The Best Way to Spend 2 days in Melbourne

The Best Way to Spend 2 days in Melbourne

Melbourne is the second largest capital city in Australia and a serious contender for Sydney in the popularity stakes. If you are discovering Melbourne for the first time, choosing where to start might be a bit of a challenge. To get you started, I have found the best way to spend 2 days in Melbourne.

St Paul's Cathedral is worth seeing on your 2 days in Melbourne
St Paul’s Cathedral

I have visited Melbourne many times with different purposes and you could spend a lot more than two days but there are some essentials you shouldn’t miss.

With 2 days in Melbourne, you will see some spectacular architecture
Skyscrapers in Melbourne CBD

You may have heard a few things about the Sydney/Melbourne rivalry. It does exist, which I find a little puzzling, since both cities are so different. Melbourne is known for its cool architecture, its hip cafés and thriving food scene. Street art is a major aspect of Melbourne’s busy cultural life.

Generally, Melbourne has a more urban and cultural feel than Sydney, but it is full of charm and energy. The only downside might be the weather, which tends to change quickly, so much so that you can sometimes expect four seasons in one day. Here are the Melbourne highlights not to miss:

Wander the Laneways

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Melbourne is famous for its laneways. As a matter of fact, the laneways are that good, more things happen in there than on the main streets! The laneways are the heart and soul of Melbourne, where its cultural vibe and nightlife is. You can do a lot in the Melbourne lanes, from shopping for unique fashion, having a casual but delicious breakfast or fine dining, enjoying a coffee at the end of the day, discovering newly painted street art or simply taking in that cool Melbourne vibe…

Spend some of your 2 days in Melbourne in the laneways
Melbourne Lanes

One of my favourite Melbourne lanes is Degraves Street. It goes from dead quiet in the morning, which is great for viewing street art, to bustling with restaurants and bars open late at night.

Degraves Street in one of my favourite Melbourne highlights
Degraves Street in Melbourne

In my opinion, Melbourne lanes have great charm because they mix the local life so well. It is the territory of hospitality workers having a cigarette break, of students having a chat sitting on milk crates, and of dressed up professionals waiting at the door of a swanky bar. The laneways are the cosy heart of Melbourne, where you can seek shelter from the famous cold and rain that may appear at any moment.

The Melbourne lanes have such a great atmosphere
Laneway in the heart of Melbourne

I was taken aback by the best laneways of Melbourne on my first visit, they were so cool and European. They had that slightly louche vibe, which makes you hesitate a bit when knocking on a dark door to be let into an equally dark bar… And in true prohibition style, the light shines and the place is bustling and swinging…

So many cool shops to keep you busy during your 2 days in Melbourne
Shop in Melbourne lane

For a true Melbourne lanes experience, you could take a tour including lunch and get all the secret stories. Check out the additional information and current tour prices.

Go Back in Time in the Arcades

The arcades are another unique feature of the Victorian capital and should definitely be on your list if you only have two days in Melbourne. In a way, the arcades are the more upmarket and Victorian version of the laneways. And sometimes, they mix quite well. Indeed, you may walk through the elegant gate of a Victorian arcade and walk out through a laneway covered in graffiti…

With 2 days in Melbourne, make sure you don't miss the beautiful mosaic floor of the arcades
Mosaic Floor in Melbourne Arcade

Royal Arcade

The Royal Arcade is at 331-339 Bourke Street and was built in 1869. It connects Bourke Street Mall, Little Collins Street and Elizabeth Street

Block Arcade

The Block Arcade is the grandest and most beautiful Melbourne arcade. At 280-292 Collins Street, it is home to the Hopetoun Tea Rooms and Haigh’s Chocolates. The arcade is modelled on Milan’s grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and was built around 1891-1893. The floor mosaics are beautiful and this arcade is the perfect place for a high tea…

Treat yourself in the Royal Arcade in your 2 days in Melbourne
Block Arcade in Melbourne

Walk Arcade

The Walk Arcade is at 309-325 Bourke Street, and connects Bourke Street Mall and Little Collins Street. Going across the arcade will take you to a laneway called the Causeway.

Finding the best Melbourne lanes and arcades can be a little confusing for first time visitors so why not take a tour? Check out the additional information and current tour prices.

Crane Your Neck at Melbourne’s Skyscrapers

Coming from Sydney, where nothing is really that high, spending 2 days in Melbourne nearly gave me a sore neck! Some say that Sydney is asleep when it comes to daring, modern architecture and I have to agree.

You will see some great skyscrapers during your 2 days in Melbourne
Eureka Tower in Melbourne

There are some stunning buildings in Melbourne… I wasn’t looking for anything like that when I spent 2 days in Melbourne but it was worth a few photos…

Seeing tall buildings is part of Melbourne's highlights
Skyscrapers against the light in Melbourne

Melbourne can now compete with New York and Chicago when it comes to heights…

Soar at the Eureka Skydeck

Speaking of tall buildings, if you have 2 days in Melbourne, it’s hard to miss the Eureka Tower… Finished in 2006, it stands at 297m and is the second tallest building in Australia. The Eureka Skydeck is a 360 viewing platform over Melbourne and its surroundings. 

Don't miss the Eureka Skydeck during your 2 days in Melbourne
View from the Eureka Skydeck

First, I’ll give you a few figures to dazzle you: 

  • 360 views over Melbourne
  • 285m above ground
  • 88th floor
  • 38 seconds, that’s how much time the lift needs to take you there…

The Best Views of Melbourne

After the quick shot up the tower, you can get around the space freely, there is a cafe, toilets and a desk where you can collect your photos. With only 2 days in Melbourne, I didn’t actually hesitate to do this fairly touristy thing. I went after work, just before sundown in order to see the city light up. The lights were indeed beautiful but beware of the reflection on the windows. There was a lot of light coming from inside the viewing platform and after a while, it wasn’t really possible to take photos.

The view from the Eureka Tower is a Melbourne highlight
Melbourne from the Eureka Skydeck

The Edge

The other attraction at the Eureka Skydeck is the Edge. It’s a glass cube that literally edges off the side of the tower and hangs almost 300m above Melbourne streets. They make a big deal out of it with spooky noises when you’re in the cube so make sure that this is something you are comfortable with. You get great views and yes, the ground is a long way away when you look between your feet. There is an extra charge for this attraction.

Will you do The Edge at the Eureka Tower with only 2 days in Melbourne?
The Edge at the Eureka Tower

Apart from feeling a little dizzy from the height and slightly embarrassed to be in such a tourist thing, I liked the views but you get the same ones from the viewing platform, really. The one thing I didn’t like was that cameras weren’t allowed in the cube, not even phones. They do offer to take a photo of you, which you have to pay extra for. So don’t feel bad if you don’t do this part of the Eureka Skydeck.

It’s Cold Up There!

A portion of the viewing platform is open air, protected by a net so things or people can’t fall off. The wind and the temperature were very different at 300m than they were at ground level but what a sight!

This view from the Eureka Skydeck is worth spending 2 days in Melbourne
Melbourne at night from the Eureka Tower

I don’t regret visiting at dusk, the changing colours were beautiful however I wish I had arrived a little earlier. Most of the photos were taken around dusk and night time and I’m sure it’s worth visiting during the day.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss out on the best light hours during the day and at night, there is a “sun and stars” ticket to accommodate two visits in the same day.

Beautiful night views should feature in your 2 days in Melbourne
Evening Views over Melbourne

The Eureka Tower is worth including in your Melbourne highlights! Check out additional information and current ticket prices.

Explore the Queen Victoria Market

The Queen Victoria Market is a major landmark in Melbourne and the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere. Also known as “Vic Market” or “Queen Vic”, it was built on the site of the Old Melbourne Cemetery between 1860 and 1936, and is now the largest and the most intact 19th-century market. Even with just 2 days in Melbourne, I wouldn’t miss it. 

The Queen Victoria Market must feature in your 2 days in Melbourne
Queen Victoria Market

A Rich and Diverse Market

Living in Sydney, I am actually very envious of this market. The choice of produce is excellent, there is a real life in and around the market, and you do travel back in time. The market is on the corner of Victoria and William St, just north of the CBD. The Queen Victoria Market occupies two city blocks and lies over 7 hectares, so you would need several hours to see it all. 

Spending 2 days in Melbourne requires a quick tour of the Queen Victoria Market
Dairy Produce Hall

There is a general market, a fresh produce market and an indoor hall. If you only have 2 days in Melbourne, the must-see area is the Dairy Produce Hall.

All in Art Deco charm, the Dairy Produce Hall has a fantastic range of produce, ranging from bread, cakes, sausages, wine, cheese and spices, as well as country-specific shops. The shops are enclosed stalls with large display windows and it’s a feast for the eyes…

Feast your eyes and senses at the Queen Victoria Market as part of your 2 days in Melbourne
Food Stalls at the Queen Victoria Market

If you have many other things to fit into your Melbourne sightseeing, it’s worth heading to the market early and enjoy breakfast there. It’s a great to experience the Melbourne culture, with people playing music and enjoying a coffee…

The Queen Victoria Market is a highlight of Melbourne
Food displays at the Queen Victoria Market

For a more in-depth experience, you can take a foodie tour.

The Queen Victoria Market opens daily except Mondays and Wednesdays. There are night markets and summer markets on Wednesdays.

With 2 days in Melbourne, you have time to wander around the Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne

The Queen Victoria Market’s reputation goes well beyond Melbourne, there is no equivalent in Sydney. In fact, the market is on the Victorian Heritage Register and on its way to join the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the meantime, it’s a superb Melbourne highlight.

When To Go?

Opening times are:

  • Tue-Wed-Thu 6am to 2pm
  • Fri: 6 am to 5pm
  • Sat: 6am to 3pm
  • Sun: 6am to 4pm

Be Spooked in the Old Melbourne Gaol

My first trips to Melbourne were about cool cocktail bars and boutique shopping. Living in Sydney, I thought I had all the historic buildings back home… Wrong! With only 2 days in Melbourne, I made time to visit the Old Melbourne Goal, on Russell Street.

The Old Melbourne Gaol is worth visiting if you have 2 days in Melbourne
Old Melbourne Gaol Courtyard

The Old Melbourne Gaol Building

A bluestone building with a courtyard, next to the City Police Watch House and the City Courts Building, the Old Melbourne Gaol has been a prison since the early days of the colony.

From the outside, the building looks small and out of place in the streets of modern Melbourne, but it must have cast a mighty shadow in its heyday. Victorian society, in England and its colonies, was obsessed with criminals and how to reform them. 

If you have 2 days in Melbourne, don't miss a visit of the Old Melbourne Gaol
Inside the Old Melbourne Gaol

Inside the Prison

Between 1842 and 1924, the prison housed Melbourne’s most dangerous criminals, petty offenders but also the homeless and the mentally ill. Even children as young as three spent time in Old Melbourne Gaol. Also, no less than 135 people where hanged at the prison, including the famous bush ranger Ned Kelly.

Some areas of the gaol are now part of the RMIT University Campus and not all is open to the public. The section open to visitors is the main gaol, on three levels. 

The Old Melbourne Gaol is a Melbourne highlight
The Old Melbourne Gaol

The prison is dark and daunting, and the blue stone has an eerie sheen. Visitors are encouraged to stay quiet and respect the place and its painful history.

The cells are small and claustrophobic, however the gaol is remarkably well preserved and there are plenty of displays to tell the sometimes sad and moving stories of the people who came to stay in the prison, and those who were hanged in the gallows.

With 2 days in Melbourne, you can allow some time to see the Old Melbourne Gaol
Cell doors at the Old Melbourne Gaol

Convict History

The fascination most Australians have for their criminal past can be puzzling to visitors, however I found the Old Melbourne Gaol to be a really vivid account of what life was like in the young colony of Victoria.

If you have more time in Melbourne, you can take a tour of the City Police Watch House, which will give you an idea of what it was like to be arrested in put in jail…

The City Courts Building, which was in operation between 1911 and 1994, is also open during Victorian school holidays.

Do Some Shopping

Melbourne has really good shopping and that was a focus of my first visits several years ago. Again comparing to Sydney, Melbourne has some really good shopping precincts, like Chapel Street in South Yarra, Collins Street in the city, Bridge Road in Richmond or Sydney Road in Brunswick. 

Spending 2 days in Melbourne might give you enough time to do some shopping
Shopping in Melbourne

The Victorian arcades and Melbourne lanes have some great shopping. I would say that the main difference between Melbourne and the other Australian capital cities is the presence of plenty of private labels and boutiques with unique items. 

The unique and quirky fashion shops are a Melbourne highlight
Milliner Shop in Melbourne

Away from mainstream fashion, Melbourne offers a diverse and exciting shopping experience. Not only the shops are good, but Melbourne has the right culture around shopping. I felt that shopping was an experience that people value and enjoy, as opposed to a practical and rushed endeavour.

The best laneways in Melbourne are full of cool shops
Shopping in the Melbourne lanes

Relax at Southbank & the Yarra River

The Yarra River runs through Melbourne, just south of the CBD, and Southbank is a good area for nightlife with great views over the city.

With 2 days in Melbourne, you can make time to wander along the Yarra River in Southbank
View from Southbank in Melbourne

In order to soak up the atmosphere, I recommend having a coffee or a meal while enjoying the view over the Melbourne skyline.

Search for the Best Street Art

Melbourne is famous for its street art. If you have only 2 days in Melbourne, I recommend you make time for it. As it turns out, street art is so prevalent in Melbourne that it will be hard to avoid it. 

The main areas of Street Art in Melbourne CBD are:

Blender Lane

Near 104-106 Franklin Street

Blender Lane is worth a visit if you have 2 days in Melbourne
Blender Lane

Hardware Lane

Cnr of Little Bourke Street

Union Lane

Cnr of Little Collins Street

Street Art in one of the Melbourne highlights
Union Lane

Tattersalls Lane

Between Lonsdale Street and Little Bourke Street

Crossley Street

Between Bourke Street and Little Bourke Street

Meyers Lane

Between Bourke Street and Little Collins Street

Duckboard Lane

Off Flinders Lane, it wraps around a block

Don't miss the street art in Duckboard Lane as part of your Melbourne highlights itinerary
Duckboard Lane

AC/DC Lane

Between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane

AC/DC Lane is one of best places to see street art as part of your 2 days in Melbourne
AC/DC Lane

Hosier Lane

Between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane. Rutledge Lane is off Hosier Lane and wraps around a block.

Hosier Lane is where you will find some of the best street art in Melbourne
Hosier Lane

Degraves Street

Between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane.

During the day, Degraves Street is full of cafes and restaurants with tables lined in the middle of the street. Therefore, the best time is to visit in the morning. Indeed, there are some interesting displays along the way and in one small lane just off the street.

Have a coffee in Degraves Street and find some beautiful Melbourne laneway art
Degraves Street

Beaney Lane

Off Russell Street

Some of the best Melbourne street art is in Beaney Lane
Beaney Lane

Rankins Lane & Warburton Lane

Off Little Bourke Street

Rankins Lane is a lesser known location for Melbourne laneway art
Rankins Lane

Warburton Lane

Off Little Bourke Street

Melbourne laneway art is also present in Warburton Lane
Warburton Lane

Caledonian Street

Between Lonsdale Street and Little Bourke Street

Melbourne street art is very much alive and you may even get the opportunity to see it in action. As part of my Melbourne sightseeing, I saw several artists in the process of spraying the lane walls, which is an interesting process.

Visit a Park

Whilst the centre of Melbourne has a very urban feel, there are some spacious and green parks around, where Melburnians like to enjoy a walk or a picnic. However, during my 2 days in Melbourne, I only had time to walk across the Flagstaff Gardens.

Get an early start during your 2 days in Melbourne and head to Flagstaff Gardens
Flagstaff Gardens in Melbourne

The Flagstaff Gardens are in the Northern part of the city, not far from the Queen Victoria Market and are the oldest park in Melbourne. First established in 1862, they are a popular and well maintained garden, with a broad range of tree essences and flowers.

Take a Tram

Melbourne has a very efficient network of trams. A must-see in Melbourne, trams within the CBD are free. If you wish to travel further afield, the best way is to use a rechargeable Myki card.

Using the tram is a great way to get around if you only have 2 days in Melbourne
Heritage Tram in Melbourne

If you only have 2 days in Melbourne, you should expect to walk a lot however the Tram 35 should be on your list. This free tram is a hop-on, hop-off service which loops around central Melbourne. There is an audio commentary pointing out the main landmarks and attractions, and you get to travel in a heritage tram!

Beyond Melbourne

If you want to explore further afield after 2 days in the city, I strongly recommend adding some Melbourne day tours to your itinerary. 

The Great Ocean Road

This is one of the greatest drives in Australia and I loved my time there. If you want to do it in a day, which is possible, but a long day, I recommend taking a tour from Melbourne. Check out the additional information and current tour prices.

The Great Ocean Road is of the best day trips from Melbourne
Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

Philip Island

Southeast of Melbourne is Philip Island, a pristine haven for wildlife. There is a day tour from Melbourne that combines a food tasting adventure with wildlife watching. Check out the additional information and current tour prices.

For day trips from Melbourne, have a look at Phillip Island
Phillip Island

Wilsons Promontory National Park

The Prom, as it is known locally, is a fairly long drive from Melbourne but you will be blown away by the gorgeous scenery and the pristine beaches. Check out the additional information and current tour prices.

Melbourne day trips can take you to the Wilsons Promontory National Park
Wilsons Promontory National Park

Sovereign Hill

I came across Sovereign Hill almost by accident and had a wonderful time visiting this preserved Goldfields town. It’s only two hours west of Melbourne near Ballarat so it’s easily done as a day trip. Check out the additional information and current tour prices.

Interested in Melbourne day tours? Try Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill

Grampians National Park

I visited the Grampians National Park when seeking an escape from Melbourne and it was an adventure! You can see the highlights as a day trip from Melbourne. Check out the additional information and current tour prices.

The Grampians National Park is one of the better day trips from Melbourne
Grampians National Park

Is this enough for you to do with just 2 days in Melbourne? Or would you have other suggestions? Please tell me in the comments!

For my other destinations in Australia, have a look at my other articles:

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Melbourne is the second largest capital city in Australia and a serious contender for Sydney in the popularity stakes. To inspire you, I have found the best way to spend 2 days in Melbourne.
#visitmelbourne #travelblog #visitvictoria

8 Comments

  1. Carlinn Meyer

    March 2, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Great informative post! Wish we had this when my boyfriend went to Melbourne! He had no idea what to do haha

    1. Delphine

      March 3, 2019 at 3:01 am

      Hi Carlinn, Melbourne is good just to wander around, it’s easy to find interesting lanes and cosy restaurants!

  2. Lauren

    March 2, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Fabulous post – can’t believe I leave this beautiful city tomorrow, it’s one of the few cities where I’ve felt at home. Although you did miss my favourite spot – St Kilda 😉

    1. Delphine

      March 3, 2019 at 3:00 am

      Hi Lauren, I didn’t have enough time to make it to St Kilda in just 2 days in Melbourne. I will make some time for it next time!

  3. Charlotte Døvle

    March 3, 2019 at 12:01 am

    What a great guide, so many awesome things to do! I love Australia and can’t wait to be back in a couple of months. Hopefully we will have time to spend a few days in Melbourne 🙂

    1. Delphine

      March 3, 2019 at 2:59 am

      Hi Charlotte, Melbourne is a really interesting place, I’m sure you will enjoy it!

  4. Kelly Barcus

    March 3, 2019 at 8:32 am

    So many amazing things to check out in Melbourne! Thanks for all the great tips!

    1. Delphine

      March 3, 2019 at 8:53 am

      Thanks Kelly, Melbourne is a great city break, I look forward to sharing more tips!

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