What to See in Melbourne City Walks (3 self-guided tours)

I never realised how much there is to see in Melbourne until we visited the city for a week stay late last year.  We spent days discovering Melbourne by foot – there are so many heritage, arts and natural attractions to discover.

But without a clear plan, you could spend much time ambling along, missing attractions, back tracking and not realising what you are even walking past.  To help you discover what to see I have created three full day city walks.  Don’t worry if you haven’t got all day I have added back up plans at the end of the post.

So grab a free CBD visitors maps from your accommodation and let’s get going on your self-guided walking tour of Melbourne.

In this Article on Melbourne free walking tours you’ll find three one-day itineraries:

  • Day 1
    • Flinders Station
    • Federation Square
    • Royal Botanical Gardens
    • Shrine of Remembrance
    • National Gallery of Victoria
    • Street art lanes
  • Day 2
    • Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens
    • Treasure
    • Parliament House
    • Carlton Gardens
    • State Library
    • Old Melbourne Gaol
    • Melbourne City Baths
  • Day 3
    • Queen Victoria Markets
    • Shopping Arcades
    • Southbank
  • Tips for planning a Melbourne city walk
    • What to take
    • If you get tired
    • Additional information
  • Save this for later

PLEASE NOTE:
Travel and border restrictions are constantly evolving.
Please ensure you check all official tourism websites for openings and availability before making final arrangements and bookings.
Street art of a Penguin found in Melbourne city lanes
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Day 1

Flinders St Station

This is the most iconic building in Melbourne city located on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets.  The station has been here since 1854 but the current heritage Edwardian building that spans two blocks along the Yarra River opened in 1909.

The facade of Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Station

Federation Square

Across the road is the modern Federation Square that hosts public events.

Royal Botanical Gardens

Walk over the bridge and make your way into the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens.  There are so many paved walkways within the 38 hectares of manicured gardens, ponds, historic buildings and monuments.

View over Royal Botanical Gardens with city skyline in the distance
Royal Botanical Gardens

Plan your visit:

  • Website
  • Opening Times: 7:30am – 5 pm
  • Tours are available
    • Temporally suspended

Shrine of Remembrance

One of the must do places to walk past is the Shrine of Remembrance war memorial.  Outside on the steps on the hour you can hear the Last Post played.

The facade of the Shrine of Remembrance
Shrine of Remembrance

Inside under the shrine in the Crypt are over 800 displays detailing life of those who fought for our country, including displays on WW1 and WW11, a boat that rowed to Gallipoli, uniforms the soldiers wore, plus information about more recent conflicts like the Gulf War.  The displays finish with our soldiers in peace times.

You can also climb the interior steps that lead to the balcony offering spectacular views to Port Phillip Bay and across the Royal Botanical gardens to the CBD.

Plan your visit:

  • Website
  • Opening Times: 10am – 5pm
    • Temporarily closed check the official website for updates
  • Cost: free

National Gallery of Victoria

After you have finished exploring the Botanical Gardens make your way across St Kilda Road and walk back towards the city passing the Victoria barracks with its history guns on display in the gardens. 

Next is the Art Precinct home to the National Gallery of Victoria and the free Australia Music Vault that tells the story of Australia’s music industry with authentic memorabilia on display.

Costumes and guitars in a display cabinet at the Australian Music vault museum
Australian Music Vault

Plan you visit:

  • Website
  • Opening Times:
    • Temporarily closed check the official website for updates

Street Art Lanes

Cross Flinders St and keep on walking past St Pauls Cathedral, you will come across lots of little laneways between Swanston and Exhibition Streets filled with street art, some of which is magnificent!  You are also highly likely to street artists at work as they create their next masterpiece.

street art in Melbourne lanes
Melbourne Street Art

Day 2

Depending on how fast you walk and how strong you feel you can either keep on walking or save this for day two.  This section of the walk focuses on Melbourne’s historic sites.

Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens

At the corner of Flinders and Spring Street is Treasury Gardens, if you continue along Flinders Street it becomes Wellington parade and Fitzroy Gardens are on your left.

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The crown land of Fitzroy Gardens dates back to 1848.  Along the walking trails you will find Cooks Cottage and Sinclair Cottage, the Fairies Tree, a Model Tudor Village, lots of statues and of course beautiful gardens.

Plan your visit:

  • Website
  • Opening Times: 24/7
  • Cost: free

Treasury

Back up Spring Street is the Old Treasury Building Museum.  Even from the outside it makes a grand statement.

Inside you can explore the old vaults that use to store Gold Bullion.  Now they display the history of the Victorian Gold Rush.  There are lots of other displays, I found the Foundations of a City that included heritage building maps of Melbourne fascinating.  There are many other displays check out the official website for more information.

the historic facade of the Treasury building in Melbourne
Treasury

Plan your visit:

  • Website
  • Opening Times: 10am-4pm (closed Saturday)
    • Temporarily closed check the official website for updates
  • Cost: free

Parliament House

A little further up Spring Street is Parliament House, again another impressive building.  Then continue up along Spring Street past the small Parliament gardens.

Plan your visit:

  • Website
  • Opening Times: Mon- Fri 8:30-5:30pm (when Parliament is not sitting)
    • Temporarily closed check the official website for updates
  • Tours are available

Carlton Gardens

At Victoria Parade, turn left.  On the right is Carlton Gardens, home to the Royal Exhibition Building and Melbourne Museum.  Again there are lots of garden pathways to stroll.

Plan your visit:

  • Website
  • Museum Opening Times: 10am – 5pm
    • Temporarily closed check the official website for updates

State Library

Take a left onto La Trobe Street and you will find the State Library of Victoria on your left.  It is well worth taking a detour and having a little wander inside the heritage building with its multi-story octagonal picturesque balconies lined with books.

inside the State Library of Victoria three heritage stories of book shelves
Victoria State Library

Plan your visit:

  • Website
  • Opening Times:
    • Temporarily closed check the official website for updates
  • Cost: free

Old Melbourne Gaol

Walk back along La Trobe one block to Lygon Street you will find the Old Melbourne Gaol on your left.

Plan your visit:

  • Website
  • Opening Times: 10am – 5pm
    • Temporarily closed check the official website for updates
  • Cost: $30/adult and $17/child

Melbourne City Baths

Continue back along Lygon Street, turn left onto Victoria Street and at the corner of Swanston and Victoris Streets is the striking red and white Melbourne City Baths that opened in 1860.  It is the largest swimming pool in the CBD, but seriously the building is something to behold along your Melbourne city walk.

Plan your visit:

  • Website
  • Opening Times:
    • Mon – Fri: 6am – 8pm
    • Sat – Sun: 9am – 3pm
      • Temporarily closed check the official website for updates
  • Costs start at $7/adult and $4:10/child

Day 3

Queen Victoria Markets

Day three starts on the northern end of Melbourne CBD at the famous Queen Victoria Markets or you can continue along Victoria Street from the City Baths to reach the markets.

The Queen Victoria Markets have been operating since 1878 and no trip to Melbourne is complete without stopping by the markets that span across two blocks with over 600 stalls. 

Back in the early 1990’s when I first visited here it was the place to buy an authentic leather jacket at a fraction of the cost as it does in a high end street store.  You can still buy loads of clothing, toys, gifts and homewares. 

However the markets are really about purchasing fresh grower direct fruit, vegetables, seafood, meat, poultry and cheeses – there is a dedicated lane for each type of produce within the original market building.

The historic front entrance of Queen Victoria Markets
Queen Victoria Markets

Plan your visit:

  • Website
  • Opening Times:
    • Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 6am – 3 pm
    • Saturday: 6am – 4pm
    • Sunday: 9am – 4pm
    • All speciality shopping opens at 9 am
    • Closed: Monday and Wednesday

Shopping Arcades 

There are lots of heritage shopping arcades that run between La Trobe Street and Flinders Street.  Whilst you can of course shop, you don’t have to, just be mesmerised by the beautiful surroundings.

My favourite is The Block Arcade built in 1892 with its ornate heritage cornices and lace wrought iron support beams – it is beautiful.

But there are also modern arcades like Emporium as well and they are just striking with their neon lights and slick clean architecture.

Southbank

Once you have meander your way down through the arcades you will be back at Flinders Street.  At the intersection of Flinders Street and Elizabeth Street (approximately where the clock tower rises into the sky) is the traditional entrance to a pedestrian underpass, which takes you through to Flinders Walk along the river and over the Evan Walker Bridge.

View of the Yarra River from Southbank in Melbourne
Yarra River and Southbank

This takes you to Southbank Promenade.  You can walk for miles along the Yarra River. But ensure you come back to Southbank in front of Melbourne Casino in the evening to watch the free light show that explodes on the hour.

flame from Southbank bollards
Southbank flames

Show times:

  • From December 1st – First show at 21:00
  • From March 1st – First show at 20:00
  • From April 1st – First show at 18:00
  • From October 1st – First show at 20:00

It is the perfect way to finish your self-guided Melbourne city walks.

Top Trip Tips: Planning a Day Walking Melbourne

This post by Tips 4 Trips contains affiliate links*.  This means I may receive a small commission if you click on these links, but at NO extra cost to you.

As you can see Melbourne is a great city to explore on foot.  So much so that when we were in Melbourne for a week we averaged at least 20 000 steps per day without even really trying.  With that in mind here are a few things to help you along your way.

Location

Discover the locations of all the attractions mentioned in these three one day itineraries for Melbourne city walks on this Interactive Map

map of the location of melbourne CBD attractions

What to Take with You

To start with wear comfortable walking shoes.

Use a comfortable bag to carry a few essentials.  Choose either a day backpack or crossbody bag so that the weight is evenly distributed and you have your hands free.

Fill a good sized day bag or back pack with:

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Money
  • Phone
  • Umbrella or hat (depending on the weather)
Here is my complete essentials

If You Get Tired

All trams within the Melbourne CBD city limits are free.  There is an announcement as you reach the edge of the city limits, so no fear of going beyond the free zone.

Useful Information

This the official Melbourne Tourism website.

You may like to read one of these Melbourne tourism guides*.

Or check out more of our articles on Melbourne and Victoria including:

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Sally-Ann
Hi, I'm a Perth born and bred travel tips blogger/writer with 20+ years experience in airlines, hospitality and tourism. I love sharing my travel lessons learned to help you plan for your travel dream with my travel tips for trips. Please follow along to receive all my travel planning tips, packing lists and destination inspirations.
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