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Melbourne is heralded as the cultural capital of Australia, and for good reason. The city plays host to a variety of events ranging from sports to music and cultural festivals, along with a great number of sights and attractions, perfect for both the tourist and the curious local. Here are the half dozen best places to visit in Melbourne:
While it opened in 2002, Federation Square has had a vibrant, yet somewhat controversial history, its unique architecture met with strong criticism - even being awarded the ‘World’s Fifth-Ugliest Building’ by Virtual Tourist. Since then however, Federation Square has become a central Melbourne icon, and was included in The Atlantic Cities 2011 list of ’10 Great Central Plazas and Squares’. The square hosts more than 2,000 events a year - meaning there’s always something on for visitors.
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Melbourne is heavily involved with sporting events, many of which occur within the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The stadium can hold 100,000 spectators and with a history dating back to 1853, is one of the world’s greatest sporting stadiums. It hosted the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games, and test cricket and Australian Football League games are regularly played on its field. Whether it’s football in the winter or cricket in the summer, heading to the MCG is a must. With Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open tennis tournament just across the road, it can get quite busy. Parking can be an issue both with finding and paying for a space, so it can be a good idea to use a site like Parkhound to find a parking spot close by.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Established in 1846, the Melbourne Gardens covers 38 hectares, home to almost 50,000 individual plants of about 8,500 species. That makes it one of the finest botanic gardens in the world. Close to the Central Business District (CBD), 1.5 million visitors explore the gardens every year. The gardens are best visited in summer when live theatre and a moonlight cinema are featured in the gardens.
National Gallery of Victoria
If you have the chance to check out the oldest public art gallery in Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria holds over 68,000 works of art in its two city locations. The St. Kilda Road building is famous for the Great Hall, a huge space roofed by stunning, colourful stained glass. Guests are encouraged to lay on the floor and gaze up at roof and the mystical light it casts. The gallery’s international collection is housed in the same building. The huge Australian collection, which features Aboriginal art as well as contemporary and mixed media, is housed back at Federation Square.
The Laneways of Melbourne
A huge part of Melbourne’s city is made up of a labyrinth of laneways and arcades. Flinders, Collins and Burke Streets are iconic Melbourne locations for the alleyways that run through these areas. The laneways are home to a range of unique and interesting shops and cafes. The Hopetoun Tearooms are extremely popular for their tea and is the only original shop in the arcade, dating back to 1892. You can take walking tours though this historical part of Melbourne with a range of companies.
Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building
Hop on a tram from the CBD and head to the Melbourne Museum. Not to be outdone by the gardens which surround it, it's housed in an amazing post-modernist building designed by Denton Corker Marshall. It opened in this location in 2000, is the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere, and was awarded the Best Tourist Attraction at the Australian tourism awards in 2011.
Melbourne is a huge city full of vibrant characters and interesting places. There’s a lot more than this list covers, including Melbourne Zoo and Captain Cook's Cottage. Take a cruise on the Yarra river or explore Docklands, there’s almost endless places to visit in Melbourne, so whether you’re an international tourist or a tourist in your own city, there’s something for everyone.