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How to Spend the Weekend in Melbourne!

How to Spend the Weekend in Melbourne!

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Heading to Melbourne for a weekend away? You’re in for a fantastic trip!

We’ve traveled to Melbourne countless times and have found that the city comes alive during the weekend. It’s the best time to visit here, in our opinion!

So for this itinerary, we have included essential city activities, like visiting the SkyDeck and Queen Victoria Market, and a few that are only available Saturday and Sunday. We’ve also added our top tips to make your weekend travels seamless! 

Even if you have just a few days in Melbourne, we know you’ll have a fun and relaxing getaway – especially if you follow this itinerary!

Day 1

Breakfast – Operator25

French Toast at Operator25 in Melbourne
Photo credit: Operator25
Eggs at Operator25 in Melbourne Australia
Photo credit: Operator25

What’s a trip without some weekend brunch? It is the best hour of the day (next to happy hour!) so we are heading to one of Melbourne’s top brunch restaurants – Operator25. Located downtown, this historic building was once the home of the city’s operators. They pay tribute to their historic roots with signs of phone puns like “order hear” and “hold the line” in the restaurant, it’s pretty cute!

They’ve got an array of options, whether you’re a sweet or savory brunch person, and many of their dishes have an Asian twist to them! The matcha hotcakes and char siu eggs benny were so tasty, but there were even more things on the menu that called my name. They have a ton of vegan and vegetarian options, a really good coffee bar, and also serve cocktails – mimosa anyone?

Morning – Go on a Free Walking Tour

Exploring Melbourne on a walking tour
The views are amazing!
Exploring Melbourne on a city tour
It’s a great free introduction to the city!

The best way to explore a city is to explore on your own two feet! Especially if this is your first time here and you’re trying to see as much as possible. We joined this walking tour with I’m Free Walking Tours, and as you can guess from the name, it was completely free! You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have a fun weekend away, and we thought this walking tour was a great introduction to the city.

We took off at 10:30 am and spent three hours seeing Melbourne’s top city sights. Our local guide took us by Federation Square, the Melbourne Gaol, Princess Theater, and more. He even gave us some personal recommendations, like his favorite coffee shop and a new restaurant to check out. 

Since the weekends are much busier in Melbourne, I highly recommend booking your spot in advance. Simply sign up online and it doesn’t cost a thing! Unless you’d like to tip as a thank you, which our tour guide well deserved!

If you’re looking for a more immersive way to see the city, I suggest joining this guided walking tour. The guides are basically walking encyclopedias, so you get in-depth with the history of the city as you explore. See Hosier Lane, Chinatown, the arcades, and more on this three-hour walking tour. Plus, it includes an alcoholic beverage, always a nice added bonus!

This is one of Melbourne’s top-rated tours with over 1,000 5-star reviews. You can book this walking tour for $99 AUD, and I recommend booking it in advance as weekends are busy, as I said before!

Lunch – Afloat Floating Restaurant

Our food we ordered at Afloat in Melbourne Australia
The food was amazing too!
A cocktail at Afloat in Melbourne, Australia
Mmm, cocktails by the water!

There are so many unique restaurant concepts in Melbourne, but I think Afloat might be the most fun! Floating on the Yarra River, Afloat is a seasonal restaurant with a lively vibe and even better food. The theme was Viva Mexico when we were in town, but it changes every year. Who knows, you might find something fantastically different!

We love a good margarita and taco, and this hit the spot! We ordered a few plates to share and enjoyed our frozen margaritas while overlooking the gorgeous river. It turned out to be a nice break after all that walking! Afloat is open from 11 am to 1 am every day of the week (but is closed during the winter). 

Since you’ll be visiting on the weekend, you have to try their Bottomless Brunch River Cruise, only offered on Saturdays and Sundays! This 2-hour river cruise not only offers amazing views of Melbourne, but you also get to feast on a delicious brunch and enjoy free-flowing drinks. I highly recommend pacing your drinks though, you do have a full weekend ahead of you!

All of this is included for $118 AUD and the experience will be so memorable (as long as you don’t drink too much)! Be sure to book this cruise in advance here to secure your spot

Afternoon – Melbourne Skydeck

Daniel poses for a photo at the Melbourne Skydeck
The outdoor deck is cool!
The Yarra River as seen from the Melbourne Skydeck
What a view!

Next up, we have one of those “iconic” Melbourne activities – visiting the SkyDeck! This is actually the tallest observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere, which is a neat little claim to fame. But the real draw is just how remarkable the views are! As you can imagine, seeing the city from 300 meters (975 feet) in the air is a memorable experience. 

There are actually quite a few fun activities at the top of the SkyDeck. You can get admission tickets that include a Virtual Reality experience for $49 AUD, or snag Cocktails in the Clouds tickets which give you a drink at the bar and VR. However, we booked The Edge Experience for $43 AUD, which got us out on an all-glass platform that extends off the building. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but the views made it all worthwhile. 

Afterward, we stopped by Bar 88 and had a drink while enjoying the views! They often have great happy hour deals, like 2-for-1 cocktails or specific drink specials, which we always love to find!

And if you’re in town for a truly special weekend away, treat yourself to dinner at Eureka 89. This fine dining restaurant is located on the 89th floor (the SkyDeck is only on the 88th floor) so you can dine with a view! The 6-course tasting menu starts at $190 AUD but you’ll be getting the highest quality food and service. Be sure to book a table in advance, especially on a busy weekend day!

Dinner/night – Enjoy a dinner cruise on the Yarra

Bailey cheers her wine on the spirit of melbourne dinner druise
This was such an amazing cruise!
Desert on the spirit of melbourne dinner cruise
Wine, dessert, and views of the city at night

The best way to spend an evening in Melbourne is on a sunset dinner cruise! We have been on dinner cruises all over the world, so we knew that taking one on the Yarra River was a must. So we booked our Saturday night Spirit of Melbourne dinner cruise and had a lovely evening taking in the views, eating an amazing dinner, and enjoying the free-flowing drinks!

The cruise departs at 7:30 pm, giving us time to go back to our hotel and put on our fancy clothes. It was so memorable hanging out on the deck, sipping on wine, and watching the gorgeous sunset! We got great views of the skyline lighting up and some of the same buildings we were exploring today. 

But of course, the food was amazing! The 4-course dinner was all cooked perfectly, we tried the chargrilled beef filet and the Portuguese lamb shank for mains. The array of dessert options paired with port wine was the perfect finish. 

Here’s a great insider tip: reach out to the tour company when booking this cruise on Viator and you can actually request a window-side table! We did this and that the best views while we dined. It made our experience all the better. You can read even more tips and our full review of this diner cruise here!

I highly recommend booking this dinner cruise in advance, as it’s a popular experience! It includes dinner, as many drinks as you want, and the cruise for $185 AUD. For the level of luxury provided, we thought this was a great price! They also offer free cancellation three days before the cruise departs, so secure your spot now and you can still have flexibility. 

Related Read: If you have one more day or are looking for an adventure, head to Phillip Island! We loved this experience – read about why our Phillip Island tour was so great here!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Day 2

Breakfast – Lune Croissanterie 

The croissants we bought at Lune Croissanterie in Melbourne, Australia
Yep, we got four!
A lady makes croissants at Lune Croissanterie in Melbourne
The savory croissants!

This weekend just gets sweeter with breakfast at Lune Croissanterie! This is one of the most popular breakfast spots in the city, and it’s not uncommon to see a line out the door, especially on a Saturday or Sunday morning. We were especially impressed by the range of croissants on offer like the chocolate chip for our sweet tooths or the mushroom and blue cheese for savory folks! 

They rotate the menu frequently, so locals love coming here to see what’s new. Since it can be pretty busy on the weekends, I recommend getting there as early as possible to avoid waiting in line. We managed to pull ourselves out of bed to get there at 7:30 am when they opened, and didn’t have to wait terribly long!

You’ll have a lot of tasty food options as you explore today, so try not to fill up on croissants (good luck with that!). There are a few locations in the city but we hit the CBD location because it’s the closest to our next stop.

Morning – Queen Victoria Market 

Bailey walks the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia
It takes a while to explore the entire market!
Bailey and Daniel pose for a photo outside the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia
Ready to try some yummy food!

A trip to Melbourne isn’t complete without exploring the historic Queen Victoria Market. This market is giant with over 600 vendors and has been operating for over 100 years. It was fun to explore and see what we could find, while also realizing people have been doing this exact thing for decades.

You can find pretty much anything at the market, including household items, fresh produce, flowers and plants, and our favorite part – all the food vendors! You’ll need a few hours to wander around and see it all, and we were keen to try as much food as possible so we joined this food tour of the market!

We loved this experience because not only did we try some interesting food, but we also learned a bit of history from our local guide. With 10 other people in our group, it didn’t feel too big and we could make some friends along the way too. But the real stand out of this experience was the food, of course! Our guide had us try classic Australian food, like Coffin Bay oysters, pickled octopus, and peppered kangaroo (which actually tastes better than it sounds!). 

Don’t worry, if you’re not an adventurous eater there are so many other options on the tour, like dolmades, American donuts, and locally grown olives. The exact menu changes seasonally, so you never really know what you’ll get. But, for $99 AUD and two hours of eating and walking, we had a fantastic time and thought it was a great introduction to the market! Plus, this tour is only available on the weekends and departs at 10 am, making it a perfect addition to this itinerary.

Morning – Walk the Lanes and Arcades

Bon scott mural in ACDC lane in Melbourne, Australia
The street art is so impressive!
Bailey sits on a bench in ACDC lane in Melbourne
Exploring AC/DC Lane!

To continue our weekend of city exploring, we are heading to yet another iconic Melbourne site – the lanes and arcades! The laneways are famous for their incredible street art, and we were so impressed by the murals we found. There are specific laneways that allow artists to paint without a permit, some are always changing and others have become staples in Melbourne’s culture. 

AC/DC Lane is located off Flinders Lane and is by far the most impressive and the favorite of locals. This alleyway was previously home to Cherry Bar, one of the historic venues in Melbourne’s music scene. If you didn’t know already, AC/DC is from Australia and Melbourne was a huge part of their rise to fame. So they dedicated this laneway to the band and the murals are a great tribute, and simply cool to see. 

We loved wandering through the laneways and seeing even more street art and this unique side of Melbourne. After, take a 12-minute walk down the road to the arcades! Arcades are covered walkways, beautiful in design, and are yet another historic piece of the city.

Bailey poses for a photo inside the The Block Arcade in Melbourne Australia
The Block Arcade is stunning!
The Royal Arcade in Melbourne Australia
The Royal Arcade in Melbourne Australia

In our opinion, The Block Arcade is the most beautiful, and once you see the detailed mosaic pattern on the walkway, I’m sure you’ll agree! The best way to experience the arcades is simply to wander through them. We found a lot of specialty shops in The Block Arcade, such as Haigh’s Chocolates and their world-famous truffles, and the Tea Room 1892, which offers the best high tea in the city. You’ll find lots of quaint cafes and restaurants here too, there are a ton of hidden gems tucked away.

Right next door is The Royal Arcade, which is even older and historic, being built in 1870! The design is also lovely and it holds similar shops, but both are essential to check out to see the differences. If you need a little snack, stop by Caffé E Torta for some Italian desserts or Kit Espresso for some coffee. We also found some unique shops, like Paint n’ Powder which makes rare perfumes. 

You can spend as long as you want here, but between the lanes and arcades, we wandered for 2 hours or so. But by the end, we were pretty hungry, which leads me to the next stop…

Lunch – Enjoy a meal on one of the laneways

Seafood pasta at Vespa Rossa in Melbourne
Photo credit: Vespa Rossa
Chicken dish at Vespa Rossa
Photo credit: Vespa Rossa

You’ll find a ton of great restaurants in the arcades, so this is the perfect place to stop for lunch! I was almost overwhelmed by the tasty options, but we stopped at Vespa Rossa and it hit the spot. This Mediterranean-style restaurant is located in The Block Arcade and food paired with the vibe was the perfect spot to relax over a meal. 

While everything on the menu looked amazing, we could only eat so much! So we went for the Italian prosciutto pizza, made with a wood-fired oven so it was perfectly crispy and flavorful. We also couldn’t say no to the seafood linguini, recommended by our server, and those two together were the perfect portions for lunch. We also loved the little outdoor patio area, it was so cozy! 

Afternoon – Free City Tram

free city tram around Melbourne
Off we go!
Scenic shot of a tram and train station in Melbourne Australia
Finders Street Station is one of the busiest stations in Australia!

After a nice little break for lunch, we were ready to continue exploring. This time we headed to the historic green trams downtown, which have been running since 1885! They are iconic in the city, and we loved their old-fashioned design. They operate in the “free tram zone” which just so happens to stop at some of Melbourne’s top historic sites, so we turned this into our own hop-on hop-off bus tour.

You can see all of the stops along the free tram zone here, but there are three major ones that we wanted to see – the Victoria Library, Flinders Station, and the Melbourne Gaol. 

Victoria Library

The State Library Victoria is an impressive building to see. It’s massive and gorgeous in design. Honestly, it didn’t feel like a library, but more like a beautiful museum! You can find more than just books here, we also saw Ned Kelly’s armor and other important Melbourne artifacts. 

But the most iconic part of the library is the La Trobe Room. Its huge dome roof, which is six stories high, is simply stunning, and we were also impressed to learn that there are over 30,000 books here! We spent a while perusing the shelves and enjoying this old building. Best of all, it’s free to enter. 

Flinders Station

Our next stop is a quick one, but one of the most essential if you ask me. Flinders Street Station is another building that is beautiful in design and rich in history. This was the first steam engine rail station in the country, and it is still one of the busiest train stations in the Southern Hemisphere!

We hopped off the tram and explored the exterior of the station. We were impressed by its sheer size and I loved the clock tower at the top. While the outside is really beautiful, the inside isn’t very special, so you can honestly skip going in there. This is a quick stop to get a photo and then you can get back on the tram to continue exploring. 

Melbourne Gaol

The Old Melbourne Gaol was such a fun stop, perhaps one of the most unique in the free tram zone too! This was the main jail of Melbourne from 1845 to 1924 and it held some of Australia’s most famous prisoners like the infamous gang leader, Ned Kelly, and the serial killer, Frederick Bailey Deeming. It definitely has spooky vibes, but was really fascinating to see. 

We appreciated that a self-guided audio tour is included with admission for $35 AUD. This way, we could move around at our own pace and still learn a lot as we go. They do offer some guided tours that look really interesting, such as the Nighttime Ghost Tour or the Escape Artists tour. If you love old and dark history, you’ll get a lot out of these tours!

Night – Walk along the river 

Melbourne and a lit bridge at night on the spirit of melbourne cruise
Melbourne all lit up!

We have just a bit more walking to do for our final activity this weekend in Melbourne itinerary! I told you you’d be getting your steps in, didn’t I? To round off all of Melbourne’s best sights, we loved walking along the Yarra River. There are a lot of unique things to check out, and it gives gorgeous city views as the sun goes down and the city lights up. 

The Main Yarra Trail runs along the river on both sides and is easy to follow, in fact, we were walking on it and didn’t even realize it. Be sure to check out the Evan Walker Pedestrian Bridge, which is brightly lit and one of those iconic city sites. Believe it or not, there is even a floating bar under the bridge called Ponyfish Island! It’s a bit of a local spot but the location is so cool!

Enterprize Wharf and Park was another unique area to explore and is known for its eclectic art installations. Enterprize Park has a whole forest of old pier posts that were upcycled and turned into art pieces – it was actually really impressive to see! The Wharf has “Constellations” which are five sculptures representing a dragon, a bird, a lion, a woman, and a man – yet another interesting gem of Melbourne!

If you really love checking out the city’s art scene, there is an art walk that follows the river. This route takes you to sculptures, murals, and some galleries. Check out the art walk’s trail map here!

Finally, be sure to stop by Federation Square, especially if you haven’t made it here yet! This is a hub of activity in Melbourne, as there are always events and festivals going on in the square. It is home to art galleries, museums, shops, restaurants, and a huge outdoor space. Plus, it’s beautifully designed, so we enjoyed just wandering around to see what we could find.

If you’re lucky, you might catch one of these special events happening! Check Fed Square’s website before you go! 

This is where we stopped for dinner, as there are a ton of great options right along the Yarra River! We loved Transit Rooftop Bar, as the name suggests it has a fantastic rooftop patio and gives stunning views of the city and river. It’s your last night in Melbourne, gotta take in those views as much as you can!

For dinner options, Chocolate Buddha is an amazing Japanese restaurant – one of the best in the city. Beer DeLuxe is also nearby and it’s a more relaxed vibe with some of Melbourne’s finest craft beer selections and typical pub food. 

You’ll find even more dinner options as you walk along the Yarra, whether you’re looking for something upscale and fancy or casual and fun. 

Should You Book Your Weekend In Advance in Melbourne?

Flinders Street Station in Melbourne Australia
It can be pretty busy during the weekend!

Short answer – yes. While you can simply show up to many of these activities and join the fun, there are a few that need to be booked ahead of time. The weekends are definitely the busiest time to visit the city, especially during the beautiful summer months. So if you don’t want to miss out on these top city sites, it’s best to reserve these ahead of time.

This is also why we love booking on Viator whenever we can. Almost all of the bookable activities and tours we mention in this itinerary offer free cancellation before your tour departs, so we like to book it in advance to secure our spot, and still have the flexibility in case plans change.

Other Things to do in Melbourne

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie at the twelve apostles on a great ocean road tour australia
Stopping to check out the Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road!

If you have a little extra time in your itinerary, we have even more epic Melbourne activities. You can check out our full list of the best things to do in Melbourne or check out our top recommendations below!

  • Drive the Great Ocean Road – This 240-kilometer (150-mile) scenic drive follows the southern coastline and is one of the most epic things to do in Melbourne. We joined this guided tour so we could stop at the iconic areas, like the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, and Apollo Bay, while someone else did the driving so we could enjoy the views! This day trip from the city was our favorite Melbourne experience, it’s stunning and a great break from the bustling city life. 
  • Explore the Melbourne Gardens – The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne are another great way to escape the city, without leaving city limits. This huge garden is home to over 8,500 species of plants and has been around for over 170 years. It’s simply gorgeous, and spending a few hours strolling through the gardens makes for a lovely afternoon. There are often special events going on, so check the website here before you go!
  • Rent a boat and float down the Yarra River – If you haven’t seen enough of the Yarra River yet, rent a boat and explore it for yourself! That’s right, you can be the captain of your own ship (more like a dingy) and cruise along the river. On a Boat rents the boats and they are really easy to use, you don’t even need a boating license!
  • Explore St Kilda – This cute beach town is just 15 minutes from downtown Melbourne, and is a great place to grab a coffee and take in those ocean views! St Kilda is famous for its coffee scene, there are many to choose from – but our favorite is Galleon Cafe. If you’re visiting on the weekend, check out Esplanade Market for some unique souvenirs or Luna Park, super fun for families!
  • Day trip to Phillip Island – Phillip Island is another one of our favorite day trips from Melbourne because you can see the world’s largest Little Penguin Colony! Famous for their “Penguin Parade” taking a day trip here allows you to see hundreds of Little Penguins waddling back to their burrows. We took this organized tour, which also included stops at the Brighton Boxes and the Moonlit Sanctuary, where we got to hand-fed wallabies and koalas!

Related Read: Some of these activities are with Go West tour company. We’ve traveled with them a handful of times, so be sure to read our full review of Go West tours before you go!

Where to Stay in Melbourne

The Langham Melbourne room
Photo credit: The Langham Melbourne

To have a nice and relaxing weekend in Melbourne, you’ll need the perfect place to stay! There are a lot of accommodation options to fit every budget, so check out our top picks from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Here’s what you need to know!

The Langham Melbourne – $$$

For an elegant stay – think marble staircases, fountains, and chandeliers – The Langham Melbourne is the perfect place. The hotel is in the middle of Melbourne overlooking the Yarra River. You’ll get beautiful city views from the hotel’s restaurant and from the indoor pool. It’s also within walking distance of a number of top attractions.

Rooms here start at $300 – $400 AUD per night. Check availability and reserve a room here.

Grand Hotel Melbourne – $$

Stay in the Melbourne Central Business District at this historic hotel that has plenty of character. The studios and apartments at the Grand Hotel Melbourne give you more space than a typical hotel and even include a kitchen. You can also take advantage of the heated indoor pool and the fitness center with a sauna. Plus, it’s just a few minutes’ walk to Crown Casino, Southbank, Docklands, and more.

A studio starts at around $200 AUD per night and can be reserved through Booking.com here.

Space Hotel – $

You don’t have to sacrifice style for money at this hostel. The Space Hotel is a modern hostel with lots of extra guest amenities like a gym, a hot tub, and even a mini-theater. You can head to the rooftop terrace to relax and enjoy the views. The hostel is conveniently located in the Central Business District and is not far from the Queen Victoria Market and Chinatown.

Accommodation options include both private rooms and shared dorm rooms. A bed in a dorm starts at $55 AUD and private rooms begin at $100 AUD. You can reserve a spot in advance through Booking.com or Hostelworld.com.

Renting a Car in Australia

Driving through the outback in a rental car in Australia
Outback Australia!

With many must-see destinations in Australia outside city limits, one of the best ways to get around is in a rental car.

Australia is a huge country and traveling between cities or getting to some of the most scenic spots requires driving. While public transit is sometimes an option, it often adds a lot of time and planning. Plus, we love the freedom of a rental car to stop wherever we want and not have to stick to a set schedule.

Car rental in Australia is super affordable, especially if you choose a smaller vehicle. We use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine that compares multiple car rental companies for you – saving you from visiting each website individually.

If you plan to be based in a main city like Sydney, Melbourne, or Perth and do a few day trips while returning your car to the same location, we’ve booked rentals for as cheap as $25 AUD a day! Full coverage insurance can be added for around an extra $12 AUD a day too. The price will vary depending on the time of year, type of car, and if you’re able to pick up and drop off at the same location.

Discover Cars also offers handy filters so you can search for cars that offer features like child seats, GPS, or let you have an additional driver. There are also free cancellation options if your trip changes. Read our honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

Check out the selection and book your car rental online here!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey-and-daniel-smile-for-a-selfie-on-the-deck-of-the-spirit-of-melbourne-dinner-cruise on a get your guide tour
Thanks for reading!

We hope you had the absolute best weekend in Melbourne! Whether you’re in town for a weekend away, a long layover, or an event, there is a lot to explore in this city. I hope you can find more time to travel to Melbourne, but a weekend is a good introduction!

Thanks for reading our blog – it means a lot! If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out our other Australia blogs. As an Aussie myself, I love sharing the best experiences and parts of this country. Here are a few articles to inspire your travels!

5 Tours in Melbourne That Made Us Fall in Love With the City!

How to Spend a Weekend in Sydney, Australia!

Ideas for Fun Day Trips from Perth