What's your pleasure? Sports? Shopping? Art? Food? Wine? Wildlife? Melbourne ticks all these boxes and more. Straddling the curvy, lazy Yarra River, Melbourne is Australia's second largest city and, some would say, its best. Skip straight to the best with our expert tips on how to get the most out of three days in Melbourne.
Day 1: Melbourne CBD
Melbourne's city center is a beguiling mix of Victorian-era buildings, avant-garde architecture and mysterious laneways. Start off with some all-important coffee (Melburnians are obsessed with it), then get your art fix at the National Gallery of Victoria's twin sites. The International features international works and a relaxing sculpture garden, while the Ian Potter Centre (located in Melbourne's award-winning architectural centerpiece, Federation Square) focuses on Australian art.
Time for a refreshment? This city has a dizzying array of laneway bars, quality coffeehouses and great restaurants; locals make a sport of finding the latest hot spot. Tuck into tapas in a tiny bar, snack on yum cha in Chinatown, fine dine with river views at Southbank, or browse the stalls and taste some samples at Queen Victoria Market. Top off the day with an evening of theatre or a nightcap at one of the famous rooftop bars.
Day 2: Eat, Drink, Shop
Melburnians love to shop. From the CBD's big-name department stores, Myer and David Jones, to thousands of specialty, independent, and second-hand shops in the inner-city suburbs, you won't come away empty-handed. Chapel St is famous for spanning three suburbs and a million styles. Not sure where to go spending? Book yourself into a Melbourne shopping tour - an expressway to the city's laneway boutiques and bargain-laden factory outlets.
Eating in Melbourne is also a joy, so bring your appetite! Inventive chefs abound and a culinary mix of European, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines has created a world-class restaurant scene with a distinctly modern Australian style. For food with a sightseeing view, book the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant well ahead of time - it's worth it!
Day 3: Day trips from Melbourne
From rugged beaches to historic country towns and the Yarra Valley or Mornington Peninsula Wine Country, there's plenty to explore on a Melbourne day trip. Kids love seeing the tiny fairy penguins that parade on Phillip Island, as well as the koalas, kangaroos, wombats and other local fauna at Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary. You'll find more natural splendor along the famously tight curves of the Great Ocean Road, one of Australia's great road trips. And for a day of indulgence, nothing beats a day of wining and dining on a Yarra Valley wineries excursion or a private tour of the Mornington-Peninsula wineries.