57 Unusual and Unique Things to Do in Melbourne
I’ve been living in Melbourne for over two years now and have ticked off all of the main sights. So, I decided to do some digging and get together a list of some of the most unusual things to do in Melbourne.
It took hours in the end – turns out there’s a lot going on in this city! My to-do in Melbourne list has definitely grown tenfold in the process.
So, here it is – a pretty epic (if I don’t say so myself!) list of unique things to do in Melbourne. No matter what your preference – history buff, nature enthusiast, foodie, adrenaline seeker or fitness freak – there’ll be something here to suit you!
Spending awhile in the city? Here are some options on where to stay in Melbourne, featuring the pros and cons of staying in the more popular suburbs.
1. Explore the Lyon Housemuseum in Kew
The Lyon Housemuseum is a hybrid private house and museum… hence the name.
It’s the private residence of Corbett and Yueji Lyon, designed by Lyon and exhibits works of contemporary art, architecture and design.
The Housemuseum is open for tours on designated days of the year and costs $25 to attend. Pre-bookings are essential.
2. Punt on the Lake at the Royal Botanic Gardens
There are many things on offer at the Royal Botanic Gardens, but one of the coolest things you can do there is go punting on the lake.
It’s $25 for 30 minutes during the day and they have hour long tours available in the evening – a great option for a quirky date in Melbourne.
3. Smash Things at The Break Room in Collingwood
4. Visit the Heidi Modern Art Museum
This museum in the city’s east houses modern and contemporary art, as well as having 16 acres of gardens and sculpture park to explore.
5. Squish grapes and drink wine at Noisy Ritual
Noisy Ritual is at this point, Melbourne’s only urban winery. It makes its own vintage, allows patrons to feast and drink onsite and offers winemaking classes.
The workshops are members only, but you can take a tour for $10, which includes a drink on arrival.
6. Or create your own gin
Don’t consider yourself a vino, with gin being more your scene? Head to Bass and Flinders Distillery to attend their gin making masterclass.
You’ll learn about the history of gin, create your own recipe and take home a 500ml bottle to share with your friends (or drink alone. No judgement here!).
7. Take a butchery class
Are you interested in the ethical side of meat consumption and want to know more about how the product ends up on the table?
Hagen’s Organics offers Introduction to Butchery class, where you learn how to prepare a joint of beef.
You get to keep the boning knife and apron, plus there are drinks at the end of the class.
8. Grab a meal in the dark at Dans le Noir?
Ever had a meal in the dark? You can do so at Dans le Noir, where vision impaired waitstaff will feed you a two to three course meal, in complete darkness.
I am yet to attend Melbourne’s restaurant, but I’ve eaten at London’s, which you can read about here.
9. Explore secret bars
Melbourne’s got a pretty happening nightlife (especially when compared to Sydney these days… poor old Syddo), filled with themed and rooftop drinking venues.
The watering holes that are most fun are the secret bars, which are hidden across the city in dark alleyways, through clothing stores… even behind a sandwich shop.
Check out a list of some of the coolest hidden bars here.
10. Dine out at Attica
Okay, Melbourne is admittedly a food lover’s paradise. I’m yet to have a bad meal in the city and have been lucky enough to sit down for what is currently considered the best meal in the country, at Attica.
Located in the unassuming suburb of Rippon Lea, a table usually has to be booked at least three months in advance and it’ll set you back $295.
However, I can say from personal experience that it’s worth every cent. I’ve eaten at a few fancy digs in my life and this one blew my mind, to the point where I considered it a definite highlight of 2018.
11. Visit The Ascot Lot
The Ascot Lot is located in Ascot Vale and open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
There are food trucks selling a bunch of different cuisines, regular trivia nights and drag bingo, to be enjoyed.
12. Grab some custom fit jeans from Dejour Jeans
Dejour are located in Brunswick and sell magical jeans for $55 which are made in Melbourne and will probably make your butt look banging.
Tip: Go on a weekday, or get there early, because they only allow a few people inside the store at a time and the line can get mighty long.
13. Take your pooch to the DogHouse in Collingwood
Australians love their mutts and Melbourne is basically a dog lover’s paradise. Which is really great when you consider yourself to be a dog crazy lady but lack the comfort of your own pooch. Sigh.
If you do own a doggo, you can take it on to the DogHouse, where you can sip on a caffeinated beverage whilst your pupper scoffs down its very own dogachino.
14. Visit the Cat Café
Consider yourself more of a cat person? Then head on down to Melbourne’s Cat Café where rescue cats which live on the premises are waiting to be petted, cuddled and have every other demand they have met, because as you know humans were put on this earth to serve cats, or that’s what they’d have you believe.
15. Experience the Titanic sinking for um, yourself
Everyone loves dinner and a show, right?
Travel to the port suburb of Williamstown, where you can board the Titanic and munch your way through a three course meal, whilst enjoying a theatrical performance of the sinking of the Titanic.
After the boat’s sunk, a night of dancing kicks off, featuring hits from the roaring 1920’s, to now.
16. Go on a ghost tour
There are plenty of opportunities to get a little bit spooky in Melbourne.
Lantern Ghost Tours offer a bunch of tours, from Pentridge Prison, to Williamstown and a walk through “Old Melbourne” after dark.
There are also a few tours on at the Old Melbourne Gaol after hours… I was properly spooked during the ghost tour there!
17. Explore Open House Melbourne
Open House Melbourne is certainly an event worth keeping an eye out for, where buildings around the city open their doors to the public, for one weekend of the year.
I attended this even in 2018, which you can read about here.
18. Clip ‘N Climb your way up a wall
Clip ‘N Climb have a range of activities for all ages. Big kids might want to try the Leap of Faith, or climbing The Dark Tower, which has glow in the dark holds.
19. Try Rap Jumping
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Rap Jumping, where you abseil and rappell off a tall building in the city, which doesn’t sound terrifying at all.
20. Go on a dumplings tour…
I can attest that Melbourne has some damn good dumplings, because I’ve been slow-eating my way around various dumpling venues in the city for some time now (all about that sustainable slow movement, yo).
However, if you want to eat many delicious dumplings in a shorter period of time than say, two years, book yourself onto a dumpling discovery walk.
Your tastebuds will thank you.
21. … or a chocolate tour
Who wants to see the sights of the city whilst stuffing themselves full of delicious chock treats? Um, I certainly do.
There are various tours that’ll take you around the city and its arcades – see more here.
22. Catch a flick outdoors
In the summer months, the Royal Botanic Gardens open up their grounds for the Moonlight Cinema, screening new releases and cult classics.
You can bring a picnic blanket, or upgrade to Gold Grass, where you get your own beanbag and someone to bring you food (sadly not included in the price… sniff).
23. Do yoga in the Melbourne Star
The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is worth heading to for views of the city, but there are a few add-ons you can book to make the experience one to remember.
Yogi’s can opt to do yoga in the sky, where you’ll experience a 60 minute Vinyasa Yoga Flow, whilst the cabin slowly rotates around the wheel.
24. Take a hip hop yoga class
If you’re after something a little more lively, consider giving hip hop yoga a go!
Located in Brunswick, you’ll sweat, stretch and breathe your way through a flow, accompanied by smooth Hip Hop and RnB tracks.
25. Start your day with an early morning rave
Imagine rolling out of bed, heading on down to a dance party at dawn where you’ll sip on green smoothies and dance your heart out sober, before heading off to work?
It’ll either be your greatest dream or worst nightmare, come to life. Either way, you can experience it at Morning Gloryville, who run these events in cities across the world, including Melbourne.
I attended one in London years ago, which was great fun.
26. Get your groove on, Beyonce style
Always wanted to move like Beyonce? Well, The Cultmunity offer courses where you can learn a particular dance over an eight week period… or just rock up for one of their Bey dance parties.
27. Visit the pink lake
If it’s been a hot summer with little rain, the salt lake at Westgate Park will turn a startling shade of pink.
It’s something worth seeing but be mindful of local vegetation and prepared for there to be a heckload of other people milling around, particularly if it’s the weekend.
28. Have a soak at a Japanese Onsen
Here’s one of the more relaxing things to do in Melbourne.
Onsen Ma offers Japanese style public & private baths, along with massages.
Perfect for a good long soak in the wintertime, or if you just happen to be feeling particularly tense.
29. Or enjoy the beauty of the Peninsula Hot Springs
If you don’t mind travelling a little further afield to Mornington, head to the Peninsula Hot Springs, where you can soak outdoors in the very photogenic public baths.
30. Go on an edible weed eating tour
Have you ever looked around your garden and wondered what you can or cannot eat?
Well, this two hour will take you along the Merri Creek, where tour leaders Adam and Annie demonstrate which weeds you can forage and add to a meal and which you should avoid.
Tours are held every couple of weeks and are priced at $25.
31. Try some Rooftop Honey
Rooftop Honey is a fabulous local initiative, with beekeepers aiming to bring bees back to the city, by encouraging cafés, restaurants, hotels and individuals to keep hives in available spaces – from rooftops, to gardens.
You can visit specific sites for taste testing, order honey to help with hayfever symptoms and when the season begins again, adopt an off-site hive.
32. Kayak along the Yarra River
Here’s one cool way of seeing the city.
You can take a tour along the Yarra River, right at sunset by kayak. As the sky darkens, you’ll see the city come to life.
This kayak tour features a meal of fish and chips for dinner (eaten whilst seated in the kayak!) and ends right near Federation Square.
33. Attempt some night time photography
Melbourne is extremely photogenic, with dynamic bridges, architecturally awe-inspiring buildings and stacks of urban art splayed across almost every available surface.
It’s well-worth taking a camera and tripod into the city at night – you’ll end up with some pretty amazing photographs.
Here are some of the best spots to snap a picture in Melbourne.
34. Ride a hot air balloon over the city
I love waking up early on Sunday mornings and seeing hot air balloons floating across the city – it’d be something else to be sitting in one!
Riding options include places such as the Yarra Valley, Daylesford and Ballarat, as well as the city itself.
35. Grab some cheese and vino at Milk the Cow
Milk the Cow is a fromagerie with two venues – in Carlton and in St Kilda.
Head on in, order some cheese and a flight of wine and enjoy.
36. Visit the Planetarium
It can be hard to impossible to properly see the night sky in big cities like Melbourne, but star enthusiasts can head to The Planetarium for an astronomical experience, followed by a live presentation of the current night sky.
37. And check out the Scienceworks Museum
The Planetarium is located in the Scienceworks Museum, which celebrates everything, well, science-y.
I’ve been meaning to get there to se the museum of the Moon, which houses a seven metre diameter spherical moon-like sculpture sitting in it.
Almost like standing in front of the real thing!
38. Attend the Royal Melbourne Show
For ten days in late September to early October, the Royal Melbourne Show is on in full swing at the Flemington Showgrounds.
Running since 1848, this agriculture show has rides, animal contests, showbags and stalls from local companies and producers.
It makes for a fun day out for families and friends.
39. Take a cruise down Maribyrnong River
Melbourne’s other river is far less populated than the Yarra.
It’s lovely to walk along and if you want to experience it from the water, there are small cruises available.
39. Terrify yourself in a scare maze at Spooktober Festival
The Spooktober Festival is held around Halloween in St Kilda and is a lot of fun.
There are food trucks featuring normal foods and treats with a spooky twist, as well as some truly fun scare mazes. Many people get into the fun, dressing up in costume and it’s a popular place for pooches to hang out – some of them joining in on the costume-related fun!
40. Take a night tour of Melbourne General Cemetery
Many notable Victorians are buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery, such as the longest serving Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies and the Princess Theatre ghost Federici. There’s also a memorial to explorers Burke and Wills, who perished whilst crossing Australia in the 1860’s, mostly due to being woefully underprepared.
Night tours are conducted during the warmer months – find out more here.
41. Pick up some sewing skills at the Thread Den
Always wanted to know how to sew, but not sure where to start?
The Thread Den offers classes for beginners, along with classes on more advanced things like crotchery and pattern drafting.
They also have “sewcial” nights, where you can get together and chat with others, whilst you work on your sewing projects.
42. Take a class at Laneway Learning
Or if you want to spend an hour learning about almost anything (from money management, to arts and crafts… I’ve even seen one on tantric sex), you can book a class at Laneway Learning.
Classes are usually held at their space in the city. See more information here.
43. Go on the Aboriginal Heritage Walk
If you want to get to know a bit more about Australia’s First Peoples, Melbourne is a great place for it.
A good place to start is with the Aboriginal Heritage Walk, within the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The walk is run by an Indigenous guide, who will explain some cultural aspects of the Aboriginal People and their connection to the land, whilst demonstrating which native plants were used for cooking and medicinal purposes.
You’ll also get to experience a smoking ceremony and drink some delicious lemon myrtle tea.
44. Experience bush tucker in a fine dining setting at Charcoal Lane
Charcoal Lane is social enterprise restaurant, which aims to provide opportunities for Indigenous Australians who are after a fresh start in life. The main aim is to ensure that those who work in this setting gain independence and reach their full potential.
Their menu is seasonally focused, using the best of native Australian food and is reputedly delicious.
45. Check out the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre
The Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre is located at Melbourne Museum and is a good place to head to if you want to learn more about Indigenous Culture, particularly that which is endemic to this region of Australia.
46. Visit the Islamic Museum of Australia
Australia is home to a growing population of Muslims, with many notable Aussies being of the Islamic faith.
This museum showcases the contributions Islam has made to civilisation, providing educational and cross-cultural experiences.
47. Have a picnic at the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery
The McClelland Gallery is located east of the city and requires a gold donation for entry.
You can stroll around and admire the art, or have a picnic.
49. Spend the Night at Werribee Zoo
Werribee Zoo offers up the opportunity to sleep onsite within their eco-tents. The experience also gives you two day entry to the park and is accompanied by several separate tours and animal experiences.
I’ve spent the night at Dubbo Zoo in NSW – it’s a great experience.
50. Enjoy a flurry of colour at Victoria State Rose Garden
The Victoria State Rose Garden is home to around 5000 different types of roses.
It’s open every day and entry is free.
51.Go Hiking in Werribee Gorge State Park
Melbourne’s full of great walks, but if you want to go hiking, you can head to the Werribee Gorge State Park.
There’s opportunities for bushwalking, hiking, rock climbing, accompanied by some spectacular views.
52. Visit Australia’s first film studio
The Limelight Department has the honour of being Australia’s first film studio, with the Salvation Army producing the world’s first moving picture film in 1898.
There’s a little museum in the attic of The Salvation Army Heritage Centre, which pays homage to this historical event.
53. Grab High Tea on a ferry
Fancy having a High Tea on the High Sea?
These ferries depart either Sorrento or Queenscliff and for $55, you can add on a High Tea, whilst you enjoy the view of the surrounding bay.
54. Visit the Altona Homestead
The Altona Homestead was once the home of the Langhorne family and offers an opportunity to see what life in the suburb was once like.
Entry is free, but a gold coin donation is appreciated. They serve Devonshire Tea on the first Sunday of every month and run a ghost tour on the first Saturday night.
55. Explore a castle
Located in Melbourne’s west is Overnewton Castle, a private residence which opens itself up once a month for tours and high teas.
56. Experience Dialogue in the Dark
Dialogue in the Dark is a tour with a twist.
The one hour long experience is conducted in complete darkness, where you’re expected to use your other senses and communication skills to navigate around the terrain.
57. Spend the night in an airstream trailer
Nestled on the roof of a carpark just off Flinders Lane are six chrome airstream trailers, which are available for rent for the night.
Each has its own deck and fridge filled with booze and other delicious bevs. The most exclusive trailer of all has its own private jacuzzi.
Phew! That should keep you busy for a long while yet!
Plus, here’s what you shouldn’t do when travelling in Australia.
How many of the things on this list have you seen and done?
All prices are in AUD.