11 Melbourne Experiences That Don’t Show Up on Google

Skyline of Melbourne, Australia, featuring modern skyscrapers and historic buildings at sunset, with the Yarra River in the foreground and an Australian flag at the bottom left corner.

Discover Melbourne beyond the central business district, St Kilda, and the regular tourist trail. In this insider’s guide, you’ll get off the beaten track and explore all of the hip, quirky, and amazing things to do in Melbourne that locals love. 

This article is part of my Wander Like a Local series, where guest writers reveal the best-kept secrets, must-see spots, and unique experiences that only locals know. Discover hidden gems and authentic tips from those who call it home.

Melbourne is one amazing place to visit. It’s fun, vibrant, diverse, and very, very unique. There are so many amazing things to do in Melbourne that you could spend years exploring this city and never get bored. Hey, it wasn’t voted the world’s most liveable city for seven consecutive years for nothing! 

I love Melbourne and while I wasn’t born there, I’m an adopted local, having lived in the city for almost 8 years. In that time, I discovered its hidden gems and secrets and really know it like the back of my hand. 

What are you waiting for? Come explore Melbourne like a local with me! 

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Have You Ever been to Melbourne Australia?

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An outdoor plant nursery with various plants in pots, arranged on tables, and a large tree in the background, next to a wooden shed and a shaded seating area.


CERES Environment Park is one of Melbourne’s top hidden gems and is dearly loved by locals. It’s a park, a wholefoods shop, a community garden, nursery, bike shed, events space and more, all in one beautiful package. Visiting this wonderful community space is a top thing to do in Melbourne if you want to truly experience the city like a local. 

You can spend time wandering the grounds, picking up some fresh produce or sunning yourself on one of the many grassy areas. Hey, while you’re there, why not have an ad hoc picnic? If you’re lucky, there may even be a festival on, as it’s a popular space for day parties. If that’s the case, you should definitely partake!

An imposing stone fortress with two cylindrical towers stands illuminated against a dusky sky, featuring an entrance archway with the name "Pentridge" displayed above.

Explore Pentridge Prison

Why is a prison listed as one of the best things to do in Melbourne? Because Pentridge Prison isn’t just any old, regular prison. Pentridge Prison, once one of the toughest prisons in Australia, is now a chic, repurposed multi-use space. There’s a gelateria, a barbershop, a coffee shop, a wine bar, multiple restaurants, and even a hotel inside! How often can you say you’ve had brunch where Australia’s most notorious criminals once resided? 

My favourite spot in Pentridge? BrewDog, a pub and taphouse that serves up delicious craft beer and tasty pub meals and features a huge beer garden. You can easily spend a whole day at Pentridge Prison, eating, drinking, and soaking up those great Melbourne vibes. 

Wander Little Africa

Melbourne has a ton of trendy neighborhoods, each with its own personality and distinct vibe. Wandering around and getting to know these unique areas is one of the best things to do in Melbourne, as it allows you to appreciate its diversity first-hand. 

One of my favourite Melbourne suburbs is Footscracy, otherwise known as Little Africa. This incredibly diverse area has a predominantly African population. However, Vietnam is also represented very well. 

There are dozens upon dozens of delicious Ethiopian restaurants and interesting stores selling stuff you’d otherwise never find on the Australian continent! 

Expect to hear multiple languages as you wander the street art-filled avenues. Footscray is also an up-and-coming arts precinct, so stop by the Footscray Community Arts Centre to see what’s on. 

A person wearing a gray coat and black cap plays a violin with a bow held to their mouth in a public place, while onlookers in the background watch.

Listen To Some Live Music

While it’s not New Orleans, Melbourne is a music city and on any given day, there is some seriously great music happening somewhere. Listening to some live music is a truly Melbourne activity. From classical to jazz to hip-hop to electronic, Melbourne’s music scene caters to all tastes. 

The JazzLab in Brunswick is my go-to for live jazz, whilst Howler, just down the road, usually has something amazing on almost every night of the week. If you want a late-night (or early morning) rave, then Revolver Upstairs is what you’re looking for.

If you’re visiting in summer, one of my favourite things to do in Melbourne is catch the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) playing outdoors in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Admission is free, alcohol is allowed and the atmosphere is amazing. 

The front entrance of the National Gallery of Victoria, featuring a large arched doorway and a poster advertising an art exhibition.

Friday Nights at NGV

If you’re visiting in the winter and looking for something fun to do in Melbourne on a Friday night, then head on over to the NGV. Each Friday night over the winter, the NGV (the National Gallery of Victoria) hosts its Friday Night Series, with music, performances, a bar and of course, art exhibitions. You can eat, drink, dance and check out some world-class art all at the same time. It’s slightly sophisticated, but being Melbourne, it’s never too pretentious.

A brightly illuminated, historic train station with a colorful facade stands out against a nighttime city skyline. The building has a prominent dome and clocktower.

Check Out A Festival

Melbourne is Australia’s cultural capital and this means one thing: festivals. No matter which time of year you visit, there’ll be a festival happening. The big name festivals include the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, Midsumma Festival, White Night, and Melbourne Music Week. 

But there are dozens upon dozens of other, small events too, like the Brunswick Music Festival and a film festival for what seems like every country in the world! Be sure to check out Time Out to see what’s happening during your visit to Melbourne. 

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Eat Your Fill Of Dumplings And Then Wander The Laneways

After music and festivals, Melbourne’s third love is dumplings. I’m a dumpling girl, so this is one of my favourite things to do in Melbourne. Every time I’m back in Melbourne I make sure to go out for dumplings at least twice. 

Although Melbourne’s Chinatown may be tiny, it’s jam-packed with dumpling houses, many in teeny-tiny laneways that you would never know existed. The food comes out fast and it’s cheap, making it a great way to start (or end) a Friday night. 

And while we’re on the subject of laneways, getting lost down Melbourne’s street art-filled laneways is a tourist attraction of its own. Hosier Lane is the most famous, but there are many smaller, lesser-known laneways to discover. The best way to find these is to simply wander around and see what you find.

A red tour boat sails on a river with a backdrop of city buildings and a blue sky with some clouds. Trees line the riverbank.

Boat Ride On The Yarra

Taking a boat ride on the Yarra River is a well-known touristy thing to do in Melbourne, but there’s a good reason for it. You can see the city from a unique perspective and learn a lot about its history on the way. 

There are multiple variations, but my favourite one isn’t an actual cruise, but the water ferry that ends in Williamstown. Williamstown is a lovely little seafront suburb and a great place to get some fresh fish and chips!

If you want to head out on the water but want something more intimate and off the beaten track, make your way to the Fairfield Boathouse. You can rent out beautiful, hand-crafted rowboats for a leisurely trip on the river. The Fairfield Boathouse also has a legendary teahouse, so stop in for a cuppa when you’re finished.

Sunset at Elwood’s Secret Lookout

Elwood’s secret lookout is just that: a local secret, and one that very few people know about it. While St. Kilda gets all the beach attention, just down the road in underrated Elwood. At Elwood’s Beach is Point Ormond, an elevated point that offers one of the best north-facing views of the city. Come here for sunset and you won’t be disappointed. 

A wide street view of Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, showing the historic building facade, overhead tram lines, and a small group of people gathered at the entrance.

Visit a Market

One of the tastiest things you can do in Melbourne is to market-hop! Melbourne loves its markets and there are many beautiful markets scattered throughout the city. The Queen Victoria Market in the central business district is by far the best well-known, and offers a lot for any visitor to Melbourne.

Further south are the South Melbourne Market, which is famous for its seafood and the Prahran Market, which has tons of great cafes and food stalls. Up north you can find the Preston Market, where you’ll find every Asian delicacy under the sun. 

And finally, in the summer you cannot miss the Summer Night Markets. These are held in multiple different suburbs around town and usually feature music, food stalls and more. 

Four blue city bikes are parked at a bike-sharing station in an urban setting, adjacent to a grey concrete wall.

Go For A Bike Ride

After only a few hours in Melbourne, you’ll quickly realise that Melburnians love cycling. There are bike lanes everywhere in the city and you can get almost anywhere on a bike. 

One of the best things to do in Melbourne on a sunny day is to pick up a rental and ride along either the Merri Creek Trail or the Yarra Trail. Both are leisurely and have multiple stops along the way to take a break, have a picnic, and enjoy the quiet. 

For a longer ride, take the train to Eltham and ride back to Melbourne, or for the truly adventurous, ride from the suburb of Lilydale to the picturesque country town of Warburton. Don’t worry, there’s a bike path pretty much the entire way. 


Well folks, there you have it, my top list of the best activities and unique things to do in Melbourne. Hopefully, you’re now feeling inspired to get out there and explore this amazing city yourself! 

Picture of Dotti Mazga

Dotti Mazga

Dotti Mazga is one-half of Travel Oasis, a worldwide travel blog focused on outdoor adventures in both common and uncommon destinations. You can often find us camping in our little orange tent and embarking on adventurous multi-day hikes in places as diverse as Australia, Ethiopia, and Tajikistan. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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