Melbourne Hidden Gems & Unique Things To Do: An Alternative Guide

Things to do in Melbourne: an alternative guide

In all honesty, Australia is perhaps one of the most beautiful countries in the world – and that’s not just Australian natives saying that. Sure, the country itself has a lot of badlands in the center that make it a hazardous journey to cross, and it has a lot of wildlife that seem to be designed to kill animals and people in many different ways.


But it’s not the bushland or the animals that make the country beautiful. In fact if you stick to the coastal cities of Australia, they’re some of the largest and most populated cities in the world, and they regularly receive thousands – if not tens of thousands – of visitors every year who come from every corner of the world to see what makes Australia so beautiful and exciting to see. 


No better city exemplifies this than the capital of the state of Victoria than Melbourne. This city honestly has it all: Music, Art, Food, Shopping, Beaches, Sports, Festivals and more. Melbourne itself is so massively packed with so much culture that it’s impossible to do everything that the city has to offer in one weekend visit. Heck, it can even be argued that there are so many unique things to do in Melbourne that you can’t even do everything in a week – or even a month. Even residents of the city who live there haven’t even seen all the hidden gems in Melbourne.


Now, a lot of the residents will tell you of the places to go see for yourself that are pretty familiar: from shopping malls, to popular bars and night clubs that dot the scene of the city from the day life to the night life, but what about some of the meatier things that Melbourne has that not many people really know about? What is there to see outside of the standard party places or relaxing beaches or popular café’ and restaurants with world renown cuisine and recipes?


Well that’s the purpose of this Melbourne travel guide: To show you that there’s more to the city itself than partying and eating. While a lot of those are great reasons to come, let these places serve as something in between that can give you a wide assortment of different places that offer a variety of fun. Let’s take a look at some of these unique experiences and fun things to do in Melbourne! 


Alternative Melbourne is waiting for you to discover it. 


Let's Discover Alternative & Unique Things To Do In Melbourne

This Melbourne travel guide is an Alternative guide to Melbourne. 

1 >> Take A Free Tram Tour In Melbourne

Let’s be honest and say that every person who comes to Melbourne really needs to just SEE what’s all available for them and have someone who is both knowledgeable about the city, and what cool hot spots there are show them around. 


Now, what would be the best way to do this? For some people the easiest suggestion is to just look at a travel guide and hit the bricks and see what’s there; Melbourne is a big place and there’s always something that’s happening. 

But what if there was a different, more fun way that was also easy on the wallet?


Well look no further than the fact that Melbourne runs a free Tram ride (Melbourne city circle tram) that loops around the circle free of charge, and does it all in about an hour; complete with commentary about the city and some of the neater hot spots and festivities that are going on. Riding this tram is one of the best free things to do in Melbourne. 

Free tram Melbourne map

You get a free ride, a place to sit down, and see everything worth seeing all in an hour.


The City Circle route is served by traditional W-Class trams decorated in special maroon-green shades with yellow and gold trimmings. Some of the trams on the route are MMTB's standard green W-class trams. 


Trams run every 30 minutes, seven days a week from 10am-6pm Sun-Wed, and 10am-9pm Thurs-Sat. 


You can find all the information about the Melbourne City Circle Tram here. 

2 >> Dine On A Tram In Melbourne

Think the free Tram ride that gives you an idea of what the city is like is the only kind of Tram ride you can find? Think again! Trams are usually one of the most pleasant ways to travel across the city without having to get a taxi service, or rent a car out. They’re usually fun, you get to see a lot of things you otherwise wouldn’t see, and they’re so interconnected that you can quickly get from Point A to Point B with little foot traffic if you know the layout well enough. 


And in some cases, can even eat on them for a nice quick meal that makes for a unique, fun experience!


What makes for an interesting time really for tourists (and even natives) to the city is that there are some Tram services that you can get a full course meal – complete with wine or other beverages – from a traveling bar that lets you take in the sights of the city all from the comfort of a moving vehicle.


You'll find more information about the Melbourne Tram Restaurant here.

3 >> Explore The Alleys And Arcades

Melbourne graffiti lane

Photo by Tom Shakir on Unsplash @digitalcontentkings

Alleys have a bad reputation in a lot of movies where it seems that danger lurks around every corner, and that they’re dirty and dingy. Not so much in Melbourne. In fact, in Melbourne the city’s alleyways’ and arcades are usually full of nice little shops, café’s, art shops, and a whole lot more that offer various different unique experiences for any tourist looking for a fun adventure in the nooks and crannies of the city.


It’s true! You could find almost anything there from an Art Gallery where you can purchase new and exciting works of art from numerous artists in the city, to a chocolate shop that specializes in treats and sweet, to little restaurants and café’s that sell anything from coffee to cakes, to authentic Japanese cuisine, to anything else. You can even find a few specialty shops as well. This is the other side of the city, the alternative Melbourne. 


Best of all, plenty of tourism services specialize in these services and offer anything from Chocolate tasting, to souvenir goodie bags, to a free lunch, or everything in between! 


Read more about Melbourne Lanes and Arcades Walking Tour and discover some cool places in Melbourne! 

4 >> Understand Life Of The Early Australian Settlers On A Ghost Tour in Melbourne

Melbourne, and really all of Australia, has had a sordid past considering that the country was first started as a penal colony for some of the worst criminals from England. While the country today hosts some of the happiest, friendliest people in the world, that past is still awash in blood and misery and because of that, Australia has many places that are considered haunted.


A lot of those places also are included in Melbourne.


If you’ve had your fill of the city and its various treats, art, music, food, and history and are looking for something a little bit scarier – especially at night – then you’ll want to look into the various different ghost tours that are available to tourists who want to get a little spooked and feel the hairs on the back of their necks stand up. 


From prisons, to old hospitals, to haunted streets, hotels, taverns and more there’s always a place that has a sordid history, and a few lingering spirits that might come and say hello. If you are looking for alternative things to do in Melbourne, consider going on a ghost tour in Melbourne. 


More information about the ghost tours in Melbourne. 



5 >> Explore Secret Melbourne Bars

Ever wander around and you just see bar after bar after bar that happens to be open and serving drinks of all kinds and you think that it’s going to be a fun time, but you get in and it’s just… samey?


Well, that’s because a lot of open bars ARE just similar to one another because that’s what they’re designed to do: Draw people into them, and in a tourist city like Melbourne, you’ll find bars of all kinds open because if Australians like one thing, it’s their alcohol. 

a secret bar in Melbourne

However, what makes a hidden bar so fun is that it’s hidden and almost secretive. Like it’s supposed to be a place that only a few people know about. Fans of finding Melbourne hidden gems will love the hidden bars that hide in the city's most incredible places.


That’s why with many hidden bars in Melbourne you’ll find them in places you least suspect them to be: In alleyways, in an abandoned factory, behind a fridge door, or even behind a large painting that leads from one business to another. Hunting for secret bars is one of the unique things to do in Melbourne. 


Heck, you’ll even find bars where they’re so small they can barely fit half a dozen people inside of them and you have to sit on stools lined up against the wall. 

Some hidden bars even rotate from location to location and are so secretive you have to know ahead of time where and when they’ll be open. 


So if you feel like going on an adventure in Melbourne while you’re there, be on the lookout for some secrets that’ll lead you to some great hidden places in Melbourne.


More information on Melbourne's Hidden Bars Tour. 


6 >> Stay In Unique Hotels in Melbourne

The coolest things to do in Melbourne also involve staying in cool hotels, as that makes up a big part of your experience in the city. Hotels by and large are pretty much the same: Posh carpets that are soft to walk on, the smell of bleach and Lysol that hangs in the air, the soft murmur of voices from a myriad of different rooms, and a single (or double) room with a bathroom and maybe a small kitchenette that has nothing but a coffee maker, induction heating stove top, and a microwave. Nothing all that excited. You’ve been one you’ve been in a dozen others. 


That’s why you should plan your next stay in an Unusual Hotel. What makes these all so interesting is that they’re just so DIFFERENT from one another that they each give a different and unique experience just because they’re different from one another and aren’t just your standard hotel stay.


Here’s an example of unique stays in Melbourne: There are some hotels in Melbourne that are designed entirely to act as open air style camping in the middle of the city in shiny chrome covered RV’s that mimic camping trailers.

Cool accommodation Melbourne: hotel Notel

 Images courtesy of the hotel Notel

All designed to be posh, and upscaled rather than an authentic camping trip, but one that’s open aired in the middle of a city. If you want an unusual experience, stay at a unique hotel NOTEL in Melbourne. 


View Photos, Read Reviews & Check Availability Of The Hotel NOTEL. 




unique stays in Melbourne: hotel Adelphi

Images courtesy of Adelphi Hotel Melbourne

There are other unique places to stay Melbourne that straddle a river and downtown Melbourne that gives you a different view wherever side of the Hotel you stay on.


If you want to enjoy spectacular views of Melbourne, and swim in the pool at a height from which you can see the whole city, check out the Crown Metropol Hotel. 


One that offers rooms that are essentially apartment rooms complete with artwork and modern décor. Connoisseurs of modern design and contemporary art will feel like they are in heaven at Hotel Adelphi. Click here to check the price and to read more reviews about the hotel Adelphi. 


Some that are based off of food and give out free desserts with every meal (and their mini-bars come with sweets in them free of charge), some that come with a “hidden” rooftop bar and secret garden, and even some that are designed to make you feel like you’re staying in a castle. 


Honestly. There’s just a LOT of unique hotels that you could stay at and you’d be doing a huge disservice to yourself if you didn’t at least try out one of these unique hotels on your stay. 


7 >> Go Vintage Shopping in Melbourne

vintage shopping in Melbourne

A lot of tourist locations actively sell themselves as hot, and trendy, and choose to show off a lot of the latest fashion of their location, and Melbourne is no different than any other city.


A lot of shopping centers that are close to major tourist locations are there trying to get a slice of the tourism pie, but they all tend to be similar when you really get right down to it and think about it. 


So if you’re the sort of person who likes to make their own experiences in new and exciting ways then you should consider going Vintage Shopping in Melbourne and see what some of the shops there are really like. 


Why? Well for starters, they’re not there to trick you into spending a lot of money, since they’re mostly designed to cater to locals or people who like to look a certain way and usually aren’t well known among people who don’t know about them. 

Plus, they’re usually a lot cheaper than those trendy, fashionable shopping area’s – so you’ll be saving yourself quite a bit of money in the long run (and can buy even more!).  


Give it a try, discover some hidden spots in Melbourne, and see for yourself why Vintage Shopping while in Melbourne is a lot of fun, especially since it can lead you to a lot of new and exciting places that you wouldn’t think to see before. 


More information about Melbourne Vintage shopping tour. 



8 >> Stroll Down AC/DC Lane

If Aussies love one thing, its rock and roll, and AC/DC Lane, one of the unique places in Melbourne, encompasses that more than any other place in the city. A lot of people will tell you that the best shopping in Melbourne comes from shopping in the lanes because it where all of the “most real” and authentic shops will be, and this Lane stays true to that even into the 21st century. 


Now, what use to make AC/DC Lane standout was not just the fact its named after the Rock and Roll band, but the sordid history where it use to be a place full of bars and back alley eateries where a lot of the City’s under privileged use to go for drinks, food, and more.


All sorts of hoodlums went there looking for trouble or looking for some deal to make, and it got a reputation as a place of interest and excitement among people who came looking for a bit more of the City’s underbelly.

AC/DC lane Melbourne

Image by Gabriel Tan on Unsplash @gabrieltan

These day’s it’s a lot more gentrified and you’ll find people in suits and Hipsters looking for an obscure restaurant to dig in and eat at, but it still has a lot of reminders of its more exciting past, and loves to live up to it on occasion.


It’s not quite as noisy as other Shopping Lanes in the city but if you’re looking for something that revels in its past, and welcomes new people to come give respect, then you’ll find no cooler place to go, walk, and shop.



9 >> Ride A Hot Air Balloon

hot air balloon in Melbourne

We’ve all wanted to do it before. There’s just something that’s universally cool about being in a hot air balloon that stands heads and shoulders up above the city down below, and being able to see it from a grand new view than you would on the ground.


And why wouldn’t you? Flying in you don’t really see much of Melbourne because from up high where the Planes are at you don’t really see too much of the ground. However when you’re in a Hot Air Balloon you can adjust the height of the balloon itself and enjoy a birds eye view of the city itself. 


Pus there’s just something that’s massively quaint about riding in a Balloon high up in the air like that and seeing all of the people down below. The Hot Air Balloons typically go over well known locations in Melbourne itself, and can be ridden for relatively cheaply for a few hours. 


SO if you’re looking for a more relaxed, laid back ride that gives you a bit of a thrill high up in the sky then you should consider giving a Hot Air Balloon ride a shop. It’s certainly one of the more unique experiences a person can do in their life, and it's definitely one of the most unusual things to do in Melbourne. 


More information about riding a hot air balloon in Melbourne. 




10 >> Visit a Multicultural Market: Cool Things To Do In Melbourne

food in Melbourne

Food is perhaps one of the things that Melbourne prides itself on considering that the city has a love of all things edible. Seriously, the city is known for its Café’s, and there’s even a local saying that goes “If you drink a bad cup of coffee in Melbourne, you went looking for it.”. Not only that but the city is known for its bakeries and sweet shops, and the dining experiences in Melbourne are always top notch. 


On top of that, Melbourne thrives on being a place of Multiculturalism with how open it is in welcoming people of many different parts of the world and their histories all in one globalized package in the city, spread through various different communities and neighborhoods. 


So one of the best things that you can do to get a sense of the City and its people is visit the many different Cultural Markets that spring up throughout the city, and see for yourself what all is available. 

The best thing about doing that is it’s an adventure in itself, and it’s all easy to do! All you need to do is hop on a Tram that takes you from neighborhood to neighborhood and see what’s there yourself.


Visit the shops that are there and be sure to ask questions, taste samples, get some ideas on what to cook, or what to wear, or just in general learn something new. 


Honestly, some of the best experiences come when just trying and seeing something new and how Culture can shape a people, and how you can learn from it while having an experience of a life time. 


Click here to book a discounted Melbourne Multicultural Markets & Neighborhoods Tour. 






11 >> Try New Food And Eat at Unusual Restaurants

Food is great, and food in Melbourne is especially great. In fact,  the city itself is known far and wide for the different types of food that it offers, and is especially known for coffee and sweet treats. However a lot of them just start to feel… similar… after a while. There really isn’t many that are different enough to set them apart other than they’re trendy and sometimes priced too high for an experience that’s largely forgettable. 


Food in a new place should be exciting! Unique! Fun! Something to remember by. That’s why you should seriously consider eating at a unique place and seeing what kind of stuff they offer. 


If you are looking for unusual things to do in Melbourne, then eating out at unusual restaurants should be on your list. The worst thing about unusual restaurants? They're usually not very famous; that means you won't find information about them in the usual city guide. However, every Melbourne resident will tell you about some of their favorite places they've been. So if you don't know many people in Melbourne who will take you to cool local restaurants and secret places in Melbourne, it's best to join a food tour. For example, this one: 3-Hour Foodie Discovery Walking Tour in Melbourne. 


In addition to the tour, you can eat at such unusual Melbourne restaurants as, Easey'sTitanic Williamstown, or SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium. So do yourself a favor and grab some Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner at someplace exciting and unusual and make a memory that’s going to last for years. 


12 >> Melbourne Medical Museum

If you want to explore Melbourne off the beaten path, consider visiting a lesser-known museum such as Melbourne Medical Museum. There are not many visitors as going to the medical museum is one of the non touristy things to do in Melbourne. 


You know what’s interesting? How far we’ve come in the field of medicine, and how a lot of our medical technology today is just so much better than a lot of what was developed in the past. In fact, compared to even 100 years ago, we’ve got it downright great today. 


If you’re the sort of person who enjoys history, and want to see more than food and art and want to see something that’s fascinating, historical, and even kind of a little weird, then you should consider visiting Melbourne’s Medical Museum, located on the Second Floor of the Brownless Biomedical Library at the University of Melbourne at the Parkville Campus. 


This place features Australia’s largest medical collection with more than 5000 pieces of equipment that dates back from just a few decades ago, to all the way back to the countries founding and even has a restructured historical pharmacy that shows what the old Pharmacy’s from the 1850’s looked like back then. 


So if you’re in the city, and feel like going somewhere a little bit interesting, why not give it a look and see for yourself. 


Read more about Melbourne Medical Museum. 




13 >> Visit One Of The Oldest Theme Parks In Australia

If ghosts and Medical History and other Interesting places in Melbourne don’t excite you, and you’re more of the Thrill Seeking sort of adventurer who likes to see all the cool things that a city can offer, than you should seriously look into Luna Park. 


Luna Park is one of the most fun and interesting things to do in Melbourne. Why? Because it is perhaps one of the oldest Theme Parks in Australia, and it dates all the way back to 1912, meaning that it is OVER 100 years old, and still retains much of the waning Victorian charms from when it first opened up its doors. 


Luna Park in Melbourne

Image by Reki woo on Unsplash @rekiwoo

For many people who come to see – especially repeat visitors who love the historical significance of the park – their first step is through Mr. Moons giant mouth that leads to the Theme Park proper, and enters into the main thoroughfare that leads around to all of the world famous rides; such as the famous Carousel that’s listed on the Victorian National Registry and was built in 1913.


If that doesn’t sound interesting, you could always take a ride on the Scenic Railway, which is one of the oldest roller coasters in the world. 


Don’t even worry about safety as well, as Luna Park has been completely updated with modern day safety in mind as well! So you can feel safe knowing that you’ll be perfectly alright, and can feel like you transported back in time to another era that came from before World War I.


Click here to buy discounted tickets to Luna Park in Melbourne. 

14 >> Slow Down At The State Library

Feel like slowing down a little bit? All of the food, ghost hunts, tram riding, theme park adventuring, music and art just sort of making you want to kick back a little bit and relax? Look no further than visiting the State Library and experience off the beaten track Melbourne. 


This library is perhaps the oldest in Australia period, and is located right at the heart of Melbourne itself. People who visit can play a game or two of chess, and there are both guided tours that let you see everything inside, or you’re allowed to come and look at the library yourself. 


While as a guest and tourist you probably shouldn’t take a book from the library, it is recommended that you at least take a seat and slow down a little bit and read, or if you want a great view, climb the central staircase that looks down over the Domed Reading room and see for yourself how grand it all looks. 


More information about the State Library in Melbourne. 





15 >> Attend A Rooftop Or Open-Air Show

Have you ever watched a movie outside? No? Well in Melbourne you can. In fact it’s not just a one place thing either, but there are in fact quite a few funky places in Melbourne you can go to watch a movie on the top of a roof, out on a beach, or somewhere in an open field that’s all out in the open air, enabling you to enjoy both the weather and a movie at the same time. 


Best part of it all is that a lot of these places have not only comfortable seating, and an atmospheric sight that overlooks some of the most iconic sections of the city or most beautiful locales, but they also offer food, treats, coffee, blankets, and more to make sure that watching these movies are an amazingly comfortable experience. 



After all, what better way to enjoy a night time film than with some ice cream, a large coffee, and a warm blanket wrapped around your shoulders while a gentle breeze blows across you and some sort of action happens on the screen? Amazing? So, add it to your list of amazing things to do in Melbourne. 


Learn more about Melbourne's rooftop cinema.

16 >> Explore Melbourne’s Beer Culture

Aussies love their beer.  If there’s one thing that’s stereotypical about Australians is that they always seem to have a cold one in hand and love to down it. Every stereotype of the Australian is a friendly guy with a thick accent and a tan and a beer in hand, and Melbourne itself is no exception to that love of Beer in that every bar and restaurant has some on hand and love to showcase their local flavors. 


Of course, you COULD go to the Bar itself and ask, but it all might go a little bit above your head as often times you won’t know what’s good and what’s not and the bars job is to sell you the beer anyway, so they might not be too keen into explaining every flavor when they figure they can just give you something similar to go with. 


Plus, not only that, but it’s often more fun to just go to the Breweries themselves and see what they’re like as they often have a bar attached to the brewery itself for fans of their drinks to order up things straight out of the tap and try for themselves.


Plus, they tend to be trendy, comfortable places where people meet and greet and check up with one another as well and there’s nothing quite like visiting one of these Craft Breweries that are some of the cool places to go in Melbourne, ordering a sample platter of their best brews on tap, and sitting with your friends trying them out. 


Honestly, it’s some of the best drinking experiences you can have in Melbourne and it all is highly recommended for anyone looking for  a fun way to experience something so authentically Australian. 


More information about the Melbourne Craft Beer Tour where you can discover some secret spots in Melbourne with amazing beers.  


Final Words

There are just too many places to talk about that you could certainly do In Melbourne. All of the above suggested places are, more or less, a collection of different things that many tourists don’t even realize that you CAN do. Melbourne itself draws so much international attention for Coffee, Art, and Music – as was said earlier – that most of the time that’s what people tend to come for. 


So the purpose of this article really was just to show that if you’re someone who really wants a great time, and really wants to create a tailor made, unique experience for yourself, you should certainly give this guide a look. 


And to keep your eyes, and ears, opened; because there’s just more than this list that you can do. 

Good luck and have fun!

Cover Image by Paul Macallan from Pixabay