Melbourne is Victoria's sporting, culinary and cultural centre, so picking out a Top 10 isn't easy. There's a lot to see and do! The city's bars and restaurants are ranked among the world's best, and the coffee's not bad either. Here's how to spend your time in this beautiful city.
1. See sporting greats
Relive legendary sporting victories and discover inspiring stories at the redeveloped Australian Sports Museum. The interactive, multimedia museum is home to an incredible collection of Aussie sports memorabilia. Pay your respects in the cricket gallery, or branch out into other codes before creating your own gold medal moments at the interactive Game On.
Book ahead for an MCG tour for a behind-the-scenes visit to Australia's most famous sporting ground, including a visit to the media centre and a peek into the players' change rooms. Check the timetable as tours will not run on event days.
Melbourne is known for its packed events calendar, so there's always something see. Check out ALWAYS Live, a state-wide celebration of contemporary music or swing by the Regent Theatre for a matinee of Moulin Rouge. There's also a packed sporting calendar,with everything from ironman events, AFL, netball, soccer, cricket and rugby, to name a few, taking place in the sports precinct throughout the year.
3. River adventures
Image: Yarra Botanica
Melbourne is a river city, unlike Sydney, and there's plenty of water-based fun on the calendar. Gather some mates and join an electric boat cruise along the Yarra River with GoBoat Melbourne. Head upriver past the MCG or downriver past Crown Casino. Pack some picnic goodies, and don't forget to rug up!
For more fun by the Yarra, raise a toast at Ponyfish Island, just under the Evan Walker Bridge, enjoy local Victorian produce at floating eatery Yarra Botanica, or settle in for a long lunch with cocktails at Arbory Afloat.
4. Connect with culture
Narrm (Melbourne) is a historic and sacred place for many Indigenous Australians. Learn about Victorian Aboriginal experiences and the rich history of the world's longest continuous living culture at the Koorie Heritage Trust. See the latest exhibitions and join a Birrarung Wilam (River Camp) walking tour, learning more about the history of Birrarung Marr (AKA 'River of Mists', also known as the Yarra River).
Get to know native plants and learn about connection to Country on an Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens.
5. Hit the shops
Melbourne is home to high-end global brands like Hermes and Dior (you'll find them up the so-called 'Paris End' of Collins Street) but the city's real treasure is its boutiques. Indie labels, record stores, winter style – you'll find them all in the CBD. Start your shopping mission at Emporium, then work your way through Collins Street, The Block Arcade and Melbourne Central. Stop at Alpha60 for high-end Melbourne fashion (pro tip: we all wear black here), grab some vintage gold at Vault, then head to Rocksteady Records to pick up some vinyl.
Don't pass up the chance to seek out Victoria's talented Aboriginal designers and creators. In Fitzroy, find an eclectic range of colourful jewellery from Wiradjuri designer Kristy Dickinson at Haus of Dizzy or browse threads with meaning at Clothing The Gaps in Brunswick. Head to Kinya Lerrk in Preston for everything from homewares to body care products and chocolates infused with native flavours. In the CBD, you'll also find a range of Aboriginal creators stocked at the Koorie Heritage Trust store.
If you want to shop further afield, catch the shuttle to Chadstone, the biggest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere (buses depart regularly from Federation Square) or head to suburban retail hotspots like South Melbourne Market and Rose St Artists' Market.
6. Craft breweries and distilleries
Image: Mountain Goat Beer
Melbourne's craft beer scene is hopping. Literally. Head into Collingwood on the 86 tram and you'll find a bunch of microbreweries that have set up shop, making it easy to sample diverse flavours in a few short blocks. Get taste-testing at Fixation Brewing Company, Molly-Rose and The Mill Brewery. Let the experts show you around on a pre-booked Craft Beer Lovers' Tour.
If you're more in the mood to be spirited away, Fossey's Distillery on Lygon Street offers tasting paddles loaded with gins and whiskeys while Starward in Port Melbourne has been turning heads with its innovative single malts. For a tipple with a side of history, head to Little Lon Distilling Co., a tiny distillery housed in a heritage red brick cottage in the city's notorious former slum district.
7. Local flavours
Victoria's exceptional local produce is best tasted at the city's top tables. Make a beeline for Federation Square to Victoria by Farmer's Daughters. Sample the finest flavours from our growers and producers, and enjoy your meal on the terrace overlooking the Yarra.
Taste more of the regions at the original Farmer's Daughters on Collins Street, where the flavours of Gippsland vie for MVP. Other star players include Big Esso by Mabu Mabu, Hero and Collingwood's hatted vegan eatery Smith and Daughters. Check out our complete guide to Melbourne's best restaurants for more info.
8. Bird's-eye views
Image: Melbourne Skydeck
Get to know Melbourne from a different point of view. Zip up to the Southern Hemisphere's highest observation deck at Melbourne Skydeck in Southbank. Gaze at the expansive city views, step out onto The Edge – a transparent glass cube – and enter a 6D immersive sensory experience in the Voyager Theatre.
Head to The Ritz Carlton Hotel's Atria on the 80th floor for a winning combo: sophisticated cocktails mixed with breathtaking city views, or take up a table at Transit Rooftop Bar in Federation Square and watch the sunset over the river and arts precinct.
9. Friendly watering holes
Prop up the bar at some of Melbourne's welcoming neighbourhood pubs. See what sport is playing on the small screen, catch some live music, and maybe bag a 'parma and pint' special. Meet fellow sports lovers at The Rose Fitzroy or go for an elegant pub meal at The Builders Arms. Down in St Kilda, enjoy a bevvy with sparkling bay views at the Hotel Esplanade, also known as The Espy.
If whisky's your thing, sip a single malt or two at Whisky Den and Whisky and Alement – you'll find both in the city.
10. Art afternoons
Image: NGV International
Get up to speed with the latest exhibitions while you're in town. The Australian collection at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square is an undoubted highlight, and free to enter. You should also check out ACMI's calendar.
See the latest global exhibitions at the NGV International and soak it up, literally, in the immersive digital art space LUME. Finally, head to Melbourne Museum for their new Gandel Gondwana Garden; it's an outdoor gallery where you can step into the Victoria of the past.