I was born and raised in Melbourne and have spent all of my life here; so keep reading for the best guide on how to spend the perfect 5 days in Melbourne itinerary.
Melbourne is the capital city of the state of Victoria, the smallish state located at the bottom southeast corner of mainland Australia.
A bustling metropolitan city home to roughly 5 million people as of 2019 with such incredible nightlife, charming seaside surf towns, an impressive and accepted artistic graffiti scene and the absolute best coffee culture in the world!
Melbourne sees over 12 million international travellers every year so this place gets very busy!
And if the taste of coffee isn’t enough to get you worked up then just outside Melbourne’s central business district is the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere.
Running through the middle of Melbourne city is the Yarra River that flows into Port Phillip Bay and runs into far eastern suburbs.
The urban sprawl of Victoria is only rivalled by that of Sydney, with such a dense population ever expanding out to the regional parts of the state.
Visiting Melbourne over 5 days is the most ideal way to plan your Melbourne trip with iconic places to see like Bourke street mall, flinders Street station, Melbourne museum and so much more.
READ NEXT >> Explore more of the stunning landscapes and day trips just outside of Melbourne in our comprehensive guide to must-visit Melbourne day trips
5 days in Melbourne Itinerary
For seven years straight Melbourne was crowned the world’s most liveable city
A a day trip here will undoubtedly show you why; from the beautiful royal botanical gardens, to the bustling night attractions in Melbourne, the city attracts millions of tourists every year who either stay in the city or venture outside for a day trip out of Melbourne.
Places like the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles are extremely popular, and others flock south down to the Mornington Peninsula to enjoy Melbourne’s best beaches
How many days should I visit Melbourne
If you have the full week to do some Melbourne sightseeing then that would be the best way to see all you can in the city.
We personally recommend 5 days in Melbourne but this is dependant on your time allowance.
Alternatively you can pick and choose different aspects of this Melbourne Itinerary that suit any time frame from 2 days, 4 days or even do a day trip to explore the best attractions in Melbourne.
If Melbourne is a night time stop over before heading out to the regional parts of Victoria you can always enjoy the nightlife in Melbourne by bar hopping through the city.
Flying into Melbourne
If flying into Melbourne from Tullamarine airport you can purchase your Tullamarine skybus ticket here and beat the queue.
If you’re flying into Melbourne from domestic airports you will fly into Melbourne International Airport majority of the time, although some air carriers will fly into Avalon airport 45 minutes away.
f you’re flying internationally you will also more than likely fly into Melbourne International Airport.
If you need a rental car from the airport there are a number of rental car companies at the airport like Hertz and Europcar.
Alternatively you can purchase your hire car online now and save on big discounts
Renting a car in Melbourne
We do this most times we plan on spending more than a few days in one place and we use and trust immensely, Rentalcars.com. They provide a super reliable and easy to use service that consistently gives you the cheapest options on the internet. Have a go yourself and look up your next rental car in your holiday city!
Day one- exploring melbourne
The business centre is often referred to as ‘the grid’ – based on the layout of the city.
Getting into the cbd is easy enough,with multiple roads that lead from all corners of Victoria such as St kilda road (Nepean highway) if you’re coming from the Mornington Peninsula or the Monash freeway which travels east to west not long before the famous great ocean road.
The best place to start your melbourne itinerary is by visiting Flinders street station on the intersection of Flinders st and Swanston st.
Opened officially in 1854 it was reportedly the busiest railways station back in the 1920’s and served as the terminus of Australia’s first railway network.
While you’re in Melbourne, don’t miss the chance to discover the city’s iconic landmarks from the comfort of a relaxing Yarra River cruise with Get Your Guide, adding another layer of charm to your Melbourne adventure. Click the tour below to find out more.
Flinders st station is one of the most recognisable landmarks within Melbourne, this big yellow building with a large green dome and clock face that sit above the arch-way.
Directly opposite Flinders street station is Federation Square, an iconic landmark and one of the best places to see in Melbourne.
A cultural hub for Melbournians full of cafes, restaurants, an ever evolving art exhibition at ACMI (Australian centre for the moving image) where you can see regular exhibitions of art and film showcasing the natural and cultural history of cinematography.
Not too far from the CBD is the Royal Exhibition building, Melbourne museum and the IMAX theatre all located within the Carlton gardens north of the city.
Other attractions in Melbourne close to Federation square are the Ice Bar, the Ian Potter centre, Eureka tower and Melbourne central less than two blocks from Bourke street mall.
Tour the hidden Melbourne laneways
There are two inescapable attractions we have to mention specific to a melbourne itinerary blog post.
The first are the dozens of laneways scattered through the city like Union lane, Hosier lane, ACDC lane and degraves street, all of which showcase increible street art by local and international artists.
The second are the hundreds of coffee shops that Melburnians flock to every day.
Hosier Lane is directly opposite Federation Square and is one of the best free things to do in Melbourne.
There are a number of private companies that offer street art walking tours around the city, some beginning in Hosier Lane opposite ACMI, and others on Flinders Lane.
Hosier Lane was commissioned as an official street art lane back in 1998 by the City of Melbourne.
It’s become one of the most popular laneways in Melbourne for street art exhibits and a popular tourist attraction amongst international visitors.
We highly recommend seeing the best sights in the city centre by purchasing the highlights of Melbourne Yarra River Cruise for the best city highlights.
Centre Place is definitely our favourite and a fantastic addition to your Melbourne itinerary, be sure to stop at Vicolino Cafe right in the middle between Collins st & Flinders Lane.
Both Hardware lane and Hosier Lane are great places to stop to grab breakfast.
If you’re looking for something a bit more stylish, The Block Arcade is perfect with its French Renaissance style architecture opened in 1892.
In the east end of the city you can find parliament house inside parliament gardens, where you’ll also find St. Patrick’s cathedral, a beautiful catholic church that you can get to from the city circle tram at the Bourke street/spring st tram stop.
You can download the free city circle tram map from ptv.com.au
Melbourne cafe culture & Brunch
If there’s one thing we’re known for, it’s coffee. We may not grow it, but we sure love drinking it.
There are literally more than 2000 cafes in Melbourne so finding great coffee is never too hard.
Both Manchester Press and Higher Ground are two fantastic places to start your coffee adventure, anything from an espresso through to impressive latte art.
Go out for brunch (we love brunch) and grab a bite to eat at Higher ground by getting off the train at southern cross station on Spencer street.
Australia’s Queen Victoria market
Visiting Queen Victoria Market is included in your 5 days in Melbourne itinerary.
The Queen Victoria market opens normally from 6am till 3pm and it’s a wonderful collection of fruit and veg vendors, locals from around town selling produce and goods and a wonderful example of the cultural diversity that is this Australian city.
Considered the heart and soul of Melbourne affectionately known as ‘Queen Vic Market’, its existence spans 140 years and is one of the best places to visit in Melbourne.
Tour the National Gallery of Victoria
We’re not big art gallery fans but the NGV is a little different. Opened in 1861 it is Australia’s oldest and most visited art gallery.
Well worth being on the list of this melbourne itinerary, tickets are generally $30 with a $4.50 transaction fee online so best to turn up at the door to save yourself the fee.
It’s well worth spending a couple of hours here as they frequently display international displays as well as collection pieces on gender, conservation & environment.
Tour the MCG
We’re trying not to be biased here, but Melbourne is definitely the sporting capital of Australia, hosting a number of large international events like the Australian Open, AFL, Rugby, Netball and very obviously, Cricket
None more impressive than the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) opposite the royal botanic gardens to the north of the Yarra.
“The G” principally hosts AFL (Australian football league) and cricket at different times of the year and taking a tour of this iconic Melbourne attraction is one of the best things to do in Melbourne.
It’s definitely worth catching a footy game if you visit Melbourne throughout the year.
Visit the Eureka Sky deck
In the heart of the SouthBank precinct lies the second tallest building in Australia, at almost 300 metres tall with a gold plated tower.
The Eureka tower is the tallest residential building in the world and a Melbourne attraction that’s not to be missed on your visit to the city.
The Eureka tower sky deck is a disappearing floor allowing you to see 88 floors down t the ground, one of the coolest things to do in your Melbourne itinerary.
Interestingly enough, the Eureka Skydeck holds a number of architectural records, such as the 88th floor being the highest vantage point in the Southern hemisphere and that the glass on the top 10 levels of the building are made out of 24 carat gold.
The Melbourne skyline is completely visible from this vantage point but we’d recommend going later in the day around sunset.
Day two – Explore the Inner city suburbs
As we mentioned before, the urban sprawl of Melbourne is really substantial.
Almost every square kilometre of land is covered in residential housing that extends in every which direction out of the CBD, most notably the SouthEast corner of Melbourne.
It’s the inner cities however that you’ll get to explore when you’re sightseeing in Melbourne.
Get your jiggy on in Fitzroy
Fitzroy is one of those hipster suburbs with a real alternative vibe, a kind of grunge vibe to it.
Plenty hipsters, vintage clothes collectors, a live music scene and home to the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
Fitzroy’s beating heart is Brunswick street, a personal favourite of ours that’s lined with tons of awesome bars, restaurants, spanish flamenco bars like Kanela and once a year the street puts on the Hispanic/Latin American festival on Johnson street.
There’s a number of awesome night time bars and restaurants around here like Naked for Satan, where you can enjoy a cocktail on the rooftop bar with incredible views over the city skyline.
A Seinfeld themed bar called George’s bar, and the Night cat are all great additions to your melbourne itinerary.
Have a beer in Richmond
A short walk from the cbd down Swan st is Richmond, where you can visit the many bars and restaurants before a game at the MCG like precinct hotel or the corner hotel- all a short 15 minute walk to the MCG.
Farm around at the Abbotsford convent
Spend a morning here in Australia’s largest multi-arts precinct, a home for collaborators and creators spread across 16 hectares of land.
Unique to the covent is Lentil as anything – a vegetarian cafe where you can pay as much as you believe the food is worth – one of the best day trips from Melbourne.
Collingwood childrens farm
An independant, not-for-profit children’s farm located in Melbourne’s inner city suburb of Collingwood.
An urban farm with all the normal animals you would expect, sheep, cows, chickens and horses.
The idea behind the farm is to support and engage local children facing adversity, and their reach has expanded into both the corporate and private worlds facilitating a deeper connection to nature.
Getting to the farm is easy enough taking bus #200 or 207, or the melbourne central/lonsdale street tram that will take 30 minutes.
Fitzroy gardens – Cook cottage
You’ll pass by iconic melbourne attractions like the Fitzroy gardens – home to Cook cottage, a house originally built in 1755 in England by the family of Captain james cook.
It was replicated and rebuilt brick by brick from the original materials brought across by ir Russell Grimwade in 1934.
Day three – Stroll down beach side towns
Your Melbourne itinerary takes you by the coast of Port Phillip Bay into one of Melbourne’s most iconic and oldest suburbs.
Watch the sunset at St Kilda beach
St Kilda beach is loved by locals for the beautiful foreshore, epic sunsets and famous beach side bars and restaurants.
If you enjoy wind surfing then this is the place to be as it can get very windy down here.
When you visit melbourne be sure you check out both st kilda and brighton beach before leaving.
St Kilda is accessible from the cbd via tram #16 from swanston street, #96 from Bourke street and #12 from Collins street.
Stroll up and down Marine parade as you visit st kilda and grab a bite to eat from Donovan’s seafood restaurant or Republica st kilda.
Acland street is the main drag of St Kilda and is lined with dozens of cool and interesting shop fronts selling both modern and vintage fashion.
There’s even the Sunday markets held on the Esplanade as well as the farmers markets and vintage markets.
Make sure you get down to the well known St Kilda pier to see one of Melbourne’s coolest attractions, a colony of Little Penguins.
These Little Penguins make their home in the rocks towards the end of St Kilda pier just before dawn, so turn up at sunset to see these guys waddle back in from the sea.
It’s the only place outside of Phillip island where you can see the colony of Little Penguins in their natural habitat.
To completely enjoy Melbourne City make sure you purchase your tickets here to see the best of the best Melbourne highlights on a guided bike tour.
Ride a roller coaster in Luna Park
One of the most recognisable faces in all of Melbourne is the smiling, wide mouthed clown that welcomes you in with his grinning smile.
Located next door to The Palais Theatre, Luna Park is both an awesome and iconic Melbourne attraction and highly recommended in your melbourne itinerary.
Luna Park has been open to the public for 110 years and has roller coaster rides, dodge-em cars, family activities as well as kid friendly rides.
It overlooks Port Phillip bay and entry only tickets cost around $15 per person, going up to $51 per person to go on all the rides.
This iconic Melbourne landmark has had its fair share of ride accidents and failures but none the less it’s steeped in rich history and is just a few steps from the st kilda foreshore.
Brighton beach boxes
Your Melbourne itinerary includes visiting the Brighton beach beach boxes that line foreshore of Brighton beach.
These expensive wooden shacks sell for upwards of $3-400k and are almost never for sale, passed down from families.
The Brighton bathing boxes were designed as a place for women to change into their bathing suits in the 1900’s. Nowadays a very expensive beach storage hut filled with boats, and fishing equipment.
A colourful and interesting attraction in Melbourne, many postcards and visitors come here just to take a photo in front of the famed boxes.
Albert Park Lake
Just North of St Kilda Pier and a fantastic way to spend the day in Melbourne is by walking the track around Albert Park Lake.
Albert park is located halfway between st kilda and the city center.
There’s a couple of cafes we recommend around the Lake including Boat Shed cafe and Carousel Cafe for a midday coffee fix.
Albert Park also serves as the site of the Formula One Melbourne Grand Prix opener that runs in March every year as well as supercars
If you’re going to explore more of this side of town you’re going to have to add on a few more days to your Melbourne Itinerary.
Day four – Explore Southbank
Royal Botanic Gardens
Sitting on the border of Southbank is the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens that has the Yarra River bordering to the North and Melbournian’s favourite inner city exercise track known colloquially as ‘The Tan’.
The tan is 3.8km long made of loose gravel and dirt and is the city’s most famous mid-day exercise track for inner city dwellers and office workers on their lunch breaks.
The Gardens also features prominent Melbourne Itinerary landmarks like the Sidney Myer Music bowl, Queen Victoria gardens and Kings domain.
Entry is free all day and a great spot to have a picnic and chill in the sunshine.
In June every year the Botanic Gardens put on a twilight show with a bunch of light art installations that we absoloutely love.
You will have the chance to identity significant native plants and learn about the deep spiritual connection that indigenous people have to the land.
Walking around the city all day can get very exhausting and so we recommend a bike city tour to tick off all the best things to see in Melbourne CBD.
Visit the Shrine of Remembrance
When you’re finished at the National gallery of Victoria, walk a little further down St.Kilda road and do some sightseeing at the Shrine of Remembrance; a beautiful building built in honour of fallen soldiers who fought in Australia and New Zealand’s world wars.
You can enter the Shrine for free and climb to the top for the best views of the city. The Shrine of Remembrance is within the Royal Botanic Gardens south of Melbourne.
Cruise along the Yarra River
The Yarra river runs from the outer eastern suburbs of Warburton all the way into the Melbourne city centre and eventually out into Port Phillip Bay where it meets the ocean.
The Yarra passes through regions of the city such as Docklands, South Wharf and travels up through the guts passing by many restaurants and riverside pubs and eateries with impressive views of the city skyline.
For a different perspective you can quite easily walk the entire length of the Yarra River through the city however this will occupy your entire day as there are so many things to see in Melbourne you’ll inevitably need to stop every hour.
For the best view of Melbourne’s cityscapes at night we recommend purchasing Highlights of Melbourne Yarra River Cruise taking in the absolute best sights of the city at a fantastic price.
Day Five – Day Tours from Melbourne – Exploring outside Melbourne
Once you’ve finished exploring Melbourne city and the inner suburbs you will be interested in getting outside of the city centre and exploring many of the state’s best day trips from Melbourne.
Head down to the best beaches in all of Victoria and soak up the summer sunshine and crystal clear beaches of Mount Martha, the back beaches of Sorrento and the wineries of Red Hill.
Melbourne to the Mornington Peninsula is approximately 1 hour south and best to spend at least 3-4 days down here.
Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley
Explore the mountain ash forest of the Black Spur and the high tea rooms of the Dandenong Ranges which lie east of Melbourne CBD.
Go on a hot air balloon ride over the Yarra Valley one morning and enjoy a wine tasting tour in Victoria’s most revered wine region.
Drive the Great Ocean Road
Just under two hours from the city is the beginning of the Great Ocean Road in Torquay. Spend at least a week in this region exploring the beautiful waterfalls of the Great Otway national Park, take a helicopter tour over the 12 Apostles and learnt to surf at the world famous Bells beach
Grampians national park
Although separated geographically by more than 5 hours, Grampians national park in the north west region of Victoria is a great place to get some hikes under your belt.
Base yourself out of Halls Gap and visit Boroka Lookout for epic panoramic views over the northern grampians mountains.
Then, head down the coast into the Gippsland region and visit Phillip Island.
The tiny island separated by a suspension bridge over water is home to the MotoGP.
Visit Phillip Island to see the local fairy penguin colony that are both admired and protected by the locals, a surfers paradise at Smiths Beach and the beautiful natural landscape of the Nobbies.
For the best Phillip Island tour we personally recommend this tour right here.
Alternative attractions near Melbourne itinerary
If you’re looking to leave this incredible city for a day trip outside of the cbd then there’s plenty of popular tourist destinations to visit.
No matter your opinion on Zoos, Melbourne Zoo is the perfect day out in Melbourne and should be high on your Melbourne itinerary list.
Melbourne Zoo has a huge sustainability and conservation effort underway to prevent 27 threatened native species from going extinct due to their captive breeding program.
Skip the Queue and book your Melbourne Zoo tickets ahead of time
Get the chance to feed the animals, talk to the keepers and get educated on different species of animals.
Entry is free on Wednesdays for kids and Melbourne Zoo is a part of the greater collaboration between Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open range Zoo.
This heritage listed former prison, known as Her Majesty’s Pentridge prison has been turned into a cultural asset after the closure of the Melbourne Gaol in the 1920’s
It’s housed many of Victoria’s most infamous criminals and is currently undergoing a revival of the grounds and buildings.
Take a tour of the highly rated pentridge prison ghost tour with special access passes
Melbourne Gaol is another retired prison located in the heart of Melbourne that haunts the guests and visitors who come to take a tour of its ghostly past.
Sea life aquarium
Another attraction to visit in Melbourne is the Sea life melbourne Aquarium on the banks of the Yarra river. Explore the underwater world of some of the planets endangered and interesting species.
If you’ve managed to see everything you wanted to see in 5 days in Melbourne and you have a bit of extra time to kill why not reserve your Melbourne Aquarium admission ticket buy a ticket to see these stunning marine creatures.
Where to stay in Melbourne?
There are literally hundreds of options within the city to choose from but also outside of the city, depending where you choose to stay and what your Melbourne itinerary looks like.
Best Luxury accommodation
A mix of budget friendly options or more expensive and luxury hotels are all on offer.
Laura and I generally stay at the Crown Towers in Melbourne or Crown Metropol for the amazing views over the city. The towers are on the expensive side so if you don’t mind luxury then this is for you.
The best Mid-Range Accommodation
The best mid-range accommodation is the Milano serviced apartments within Melbourne CBD, anywhere from $100-$150/night. A great option if you don’t want to spend your life savings on accommodation and still enjoy a super comfortable stay in the middle of the city.
The best Budget accommodation
Contemporary, stylish and conveniently located within a stones throw of all the most iconic pubs and bars, shopping malls and sports stadiums, the Ibis Hotel group is your best bet for cheap, reliable stays.
Tips to getting around Melbourne
Because Melbourne is a very large city, it’s best to know before you go and check out the many ways to get from a to b.
City circle tram
Catching the free tram city loop is the most cost effective way to get around the city, as everything is only a short walking distance from each stop.
If you want to explore a little further beyond the fee loop then you will need a myki card to access Melbournes wider public transportation system. Check their website here to purchase yours.
Buses and trains are your best friend but deciding which train/bus line to take is another ball game. There’s a handful of train lines depending where you are travelling from, like the Frankston line or the pakenham line which all reference the end destination of each line.
Again, to ride these you cannot pay per ride without prepaying for a Myki card that you tap on/tap off before and after each ride.
The next is taxi and Uber which is not the cheapest option but is a reliable option particularly within the cbd. Dozens of taxis line the streets and cab ranks outside Crown casino waiting to be hailed.
If you prefer to have more control over your stay in melbourne then you can always hire a car from Spaceships rental.s They have a great fleet to suit all needs and some of the most competitive prices on the market.
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