.

You can take a gondola ride in the man-made lagoon, have a picnic, contemplate the variety of plants here, take amazing photographs or walk the trails on foot or on two wheels. In fact, this is often one of the destinations incorporated into some of the Melbourne bike tours.

  • Price: free admission.
  • Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (daily).

Book a bike tour

The Shrine of Remembrance

When you leave the Botanical Gardens you will have to walk about 15 minutes towards St Kilda Rd and you will find the Shrine of Remembrance. This is a place to honor the memory of those who served in WWI.

In this shrine, you will find a nature reserve with gardens, monuments, sculptures, fountains and about 250 memorial plaques; and the gallery of remembrance, with 100 years of Australian history in the war period: objects, art works, films, etc. In addition, there is the balcony area, from where you will get an amazing panoramic view.

  • Price: free admission.
  • Hours: daily from 10:00 to 17:00.

Melbourne SEA LIFE Aquarium

The next stop is about 30 minutes by bus or 10 minutes by car from the Shrine of Remembrance. This is the Melbourne SEA LIFE Aquarium, where you will learn about Australian marine life. Ideal if you are in Melbourne with children.

With tickets to Melbourne's SEA LIFE Aquarium you will have access to a total of 12 ecological areas with penguins, crocodiles, seahorses, sharks and dozens of fish. You can also participate in interactive activities and listen to lectures given by expert biologists.

  • Price: from 42€ per person.
  • Hours: daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Buy tickets for SEA LIFE

Southbank Promenade

To end your second day in Melbourne, nothing better than to go to the Southbank Promenade. To do so, you will have to walk about 10 minutes from the previously visited destination. In this way, you will have access to a series of restaurants and bars with a privileged view of the Yarra River.

You can enter the Crown Casino to spend a different evening or stroll around and appreciate the Gas Brigades Fire Show. This is a show held every 60 minutes from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. Undoubtedly, the Southbank Promenade is a place to incorporate among the things to do in Melbourne at night.

Day 3: Get away from the city and enjoy nature

Yarra river|©Miss Krin
Yarra river|©Miss Krin

The plan for the third and final day of your Melbourne itinerary is simple. Just connect with a guided tour or excursion, allowing you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and explore unique natural spaces in the surrounding area. For example, the Healesville Sanctuary and Phillip Island, the Yarra Valley or the Grampians National Park.

Option 1: Discover Healesville Sanctuary and Phillip Island in Melbourne

Embarking on a tour of Healesville Sanctuary and Phillip Island in Melbourne is an experience not to be missed during your trip. Together with a specialized guide, you will leave the city by car and spend a different kind of day outdoors. You will be surrounded by picturesque natural landscap es and observe amazing animal species.

The first stop you will make will be at the Healesville Sanctuary to see birds of prey, koalas, platypuses, kangaroos, among others. Then, on Phillip Island, you will have the opportunity to witness the penguin parade. This is a unique natural spectacle, in which these animals emerge from the sea to take shelter in their burrows.

Information of interest

  • Price: the price of the excursion is approximately 111€ per person.
  • Duration: the estimated duration for this experience is 11 hours.
  • Advantages: you will observe different animal species in an amazing natural space.

Book a tour of Healesville Sanctuary and Phillip Island

Option 2: Explore the Yarra Valley from Melbourne

The Yarra Valley is a popular destination to visit from Melbourne. You will get away from the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy the privileged landscape of the Australian countryside, which is also known for being a wine region with many wineries with a long tradition.

Throughout the activity, you will be accompanied by a driver-guide, who will take you to visit some wineries in the region. For example, De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate, considered one of the oldest, among others.

Throughout this tour of the Yarra Valley from Melbourne, you will learn how Australian wine is made, walk through the vineyards and do some tastings with reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Moscato, Pinot Noir. You will also delight your palate with other products: fruit juices grown on local farms and handmade chocolate.

Useful information

  • Price: the price of the excursion is about 104€ per person.
  • Duration: the duration of this experience is about 8 hours.
  • Advantages: you will see the wine landscape of the Australian countryside and get a close look at the production process of some local wineries.

Book a tour of the Yarra Valley

Option 3: Visit the Grampians National Park from Melbourne

Another getaway from Melbourne that you can do on the third day of your itinerary happens to be the Grampians National Park from Melbourne. You will be in direct contact with nature, visit historic villages and see wild kangaroos.

Once you connect with the driver-guide in Melbourne, you will board a minibus and start the tour to the Grampians National Park from Melbourne, where you will see some of the following places of interest:

  • The Silverband Waterfall, this is a two-tiered waterfall that will amaze you.
  • The Reed Lookout, this is a viewpoint from which you will see the Victoria Valley.
  • The Boroka Lookout, which is a viewpoint overlooking Lake Bellfield and with a unique panoramic view of the Grampian Mountains National Park.
  • The Wonderland Loop Hike, an area with eucalyptus forests, kangaroos, the MacKenzie Waterfall and picturesque landscapes.

Information of interest

  • Price: the approximate cost is 85€ per person.
  • Duration: the activity usually lasts about 13 hours.
  • Advantages: you will enjoy an impressive landscape composed of canyons, waterfalls, kangaroos and wild flora.

Book an excursion to Grampians National Park

Use the tour bus to travel long distances

red skybus on the street|©Michael Fedor
red skybus on the street|©Michael Fedor

The Melbourne sightseeing bus is a good time-saving option for your three-day trip. You will be able to travel long distances without hassle, thanks to the multiple free stops at the city's main attractions.

You will have the St. Kilda route, which operates from 9:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and passes by each stop every two hours. Also, the City Walk route, with 15 stops and 16 points of interest, is available from 9:30 to 17:30 hours and runs every 40 minutes.

Some of the places you can travel to include Federation Square, Shrine of Remembrance, Arts Centre, SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, Arts Centre Melbourne, St Kilda Botanical Gardens, among others that you can verify by accessing a map of the bus route.

Myki Card to travel on any public transport in Melbourne

Integrated Transport Smart Card|©urbanbicyclist
Integrated Transport Smart Card|©urbanbicyclist

Regarding public transport, Melbourne is very well connected. You will have bus lines , trains and streetcars. But to access any of them, you will need to purchase a Myki Card, which is the official card to travel in the city.

You can buy the card at the airport, at the train station, at the streetcar stop or some authorized stores. You also have the online option through your cell phone. Afterwards, you just need to scan the Myki Card every time you board the transport.

Highlights of 3-day activities in Melbourne

Melbourne Tour|©Arm Storage
Melbourne Tour|©Arm Storage
  • Day 1
  • Discover some of the highlights of the Central Business District.
  • Free
  • 24 hours a day
  • Day 2
  • Melbourne's SEA LIFE Aquarium
  • From 42€ per person (Approx.)
  • From 9:30 am to 5:00 pm (every day)
  • Day 3
  • Healesville Sanctuary and Phillip Island in Melbourne
  • From 104€ per person (Approx.)
  • Duration about 8 hours