Imagine this: it’s a glorious Saturday in Melbourne, and you’re standing on the iconic steps of Flinders Street Station. Now what? If you’re wondering what do in one of the world’s most liveable cities, you’ve come to the right place.
Whether you’re after a hit of world-class caffeine to fuel you for the day, want to soak up the street art scene or shop up a storm at the local markets, we know exactly what’s on in Melbourne to ensure your Saturday in the city is one you won’t soon forget.
Saturday is market day in Melbourne, so what better way to begin your weekend than with an excursion to some of the city’s best offerings. The historic Queen Victoria Market Melbourne is a must-visit; it opened in 1878 and boasts more than 600 stalls and vendors selling fresh produce, clothing, souvenirs, organic treats and handcrafted wares. Other options worthy of an honourable mention include the art and design-focused Rose St. Artists’ Market, which is considered one of the top Fitzroy/Melbourne things to do, and the South Melbourne Market, a foodie’s paradise chock-full of gourmet goodies that you’ll find impossible to resist. If you’re looking to satisfy a grumbling belly or stock up on some unique presents, the weekend markets in Melbourne are your one-stop shop.
Melbourne considers itself the coffee capital of Australia (or the world, depending on who you ask), so there’s no way you can get through a Saturday without indulging in a top-notch cup of Joe. Melbourne’s quirky laneways and busy streets are lined with cafes roasting quality beans, and if you know where to go, a magnificent caffeine hit awaits. Recommendations for some of the tastiest coffee in Melbourne on a Saturday include Carlton’s Seven Seeds, Market Lane (which has five inner-city venues), Hawthorn’s Axil Coffee Roasters and the ever-popular ST. ALi. And no latte or cappuccino is complete without a side of smashed avo, so treat yourself to another quintessentially Melbourne experience by grabbing brunch with your morning brew.
Street Art Scene
Cafes aren’t the only thing you’ll find down Melbourne’s laneways, with the city home to a thriving and vibrant street art scene. The iconic Hosier Lane is a hotspot for staggeringly-realistic murals and spray-paint masterpieces, and has provided a canvas for some of the world’s most renowned street artists. Artworks can appear or disappear overnight, so it’s worth paying multiple visits to Hosier Lane to see this gritty canvas change and evolve. Other open-air galleries include AC/DC Lane, where you’ll often find music-inspired creations; the small but colourful Caledonian Lane; and Duckboard Place, also the location of Tonka and Lee Ho Fook – two of Melbourne’s top-rated restaurants. For a guided exploration of the city’s famous art-filled laneways, Melbourne Street Tours run three-hour outings that weave through the CBD. Now that’s a cool way to spend your Saturday afternoon.
With the Royal Botanic Gardens ideally situated just a hop, skip and a jump from the banks of the Yarra River, a stroll or picnic at this gorgeous park is one of the best things to do in Melbourne on a Saturday. Spread across 36 hectares and featuring perfectly-manicured lawns, an ornamental lake, incredible wildlife, cafes and more than 8,500 native and imported plant species, it’s a lush and leafy urban oasis that will make you feel as though you’re a million miles away from the city chaos. It’s also home to one of Melbourne’s most beloved walking tracks: The Tan. A 3.8-kilometre path that loops around the outskirts of the garden, it suits walkers and joggers of all fitness levels, with everyone from elite AFL players to mums with prams sharing space on the trail.
No matter what time of year you plan your weekend away in Melbourne, there’s guaranteed to be a slew of musicals, plays or theatre performances with tickets available to purchase. Her Majesty’s, the Regent and Princess Theatres are just a few of the city’s premier venues, and have played host to acclaimed productions covering the likes of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Book of Mormon, School of Rock and The Lion King. Our tip for the ultimate Melbourne theatre experience? Get your hands on some Saturday matinee tickets (generally cheaper than evening shows) before heading out for a post-performance dinner. Within the city’s designated theatre precinct there’s an almost endless selection of restaurants and bars to choose from, and it’s a lovely way to finish off your Saturday night.
For many Melburnians, the weekend means one thing: footy. That’s Australian Rules Football, in case you were wondering. Watching a match at the legendary MCG – the mecca for AFL fans – is a rite of passage for many visitors to this sports-consumed city. From March to September, rain, hail or shine, thousands of fans flock to the stadium for two hours of drop-punting and specky-marking action. It’s exhilarating and often heart-stopping, and you’ll find it hard not to get swept up in the excitement of the match. If you’re not sold on the premise of AFL though, behind-the-scenes tours of the MCG – highlights of which include the MCC Library, Ron Casey Media Room and player change rooms – run daily. You’ll even get to walk upon the grassy hallowed turf! The MCG doesn’t just host AFL matches however, and both cricket and rugby contests are on the agenda for during the off-season.
Reach New Heights
For epic views of Melbourne, the only way to go is up. Yep, we’re talking about two of the city’s most famous high altitude attractions – the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel and Eureka Skydeck. While not suited for those with a fear of heights, the Edge Experience is unlike anything else in the city. Located on Level 88 of the Eureka Tower, it involves being suspended 300 metres above the ground in the world’s only moving glass structure. The cube also happens to be completely transparent, so you’ll definitely be seeing Melbourne from a whole new perspective! Over at Docklands, the Observation Wheel offers a slightly more subdued adventure. A 30-minute ride gives you incredible views across the CBD, Port Phillip Bay, the Bolte and Westgate Bridges and, on a clear day, even out to Mount Macedon and the Dandenong Ranges. Plus, the accompanying audio commentary means you’ll disembark bursting with new-found Melbourne knowledge.
Rooftops rule in this city, and it’s not a proper Saturday night out without a sundowner at one of the many chic sky-high bars. From the garden party atmosphere of Madame Brussels (a great spot if you’re on a girls’ weekend away in Melbourne), to the ridiculously good views Naked for Satan in Fitzroy provides and the Instagram-worthy cocktails served up at Good Heavens, you could spend an entire evening bar hopping and still not get close to working your way through all of the city’s top watering holes. For the ultimate Melbourne rooftop experience though, it’s hard to beat watching a flick at the Rooftop Cinema. Located at the aptly-named Rooftop Bar, the season runs from December through to March, showing classics alongside new releases. And never fear, if you’re visiting Melbourne outside the cinema season, Rooftop Bar is still open for you to soak up the epic views and electric atmosphere.
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Hero image: ST. ALi. Credit: Josie Withers | Visit Victoria