Looking for things to do in Melbourne in summer? We’ve got you covered. Summer in Melbourne can be utterly splendid. Here are some ways to beat the heat and stay cool, or embrace it in its full glory.
Melbourne summers are a strange, but mostly lovely thing.
Strange, because the heat doesn’t always show up on time. But when it does, it is indeed glorious.
Regardless of the weather, there’s plenty of things to do in Melbourne in summer. From live music and festivals, to water-based fun, the city has you covered.
Here are some suggestions for how to while away those summer days.
And if you’re heading to the city in the cooler months, make sure you check out this list of things to do in Melbourne in winter.
Best things to do in Melbourne in summer
When is summer in Melbourne?
Officially, Australia’s summer months run from December to February. However, summer can sometimes start a lot earlier (or later) and continue well into March.
Summer in Melbourne generally kicks off around late-November, when the heat starts being ‘on’. It’s generally warm until mid-March.
And in my opinion, March is the best time to visit Melbourne – however, that’s a topic for another post.
How hot does it get in Melbourne?
Average temperatures in Melbourne in summer range from 14–25.3°C (57.2–77.5°F).
There can be lots of lovely days where the temperature hovers around 23–28°C. Likewise, you can have a 15°C ‘summer’s’ day. Melbourne’s weather is a fickle beast, after all.
While the temperatures do go over 30°C from time to time, Melbourne doesn’t exactly have sustained heat, unlike other cities in Australia.
Generally, you’ll get a hot spell of a few days, followed by a cool change where temperatures plummet.
Sometimes the cool change will come through within half an hour on an extremely hot day, as an incredibly welcome respite.
It doesn’t hit over 40°C every Melbourne summer – but it can. Likewise, you’re not guaranteed perfect summer weather.
I thoroughly recommend looking at the weather forecast and plan your time in Melbourne around it, accordingly.
What should you pack for summer in Melbourne?
If you’re heading into the city on a summer’s day, bring the following:
- a light back pack
- reusable water bottle. There’s plenty of places to fill up around the city
- sunnies and a hat
- decent walking shoes – sandals or runners.
If a cool change is on the way that day, definitely bring a light jacket. As previously mentioned, it can happen in as little as a half hour.
With that housekeeping done, let’s discover the best things to do in Melbourne in summer, to make the most of your time in the city.
Here’s an extensive packing list for Australia.
1. Get involved in the Christmas festivities
Christmas in Melbourne is a lovely affair.
The main festivities take place in Federation Square, with a giant tree and plenty of bright lights. You can find Santa hanging out here, if you time your visit right.
The Myer Christmas Window is a popular past time in the city. The Bourke Street department store puts on a yearly display, which runs from 6 November 2022 – 6 January 2023.
2. Pick the perfect place to see in the New Year
While Sydney is the city with the showstopping New Years event (one advantage it has over Melbourne), Melbourne’s fireworks display is quite spectacular too.
Top places to take in the show include:
- St Kilda Foreshore
- Federation Square
- Queensbridge Square, in front of Crown Casino
- Ruckers Hill, Northcote
- Williamstown Beach.
Plenty of bars and restaurants also hold dedicated New Years events, as do other neighbourhoods around the city.
3. Cheer on your favourites at Melbourne’s summer sporting events
The Australian Open takes place mid-to-late January (15–28 January in 2024) and is Melbourne’s top sporting event.
It attracts visitors from around the world and even if you don’t love tennis, is incredibly fun to to check out.
Alongside the matches themselves, there’s plenty going on around the grounds, from foodie affairs to ways to embrace the heat (volleyball on a pop-up beach, anyone?).
Cricket mad? The Boxing Day Test takes place in Melbourne at the MCG from 26 December.
4. Hang ten at URBNSURF
Melbourne’s not known for its surf beaches – yet you can learn how to surf in the city!
URBNSURF is Melbourne’s first (and only) dedicated surf park, located in Tullamarine, in the city’s northwest.
At the park, you’ll find a range of different wave settings in a controlled environment, making it perfect for both beginners and experts.
They also offer lessons, so you can find your feet when you hang ten on their simulated surf.
Find out more about taking beginner surfing lessons at URBNSURF.
5. Soar across the Yarra River via zipline
Chase thrills across the Yarra River (Birrarung) with Firefly Zipline.
Every summer, a zipline is set up across the river, allowing adrenaline junkies to travel from one end to the other.
If that’s not enough, they also have a Quick Jump experience, where you can free-fall 12 metres to the ground (fully harnessed, of course).
Prices start at $25.
6. See what’s live at the Bowl
The Sidney Myer Music Bowl is the place to be for live music in Melbourne in summer, as the city’s premier outdoor music venue.
Alongside local and international acts, the Bowl hosts free February gigs performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. These are always very popular, so you gotta get in fast.
Find out what’s happening this summer at the Bowl.
7. Grab a drink on a floating bar
Cool off with a drink beside the river at one of the city’s floating bars.
Arbory Afloat returns each summer with a new theme. This year’s is Balearic Beach Club. You’ll find shades of Ibiza, Formentera, Minorca, and Mallorca, with fresh tapas, cocktails and even an onsite swimming pool.
Ponyfish Island is nestled under Evan Walker Bridge. Enjoy pizza and cocktails by the water, with a beautiful view of the city.
Yarra Botanica is a two-level floating bar, specialising in seasonal food and drinks.
They’re all within cooee of each other, so you can even do a dedicated floating bar crawl, if you wish.
8. Or raise a glass to city views
Melbourne pretty much specialises in rooftop bars.
9. Go kayaking down the Yarra by night
See Melbourne from a fresh perspective and make the most of the balmy summer nights.
Take a friend or a date for a paddle past Melbourne’s riverside icons.
The tour includes a very fitting dinner of fish and chips onboard your vessel.
Book your spot on a moonlight kayak tour of Melbourne.
10. Jump aboard for dinner & a cruise down the Yarra
If you fancy a meal on the water, but you’re not so keen on paddling, then get in touch with Yarra River Cruises.
They offer all kinds of private dining options onboard their vessels.
If brunch is more your thing, then book onto a bottomless brunch cruise down the Yarra – two hours on a boat with your buds and bottomless mimosas.
11. Or captain your own boat
Don your captain’s hat and bring some friends, pack a picnic – you can even take well-behaved dogs on board.
12. Relax at Fairfield Park Boathouse & Tea Gardens
Tucked into the bushland of Yarra Bend Park is this historic boathouse.
Head here for a meal, drink or Devonshire tea, to enjoy on the river.
The boathouse also has boats, canoes and kayaks to hire, to take your own exploration of the river.
You can even bring a fluffy First Mate, as good dogs are permitted onboard.
13. Take your doggo to Dights Falls
If you’re after things to do in Melbourne in summer with your best fur friend, there’s definitely plenty of options on offer.
Dights Falls marks the point where sea water meets the fresh water of the Yarra.
The Yarra Trail passes through the Falls and doggos on lead are permitted.
For more, check out my guide to the best waterfalls in Victoria.
14. Check out the Summer Night Market at Queen Vic
Celebrate a summer night right at the Summer Night Market in QVM.
The weekly market is held every Wednesday from 5-10pm.
Stalls and food trucks stay open late, selling their wares. There’s live music and entertainment, alongside plenty of fun.
The market runs til March 2024 and entry is free.
15. See a movie at an outdoor cinema
There’s nothing like reclining back in the great outdoors, while you take in a flick.
Melbourne’s got a few outdoor cinemas to choose from, including:
- Moonlight Cinema at the Royal Botanic Gardens
- Rooftop Cinema on top of Curtin House (which doesn’t seem to be running for summer 2022/23)
- Lido on the Roof in Hawthorn
- The Shore Outdoor, Williamstown
- Pentridge Open Air Cinema, Coburg
- Cameo Cinemas in Belgrave.
Bring your friends, snacks and something comfy to sit on – unless you upgrade to a ‘gold class’ experience (if available), which comes with its own seating.
16. Or at a local drive-in
If it’s too hot in the car, take some folding chairs and park yourself next to your speakers.
Due to the long daylight hours, movies can kick off quite late, with some sessions beginning at 11pm.
17. See in the Lunar New Year
The Chinese Lunar New Year is welcomed with great fanfare in Melbourne.
Most of the celebrations are unsurprisingly held in Chinatown, but there’s also events at Queen Vic Markets, NGV, Melbourne Museum and other venues.
The Year of the Dragon kicks off early 2024.
18. Get your groove on at Laneway Festival
St Jerome’s Laneway Festival is a long running event held in February around the country.
It started in Melbourne in 2005, as an indie music event in Caledonian Lane.
The 2024 festival will be held in February in Flemington.
19. Go punting at the Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens in the centre of Melbourne is one of the city’s best assets.
Of all the things to do in Melbourne in summer, a visit here is probably one of the most relaxing.
And what better way to cool down than climbing onboard a punt, to take a cruise through the gardens via its waterway?
You can opt to do this as part of a tour package, which includes the cruise, walking tours and entry to Rippon Lea House and Garden Estate.
20. Find peace with some forest therapy
Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese of forest therapy. This preventative health practice immerses you in nature and can help reduce stress levels and elevate your mood.
Forest therapy tours are held on Sundays in the Melbourne gardens, where you can surround yourself with its biodiversity and find some peace.
21. Have a picnic in the gardens
Or simply pack a picnic and head to the gardens, to find the perfect patch of grass, sit down and relax in the shade.
22. Or jump on a mystery picnic
Turn a picnic into an adventure, with an added element of mystery…
Mystery picnics see you following a series of clues, picking up gourmet goodies along the way, before being led to a final destination where you can throw down a blanket, relax and enjoy the fruits of your efforts (because sometimes, there is fruit involved).
23. Tour Heide’s sculpture garden
Heide Museum of Modern Art is an art gallery and sculpture park in the suburb of Bulleen.
It’s set on 6.5 hectares of parkland, which contain a sculpture park and heritage garden. There’s over 30 sculptures to explore – the perfect activity for art enthusiasts on a mild summer’s day.
24. Go to the beach
And if the heat is on… you should probably head to the seaside.
Look, Melbourne’s not exactly the Australian city to go to if you want to see some truly fabulous beaches. However, it does have a few nice enough ones, and if the weather is fine, I certainly recommend heading there.
Top metro beaches in Melbourne include:
- St Kilda Beach
- Port Melbourne Beach
- Elwood Beach
- Brighton Beach
- Williamstown Beach.
If you don’t mind travelling a little further, Mornington Peninsula has some lovely beaches, such as Safety Beach, and Sorrento and Portsea Back Beach.
On the other side of the bay, Eastern Beach in Geelong, Portarlington and St Leonards are all very nice too.
You can even bring Fido along with you to some of Melbourne’s beaches. Brighton Dog Beach is fully fenced and dogs are allowed off leash at St Kilda West Dog Beach. Out west, let Rover run wild at Altona Dog Beach.
25. Take a hike just outside of the city
Cool down in gorgeous bushland, a short drive from the city.
Macedon Regional Park has some great options for walks, including Camel’s Hump on Mt Macedon itself.
If you fancy going east, choose a short walk at the Dandenong Ranges National Park, or head down the Peninsula to Arthurs Seat State Park.
West of the city, head to Werribee Gorge, Brisbane Ranges National Park or the You Yangs.
And if you don’t fancy leaving the city itself, wander around Yarra Bend Park or through the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Discover more day hikes near Melbourne.
26. Explore the city’s laneways
Alternatively, take an urban hike through Melbourne’s laneways.
There’s plenty of things to uncover, from vibrant street art to cool cafes, and boutique shops to explore.
For more, check out this extensive guide to Melbourne’s street art.
27. Grab a bev at Moon Dog World
Moon Dog World is a massive beer garden in Preston – and then some.
There’s 72 beer taps, a waterfall, lagoon, tiki bar, playground and sun decks.
The perfect place to grab a cool ale and relax.
28. Cool down in a museum or art gallery
Melbourne’s got a ton of museums and art galleries worth exploring – and the best thing is, they all have air conditioning.
- National Gallery Victoria
- Immigration Museum
- Melbourne Museum
- Australian Sports Museum and many more.
Inject a dose of culture into your Melbourne summer with a Museums Victoria membership. It gives you free, unlimited entry to Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and Immigration Museum, alongside other benefits.
29. Explore one of Victoria’s pink lakes
2023/24’s summer is allegedly gonna be a hot one.
This means there’s a good chance that Victoria’s pink lakes will be taking on their rosy hues. The recipe to this is generally low to no rainfall and high temperatures.
Most are a bit of a drive out, but one lies on the outskirts of the city, heading west.
Westgate Park’s lake turns pink in hot weather and in turn, draws the crowds.
If you do visit, please stick to the trails, try not to disturb the local wildlife and don’t tread on native vegetation. Discover more responsible travel tips.
30. Show your pride at Midsumma Festival
Midsumma is one of Australia’s top LGBTQIA+ festivals.
The program boats a diverse range of events, inclusing live music, theatre, cabaret, film, visual arts and social events.
The festival kicks off with the Midsumma Carnival and runs late January, early February.
31. Head south of the city for the St Kilda Festival
St Kilda Festival is a free live music event held against the backdrop of the St Kilda foreshore.
Mark it in your diary for February 2024.
32. Work up a sweat with a night of axe-throwing
It’s basically like darts, but with hatchets.
For those wanting to get more involved, there’s even a league tournament that you can play in.
Melbourne in summer: final thoughts
So it’s pretty clear there’s plenty of things to do in Melbourne in summer, no matter what your preference.
You can escape the heat, into nature or air conditioning.
Or make the most of it, to enjoy some of Melbourne’s finest attractions.
Remember to be sun safe and keep hydrated – and have a fantastic summer! For more on Australia, see my Australia Travel Guide. And here’s how you can apply the 12 permaculture principles to your travels.