Ready to break into a sweat during your Melbourne holidays? Yes, why not?
You can distract yourself with Melbourne’s dazzling natural scenery or its gleaming city skyline, while running, biking, or walking your way to better health. Besides, Melbourne’s mostly Mediterranean-style weather is conducive for outdoor activities.
It’s definitely a win-win situation, so let the team at PARKROYAL Melbourne Airport show you how to get fit and see the best of Melbourne at the same time.
Don’t balk at the fact that this is a 29-km bicycle ride—or walk, if you’re up to it. For one, you’ll mostly be on smooth, flat pavement as you circle the city. What’s even more compelling is this: you’ll be checking off essential Melbourne attractions as you loop around the Capital City Trail.
This loop trail runs along the Yarra River, which was once a “place of mists and shadows” for the area’s indigenous population. Today, the Yarra is not just a hubbub of activity. It also feeds the city’s nine major reservoirs, providing drinking water to about 2.6 million households.
From the recommended starting point—the lively Southbank, or Federation Wharf where there is a bicycle rental shop—you’ll head east, then north. Eventually, you’ll make your way through Melbourne’s inner suburbs, as well as its business hub at the Docklands.
Highlights in the first half of the trail include the Arts Centre Melbourne, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Como House, Herring Island Sculpture Park, and Dights Falls. On the second half of the trail, you’ll weave through Royal Park (home of the Melbourne Zoo), and careen past the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel.
Since you’re on vacation, it’s perfectly acceptable to take a break to explore your surroundings. And don’t forget to show some love to the lesser-known attractions and hidden gems that you’ll encounter, such as the charmingly quaint Abbotsford Convent.
To get started, simply read a trail recap, load up a map, and find out where to rent a bike. A useful tip from a fellow rider: If you get lost, follow the river or follow others!
Get directions to Southbank
Get directions to Federation Wharf
Looking for free things to do in Melbourne? Try jogging like a local at “The Tan Track” around Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
Considered Melbourne’s most popular running route, this 3.827km track is filled with fitness buffs throughout the day. You can be assured that you will never jog (or walk) alone whether you choose to pound the pavement by morning or by night. Night joggers will appreciate that The Tan is fully floodlit until midnight.
Some trivia about The Tan: it was originally constructed as a tanbark horse-riding track for wealthy Melburnians. Today, however, the track is nearly all gravel, which some runners prefer as it is a low-impact surface. Olympic medallists such as Moroccan middle-distance runner Hicham El Guerrouj and Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman have put The Tan to good use. However, the record for a single lap around The Tan was set by Aussie long-distance and middle-distance runner Craig Mottram, at a blistering 10:08 minutes. The Tan’s fastest woman is said to be a Sarah Jamison, clocking in at 11:57.
The Tan’s official starting point is near Swan Street Bridge, and the route comes with distance markers to help you track your progress. The most challenging section of your run could be along Anderson Street, where there is a 29m elevation over a 300m stretch. Other runners favour the “anti-Tan,” or going in an anti-clockwise direction from the recommended route, as it is thought to be more challenging because of the gradual but long incline along Birdwood Avenue.
To prep yourself, you can read more about the route. Otherwise, know that all fitness levels are welcome!
Get directions to Swan Street Bridge
If you love scaling new heights, both literal and metaphorical, you must make a date with the 1000 Steps walk. For locals, the 1000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk “is a place of pilgrimage for those determined to prove (or improve) their fitness,” says TimeOut Melbourne.
The walk is located in the tranquil Dandenong Ranges National Park—a mere 35km away from the Melbourne CBD area. Known for its lush fern gullies and crystal clear streams, Dandenong is home to the kookaburra, the cockatoo, and the Australian songbird known as the “superb lyrebird.”
Built in the early 1900s, the steps have historic significance. In 1998, Australian war veterans adopted the trail, resulting in its current name. They also installed 14 plaques along the trail, in memory of the 625 Australians who perished during World War II on the actual Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, which was said to be instrumental in “stopping the Japanese advance across the Pacific and towards Australia.”
The walk is said to be a moderate-to-difficult climb. Those who make it to the top gain more than bragging rights, as they will enjoy a breathtaking view and a spot of picnicking at the area known as One Tree Hill.
Naturally, a lingering question on the minds of those who have conquered the 1000 Steps is this: are there really a thousand steps on this trail? Unfortunately, no. In 2016, a St. Kilda entertainer named Tommy Jackett filmed himself counting the steps from start to end. According to his count, the actual number of steps is 776—still quite a feat!
Get directions to the 1000 Steps