Welcome to JetSetting Fools, here you will find our best travel tips for destinations worldwide. Some of the links on this site are Affiliate Links and if you use them to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. For more information, read our Disclosure Policy.
My first glance at a map of the Melbourne CBD was a little overwhelming. There is quite a lot of ground to cover in order to see the top Melbourne sights. However, when we hit the pavement, we found Melbourne to be a very walkable city. With just a few hours, an ambitious person could easily complete this self-guided walking tour of Melbourne; with added detours and stops, it can be done in a day!
Free Self-Guided Walking Tour of Melbourne
Walking tours of Melbourne are an ideal way to get acquainted with the city center – or the Central Business District (CBD) as locals call it. While there are numerous Melbourne Walking Tours that are led by guides, we created this Free Melbourne Walking Tour for visitors who like to explore at their own pace.
At the end of the post, we share our top tips for Melbourne City Walks, suggestions for themed and guided walking tours in Melbourne and two maps so that you can find your way to each sight. We also include turn-by-turn directions within our Melbourne Free Tour.
Pro Tip: There are heaps of distractions along the way (many of which we point out during the Melbourne walk), if you have the time, go explore and enjoy!
Pin, Save or Bookmark our Free Walking Tour Melbourne for your vacation to Australia!
#1 Queen Victoria Market
The historic Melbourne market has been in operation since 1878 and is now spread over two city blocks. Allow yourself some time, grab a coffee to go and peruse the stalls. Besides the fresh produce market, there is an indoor deli, outdoor general merchandise market and several permanent stores around the QVM perimeter.
Pro Tip: Find out more about visiting the QVM in our complete article: Queen Victoria Market: Day, Night and Weekend.
Walk east on Victoria Street to Swanston and head south to Latrobe to the…
#2 State Library of Victoria
The State Library of Victoria is the second stop on our Melbourne Free City Tour. The library opened in 1856 and has been growing ever since, now holding a collection of more than 2 million books, art galleries and historical exhibits.
Pro Tip: It is free to enter the library – and we recommend going in to take a look around and view the impressively domed La Trobe Reading Room. Then, go upstairs for a view from above on the balcony and a peek at the historical exhibits as well.
Continue east on Latrobe to Russell Street and turn north to the…
#3 Old Melbourne Gaol
The Old Melbourne Jail is a must-see when city sightseeing Melbourne. The jail operated from 1842 until 1929 as a prison and where criminals who had been sentenced to death were hanged, including the (in)famous Ned Kelly.
Pro Tip: The Old Melbourne Gaol is one of the most popular museums in Melbourne – and a ticket is required to enter. Visitors interested in learning about Australia’s most notorious criminals and exploring the prison cells should book a ticket in advance.
Continue north on Russell Street as it turns into Lygon Street and turn right onto Queensberry Street and head east to the…
#4 Carlton Gardens and Royal Exhibition Building
One of the most beautiful places in Melbourne, the Carlton Gardens is the next stop on our tour. Designated a park in 1839, the 64 acres are perfect for a stroll, rest or picnic.
Aim for the center of the park and the Royal Exhibition Building. Built in 1880 for the Melbourne International Exhibition, it was also the site of the first official opening of Australian Parliament in 1901. It was actually set to be demolished, but was saved and remodeled in the late 1990s. In 2004, it received UNESCO World Heritage status.
Continue walking east to Nicholson Street and turn south as it becomes Spring Street, passing the Parliament Gardens and view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (if time allows, make a detour to visit the church). On the opposite side of Spring street in the historic Princess Theater. Continue south to the steps of…
#5 Parliament House, Melbourne
The Parliament House is a regular stop on all Melbourne CBD Tours. Built between 1856 and 1930, the Parliament House is where both houses of Victoria’s Parliament – the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council – still meet today.
Pro Tip: The interior can be seen by guided tour on non-sitting days or from the public gallery when Parliament is in session – both options are free!
For architecture and gold lovers, make a little detour and continue south to the Old Treasury Building, which is free to enter and includes intriguing exhibits detailing Melbourne history. For those short on time, cross Spring Street to Bourke Street and head west to Exhibition Street. Go north to Little Bourke and turn west into…
#6 Chinatown, Melbourne
The next stop on our Melbourne Free Walking Tour is fascinating Chinatown. Marked by ornately painted gates and hanging lanterns, walk the length of Chinatown. Like so many foreigners, the Chinese were also drawn to Melbourne in the 1850’s by the prospect of finding gold. Land was purchased by many Chinese people along Little Bourke and the thriving Chinatown remains today with a bevy of Asian restaurants and shops.
Pro Tip: Among the many places and things to eat in Melbourne, Dumplings in Chinatown are a must-try! We feasted at the no-frills, budget-friendly Shanghai Dumpling House – which is open for lunch and dinner.
Continue west to Swanston Street and turn south to…
#7 Bourke Street Mall
Continue on your tour of Melbourne City on the Bourke Street Mall. The retail mecca includes everything from high end shops (hello, Tiffany’s) to the necessities (Target) to the flagship store of the Australian department store chain Myer. With wide sidewalks, there is plenty of room for Melbourne street performers to entertain those less interested in shopping.
Pro Tip: As you walk down the street, don’t miss Union Lane for a glimpse at Melbourne’s fabulous street art along the way.
Continue walking west on Bourke Street to the Royal Arcade (then go inside and walk south).
#8 Royal Arcade Melbourne
Often included on Melbourne Laneway Tours, the Royal Arcade is a quaint covered shopping street that has been around since 1869. The lane is filled with top-end stores and posh cafes.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the statues of Gog and Magog, two mythical creatures guarding Gaunt’s Clock since 1892, that stand above the entrance.
Emerging onto Little Collins, zig zag west and then south into…
#9 Block Arcade Melbourne
Another upscale covered shopping lane – and perhaps even more opulent than Royal Arcade – Block Arcade, or just ‘The Block’, was once the place to be seen in Melbourne. Opened in the year 1893, The Block Arcade features a hand-laid Italian tile floor, glass ceilings and classic Victorian architecture.
Pro Tip: The two must-see shops at The Block are the Hopetoun Tea Room and Haigh’s Chocolates.
Exiting on Collins Street, turn left and walk east to Swanston St and to the…
#10 Melbourne Town Hall
Completed in 1870, the Melbourne Town Hall is a historically important social and cultural site in the city. It is also where city council members still meet. Inside, there is an auditorium and a beautiful organ (check the schedule for free organ concerts).
Pro Tip: Visitors can take fee tours of the Town Building, but they must be booked in advance!
Continue walking east on Collins Street, passing the Scots’ Church and turn south on Russell Street. Walk south to Flinders Lane. Rock and roll enthusiasts might want to detour east to AC/DC Lane for street art and a pop into Cherry Bar. Otherwise, turn right and walk west to…
#11 Hosier Lane Street Art
The next stop on our Free Walking Tour of Melbourne is Hosier Lane. One of the best known laneways in Melbourne for amazing street art, get a good, up-close look at the murals on the walls. It isn’t graffiti, which is illegal in Melbourne. The works on this street are commissioned and it’s likely you’ll see someone working on a spray paint masterpiece when you walk through.
Pro Tip: Find out more about the history and culture of Melbourne’s laneways and street art in our guide: Laneways in Melbourne: Alleys, Arcades and Street Art.
At Flinders Street, turn right and walk west to…
#12 St. Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne
Next up on our Melbourne Walk is St. Paul’s Cathedral. The first stone of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a gothic-style church, was laid in 1880, but the spires weren’t completed until 1933. The gorgeous interior includes original baptismal fonts and an 1891 organ.
Pro Tip: Guests can use the descriptive brochures provided at the back of the church to complete an informative self-guided tour of the cathedral.
Just south of the Cathedral is…
#13 Federation Square
Anyone who walks around Melbourne will likely end up in Federation Square; it’s at the heart of the city and an entertainment hub. Federation Square, which opened in 2002, is a public space that features galleries, museums, restaurants, bars and a place to sit back and relax. Although the square is quite modern, there is a much longer history of this location, tracing back to Aboriginals. The unique architecture is meant to bring different parts together as a whole.
Pro Tip: One of the most popular features of Federation Square is the Digital Façade – or the Big Screen. The gigantic screen streams live sports, news and events, so be sure to take a glance to see what’s on!
Just west of Federation Square is…
#14 Flinders Street Station
All Melbourne Sightseeing Tours include a stop at Flinders Street Station; it has long been one of the busiest- and most beautiful – stations in Melbourne. The structure occupies 2 city blocks and is the city’s central hub of transportation. Built in 1909, the Flinders Street Station building is truly a Melbourne landmark.
The corner entrance of Flinders Street Station displays a row of clocks showing the next train departure on each line. In 1983, the clocks were removed and replaced by digital readings. The public was so upset by the change that they brought back the old clocks in one day’s time. If you hear someone say, “Meet you under the clocks,” this is where you will find them.
Head south on St. Kilda Road, crossing Princes Bridge. On the bridge, to the east, you can see the…
#15 Princes Bridge and Classic Melbourne Views
The 400 foot long Princes Bridge spans the Yarra River as part of St Kilda Road. It stands on the site of one of Melbourne’s oldest river crossings and provides wonderful scenic city views to the west.
Looking to the east, you’ll see the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which is better known as the MCG or just The G. The 100,000 seat sports stadium was built in 1853 and is the biggest stadium in Australia (and the Southern Hemisphere) – and the 11th largest in the world.
Pro Tip: The stadium is now mostly used for Melbourne’s founding game, Australian Football, but also for cricket matches, concerts and in 1956 it hosted the Summer Olympics.
Finish crossing the bridge. From here, those that fancy a bit of nature may want to detour south to the Royal Botanical Gardens (free to enter). War history buffs will want to head south to the Shrine of Remembrance (also free to enter). Otherwise, continue west along the river to…
#16 Eureka Tower and Melbourne Skydeck
You don’t need to go on a Melbourne CBD Walking Tour to see the Eureka Tower; it’s visible from all over the city. However, when you stand at the base of the Eureka Tower and look up at the 975-foot-tall building it seems to go on forever. The top 10 levels are golden in appearance because the glass is gold. The 24-carat gold-plated windows are a nod to Melbourne’s historic gold rush of the 1850s.
Pro Tip: With a ticket, visitors are invited to ride the elevator up to the 88th floor Melbourne Skydeck (formerly the Eureka Skydeck) and take in the view, which is astounding.
Continue strolling west along the Yarra River toward the Polly Woodside ship and take a walk along the…
#17 Polly Woodside and South Wharf Promenade
The Polly Woodside is a preserved trade ship that was launched in Belfast in 1885. Famous for her sixteen successful voyages around Cape Horn between 1885 and 1903, she was fully restored and opened to the public in 1978.
Continue your Free Walking Tour Melbourne along the beautiful riverside stretch in South Wharf. The stylish South Wharf Promenade is lined with fun bars and modern restaurants – and is anchored by the Melbourne Convention Center and DFO Shopping Centre.
Pro Tip: Any number of the South Wharf waterfront establishments are the perfect place to have a meal or a drink with a view. It’s particularly nice at sunset!
Continue along the promenade and cross the Webb Bridge and head into the…
#18 Docklands Melbourne
The Docklands District is the last stop on our Self-Guided Free Tour of Melbourne. The historic area dates to the 1850s when the Victoria Harbor (then called Victoria Dock) was the main port in Melbourne, accepting both immigrants and shipments.
The harbor continued to be in use until the 1960s when it was deemed too small for cargo ships. A revitalization project renamed it the Docklands and has breathed new life into the area. Soaring, shining skyscrapers have shot up along the beautiful promenade, which offers a slew of waterfront restaurants alongside entertainment venues.
After you explore the Docklands, catch a Free City Circle Tram back to the Melbs CBD.
Melbourne CBD Map: Tourist Walking Route
Below we feature two Melbourne Maps; the first is an interactive Melbourne City Attractions Map and the second is a printable Melbourne City Map Tourist Walking Route.
Melbourne CBD Map with Landmarks
Use this link to Google Maps for our Melbourne Landmarks Map.
Melbourne City Tourist Map Walking Route
To print this map of Melbourne, click on the map to enlarge it, then right-click and select Print.
Walking Tours Melbourne CBD: What You Will Need
You don’t need much to enjoy walking tours in Melbourne, Australia, but having a few essentials can make the trek much more comfortable!
Stay Connected in Australia
Walking Shoes for Melbourne
Be sure to wear comfortable travel shoes! While the city is relatively flat with nice walking paths, our Melbourne City Walk covers some ground. I like to wear lightweight shoes – like these Columbia shoes. Kris likes to wear Merrell trail shoes.
Melbourne Weather Gear
Weather changes quickly in Melbourne; bring an travel umbrella, lightweight rain jacket, wide-brimmed travel hat and sunscreen. A collapsible water bottle is also ideal for travelers – as there are places around Melbourne where you can refill!
Although we have included 2 Melbourne city maps above, a detailed paper Melbourne CBD map – like this one – could be useful to study before you arrive. You can also pick up a free map from a Melbourne tourist office.
Lunch Prep & Day Pack
There are many Melbourne restaurants along the route where visitors can stop for lunch or snacks. However, you could also pick up items at the Queen Victoria Market and have a picnic lunch in a park or along the river. Also, whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase, you’ll need a great day pack to carry your lunch and all your everyday travel essentials in!
Pro Tip: Be sure to get (and stay) organized for your vacation to Australia by using our Trip Planning Printables!
More Melbourne Tours
We outlined what we think is the best Free Walking Tour Melbourne. That said, there are several guided tours of Melbourne that may pique your interest.
Melbourne City Tours: Laneways
Walking tours of Melbourne Laneways and Arcades offer a fabulous introduction to Melbourne’s café and street art culture. Use the info in our Laneways in Melbourne article or join a guided tour of the unique lanes. The small-group tours include history, architecture, and coffee. Get more details!
Foodie Discovery Walking Tours Melbourne, Australia
Combine Melbourne attractions and culinary tastings in one tour. Let a guide lead the way to the best foodie spots in Melbourne as you get local knowledge on the coolest cafes, the best dumplings and hidden hot spots. Find out more!
Guided Tours Melbourne City
Visitors who would rather tour Melbourne City with a guide can join a highly-rated tour on a walk to the top sights. Read fellow traveler reviews!
Pro Tip: Not a fan of big group walking tours? Hire a local guide for one of the Melbourne Private Tours – like this one!
Guided Walking Tours Melbourne: Free
Visitors looking for Guided Free Walking Tours of Melbourne will find that there are numerous companies offering ‘free walks’. While these can be excellent tours, it is important to know that the Guided Free Tours in Melbourne are not, in fact, free. The guides expect to be compensated with tips.
Melbourne Bus Tour
If our outlined Melbourne City Tour requires more walking than you prefer, consider using the Melbourne Sightseeing Bus. The double-decker Hop On Hop Off bus has two routes, on-board commentary and offers tickets for 24 and 48 hours. Reserve your seat!
Other Melbourne, Australia Tours
Walking tours are not the only free and interesting tours in Melbourne. In fact, some of Melbourne’s best tours are free. Read our post on other top Free Tours in Melbourne!
Want to get out in nature and see more of the surrounding region? The stunning Australian coastline and famous rock formations of the 12 Apostles are just the place! Find out everything you need to know in our review: Great Ocean Road Day Tour.
Looking for more fun activities in Melbourne? Use our ultimate guide to the Best Things To Do in Melbourne!
Pin it! See all of our travel pins on our JetSetting Fools Pinterest Board.