Melbourne’s top ten attractions

From shopping and entertainment to culture and sport – and everything in between – there’s something for every visitor to Melbourne.

Tourism is on the rise in the world’s most liveable city, with these top 10 attractions leading the way for most popular attractions with international and domestic visitors in the year ending 2017.

1. Melbourne central business district shopping

Multi level shopping mallMelbourne’s central business district (CBD) has been transformed into a shopping mecca to rival the world’s best. Shopping destinations like the luxurious Emporium and contemporary Melbourne Central bring new depth to the Bourke Street Mall precinct, and contrast with the tradition and charm of the nearby Block Arcade.

International name brands are everywhere to be found, including at the ‘Paris end’ of Collins Street where boutique fashion houses and revered brands are located.

In the year ending December 2017, the Melbourne CBD shopping precinct received 5.1 million visitors, representing 19 per cent of all visitors to Victoria.

2. Federation Square

People sitting in deck chairs in federation square looking towards the main screenSince opening in 2002 Federation Square has become one of Melbourne’s most popular public spaces. Just across from the iconic Flinders Street Station, the distinctive series of buildings and outdoor areas has welcomed millions of visitors and hosted thousands of civic and cultural events as diverse as Melbourne itself. Home to the Ian Potter Centre (the premier collection of Australian art) and the Australian Centre for Moving Image , Federation Square is also the perfect place to meet a friend, see a movie, watch blockbuster sports, visit the food trucks, join a personal training session or just sit and watch the world go by.

In the year ending December 2017, Federation Square attracted 2.8 million visitors, accounting for 10 per cent of all visitors to Victoria.

3. Southgate and Southbank

People walking along the south bank of the Yarra RiverWith striking public art, riverside restaurants and top-notch bars it’s no wonder that Southbank and Southgate draw in the crowds. Cross the Sandridge Bridge to explore excellent eateries and bars that overlook the famous Yarra River from Southgate to the Crown Entertainment Complex.

The adjacent arts precinct offers lovers of art, music and cultural performance their choice of show, courtesy of the Arts Centre, the Melbourne Recital Centre and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.

In the year ending December 2017, the Southgate and Southbank precincts attracted 2.6 million visitors, representing 10 per cent of all visitors to the state.

4. Queen Victoria Market

Mural showing a cow, pig and sheep over the entrance to Queen Victoria MarketMelbourne’s grand old dame, the iconic Queen Victoria Market, turns 140 in 2018 and is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere. Visiting foodies feast with their eyes long before they sample delights from around the world as they join the lively throng of crowds in the heritage-listed dairy, meat and fish halls. Home to over 600 businesses, visitors can also shop for clothing and souvenirs or enjoy a market tour or cooking class. The weekly grocery shop makes way for a night fiesta several times each year when the market hosts an incredible variety of street food, live entertainment and artisan stalls.

In the year ending December 2017, the Queen Victoria Market attracted 2.3 million domestic and international tourists which overall was eight per cent of all visitors to Victoria.

5. Crown Entertainment Complex

A view of Crown Casino from across the river showing fire spurting out of columns out the frontCrown Entertainment Complex is a fine dining, shopping and entertainment mecca that attracted more than two million visitors in the year ending December 2017, which was seven per cent of all visitors to the state.

An entire day can be spent here with high-end fashion stores, cinemas, children’s entertainment complex, live music, eateries and bars providing something for everyone.

Of special interest to visitors are the music and lights shows in the Crown Atrium, and the nightly fireballs which blast off on the hour from large towers beside the Yarra River.

6. St Kilda

Luna Park entrance in St KildaSt Kilda is Melbourne’s original playground by the sea with visitors and locals alike loving the eclectic suburb which is framed by the famous toothy grin of Luna Park.

St Kilda’s visitors come for the urban bars and eateries, outdoor sports including sailing and kite surfing on the bay, a dip in the historic sea baths and to lie on the picturesque St Kilda beach when the sun is out.

Visitors also come to catch a glimpse of the fairy penguins who have also made their home at the St Kilda breakwater, visit the Sunday St Kilda Esplanade Arts and Craft Market and join in the party during the annual St Kilda Festival in February.

In the year ending December 2017, St Kilda received 1.7 million domestic and international tourists, representing six per cent of all visitors to Victoria.

7.  Docklands / Etihad Stadium area

Cyclist crossing a bridge in docklandsDocklands Stadium is the place to meet friends after work, catch family-friendly entertainment or enjoy a drink before heading to an Australian rules or basketball game, a music concert or even a dance event in an underground car park.

Nestled around the marina are a smorgasbord of dining options at Newquay, Victoria Harbour and Waterfront City while Melbourne’s Star Observation Wheel offers spectacular 360-degree views over the city and beyond to Port Phillip Bay and the Dandenongs.

Shoppers are also looked after with Costco and the harbour Town Shopping Centre combining discounted brands along with the latest fashion, designer and speciality stores.

Approximately 1.7 domestic and international tourists visited the Docklands / Eithad Stadium area in 2017, six per cent of all visitors to the state.

8. National Gallery of Victoria  

People looking at art in the National Gallery of VictoriaNational Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is not only Australia’s most popular gallery but was included in the global top 20 list of galleries in 2016. According to the latest tourism statistics, the NGV received 1.1 million visitors in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 13 per cent.

The NGV’s two impressive galleries, the Ian Potter Centre and the St Kilda Road gallery, host a vast collection of over 70,000 items of Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous European, Asian, Oceanic and American art.

The NGV has become synonymous with exclusive, blockbuster exhibitions which regularly break visitor records. There are also year-round collection displays, talks, tours, programs for kids, films and performances to delight lovers of art and culture.

9. Melbourne Cricket Ground

Crowds in the Melbourne Cricket GroundThe Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is Melbourne’s spiritual home of sport and there are few things more exciting than watching a blockbuster match of cricket or Australian rules football on the hallowed turf at the ‘G’.

During Melbourne’s summer, sports fan can see cricket matches of all shapes and sizes including Twenty-20 Big Bashes, one-day games and iconic matches including the Boxing Day Test, arguably one of the highest profile matches on the world cricket calendar.

During the winter months, Aussie rules footy fever takes hold in Victoria building up to the grand final in September where over one hundred thousand people fill the arena.

The latest tourism statistics indicated that the MCG received an estimated 821,300 visitors in 2017, representing a year-on-year increase of 20 per cent.

10. Melbourne Museum/ Royal Exhibition Building

Outside view of Melbourne MuseumThe Melbourne Museum showcases the diversity of Victorian and Australian social history, Indigenous cultures, science and the environment through its thought-provoking permanent and seasonal exhibitions.

Museum-goers can learn about Indigenous culture, see Phar Lap (Australasia’s legendary racehorse), walk among dinosaur skeletons, get up close to live bugs or stroll through the Forest Gallery. Right next to the museum is the 138-year-old World Heritage-Listed Royal Exhibition Building, host to internationally popular events such as Melbourne’s International Flower and Garden Show.

In the year ending December 2017, the Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building combined received 792,100 visitors, which was three per cent of all domestic and international visitors to Victoria.

Image credits
Top feature image: Shutterstock
Photos used within the article Visit Victoria