1 Perfect One Day in Melbourne Itinerary


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Greetings, Internet Stranger! So you’re looking for a perfect one day in Melbourne itinerary? 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.)

Fun fact! I actually completed this one day in Melbourne itinerary 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. But the itinerary works any day.

One Day in Melbourne Itinerary

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 one day in Melbourne itinerary ASAP.

One Day in Melbourne Itinerary

Where to Stay?

I wish I could recommend the hotel where I stayed when I was researching my one day in Melbourne itinerary. But I make it my policy to never post a negative review on this blog, so the hotel in question will have to remain nameless. But I bear them an ancient and endless grudge because they charged my debit card twice, which took days to resolve and left me stranded and near penniless halfway around the globe.

The next time I visit Melbourne, I plan on booking a hotel near Federation Square. When I travel solo, I always try to stay in a centrally-located hotel. That way the hotel can help me in an emergency, and it’s usually safe to walk by myself at night.

If you’re looking for a collection of over 3000 places to stay during your Melbourne itinerary with some pretty amazing deals, just click here!

One Day in Melbourne Itinerary

What to Pack?

  • Stylish and comfy sandals that are just perfect for a warm Australian Christmas itinerary.
  • Cute boots just in case it is a rainy Christmas instead of a white Christmas.
  • A cell charger so your cell can keep snapping gorgeous photos of warm weather Christmas all day
  • A rain jacket with a hood in case it’s mean enough to rain during your one day in Melbourne itinerary
  • My favorite guide book to Melbourne
  • Good on ya! (Promise I’ll stop saying that, eventually.)
  • A fascinating history of the founding of Melbourne
  • Cocaine Blues, which sounds messed up, but is in fact the first of the amazing Phrynne Fisher series set in 1920s Melbourne. If you are a glam lady or just like to read about them, this is the series for you!
  • Stylish and comfy sandals that are just perfect for an Australian summer Christmas season.
  • Cute boots in case it rains. You can wear these from the mud puddles of Melbourne straight to a nice restaurant.
  • A cell charger so you can keep taking pictures of the fabulous Melbourne street art.
  • A rain jacket with a hood because it might definitely rain during your 24 hours in Melbourne.
  • My favorite guide book to Melbourne
  • That’s not a knife. That’s a knife.
  • True History of Kelly Gang, which ironically is a work of fiction. This is a great place to start if you want to know more about Ned Kelly.
  • And if you’re looking for something more factual about Ned Kelly, I’ve got you covered right here.
  • I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age, and you don’t want to get stranded in a foreign country without help. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by a roving gang of boxing kangaroo during your one day in Melbourne itinerary.
one day in melbourne itinerary

One Day in Melbourne Itinerary

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 Queen Elizabeth II 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!

one day in melbourne itinerary
2) An arid garden

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.

one day in melbourne itinerary
4) This symbol of love

My favorite thing in the whole RBGM, Anglophile that I am, was this plaque demonstrating that this amusingly named “Kanooka” tree was planted by the Duke of York for his Duchess.

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.

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 one day in Melbourne itinerary 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

One Day in Melbourne Itinerary

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. As you would expect, the Aquarium has an amazing collection of marine life native to Oceania. No humble tuna or salmon for these Aussies!

You can spend all your one day in Melbourne itinerary here 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.

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 one day in Melbourne itinerary. 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, but it sure is ugly, and it’s here in the Melbourne Aquarium. Maybe this is the elusive SEALIFE that gives the aquarium its name?

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

Which is more interesting: SEALIFE of Australia or the Duke of York’s TREE OF LOVE?

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

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 one day in Melbourne itinerary, 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 having cocaine blues in a blizzard approached me and asked if I wanted to take a look at a cocktail menu. Huh?

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.

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 one day in Melbourne itinerary.

That’s a Perfect One Day in Melbourne Itinerary?

Which is better, an aquarium or a botanical garden? Why are so many things in Melbourne royal? And is Dr. Teeth still pining away with love for me? Please leave your thoughts below!

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 one day in Melbourne itinerary, 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!

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