Melbourne is an affable cosmopolitan city with expansive parks and gardens and top class dining and shopping. It’s also the mecca of Australian Football, host to the Australian Open Tennis, and a thriving centre for the arts. Whatever your interests, there are fabulous Melbourne activities to suit.
Making the most of inner Melbourne activities
Melbourne’s top galleries, sporting venues and public gardens are within easy distance of the CBD. Not to mention the Melbourne Zoo. Nearby Carlton and Fitzroy are also popular for their excellent cafés, restaurants and bars, as well as unique shopping.
It’s easy to get around thanks to free tram travel within the city circle. Visitors also make the most of the city’s Bike Share Scheme, with bikes for hire for only $3 per day.
The Capital City Trail is a 29 kilometre circuit of well maintained and mostly flat bicycle paths that takes in some of the city’s top attractions. From Southbank, it passes the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Rod Laver Arena, home of the Australian Open Tennis. Winding around the Yarra River, it takes in the charming Collingwood Children’s Farm. From there the trail leads through Yarra Bend Park, and past the renowned dining hub of Lygon Street, Carlton. Originally known for its Italian cafés and restaurants, the area also has an array of international menu options. From there, stop at the top rated Melbourne Zoo to visit the gorillas, meerkats and other amazing animals. Perhaps take in the views from the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, or visit the Melbourne Aquarium on the route back to the CBD.
Melbourne activities CBD and Southbank
Federation Square is a popular meeting place for Melburnians and the home of the ultra modern Ian Potter Centre. The centre houses the Australian art collection of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), with an extensive collection of indigenous art. The remainder of the NGV collection is at the impressive NGV International on St Kilda Road, a short distance across the river.
From Federation Square it’s an easy walk to begin exploring Melbourne’s famous laneways, beginning with the chaotically vivid street art of Hosier Lane. Degraves Street, Centre Place and the historic Block Arcade and Royal Arcade are also worth seeking out for incredible dining and shops. It’s handy to carry a laneway map.
Southbank is the hub of entertainment in Melbourne, and the location of Crown Casino. Otherwise check the program of Hamer Hall for performances by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Not far away is the Southbank Theatre and the Malthouse Theatre for lovers of the dramatic arts.
Shoppers gravitate to the Queen Victoria Markets near Docklands for an eclectic range of stores and traders, and a foodie fix. The Rose Street Artists Market in stylish Fitzroy is open every weekend, selling artworks and wares from local artists and designers.
It’s worth heading out of the CBD to visit beachside St Kilda. It’s a six kilometre journey by tram to visit its Esplanade, pier and the rides and amusements at Luna Park. Certainly look out for the delectable treats at its European cake shops. Brighton Beach, with its colourful bathing sheds, is further south.
Further afield, the Great Ocean Road is a stunning coastal drive to the south west of the city.The road begins at the town of Torquay, about 80 minutes drive from the CBD and travels through charming coastal communities. It’s about five hours drive one way to reach the Twelve Apostles and Port Campbell.
Otherwise, tipplers will love a day trip to the wineries of the beautiful Yarra Valley. Yarra Glen is only an hour’s drive from the city. Or take a drive to Mt Dandenong for a bush walk in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Gateway to the wonders of Western Australia, Perth is a relaxed city with an inviting Mediterranean climate. Graced with beautiful beaches and the glorious Swan River running through its heart, it’s heaven for those who love the outdoors – and especially those who love being on or in the water. Its great sights and dining also make it a wonderful city to explore before venturing further afield.
Getting to know Perth
Central Perth has a number of attractions, including the Art Gallery of West Australia and the Crown Casino at Burswood. The Perth Mint is worth a visit for its gold museum and live gold pouring demonstrations. Adjacent to the CBD, the expansive King’s Park is a great place to wander and linger for a relaxing lunch or dinner. The park’s restaurant and café also have magnificent views over the city and Swan River.
Perth is certainly blessed with immaculate beaches. Popular Cottesloe (pictured at top) is just 15 minutes from the CBD and makes the perfect vantage point for sunset views after a swim or surf. Enjoy some ice-cream or fish and chips by the beach, or check out the stylish eateries and shops. Serious beach lovers might also head to Scarborough Beach or City Beach to the north. At any rate, there are countless spots to take a stroll or a refreshing dip.
The charming port of Fremantle is definitely worth a visit for its heritage listed buildings, historic attractions and excellent dining. The community is at its liveliest on weekends with the hum of the Fremantle markets and street performers competing for attention.
For a great range of dining choices around the CBD, head to the inner suburbs of Northbridge, Subiaco and Leederville. Northbridge is also the city’s premier bar and nightlife district.
Day tripping from Perth
Rottnest Island is a must do day trip in summer for amazing swimming, photography and to meet the native wildlife. Ferries depart from the City or Fremantle, or try a sailing tour.
The Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail is an easy day trip beginning only half an hour’s drive from the CBD. Relax and enjoy the many boutique wineries, gourmet eateries and art galleries along the way.
A number of National Parks are also within easy driving distance of the CBD including Yanchep National Park to the north .
Perth travel tips
Summer is the best time to visit. Summer days are warm to hot and dry, with day after day of blue sky.
Perth International Airport includes the domestic terminal and is 20-30 minutes drive from the CBD. Transport to and from the airport is available by airport bus, shuttle or taxi.
Travellers also arrive by the Indian Pacific train, which travels through Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. From Sydney the journey takes 3 days. The train crosses the vast Nullabor plain between Adelaide and Perth.
Perth has great public transport that includes buses, trains and ferries. Ferry services run from the city to Fremantle, and also to Rottnest Island. The CAT bus is a free service that runs during the day time and some early evenings in the city centre, Fremantle and Joondalup.
Western Australia’s capital is one of Australia’s most beautiful cities. With the best in dining, urban street-life, stunning scenery and incredible range of outdoor attractions, there are so many ways to enjoy Perth. It’s the kind of city you might not want to leave.
In the CBD, check out the extensive collection at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Otherwise, the Perth Mint has a brilliant exhibition of gold nuggets, coins and fossicking history. Join one of its hourly tours to see live demonstrations of gold pouring. The inner suburbs of Northbridge, Subiaco and Mt Lawley are great to explore for the dining and nightlife.
The port of Fremantle, about 30 minutes drive to the south of the city is popular for its markets, dining and historic attractions. Perhaps try some local seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Enjoy Perth’s great outdoors
With the Swan River running through the city and an abundance of beautiful parks and trails, enjoy Perth on foot, by bicycle or from the water. There are also countless eateries offering outdoor dining. King’s Park overlooks the city and Swan River and its popular café and restaurant make the most of the magnificent views.
Mitchell Park, Perth
Perth also boasts 19 beautiful beaches. Swim or snorkel in the crystalline calm waters or surf the breaks. Cottesloe is one of the most popular beaches, only 15 minutes drive from the CBD, and with a selection of chic boutique shopping and dining nearby. Not to mention the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition every March.
Perth is a wonderful place to encounter all kinds of marine life, with numerous vantage points for whale watching during migration season from September to December. In addition, there are plenty of excellent dive and snorkelling spots, such as Marmion Marine Park off Trigg Beach.
Enjoy Perth’s surrounds
Quokkas, Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island (pictured top) on a cloudless summer day is absolutely unforgettable. No vehicles are allowed on the island, but visitors can walk to the numerous little beaches or hire a bike. The clear, pristine waters are excellent for swimming, while the incredible contrasts of white beaches, granite boulders and azure sea and sky make for incredible photographs. Visitors will definitely meet quokkas, the adorable resident marsupials, as well as other wildlife. The west coast of the island is the best spot for whale watching. To get to Rottnest, take a ferry from the City or Fremantle, or try a sailing tour.
The Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail is an easy day trip beginning only half an hour’s drive from the CBD. Follow the trail through idyllic farms and vineyards and make time to visit the microbreweries, galleries and shops. The restaurants and cafés are amazing showcases for the region’s produce. Otherwise, let someone else do the driving and take a winery tour. Travellers with children will especially love the Caversham Wildlife Park and Zoo.
A number of National Parks are also within easy driving distance of the CBD. Yanchep National Park to the north of the city is popular for its koalas and scenic walks. Not to mention over 400 caves.
About an hour’s drive south of Perth is the seaside city of Mandurah – another great spot for boating and fishing. The renowned surfing and winery region of Margaret River is another two hours drive south from there.
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