Australia’s second largest city is a popular destination for tourist, but people often ask – what is the best month to visit Melbourne?
Melbourne is a year round destination. Whatever month you choose to visit, you will find a vibrant, flourishing city. Major events are on throughout the year, plus each month has it’s on list of local events.
From art festivals to exhibitions, live music and of course the city’s passion – sport. You’ll have endless choice of things to do. And we haven’t even started to mention the food!
Plus we definitely recommend leaving time to take a day tour or two – you’ll be surprised at the incredible nature and wildlife you can see just a short drive from Melbourne.
To help you plan your visit to Melbourne, we’ve put together this guide to what to do and expect each month. Grouped by seasons to allow you to plan for the (famously unpredictable) weather as well.
What is the Best Month to Visit Melbourne?
December, January, February – Summer
Summer is a time of festivals in Melbourne. The warmer weather brings people outside and the longer days let’s you enjoy the city well into the evening. Over Christmas you can see iconic attractions like the Myer Christmas Windows in the Bourke Street Mall. January plays host to lots on music festivals in and around Melbourne. February is when schools go back and the city is less crowded with visitors.
March, April, May – Autumn
March and April are big months for international sporting events and festivals. It is when the Formula 1 Grand Prix is held in Melbourne and the International Comedy Festival brings back the laughs. May is when the weather gets colder and the indoor attractions and restaurants get busier. It is a great time to visit restaurants and cafes for a hearty meal or a hot coffee.
June, July, August – Winter
Winter is a big time for sport in Melbourne – as it is when the AFL season is held. AFL, also known as Australian
Rules Football is the city’s passion. Games are held in major cities around Australia, but it is in Melbourne that the largest crowds gather. A visit to the MCG to watch a game should definitely be on the to-do list for a Melbourne visit. There are also plenty of indoor attractions in Melbourne if you do visit Melbourne in winter but need to escape the usually cold weather.
September, October, November – Spring
Spring is a great time to visit Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens and rooftop bars. The warmer weather makes it easier to get out and explore the city. Stroll alongside the Yarra River and visit the art galleries or river side bars and cafes. There are a number of major events including the Melbourne Fringe Festival, AFL Grand Final and Melbourne Fashion Week.
Major Melbourne attractions
Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is world-renowned to lover’s of cricket. It opened in 1953 to host the Melbourne Olympics and has been renovated several times. The 100,000 capacity stadium is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
These days the stadium is the arena for cricket matches, AFL (Australian Football League) games and music concerts. The MCG is the place to go to see Melburnians at their most passionate – cheering on their sporting team.
Royal Botanical Gardens
Step off the city streets and into a green paradise, in Melbourne’s Royal Botanical Gardens. The gardens border the Yarra River and have more than 50,000 plants and 8,500 different species.
To take a tour of the gardens, we recommend the Aboriginal Heritage Walk which you can visit as a self-guided experience, or with an Aboriginal guide. You will get a glimpse into Australia’s Indigenous culture through the local plants and how they were used for food, tools and medicine.
Melbourne’s laneways are what bring soul to the city. Stepping off the main streets will reveal some of the best cafes, bars, and boutique shops. Many of them are Melbourne institutions that have stood the test of time. Check out our guide to Melbourne’s laneways, or just head out and discover them for yourself.
Everywhere you go in Melbourne, you’ve got a chance to see fantastic street art. From large murals on city buildings to less-permanent chalk drawings on the sidewalk. To discover some of the best art-filled destinations, head for the laneways. In particular, AC/DC Lane, Meyers Place, Blender Lane and Union Lane.
Melbourne’s two galleries of classic and contemporary art are located in the city centre. The NGV is home to major international touring exhibitions and collections of European, Asian, Oceanic and American art – it is a great place to visit on a cold winter’s day. Or cross the road to the Ian Potter Centre to tour the impressive collection of Australian art – more than any other gallery in the world.
Melbourne’s vibrant museum is a great place to take the kids on a wintery day. The Children’s Gallery is packed with things for little kids to see and do. Or there’s a host of other great exhibits – all indoors to keep the chill away. Explore Australia’s Aboriginal history in the Bunjilaka Cultural Centre. Learn about Australia’s flora and fauna in the Forest Gallery. Step back in time – as far as the dinosaurs – in the Science and Life Gallery.
ACMI is our national museum of screen culture. Located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, it has just undergone an extensive renovation and upgrade. Take time in your day to explore film, TV, art and videogames. It is also home to Australian and International film festivals – so be sure to check what is playing when you plan your visit.
Step off Melbourne’s streets, and into a whole new – underwater – world. The state-of-the-art Melbourne Aquarium is a wonderful place to explore, particularly with kids. It is home to thousands of creatures from the Southern Ocean – giving you an up close look at what life is like under the sea!
Food and coffee
Down every laneway and along every street you will find amazing food in Melbourne. In particular Melbourne is a city of coffee-lovers and you’ll be hard pressed to find a cafe that serves and bad drop. Melbourne’s multicultural mix provides endless opportunities to try cuisines from around the world. Whether you want a souvlaki or a hot soup on winter, or sushi rolls and a cold beer in summer – you can find this and everything in-between.
Some people plan holidays to Melbourne just for shopping alone. Winter is a great time to indulge in some shopping – the ultimate indoor activity. You’ll find high fashion and fine art, or jewellery and accessories, and even homewares and stationery – both in intimate laneway shops of Australia’s biggest department stores. As a bonus, you get to tour Melbourne’s colourful streets and you are never far from a coffee stop or a delicious meal.
Melbourne’s most iconic shopping strip is the Bourke Street Mall. Free from traffic, with just trams running through, this is often considered the heart of Melbourne. Big name retailers have taken up residence in the mall, including Australian department stores Myer and David Jones. You’re also likely to find musicians a street performers bringing life to the shopping strip.
On Tour with Go West
If you do visit Melbourne, be sure to check out our range of day tours from the city.
Great Ocean Road
Explore Victoria’s Surf Coast, winding coastal road, rainforest and more! On our Great Ocean Road tour you can enjoy a 12 Apostles tour, visit picturesque cities and townships along this world-famous coastline, and soak up the history of sites like the Loch Ard Gorge. There’s much more to the Great Ocean Road than just the photo opportunities – come and see for yourself!
The ultimate Melbourne wildlife tour – including the world-famous Penguin Parade. Our Phillip Island Tour is the best way to meet Australian wildlife up close. Capture your magic moment hand-feeding a kangaroo, cuddle up to a koala, and watch as thousands of Little Penguins waddle right past your feet. This tour from Melbourne visits the Brighton Bathing Boxes, Moonlit Sanctuary conservation park and the nightly Penguin Parade.
Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs
If you need a day of indulgence during your trip to Melbourne – this tour is for you! Enjoy a morning of relaxation and pampering at the award-winning Peninsula Hot Springs. Choose from hot pools, reflexology walk, cold dip pools, and more. You’ll then spend the afternoon exploring some of the Peninsula’s best lookouts and riding the Arthur’s Seat Eagle gondola for the best Peninsula views.
Grampians National Park
This Grampians day tour is a chance to connect to nature and explore an iconic Australian destination. You’ll marvel at the waterfalls, wilderness and wildlife that is part of the Grampians National Park. Walk with your guide along some of the trails to learn about the Aboriginal history of the area and spot wildlife such as kangaroos and rare birds. Take spectacular photos at the various lookout points that boast panoramic views over the mountains and valleys below.
Melbourne’s finest wine region, the Yarra Valley, is a foodie haven! Not only are there endless wineries to choose from ,but an excellent choice of local produce as well. Join our tour to taste wines, cheese, chocolate and more – as well as indulge in a gourmet winery lunch.
Wilson Promontory, affectionately known as The Prom to Melburnians, is known for its pristine beaches, idyllic coastline and untouched bushland. It is home to many different native Australian animals which you may be able to spot on our tours – including kangaroos, emus and wombats. You might even spot a wallaby along one of the walking trails. This tour takes you bushwalking to a panoramic viewpoint, strolling along Squeaky Beach, and spotting wildlife throughout the afternoon.
Puffing Billy + Penguins
For a day of iconic Melbourne experiences, take our Puffing Billy, wildlife and penguins tour. Ride on a century-old steam train – Puffing Billy – through the Dandenong rainforest. Meet and feed some of Australia’s iconic, native wildlife, at Moonlit Sanctuary – including kangaroos, wallabies and koalas. Finish the day with a visit to Phillip Island for spectacular coastal views and watching the resident Little Penguins waddle to shore in the nightly Penguin Parade.
Ultimate Mornington Peninsula
A great out from Melbourne where you can discover why the Mornington Peninsula is one of Melbourne’s most treasured holiday destinations. Visit the Peninsula’s famous, colourful bathing boxes. Explore ocean beaches and historic seaside towns. Ride the Arthurs Seat Eagle Gondola for fantastic Peninsula views – and finish the day tasting chocolate or hand-picking strawberries.
Great Ocean Road Sunset Tour
See one of Australia’s most iconic views – the spectacular Twelve Apostles – at the perfect time of day. A sunset visit to this incredible coastline is sure to be a highlight of your visit to Melbourne. Start the day with a later departure time than most tours. Avoid the crowds as you journey along the Great Ocean Road, and be ready for an incredible show to end the tour!
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au