The 2020 edition of the Australian Open is not far away and if you are planning to visit the great sporting capital of the world for this tennis tournament, there’re a lot of things to in Melbourne. Apart from watching tennis that is.
Sports tourism is one of the quickest growing industries in the world and Melbourne is at the forefront of attracting sports travellers from around the world. Which is why, we, at TennisWorldLive.com would like to share our exhaustive guide on the things to do in Melbourne during the Australian Open.
Remember, we will keep updating this, either adding or deleting out things that we believe are needed to go with times. So if you are headed towards Melbourne during the Australian Open, read on. Of course, if you already know your Melbourne and don’t need this ‘Things to Do in Melbourne During the Australian Open’ guide, we also have a list of all the best stays around Australian Open here.
Melbourne City Walking Tours
Whether you are visiting Australia for the first time, or an out-of-towner, one of the best ways to get to know Melbourne is to take a walking tour of the city centre.
Downtown Melbourne is renowned for its atmosphere streets, cobbled lanes and its history, as well as being home to some of Victoria’s most beautiful landmarks. A tour gives you a great introduction to a city that nearly 5 million people call home.
However, one of the great things to do in Melbourne is that there is a walking tour to suit you, whatever your budget or your tastes. Here are a few suggestions of the best way to explore Melbourne on foot.
I’m Free Walking Tours
As the name suggests, these tours are offered 100% free (although you are encouraged to tip your guide afterwards). There is no need to book. Just look out for one of their guides, who are hard to miss – they are the ones wearing the fluorescent green tops!
Tours last two and a half to three hours, and take in all the major sights of central Melbourne – Federation Square, the Yarra River, Eureka Tower, Chinatown, Old Melbourne Gaol and Carlton Gardens. You will also get a taste of the city’s hidden bar scene, and get to experience first-hand Melbourne’s famous coffee culture.
Various locations and times around Melbourne. Free.
Lantern Ghost Tours
If you are brave enough, why not try a Lantern Ghost Tour. Wander old Melbourne at night, listen to spine-chilling ghost stores, and explore Williamstown by lamplight. You can investigate the paranormal in Point Cook, and get to experience what it was like to spend a night in Pentridge Prison.
Various locations and times around Melbourne. AUS $29- AUS $184 per person.
Hidden Secrets Tour
Hidden Secrets takes in many of the sights that tourists – and indeed many locals – never see of Melbourne. Explore the city back alleys, learn about some of the stories and urban myths, and get to learn some of the more obscure parts of the city and its history, such as EW Cole’s giant three-storey book arcade.
Various locations and times around Melbourne. AUS $95-$190 per person.
Drinking History Tours
For those who find normal historic tours a bit boring or conventional, then instead you might want to join one of the more famous guides in the form of Ben Oliver as he takes you on one of his drinking tours, which takes in famous city laneways, AC/DC Lane (yes that AC/DC!), MCG, the Forum and many more of the sites.
Ben will regale you with lurid tales of Melbourne’s thrilling past that will have murder stories, and debauchery and mystery. En route, you will stop at two bars, so you can partake of some of Australia’s amber liquid, and dinner is included at one.
Tours depart Federation Square, twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Price: AUS $59 per person.
For those with a sweeter tooth, they may prefer the Chocoholics tour instead which takes in some of the city’s finest arcades and walkways in search for Melbourne’s tastiest chocolate. At every shop you get free tastings, discounts and interesting information from those making a living out of making chocolates as well. But don’t eat beforehand! You are going to need room for all the chocolate and desserts you are going to sample.
Block Arcade (Elizabeth St Entrance), Wednesday & Friday, 2pm; Saturday noon & 3pm; Sunday 3pm. AUS $99 per person. AUS $49 for children.
Watch the Cricket at MCG!
The best part about Melbourne is its sports. Not for nothing is the city called the sporting capital of the world, having beaten the likes of London, Berlin, Sydney and New York for this title. And what this means is that even when you are visiting Melbourne for the tennis and Australian Open, there are other sports you can look to enjoy during the tournament.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground is one of the grandest sporting stadiums of the world and definitely the biggest cricketing one. If possible, try and watch a Big Bash League T20 encounter at the MCG – or simply the G as it’s called – or even better still, grab a couple of tickets for a one-day international that can be expected to be played around mid-January as a part of Cricket Australia’s annual cricket season.
The Big Bash League is one of world’s biggest T20 leagues, played between eight, city-based sides of Australia. The Melbourne Stars play their home games at the MCG and if, for instance, you are looking to visit Melbourne for the 2019 Australian Open, you could watch the Stars-Hobart Hurricanes match at the MCG on January 16.
As mentioned earlier, the MCG will also play host to international cricket and it would be the Indian cricket team touring Australia during the 2019 Australian Open. So, if you are a fan of either side or a fan of cricket in general, you could look to watch the Australia-India ODI at the MCG on January 18, 2019.
One of the best places to watch cricket from is the Great Southern Stand, a stand built for the 1992 World Cup that was played in Australia and New Zealand.
Now, there is a second big cricket stadium in Melbourne as well, that goes by the name of Docklands. It isn’t used for international cricket any more but if you are looking to watch the other Melbourne-based BBL team, the Melbourne Renegades, you could visit this one. While the Docklands Stadium is no MCG – no cricket stadium can match MCG’s grandeur – it’s also the only cricket stadium with a retractable roof.
Observe the City from Eureka Sky Deck
No trip to Melbourne is complete without a visit to the Eureka Skydeck, which is popular with tourists and locals alike. It is located in the Eureka Tower, a 297-meter (973 foot) skyscraper on Riverside Quay, in the heart of the Southbank precinct.
The tower, which is named after the Eureka Stockade rebellion during the 1854 Victoria gold rush, is the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere, whilst the tower itself is the world’s tallest residential building.
The experience starts for visitors when they arrive at the foot of the tower as they are whooshed up tothe observation deck on the 88th floor via ultra-fast lifts that take a scarcely believable 38 seconds to ascend. Once they get there, floor to ceiling windows offer a 360 degree panoramic view of Melbourne and the surrounding areas. On a clear day you can see up to 50 miles in every direction.
30 viewfinders scattered around the Skydeck allow you to view some of Melbourne’s most famous landmarks, like the Yarra River, the MCG, Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, whilst LED displays feature interesting facts about the city and its inhabitants, past and present. Visitors can also enjoy ambient city sounds with synchronised lighting effects. They can also download the Skydeck audio tour app to explore the site at their own pace.
And then there is The Edge, a glass cube that hangs suspended into space from the 88th floor, where you can look down on the teeming city itself.
If fresh air is your thing, take a turn on the outdoor terrace where you can enjoy the elements and, on a hot day, a cooling breeze.
For those of a more sedate disposition, why not enjoy a glass of wine and a snack as you gaze at the skyline at your leisure? To cap it all, you can visit the shop to buy a photo and other souvenirs of your visit.
The Skydeck is open 10 am to 10 pm daily (last entry in the evening is 9.30 pm). There is no need to pre-book – tickets can be bought on the day, although it is slightly cheaper to reserve online.
An adult single online costs AUS $21, and a child aged 4–16 AUS $12.50 (under-fours go free!). Concessions at AUS $16.50 are available to valid students, senior citizens, and carriers of a health card. Various family packages are also available. Buy your Eureka Sky Deck tickets from the official website here.
Visit the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium
For visitors to Melbourne who want to enjoy an unforgettable experience, a trip to the City’s Sea Life Aquarium comes highly recommended.
Explore no fewer than 12 fascinating habitat zones, and get close up and personal with the denizens of the sea, in a series of interactive experiences which lets you explore the deepest darkest oceans or the chilling waters of Antarctica, as you watch animals glide beneath your feet in a 2.2 million litre Oceanarium.
There are a number of must-see attractions, including the Bay of Rays where you encounter deadly sting rays, and watch them being fed in front of you. And then there is the chance to meet the some of the Pinjarra family, one of Australia’s largest crocodiles, in their specially designed saltwater tanks. Elsewhere, discover the world’s only display of elephant sharks, or enjoy a rainforest adventure with unique sea like lungfish or the totally unique archerfish.
In addition, there are a number of optional extra experiences on offer.
These include the chance to walk through the seahorse paternity ward and look at the stunning array of tiny seadragons and seahorses. You can learn about the Aquarium’s seahorse breeding programme and facility, and even get to feed some of the tiny creatures with live shrimp.
Or, if penguins are your thing, don your Antarctic snow gear for a 45 minute journey on to the ice where you will sit surrounding by the majestic King and captivating Gentoo penguins. You can also visit the food preparation and veterinary areas, and learn how the Aquarium maintains its sub-zero temperatures.
The attraction not only offers fascinating animal encounters but sea life feeding sessions, diver presentations, and state-of the-art displays as well, making it not only an enthralling experience, but a fascinating one as well.
Open every day between 10 am to 5.30 pm Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 6pm weekends and public and school holidays, tickets cost AUS $41.50 for adults and AUS $28 for children; infants go free.
Sea Life Aquarium is located on the Yarra River, on the corner of Flinders Street and King Street, opposite the Crown Entertainment Complex.
Yarra Valley Wine Tours
One of the highlights for many who visit Melbourne is the chance to visit the Yarra Valley and what’s most attractive about it are its continuous hills, old farmhouses, which are located about an hour away from the city centre. It is also the heart of Australia’s word-famous wine industries, and is dotted with vineyards, many of whom offer complementary tastings as well as the chance to buy a bottle or two of their finest vintages.
For those who want to visit, there are plenty of tours from which to choose, allowing you to enjoy the scenery, enjoy a delicious lunch and, of course, sample a tipple or two.
Here are three of the them we can suggest if you do not have the time to do them all:
Puffing Billy with Yarra Valley Wineries
Organised by Gray Line, this tour gives visitors the chance to view the beautiful landscape whilst travelling on the historic narrow-gauge steam train Puffing Billy. You will pass through the Blue Danderong Ranges, visit Sherbrook Forest with its eucalyptus, kookaburra, and fern gullies, and sip Bush tea surrounded by Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots.
Enjoy a spit roast lunch and visit no fewer than three vineries. You also get to enjoy free tastings and displays at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery.
Prices start at AUS $215 per person (children are half-price). Pick-ups can be arranged from most Melbourne hotels (request when booking). Tours last up to 10 hours.
A Day on the Vine
This tour is run by a husband and wife team of Yarra Valley food and wine buffs who love to share their favourite places to eat and drink with visitors. Whether you want to sample one of Victoria’s famous pinots and other vintages, or prefer beer and cider, they have got it covered. And, to make the experience all the more special, friendly local guides are on hand to share their local knowledge and stories with you.
All tours include a gourmet lunch, and are run by a minibus, which can accommodate between one and ten people. Pick-up is at one of two convenient locations in the city centre. Prices range from AUS $160 per person for the Winery Tour, and AUS $180 per person for the Cider & Ale Trail Tour.
Yarra Valley Limo Tours
For those with a slightly bigger budget, why not visit the Yarra Valley in style, with your own private limo tour? Perfect for friends and family groups, or to celebrate a special occasion.
Get picked up from your hotel in a modern Chrysler limo, and enjoy a glass of champagne from its fully-stocked bar whilst listening to its state-of-the-art entertainment system, whilst you are whisked to your destination in luxury. Visit four or five vineyards, enjoy free tastings at each as well as a delicious lunch in a typical local eatery.
Either pick from one of their packages which range from AUS $185 to AUS $295 per person, or talk with the company directly to arrange your own customised tour.
Queen Victoria Market
The Queen Victoria Market, colloquially known by locals as Vic Market or Queen Vic, is not only the largest open air market in Australia, but in the entire Southern Hemisphere.
Spanning several city blocks on the corners of Elizabeth and Victoria Streets, the market is home to more than 600 small businesses and stalls, which showcase not only the best of Australian produce, but also offer a wide selection of international foods and goods, from every corner of the world you can choose.
Founded in 1878, the Market has had an eventful and sometimes chequered history, the site having hosted not only a cemetery, but also a livestock, and fruit and vegetable market. Today it is one of Melbourne’s top tourist attractions, as well as a popular hub for thousands of locals, offering a range of things to see and do.
These include stalls selling fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood, delicatessen and gourmet foods, as well as a wide range of non-food items like clothing, jewellery and shoes. And, if you are looking for a bargain, don’t forget to explore the Market’s historic sheds.
Queen Vic is also a great place to enjoy a meal, grab a coffee or beer, or just to sit back and soak up the ambience, and watch the world go by.
If you are visiting Melbourne in the summer months, Wednesday evenings is a good time to visit – there is a host of live entertainment options, including roving performers and musicians, an array of global street food, and hand-made and artisan shopping facilities.
On every market day, friendly and approachable City Volunteers are on hand to help visitors explore the sights and smells of the market. Dressed in distinctive red uniforms, these volunteers are easy to spot, and will help you with any enquiries you may have, or local knowledge you may need.
For AUS $69, visitors can join one of the popular Foodie Tours. Led by a qualified local guide, you will discover some of the very best produce that the market has to offer, learn some of the fascinating history behind it, and get the chance to buy speciality foods and delicacies.
The market is open every day of the week except Mondays and Wednesdays.
Visit the Melbourne Zoo
Just five minutes by public transport from the City Centre, Melbourne Zoo is one of the must-see attractions for visitors and locals alike – in fact, Victorians voted it as their favourite Metro Attraction for both 2015 and 2016. Located within Royal Park in Parkville, the zoo is home to more than 320 species of animals from all over the globe, which can be found housed in a beautiful natural habitat, just a few miles from the bustling city.
Visitors can stroll through Australian bushland, African and Asian rainforests, or immerse themselves in the subterranean depths. Watch monkeys swing amidst the tree tops or the Sumatran tigers, explore the Trail of the Elephants, or enjoy the Orang-Utans in their specially-designed elevated enclosure.
Visit Lion Gorge, home to the zoo’s pack of male lions, and view the African hunting dogs in the next door enclosure. And, then, there is the native Australian wildlife. No visit is complete without seeing the koalas, emus, wombats, echidnas, and, of course, the kangaroos.
There are hundreds of tropical butterflies to be seen, whilst the reptile house, with its collection of poisonous snakes, crocodiles and lizards is well worth a detour. And then there is the underwater world of Australian Fur Seals and the famous Victorian Little Penguins where you can immerse yourself in the sounds of the deep, coupled with beautiful lighting effects.
Another major attraction is the Great Flight Aviary, where you walk along a boardwalk through three different bioregions, surrounded by species such as southern cassowaries, red-tailed black cockatoos, and royal spoonbills.
Animal feeding times are a great place to catch even the shyest of inhabitants, whilst zoo keeper talks offer fascinating insights into the world of wildlife and the zoo’s conservation efforts.
And, if you still want more why not book a place in one of their popular Roar and Snore evenings, where you can sleep overnight in a tent at the zoo, and enjoy special access to nocturnal animals with guided tours from keepers>
The Zoo is open 365 days a year, between 9 am and 5.30 pm, although all animal areas close at 4.30 pm. A one day general admission ticket for adults costs AUS $40; children under 16 go free on Saturdays and Sundays and on the Government school holidays and public holidays in the state.
Tour the National Gallery of Victoria
For those looking for a chance to escape the bustle of Melbourne’s busy streets, then a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria is highly recommended in our list of Things to Do in Melbourne During the Australian Open. Popularly known as NGV, it is the oldest, largest and most visited art museum in Australia.
NGV consists of two splendid galleries, which are located a short walk apart in Central Melbourne, just south of the Yarra River and the Eureka Skydeck. NGV International can be found on St. Kilda Road, whilst NGV Australia is situated close by on Federation Square.
The galleries offer over 40 exhibitions a year, with a wide range of events and programmes, including talks, late night shows and viewings, performances and shows for children. There is always something new on offer so, if you plan to visit, check what is on offer online first to find something that will appeal to you.
Each of the two buildings has its own character and themes. Also known as the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia is home to a collection of original Australian art, including a large range of indigenous Aboriginal art and artefacts, as well as Australian colonial and impressionist art, and modern and contemporary pieces. Also housed in the same building is a collection of Asian art with a range of works from across the continent.
As the name suggests, NGV International houses the museum’s collection of European and international paintings, fashion and textiles, pottery, drawings and more. Amongst the artists whose work can be seen as Canaletto, Degas, van Dyck, Manet, Monet, Rembrandt, Rubens and many more. There is also a vast range of antiquities such as Greek vases, Roman coins, and ancient Egyptian treasures, whilst sculpture fans will enjoy seeing the first case of Rodin’s iconic The Thinker.
Elsewhere, visitors can enjoy one of the largest collection of woodcuts and engravings by Durer to be found anywhere in the world, whilst the William Blake watercolours it displays are world-renowned.
Both galleries are open daily between 10 am and 5 pm. General admission is free, but there may be a charge for some events and touring exhibitions.
Visit the St. Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne
One of Melbourne’s most recognisable landmarks is St. Paul’s Cathedral, centrally located directly opposite Finders Street Station and Federation Square. This Anglican cathedral with its immense sandstone walls and neo-gothic style is a must-see attraction with its evocation of some of the great religious buildings of Europe, whilst its distinctive 19th century bells can be heard across the city centre.
Erected on the site of Melbourne’s first Christian service, the current building was erected and first opened its doors to worshippers in 1852. It is the current seat of the Archbishop of Melbourne, who is also the Primate of Australia.
As you approach the building, look closely and you will notice that the spires are a different colour to the rest of the building. The reason for this is because, when the cathedral was first built, the local diocese ran out of money before they had to complete it.
They had to wait 35 years until funds were available to add the spires, by which time it was not possible to find the same material to build them as the rest of the edifice.
Visitors may also be surprised to learn that the spires contain a likeness of Elisabeth Murdoch, mother of the well-known Australian media tycoon, in recognition of the enormous contribution she made to maintaining the cathedral during her lifetime.
Enter the cathedral through one of its grand doors and admire the lavishness of the interior, which includes mosaics, patterned floors and wall-tiles, and a beautifully timbered roof. Stroll down the aisles and admire the high altar and screen, which have been constructed with Devonshire stone and alabaster. Closer examination of the altar itself will reveal exquisite Venetian glass mosaics, and carved figures on the pulpits.
One of the best times to visit the cathedral is during a service or recital, when you get the chance to hear the tones of its beautiful pipe organ which dates back to the 1890s. And you can enjoy also the beautiful lilting sounds of the Cathedral choir, who put on recitals and lunchtime recitals every Wednesday, as well as special services.
The cathedral is open daily, with shorter opening hours on Saturdays and public holidays. Regular services are held at least twice a day. Entry is free but please be respectful to worshippers if a service is in progress at the time of your visit.