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The best things to do in Melbourne right now

Melbourne skyline looking towards Flinders Street Station.

The best things to do in Melbourne right now

If cities had personalities, Melbourne would be the cool overachiever. In recent years, Australia’s cultural capital has amassed numerous accolades for being ahead of its game. From its foodie favourites to nighttime spots, we highlight some of the best things to do in Melbourne right now.

The best things to do in Melbourne right now

Melbourne has a whole list of honours that attest to the city’s trendy vibe. It held on to the “World’s Most Liveable City” title for seven years, while other commendations such as “World’s Best Coffee” and “World’s Best Pizza” continue to roll in.

“There’s a buzz about the city that keeps bringing the world’s best to enjoy Melbourne,” the Victorian government has said of the city in a press statement. “The biggest exhibitions, the best events, world-renowned restaurants and all-night public transport to get you home safe.”

Things to do in Melbourne

If you are planning a trip to Melbourne, MiNDFOOD with the help of Pan Pacific Melbourne have put together this guide to experience the best things to do in Melbourne.

The Melbourne “Must Eat” list

Michelin Guide followers, take note: the star-studded dining guide does not cover Australia. Instead, foodies heading to Melbourne should plan their itineraries using these directories: The Australian Good Food Guide and Gault&Millau (the publisher of the only internationally recognised guide in Australia).

Vue de Monde consistently ranks as one of the city’s top fine dining restaurants, with its whimsical spin on classical French cuisine. Taste is paramount, but expect theatrics too. “[P]erhaps you’ll cook your own marron [Australian freshwater crayfish] snags on a mini barbie at your table or watch on as kangaroo steak is charred on a smouldering log,” reads an effusive Delicious review.

If you still crave the Michelin connection, take heart that the world’s cheapest Michelin-star meal landed in Melbourne in late 2017. Hawker Chan’s Hong Kong-style chicken rice earned him his first Michelin star in Singapore in 2016, and he now dreams of bringing his famed dish around the world. His recipes are shrouded in secrecy: in Singapore, he prepares the chicken marinade single-handedly in a locked room with covered windows. The end result speaks for itself, as customers have been known to wait in line for up to three hours.

Things to do in Melbourne - Food

Cafes in Centre Place Lane, Melbourne.

Iconic places in Melbourne

For culture and history, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is always a safe bet – it is Australia’s most-visited museum.

Melbourne is also famous for its street art; its alleys, walkways and buildings were featured in a Lonely Planet guide launched in 2017 to highlight the world’s best street art destinations. To track down street art in Melbourne, search for walking tour itineraries online or refer to a street art map (you can also find community-contributed maps on Google).

Things to do in Melbourne - Street Art

Graffiti street in Centre Place.

Popular examples of street art that are often cited include Hosier Lane, Caledonian Lane, AC/DC Lane (which is named after the famous Australian rock group), and the Keith Haring Mural along Johnston Street.

To view iconic architecture, visit some of Melbourne’s treasured buildings, including Flinders Street Railway Station and The Regent Theatre. You can refer to a list of historical and contemporary landmarks on the City of Melbourne website.

Things to do in Melbourne - Flinders Street Station

A tram passes Flinders Street Station in Federation Square.

Best places to relax and unwind in Melbourne

Nothing is more rejuvenating than a walk in the park. Two Melbourne parks have clinched the highest honours – Fitzroy Gardens and Royal Park are proud bearers of the Green Flag Award, where green space experts rank parks across the world according to criteria such as horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.

To sit and watch the world go by in the best Melbourne cafes, follow the recommendations of global tastemakers The World’s 50 Best. Begin your cafe hop at Melbourne’s Patricia Coffee Brewers, which was voted the “best coffee in Australia” in a 2016 Yelp survey.

If you have the time to lose yourself in a book, you will be pleased to know that the best bookstore in the world is at Lygon Street in Melbourne. Book lovers will not be disappointed at Readings, which has also bagged Independent Book Retailer of the Year awards within Australia.

For some world-class pampering, look to the World Luxury Spa Awards listings for recommendations. A 2017 Melbourne winner is the Endota Day Spa (Bourke Street outlet), or if you are in the mood for a soothing 90-minute drive, head south for the Peninsula Hot Springs, a multi-award winner.

Melbourne attractions at night

Yet another feather in Melbourne’s cap – Fitzroy bar Black Pearl was named the World’s Best International Cocktail Bar at 2017’s Spirited Awards held in New Orleans in the US.

Melbourne bars also featured prominently at the 2019 Australian Bar Awards in Sydney, and winners include Above Board (Small Bar of the Year), Bar Liberty (Wine Bar of the Year), and the Lincoln (Pub of the Year).

To party where the celebrities gather, try Bond Bar or the Emerson.

For business and social gatherings, visit Pan Pacific Melbourne’s Dock 37, which offers a contemporary dining and bar experience. A highlight is the magnificent walk-through wine gantry, which is suspended above the bar and houses an exceptional cellar of over 500 wines.

Read more: 52 of the best beer and wine bars in Melbourne

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