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Top Things to Do in Melbourne Over 2 Days

Home > Melbourne > Day Trips | How To | Places of Interest | Travel | Weekend Escapes
by Lionel (subscribe)
Join me as I travel, play, eat, live and work in cities and places around the world.
Published July 16th 2022
How to experience the real Melbourne in 48 hours


I've called Melbourne my FIFO home for 10 years now since my first travel article about "Most Liveable Melbourne" in 2012. Every visit is an opportunity to hang out locally and absorb the vibrant lifestyle vibes. Over the years, I've shared more than 1,500 articles covering all facets of Melbourne, and many of my Australian and foreign readers have asked my personal opinion on where to go, what to see and do as a travel writer within a couple of days in town.



Now that Australia is open to international travellers, I'm pulling together a menu for you, based on typical visitor stays of 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 days using Melbourne CBD as the home base. Instead of tourist impressions and superficial experiences, my suggestions are based on a combination of personal preferences and top local favourites that won't break the bank. I trust this will give you a real Melbourne experience with sights, food, people and lifestyle whether you're visiting from overseas or interstate. Hopefully, you'll fall in love with her as much as I do and return for more.

Here are my recommended top things to do in Melbourne that fit nicely into a 2-day escape or stopover on weekdays and weekends.
DAY 1

Queen Victoria Market



Nearly all the tourist literature will direct you to commercial attractions but my preference is to start your day at the Queen Victoria Market. Regardless of where you're visiting from, there are few public markets that can rival the scale, architecture, history and social significance of this major CBD landmark. Spanning several city blocks spread over 7 hectares, it is the largest open-air market in the Southern hemisphere and the largest, most concentrated, continually trading place reserved for small independently operated businesses in Australia for over 140 years.



The Market is an excellent brekkie (Australian slang for breakfast) and photo stop. There's the ever-popular and affordable jam doughnuts from the American Doughnut Kitchen. Wash them all down with takeaway single and house blend coffees from Market Lane which is conveniently located in the same area. With a warm belly, you're ready to take in all the sights and sounds of this great public market. Here is a map of the market to help you get around. You can read more about my uncovering the secrets of Queen Vic Market here. Do note the Market is closed Mondays and Wednesdays.

Lunch



The dining scene in Melbourne is as diverse as the ethnicities and cultural festivals that call Victoria home. Degraves Street is an excellent way to combine lunch with the vibes of a Melbourne laneway dotted with hole-in-the-wall cafes and quirky boutiques. Bite into southern fried chicken at Metro Burgers or dine alfresco on pork belly tacos at The Quarter and grab a gelato to accompany you to your next destination.

Hosier Lane



This famous laneway draws visitors in droves and is a top spot to feed your phone or camera. The walls are covered with stencils, paste-ups and murals completed by local and international artists, and is a chief reason Melbourne is regarded as one of the great street arts capitals of the world. The lane leads out to the Forum Theatre and the next stop on your city walk, Federation Square.

Fed Square



Federation Square, more commonly known as Fed Square, is an important member of Melbourne's art and cultural precinct. It is the city's public square and home to galleries, restaurants, cafes, bars and over 2,000 events a year, many of which are free. ACMI (formerly Australian Centre for the Moving Image) and The Ian Potter Centre are the usual crowd pullers, with the former serving as the museum of film, TV, video games and art, while the latter showcases Australian art including works by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. There's always something happening at Fed Square.

Flinders Street Station



You can enjoy views and grab photos of the Yarra River, Princes Bridge and Southbank as you leave Fed Square and cross over to one of Melbourne's most recognisable and photographed landmark. This distinctive and eclectic Edwardian building with tower, clocks, arched entrance, yellow facade and green copper dome is the oldest train station in Australia.

Tram



The City Circle Tram is an excellent way to enjoy a free ride around the CBD if you have plenty of free time. Another quick way to experience the local tram for free is to walk along Flinders Street Station towards the Elizabeth Street tram stop. Just hop onto any tram heading up Elizabeth Street and alight at the Bourke Street Mall stop.

Coffee Fix



You may need a coffee fix and a place to rest your feet by this time. Shopping may or may not be on today's list but it doesn't hurt to combine the coffee spot with some retail eye candy. Melbourne's luxury shopping centre, Emporium Melbourne, is home to over 200 stores and one of the city's premier cafe. AU79 sources varieties from around the world for its house blend and also serves up rotating single origins.

Dinner



Emporium Melbourne is also home to the best food court in the city. There are plenty of dining choices including Greek, Mexican, American, Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Australian. A satisfying dinner of slurping hot Vietnamese beef or chicken pho from I Love Pho or biting into a crackling pork belly sandwich from Earl Canteen will cost you less than AUD15.

Arts Centre Melbourne



If sleep is far from your mind, an excellent way to complete the day is to head over to Arts Centre Melbourne and Hamer Hall. It is Australia's Largest Performing Arts Venue and home to The Australian Ballet, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Theatre Company and Opera Australia. Its programming includes classical music, contemporary music, musicals, comedy, theatre, dance, opera, circus and magic. Visit its website to find out what's on and purchase tickets.

DAY 2

Bourke Street Mall



You can't miss the majestic architecture of Melbourne's GPO and home to H&M. Round its corner is Bourke Street Mall, one of the best pedestrian malls in the country. This retail strip between Swanston and Elizabeth streets is home to department store favourites Myers and David Jones and fast fashion favourite Zara. This pedestrian mall is also an excellent venue to watch live performances by buskers.

Morning Coffee



Melbourne has a world-class coffee reputation thanks to the many specialty roasters and companies. Head over to Sensory Lab located in David Jones for your morning coffee fix. The beans are roasted in Melbourne and you can sip on a house blend or single origin alongside a pastry.

Southbank



From Bourke Street Mall, head towards Crown Casino for a change of scenery. You can take in the sights of Yarra River and the southern side of Melbourne city. You can also opt to walk through the Casino, trying your luck at the pokies before exiting opposite Queensbridge Square and your lunch stop.

Lunch



The Southbank promenade which stretches along the river towards Queensbridge Square and onwards to Southgate shopping and dining complex offers an easy stroll with sights of the city skyline, cafes, restaurants and public art. There are numerous lunch spots with specials priced between AUD20 to AUD30 such as Breslin Bar & Grill, P.J. O'Briens and BearBrass.

National Gallery of Victoria



The post-lunch stroll continues along the Southbank promenade towards Arts Centre Melbourne. If you did not visit on Day 1, you can pop into Hamer Hall for a look-see and check out the free exhibition in the Theatres Building. Your next stop is the National Gallery of Victoria, more commonly known as NGV. It is the oldest and most visited Australian art gallery and plays host to a wide range of exhibitions, programs and events including major international exhibitions in cooperation with other museums. NGV houses an extensive collection of international art from Europe, Asia, America and Oceania and entry is free. Visit the website for more information about its ticketed exhibitions and events

Evening Drinks

Any visit to Melbourne is incomplete without a drink at one of its local bars. Located on Lonsdale Street, Boilermaker House is an excellent spot to enjoy Melbourne's take on malt whisky, cocktails and craft beer. Its a sampler experience with over 900 whiskies and rotating list of beers on taps alongside a custom built cheese and charcuterie fridge if you feel peckish. Don't forget that some of the best Chinese food is just around the corner.

Dinner



Chinatown's Little Bourke Street with alleys that link the area to Bourke Street and Lonsdale Street is Melbourne's Asian food haven. There are restaurants upon restaurants serving a wide variety of provincial Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine. Be prepared to queue for popular eats such as ShanDong MaMa's homemade Spanish mackerel potstickers, Shanghai Street's Xiaolongbao and Japanese noodles from Mr Ramen San. Chinatown Melbourne is also the home of Lunar New Year celebrations with the iconic Millennium Dai Loong Dragon and parade. When not in used, the Dragon is resting in the precinct's onsite Chinese Museum.

Comedy



Melbourne loves to laugh and better way to finish your 2 days sojourn of the city than with live standup comedy. Located close to Chinatown, Comedy Republic is a theatre purpose built for comedy by comedians. It presents live stand-up comedy 7 nights a week featuring all-star lineups and emerging talent.

Web references:
ACMI - www.acmi.net.au
The Ian Potter Centre - www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/ngv-collection-australia
Fed Square - https://fedsquare.com
NGV - www.ngv.vic.gov.au
AU79 Emporium - www.emporiummelbourne.com.au/stores/au79
Arts Centre Melbourne - www.artscentremelbourne.com.au
Sensory Lab - https://sensorylab.com.au/pages/sensory-lab-bourke-st
Boilermaker House -https://boilermakerhouse.com.au
Comedy Republic - https://comedyrepublic.com.au/theatre
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Why? How to experience the real Melbourne in just 2 days?
Where: Around Melbourne
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