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Best Attractions of Melbourne Australia 2023

Greetings, Internet Stranger! So you’re looking for the best attractions of Melbourne Australia? Sydney may be the biggest city in Australia, but when people give their favorite Australian cities, it is Melbourne that tops the list.

Do you like beautiful Victorian architecture? Melbourne has that. Do you like cutting-edge street art? Melbourne’s got you. Do you like ethnic foods ranging from Spanish to Turkish to British? Good on ya, mate! (I’m not really sure what that means, I’ve just always wanted to say it.)

Want to cut right to the chase, Internet Stranger? The best activity in Melbourne is this excellent street art tour with tons of amazing reviews.

Or if you want to explore all the best activities in Melbourne, check this search engine right here to find the best deals!

Fun fact! I actually completed this best attractions of Melbourne Australia day on Christmas Day, so if you ever happen to be touristing in Melbourne on Christmas, just know that all these places will be open, especially the Royal Botanic Gardens. However, this itinerary works any day, so don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to Christmas.

best attractions of Melbourne Australia

best attractions of Melbourne Australia

Where to Stay

Location is a very important consideration during your best attractions of Melbourne Australia day. The city is bigger than you might expect, and if you’re visiting during the holidays, the buses can be slow. That’s why I suggest staying as close to the downtown area as I can.

The hotel I recommend in Melbourne’s Central Business District is the Pullman Melbourne on Swanston. The rooms are beautiful, and the location really couldn’t be better. The staff is also extremely kind and attentive. In my opinion, this is the most convenient place to stay in Melbourne.

If you want to book a room at this hotel, just click here. If you want to book a different hotel for your 24 hours in Melbourne, just click here! This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay for your best attractions of Melbourne Australia day. With plenty of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

one day in melbourne itinerary

best attractions of Melbourne Australia

Morning: Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

You might be a little confused with all this royal business in Melbourne. Is Australia still an English colony? Does King Charles III rule the Royal Botanic Gardens with a fist of iron? I sure hope so!

But you’ll forget all about that confusion if you’re lucky enough to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens on Christmas Day, as it was one of the few attractions in Melbourne that will be actually open. The Royal Botanic Gardens gift shop and cafe will be closed, and no tours are given, but you can still roam the lovely grounds to your heart’s content, whether it’s Christmas or not.

Of course when I take a tour of a botanic garden, I do it so that I can give you three fun facts, or at least watch an old lady almost poison herself to death, which happened to me once in Vancouver. However, if none of those things are available, I like to practice my photography.

When it comes to photography, I definitely put the “ewwww” back in amateur. About 80% of my shots come out weird and blurry or oddly framed, but the Royal Botanic Gardens are so pretty that it’s hard for even a photographer like myself to ruin them. In any case, I took enough pictures to give you…

Approximately top 5: Royal Botanic Gardens melbourne

one day in melbourne itinerary
1) Many beautiful flowers

I’m not a flower expert, but the Royal Botanic Gardens collection includes roses, camellias, orchids, and many flowers native only to Australia and/or New Zealand. That’s impressive enough for this simple American girl! Before I visited these lovely botanical gardens, the sum total of my knowledge of Australian flora and fauna was zilch, nada, negative bupkis.

one day in melbourne itinerary
2) An arid garden

As you can see from my photo above, this section is full of desert plants. If you’re from the Northern Hemisphere, like me, and come to Australia in our winter, this section will remind you of your loved ones back home freezing their tushies off and you will laugh at them as you celebrate Christmas alone in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

one day in melbourne itinerary
3) A not arid garden

Remember, Melbourne is famously on the Yarra River, so fittingly there is a whole section of plants from the Lower Yarra River in the Botanical Gardens. It’s amazing how much more interesting everything is when you travel. I was so excited to see the exotic plants in the gardens here, but I almost never notice the plants back home.

In fairness, I am from New York City and the only plants we have back home are the plastic bags that flutter in the branches of trees sometimes. So this whole display was doubly exciting for me.

one day in melbourne itinerary
4) This symbol of love

My favorite thing in the whole RBGM, because I am hugely addicted to The Crown, was this plaque demonstrating that this amusingly named “Kanooka” tree was planted by the Duke of York for his Duchess, back in 1927, when no one had any idea that they would become the monarchs of the United Kingdom.

As everyone knows, this young stammering Duke would go on to conquer his stammer, become King George VI of England, help save the world from Hitler, father Queen Elizabeth II, and win an Academy Award for Best Actor. Then Jared Harris played him on The Crown. He lived a pretty good life, all things considered. I’m still trying to get someone to play me on The Crown.

Fun Fact! This tree is only about sixty years younger than the oldest building in Melbourne.

one day in melbourne itinerary
5) Get lunch at Mama’s Gozleme in Federation Square

It is even harder to find a place to eat when you’re trying to enjoy your best attractions of Melbourne Australia day on Christmas than it is to find an open tourist attraction. I figured my best bet would be to walk down to Federation Square and see if any food trucks were open.

Sure enough, I found a young woman selling gozleme for less than ten dollars in a food truck called Mama’s Gozleme on the river side of Federation Square. Gozleme is a kind of Turkish stuffed flatbread. I recommend the one filled with spinach and cheese, which is also known as the original.

The gozleme was fresh off the grill, and the filling was pungent and satisfying, but mostly I was just really grateful that I wasn’t going to starve to death on Christmas. The good news for you is that you can have this yummy treat any day of the year!

After lunch, if it’s Christmas, you can sit and watch It’s a Wonderful Life being projected in Federation Square. For me there is never a bad time to watch this movie, but I was distressed to see that Australians were getting the colorized version.

Every time someone shows this movie in color, an angel loses his wings.

one day in melbourne itinerary

best attractions of Melbourne Australia

Afternoon: SEALIFE Melbourne Aquarium

The SEALIFE Melbourne Aquarium is quite an expensive investment, but it is worth it to have something to do on Christmas. And even if you’re not in Melbourne on Christmas, this is one of the best attractions in the city. Plus, yelling SEALIFE in all caps is fun.

I suggest booking online because you will save time and get to skip the line. There are also private experiences like swimming with sharks, but you have to book those in advance.

Check rates and availability right here!

As you would expect, the Aquarium has an amazing collection of marine life native to Oceania. No humble tuna or salmon for these Aussies! It’s all penguins and sharks and kangaroo-fish for us!

You can spend all your best attractions of Melbourne Australia day here at the aquarium if you wish, but why not start with…

Approximately Top 5: The Melbourne Aquarium

one day in melbourne itinerary
1) Penguins

The best thing at this aquarium, or indeed any aquarium that doesn’t have sea otters, was the penguins. I guess the penguin feeders don’t get off for Christmas because we got to watch the trainers give their nattily-tuxedoed charges their fishy snacks. I’m very curious to know how big their bonus is for working on Christmas. I hope it’s massive.

Anyhoodle, back to the penguins and my photo above. Those red-beaked little fellows are Gentoo penguins, and they are apparently deviously fast swimmers. It is a sheer joy to watch them in action!

Just be careful as a single adult watching the penguins because there’s going to be a whole bunch of kids around, and they will push you to try to get a better look at the penguins, which is not fair because you can’t push them back because everyone will think you are mean.

You might even get arrested, which would ruin your day. So the moral of this story is: do not push strange children.

one day in melbourne itinerary
2) Find the world’s ugliest sea creature

I don’t know what that is because I was so distracted by its ugliness. However, it sure is ugly, and it’s here in the Melbourne Aquarium. Maybe this is the elusive SEALIFE that gives the aquarium its name? You’re probably thinking that I shouldn’t be so mean to a helpless fish that never did me any harm, and you’d be right. But I don’t think he can hear me through the internet, so we are probably safe.

one day in melbourne itinerary
3) Feast your eyes on the plants of the sea

Which is more interesting: SEALIFE plants of Australia or the Duke of York’s TREE OF LOVE? I say it’s the SEALIFE plants because they come in so many interesting colors, but I have to admit that it’s a close call.

one day in melbourne itinerary
4) Get attacked by a crocodile

I mean, that’s what the sign says and I always believe Australian signs. For example, I would definitely believe a sign that said, “Good on ya, mate!”

one day in melbourne itinerary

best attractions of Melbourne Australia

Evening: Dinner During a Movie at Crown Melbourne

Crown Melbourne is a violently tacky entertainment complex/casino (ugh) on the South Bank of the Yarra River, just a short walk from the aquarium. Everyone knows that the only thing worse than a casino is the Greyhound Bus Station in Richmond, Virginia.

The only reason I went to Crown Melbourne is because I was ready to settle down with a relaxing dinner and show at this point in my best attractions of Melbourne Australia day, and there is a movie theater inside the complex.

There was only one movie playing that I wanted to see, but I was shocked to find that the ticket cost thirty dollars. I looked more closely and saw that this mysterious charge was for something called a Gold Class ticket.

What could that possibly mean? Was it like First Class on an airplane? Would they give you champagne and moist hand towels? The possibilities were endless.

Anyway, I bought my customary movie companions, Diet Coke and chocolate candy, and went to wait to be seated. A ludicrously tall, dark, and handsome young man with teeth as white as a marshmallow snorting cocaine in a blizzard approached me and asked if I wanted to take a look at a cocktail menu. Huh?

one day in melbourne itinerary

It turns out that Gold Class is like a cross between a movie theater and a restaurant. You get a menu while you are waiting in the lounge, and you can order your dinner. Then they bring out your food while you enjoy the film. Mr. Universe took one look at my soda and chocolate and told me that I could order more sweets if I wanted, and then he chuckled in lilting Australian tones.

I wanted to sink into the floor and die. Did I look like someone who wanted to eat TWO boxes of candy in one sitting? Then I got over my shame and ordered a fully loaded burger. Probably nothing was going to happen between Dr. Teeth and me anyway.

one day in melbourne itinerary

24 hour treat: Gold Class Dining

Inside the theater, you get a reserved seat at a plush reclining chair and a table of your very own to upon which to dine. About half an hour into the movie, the waiter brings you your food.

I was loving this whole fancy dinner + movie experience, up until the point when the movie took a turn for the sad, and I started to cry into my fancy hamburger. Even though no one could see me, I felt as self-conscious as if I were crying at a restaurant.

Well, after public weeping, I always say it’s time to call it a night! So I bid you adieu so you can start planning your own best attractions of Melbourne Australia day

Best Attractions of Melbourne Australia 2023 1

best attractions of Melbourne Australia

Tools For Travel

  • A portable cell charger so that your phone won’t die a miserable death during your best attractions of Melbourne Australia day
  • The best international travel adapter because if you’re American like I am, you’ll need one to be able to plug in electronics during your best attractions of Melbourne Australia day
  • My favorite guide to Melbourne
  • The most reliable travel umbrella that is small enough to fit in my purse, but strong enough to stand up to powerful winds.
  • These great TSA approved clear toiletries bags, so I can always keep spare toothpaste and travel sized toiletries in any carry-on.
  • My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you how travel can take your life from blah to AMAZING!
one day in melbourne itinerary

best attractions of Melbourne Australia

How To Get There

Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a beautiful box of Australian meat pies. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to Melbourne.

But I can tell you that I used a lovely airplane to get from my hometown NYC to Melbourne, and I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to Melbourne at the best time of day. When I booked with them, I was able to save a bunch of money on my ticket, and it only took 48 hours door to door! But you might want to spend more money and save some time. Up to you!

Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out to your best attractions of Melbourne Australia day

one day in melbourne itinerary

That’s the best attractions of Melbourne Australia

Which is better, an aquarium or a botanical garden? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Melbourne? Why are so many things in Melbourne royal? And is Dr. Teeth still pining away with love for me? Please email me at and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in that place.

If you’re lucky enough to have more than a best attractions of Melbourne Australia day, try this itinerary as well. And if you can add 24 hours in Sydney, click on this itinerary. If you’d rather try another place famous for natural beauty, check out my itinerary for Cape Town, South Africa here!

Best Attractions of Melbourne Australia 2023 2
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