While the great cities of Europe are often described as effortlessly chic, Melbourne can, in a similar vein, be described as effortlessly cool.
Wander along the city's heart; the Yarra River, stroll through the romantic Royal Botanic Gardens or embrace the city’s cultural flair at its many art institutions or by meandering through its iconic graffitied laneways.
Experience great shopping in boutique malls or edgy high streets and indulge in quality meals at some of the Asia-Pacific region’s greatest restaurants. From a humble flat white to a decadent dessert, be prepared for tastes to delight all palettes.
A city that voraciously devours delicious food, world-class entertainment, sport games, arts and culture in equal measure, there is something for everyone in Australia’s ‘most European city’. Read our guides to discover a multitude of great attractions on the doorstep of Pan Pacific Melbourne.
Internationally, there are few cities who can boast a theatre offering as diverse and glamorous as Melbourne – only London’s West End and Broadway come to mind. From the heart of the city to the inner beach suburb of St Kilda, residents and visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to continuing the ancient tradition of going to the theatre. In Melbourne, it is standard practice to expect the unexpected and when it comes to stage productions, you will be presented to everything from high-energy musicals to intimate dramas and contemporary dance performances.
A super walkable neighbourhood that is just as easy to get around by bike, the free City Circle tram also loops through the former working port, making this family-friendly destination an easy stop from the city centre. There is public art aplenty, outlet shopping with many of your favourite brands at Harbour Town and fine waterside restaurants for the fussiest diner.
Families will have ample options to keep the kids occupied, with 360-degree views from the top of the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel taking in the CBD, Port Phillip Bay and the distant Dandenong Ranges. Swing by at night to see the Southern Hemisphere’s only Giant Observation Wheel light up in a dazzling display of colour.
Etihad Stadium also calls Docklands home, nestled between the Harbour Esplanade and rail tracks leading to Southern Cross station. The stadium hosts everything from rugby union to motocross to keep the sports-mad state capital happy and even transforms into a massive outdoor concert venue several times a year.
More than 320 animal species from around the world call Australia’s oldest zoological gardens, Melbourne Zoo, home. Modelled on London Zoo, it was opened in 1862 and included a number of popular enclosures, such as the Butterfly House, Orang-utan Sanctuary and heritage-listed Elephant House.
Exhibits take you through Australian bushland, Asian rainforests, and African savannah and even give you a glimpse into the watery depths of Australia’s coastline. A delight for children and families, endangered species such as Sumatran tigers, gorillas, red pandas, lemurs and plenty of regular zoo favourites are waiting to be discovered, and in 2010 the zoo welcomed its first Asian elephant calf, the second elephant born in Australia.
Enjoy educational talks, close-up encounters with giraffes, lemurs, seals and more, go behind the scenes with tigers, gorillas or orang-utans, or chow down on a delicious breakfast in the company of Australia’s cutest creatures, including koalas and kangaroos.Discover over 320 species from around the world at Melbourne Zoo.
Melbourne Zoo Prices
The zoo is open daily from 9:00am until 5:00pm and tickets can be purchased online, or when you visit for AUD36 per adult and AUD18 per child (children aged four to 15 years old can enter for free on weekends and during school holidays).
Located just north of Melbourne CBD in Parkville, it is easy to get to by car or public transport – it is a quick trip via Tram 58 or the Upfield line train to Royal Park station, close to the zoo entrance.
Melbourne is affectionately known as Australia’s most European city and the Yarra River, whose ever-flowing current has constantly shifted in position over centuries of settlement for everything from agriculture to mining, is at the core of this sentiment.
The city’s alleyways, fine dining and love of a good espresso may give it points as contender for Paris of the South, but the Yarra River, which flows to the immediate south of the city beneath grand bridges and alongside majestic architecture, promenades and parkland, is the real reason it has got such European flair.
No visit to Melbourne is complete unless you have taken some time to shop through the city’s delightful arcades, extravagant emporiums and monolithic shopping centres. If there is one thing for certain – Melburnians know how to shop and their shopping hotspots are like places of worship.
Just an hour from Melbourne, Yarra Valley is a worthwhile day trip for anyone after an experience that is the exact opposite to what you could get in the heart of bustling Melbourne. The region is especially beautiful in autumn and is famous for its quaint villages and towns, dotted among more than 160 wineries.
The Yarra Valley’s beautiful bushland and waterways make for charming walking and hiking, and are also ideal habitat for native wildlife such as kangaroos, wombats and cheeky lyrebirds. Alternatively, take to the skies in a hot air balloon for a unique perspective of the region’s verdant rolling hills and neatly-shaped vineyards.
One of Australia’s great wine regions, the cool climate is ideal for chardonnay, sparkling wine and pinot noir. Hire a car and hop from one cellar door to the next, or jump on a bicycle and peddle to your next pit stop. Food and wine are unmatched in quality and local produce is used in restaurants, cafes and cellar door eateries with pride, so head to the Yarra Valley as an indulgent treat.
Must-see wineries include TarraWarra Estate, a beautifully designed cellar door, art gallery and restaurant that offers a delectable chardonnay; family-owned Oakridge pairs its generous vino range with scrumptious meals that highlight local produce; Giant Steps has received international acclaim for its quality and consistency; and Dominique Portet, founded by a ninth-generation Bordeaux winemaker, has received rave reviews for its rosé.
There are natural attractions and family fun around every twist and turn on a seaside getaway to Phillip Island, some 90 minutes and 140 kilometres southeast of Melbourne. Featuring rugged coastlines ideal for spotting surfers and wildlife alike, migratory birds and gentle ocean giants, including humpback and southern right whales, roam the skies and seas.
Stroll along the Nobbies, get up close to Australia’s cuddliest marsupials at the Koala Conservation Centre and tick off the number one Phillip Island bucket list item – see the delightful Penguin Parade, where little penguins return ashore at sunset after a busy day fishing.