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Victoria’s capital teems with culture and unique quirks.  Home to the best food, music, art, sporting events and festivals in the country, as well as history-rich tourist attractions, both natural and man-made, and accommodation options for all budgets, there’s something to keep everybody happy when in Melbourne.

But with such a vast variety of attractions on offer in the city and the surrounds, exactly what should a first-time visitor to Melbourne do? And if you’ve got several days on your schedule, what choices are there for traveling outside the city’s limits?

Eureka Skydeck

Area: 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank, Melbourne

If you’re wanting to start your visit to Melbourne by getting an idea of the city’s layout and the location of landmarks – and just how much you’ll be working your new boots – the Eureka Skydeck is your first call.

Hot Air Ballooning

Area: Flights offered over Melbourne CBD and Yarra Valley Tours

You need spare cash, but you’ll receive memorable views over Melbourne’s skyline, especially as the sun rises. Half day tours are available.  This is a unique opportunity that many people don’t get to experience.

Take in the major landmarks and city highlights, and get a birds eye view of destinations such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Flemington Racetrack and Rod Laver Arena.  Alternatively, take a balloon flight outside of Melbourne. The Yarra Valley is popular, as the lush greenery and exquisite views of vineyards attacks every sense. If your time’s restricted, a helicopter ride over Melbourne is the ideal choice for those wanting an aerial view of the city without the early morning wake-up call that a ballooning experience requires.

The Dandenong Ranges

Place: Approx. 1 hour drive east of Melbourne CBD

Those looking for a dose of nature can look inland and head towards the rich reaches of the Dandenong Ranges, a location that’s both picturesque and offers you numerous distinct activities of its own.

Get ready to explore the stunning mountain range, which is famous for its imposing Mountain Ash trees.  Eat the local food and buy hand-crafted products in the charming villages.  Take the kids on Puffing Billy, the world famous narrow gauge train through luscious backdrops.   Tours are available, including combined Melbourne CBD and Dandenong Ranges tours.

Due to extreme (Australian) cold, it may be worth considering visiting the Dandenong Ranges outside of winter.  September to May offers wildlife coach tours, and Healesville Sanctuary is a family favourite.

Spend as much time as you need in the Dandenong Ranges.  The kids will likely appreciate the natural beauty of the region, and no doubt you’ll find yourself unwinding from the concrete jungle.

Venture Through Melbourne’s Laneways

Place: Various places, Melbourne CBD & surrounds

The concrete jungle that is Melbourne CBD, however, is an attraction within itself. Bike, tram, bus or foot, checking out the city is an absolute must. Melbourne is filled with quirky laneways, cafes, stores, art galleries and indie theatres. Parks and gardens are well tended to, and the Yarra River is a calm body of water amidst man-man structures.

Melbournians take pride in the quality and quantity of their food, but also their coffee. All cuisines are on offer in the CBD and surrounding suburbs.