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Melbourne is the second biggest city in Australia and is considered the cultural capital of the country, with world-famous sports grounds, art centres, cultural events and an awesome cafe culture! With so much to see and do in Melbourne and the surrounding state, you could spend weeks here, but if you’re passing through the city for a short time, this Melbourne itinerary for 3 days is perfect to make the most of your time in the city.
Melbourne is often missed by people choosing to visit Australia, it’s in the south of the country in the state of Victoria, it has distinct seasons (yes, it isn’t warm all year round like other parts of Australia) and it doesn’t have the instantly recognisable landmarks like other cities in Australia.
But Melbourne has a unique culture to experience and 3 days in Melbourne is a great time to explore everything the city has to offer.
If you want to explore the city’s street art and laneways, check out my self-guided tour.
If you’re in Melbourne on a Working Holiday Visa, check out Where to Live in Melbourne, Australia on a Working Holiday Visa.
3 days itinerary in Melbourne: Day 1
Head out for a Melbourne brunch
You can’t visit Melbourne without experiencing the famous brunch and coffee culture that’s a staple for Melbournians and visitors alike.
Head to Hardware Lane in the CBD for several brunch options to suit all tastes, all right next door to each other so you can pick your favourite.
Hash Specialty Coffee has plenty of coffee options (as you might guess) but it also has loads of great breakfast options, most of which are vegetarian brunch options, as well as a handful of vegan and gluten-free options too. Don’t worry, if you fancy meat they’ve still got you covered with dishes like pork benedict or baked eggs with chorizo.
White Mojo has the most beautifully presented and colourful dishes, check out the Flamingo Waffle with lavender yoghurt and fairy floss!
Hardware Societe is perhaps a little more expensive but it’s a Melbourne staple. If you want to treat yourself, try the lobster benedict or the pork belly fried eggs.
City walking tour
Walk off your breakfast with a free Melbourne walking tour, they leave every day at 11am from the State Library, not far from Hardware Lane. This is the walk tour I used when i first arrived in Melbourne and took my family on when they came to visit.
The tour lasts for 2.5-3 hours and is a great way to get a feel for the city, learn about its history and take in the sights. Plus the tours are led by locals, so you can get locals' perspective and tips for things to see and do.
Refuel with famous Melbourne coffee
It wouldn’t be a trip to Melbourne without sampling the coffee that Melbourne is famous for. However you like your coffee, you’re going to love it here in Melbourne. No matter where you get your coffee, it’s always going to be good, just make sure to go to one of the local independent coffee shops (steer clear of chain coffee shops!).
Some of my favourite coffee places in the city are:
Oli & Levi
Brother Baba Budan
Explore the Laneways: street art and arcades
Melbourne is famous for its laneways. They’re all over the city, you’ll stumble on many with amazing street art, cute corners and tucked away cafes. Some even have secret bars built into them.
Click here for my self-guided street art and laneways tour.
You might have seen some of the laneways on your walking tour, but it’s likely you haven’t seen the most famous streets yet.
If you’ve gone to one of the coffee places above then you’re in the perfect position to take yourself on a short half-hour street art walk from Elizabeth street, starting at the Royal Arcade, you can follow this route.
Cross Little Collins Street into Block Arcade
Come out of Block Arcade onto Collins Street
Cross over into Centre Place - full of bustling street food stalls
Walk straight through onto Flinders Lane
Along Flinders Lane, stop at Hosier Lane: possibly the most famous street art street in Melbourne, it changes almost daily with new artwork
Continue along Flinders Lane to Higson Lane and see the Elton John and Yoda artwork.
Continue along Flinders Lane to ACDC Lane
Turn left at the bottom of ACDC Lane to see the famous ‘Melbourne’ artwork piece
Flinders Street Station
After your laneways walk, you’re in a great position to come out onto Flinders Street and see the busiest train station in the southern hemisphere.
This art nouveau station is an icon of Melbourne and many people visit to photograph its famous facade and see the row of clocks above the main entrance which show the departure times for each line.
Platform 1 is also the longest platform in Australia and the 4th longest platform in the world at 708 metres.
Just across from the main entrance to Flinders Street Station is Federation Square, often shortened to Fed Square. This is considered a cultural centre as it incorporates the ACMI gallery, the Ian Potter Centre and frequently hosts city events in the public space. There is even a permanent big screen on one of the walls which shows large events for the public to enjoy, such as the AFL Grand Final, the Australian Open Tennis and Fifa World Cup.
Walk along the river
Take the steps down from Fed Square and enjoy a stroll along the Yarra River and around the Birrarung Marra. This is the area that holds festivals, events, the Tennis Open and the cricket and it makes a great afternoon or evening walk surrounded by nature, even though you’re still so close to the city.
Dinner in Chinatown
For your first dinner in Melbourne, you have to head to Chinatown. Melbourne Chinatown covers several blocks between Spring Street and Swanston Street. It’s famous for being the longest continuous Chinese settlement outside Asia and the oldest in the southern hemisphere.
Here you will find a huge range of authentic Asian cuisines and for incredibly good value. Check out Hakata Gensuke Ramen for some of the best ramen I’ve had outside Japan. The queue here can get pretty big so another great Japanese option just down the street is Shujinko.
Don Don or Din Tai Fung are great for cheap dumplings.
Hawker Chan is famed for being the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant you’ll ever eat in. The chef owns a michelin-starred restaurant in Singapore, and while this Melbourne restaurant doesn’t actually have Michelin stars, the chef has brought the same menu here, so you can get michelin-starred food for as little as $6.50.
Enjoy a drink on a rooftop with a view of the city
The night is still young and Melbourne’s lively bar scene is best enjoyed from the rooftops.
The CBD has countless rooftop bars and restaurants to see the city from a different angle. Head up for sunset or after dark for amazing views. My favourite for night scenes is the QV rooftop, but this cocktail bar can be pricey. For something a bit more chilled, why not enjoy a beer with a view at the originally named Rooftop Bar, right in the centre of Chinatown.
Other rooftop options are Peaches or the Loop Roof bar. In the summer head to the Arbory Float on the Yarra River for a unique bar experience.
If you prefer something edgier with a craft beer selection, head to Whitehart. Tucked down one of the laneways in the CBD, this industrial bar has a pop-up feel to it with iron girders and wooden barrels to sit on. They have a range of craft beers and a food truck if you get peckish.
3 days itinerary in Melbourne: Day 2
Breakfast at South Melbourne Market
Hop on the 96 tram and head to South Melbourne Market. Whilst Queen Victoria Market is the most famous market in Melbourne (and I do recommend you check it out too), I actually prefer South Melbourne Market.
South Melbourne Market has an amazing range of food stalls and it’s a great place to grab a coffee from Padre Coffee and a pastry or two from one of the many pastry and delicatessen stores in the market.
Follow your breakfast with a wander around the fresh produce section, the home and crafts stores, the plant nurseries and don’t miss the mouth-watering cheese room (yes an entire room) inside Emerald Deli.
The market is a great place to buy food and souvenirs from local businesses, so spend some time wandering around.
Soak up the sun in famous St Kilda
Okay, I can’t promise it will be sunny, we are in Melbourne after all! But St Kilda is an iconic area of Melbourne that can’t be missed, regardless of whether you’re a fan of the beach or not!
St. Kilda has established itself as a somewhat hippy, free-spirited, travellers hub with an awesome chilled-out vibe.
If you hop back on the 96 tram from outside South Melbourne Market, this tram line terminates on St Kilda High Street. Get off here and explore the funky clothing and craft businesses. Check out the cake and patisseries or perhaps one of the coffee shops like Abbey Road Cafe.
Continue walking in the direction you came on the tram and you’ll reach the famous Luna Park with the colourful face at the entrance. Opposite the theme Park is the yellow Palais Theatre.
Walk along the side of the theatre and Luna Park and you’ll reach the coast. Enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk to the sound of the sea, with dog walkers, joggers and cyclists all going about their business. Often there are events or festivals in the grassy park along the seafront.
Walk along until you reach the pier which you can walk down. The pier is beautiful and the kiosk at the bottom was remodelled on the historic original building which burnt down in 2003. If you’re lucky, you might see some of the famous St Kilda penguins on the rocks behind the kiosk, although they usually appear at dusk.
Walk back along the boardwalk and stop at one of the cafes or restaurants there to enjoy a light lunch by the sea.
See the colourful Brighton Beach Huts
If you’re eager for more beach time, head further down the coast to Brighton Beach. It isn’t straightforward to reach on public transport as you’ll need to take a tram and a train or a bus for 45 minutes, but it is a quick 10 minute Uber ride.
Brighton, Melbourne is famous for its row of colourful beach huts. It’s also a much nicer and wider beach than St Kilda if you’re looking to relax and soak up some rays.
The suburb of Brighton itself is beautiful, with lots of large beach houses and a High Street full of quaint cafes and local stores.
If beaches aren’t your thing then this afternoon is a great opportunity to see the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). The NGV exhibits are completely free to visit and the building is beautiful to explore too. Other special exhibits are ticketed.
Head to Fitzroy for dinner
Hop back on the 96 tram and you can ride this straight through the city and out the other side to Fitzroy.
Fitzroy is known for its alternative vibe and edgy, creative culture. Thanks to this you’ll find a huge choice of restaurants, cafes and bars along Brunswick Street and the surrounding streets. Check out some of these:
Tacos & Tequila for Mexican
Smith & Daughters for Vegetarian burgers
Vegie Bar for my favourite selection of veggie and vegan cuisine
Mario’s is great for Italian
Rice Queen or Rice Paper Scissors for Asian Fusion
Viet Rose for Vietnamese
Fina’s or Yong Green Food for vegan Asian cuisine.
Then head out to one of the many bars for great drinks, rooftop views and live music. Brunswick Street is always lively, so see where the vibes take you. The Evelyn Hotel has a great rooftop, Naked for Satan also has incredible rooftop views of the city.
If you’re more of a beer and breweries person, head to the neighbouring suburb of Collingwood, home to several Melbourne breweries:
The Mill Brewery
Bodriggy Brewing Company
3 days itinerary in Melbourne: Day 3
Breakfast in suburbs
Take it easy with a late brunch in the suburbs. Whilst there are lots of options for breakfast in the city, the suburbs have so much character and different vibes depending where you go, it’s great to experience them before you leave.
If you’re already staying in a suburb and not in the CBD, make sure to ask your hotel or host for some brunch recommendations. These are some of my favourite suburbs and favourite brunch spots.
Archie’s All Day
Top Paddock Cafe
Pillar of Salt
Friends of Mine
Explore the neighbourhood
After brunch, wander around the neighbourhood, check out the local businesses, specialist food and craft stores. Look for local markets, such as Rose Street Artists’ Market in Fitzroy or just soak in the unique Victorian architecture of the residential streets.
Explore the Botanical Gardens
Head back towards the city from whichever suburb you’re in and spend some time wandering around the Botanical Gardens.
These gardens are huge and home to over 8000 plant species. You can wander for hours around the paths and gardens, sit by the lake, enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by. It really is a peaceful oasis right in the city.
It’s also worth seeing the beautiful Shrine of Remembrance which sits on the outer edge of the gardens along St Kilda Road. This is not only a stunning monument with great significance but it also has beautiful views across the gardens and the city skyline. You can climb to the top of the Shrine for free, please remember to be respectful.
See the Domed Reading Room in Melbourne State Library
If you didn’t get a chance to go inside the Library before your walking tour, I would recommend visiting if you’re a fan of libraries or books like me!
The library is free to enter and if you head through to the back you will reach the domed reading room, called the La Trobe room. This stunning circular room is an iconic landmark of Melbourne. You can go up the stairs to view the room from above and snap some photos. Upstairs along the balconied areas on Levels 4 and 5, you’ll also find several free permanent exhibitions which are so interesting and well-worth spending some time enjoying - The Changing Face of Victoria and World of the Book.
Check What’s On Melbourne for events in the city
Spend your last evening in the city walking along the river or enjoying a rooftop bar or perhaps a restaurant you’ve seen and want to visit before you leave.
Melbourne always has events happening so make sure to check the City website: What’s On Melbourne to see the latest events, shows, sporting events, pop-ups, musical performances and other fun things in the city.
That might be a show in Fed Square, a cricket match at the world famous MCG, a movie at the Rooftop Cinema in Chinatown, a food festival at Birrarung Marr or a parade down Bourke Street. There is always something happening in Melbourne!
I hope this 3 days itinerary in Melbourne has been useful to you planning your time in Melbourne and possibly convinces you to stay longer or come back in the future to see more of what Melbourne city has to offer!
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Flights: I use Expedia to find great flights and the best deals all over the world, they have regular sales and offers so I always check their website. I also check CheapOair to find cheap deals on round trip flights.
Car Rental: I love the customer service I've always gotten and the variety of options with Rental Cars. But for short notice rentals, I've been using Expedia for the last year, they always seem to have great one-day rates or last-minute rates from the main rental companies.
Accommodation: I prefer the flexibility of booking accommodation with Booking.com so I can cancel or change my reservation without a fee or only pay on arrival for most properties. For longer or more unique stays I prefer AirBnB because you can get the long stay discount, you can also find more unique properties and book experiences with talented locals and businesses. For my budget trips, I always stay in hostels and book through Hostelworld because they have great guarantees if anything does go wrong. If you arrive and your booking is not at the property, they refund the full deposit AND give you $50 extra credit.
Tours and organised trips Although I don’t use tours that often, I do like to book local experiences or day trips once I reach my destination. For that I use GetYourGuide because it has the biggest selection and variety of tour and experience options.
Travel Insurance: For all my longer trips and for the entire year I’ve spent in Australia, my partner and I have always used World Nomads. They cover everything I need and I can buy coverage for a year at a time, they also allow you to purchase cover when you’re already outside your home country. Plus my camera gear and equipment is covered and they also have special cover for when I’m scuba diving too.
My camera gear and equipment: I use a Canon 77D with an 18-135mm lens or a 50mm lens. And a DJI Mavic Mini Drone. For all my gear including laptops, tripods and more camera accessories read my travel photography gear guide.