So, you’ve got your heart set on a trip to Australia’s capital of culture but you’re not quite sure when to visit? The best time to visit Melbourne all depends on what you want to do, what type of weather you love and how much (or how little) you’re into crowds.
Whether you’re into beaches, exploring our diverse foodie scene, browsing world-famous art galleries and museums, or timing your trip with one of our amazing festivals, there’s an optimal time to visit Melbourne for you. And in this article, I’m breaking it all down for you, season-by-season.
Regardless of when you decide to visit Melbourne, this is one lively city with so much to do – I can guarantee you’ll never get bored here. Check out my Melbourne bucket list and you’ll see what I mean!
But be aware: no matter what time of year you visit Melbourne, our reputation for having “four seasons in one day” is indeed true. Even in the middle of summer you need to come prepared for unexpected Melbourne weather: blistering heat followed by a rain shower and then a possible drop of 10 degrees. Yep, it happens regularly. If it does rain during your visit, check out my guide to indoor activities in Melbourne.
And remember, the best time to visit Melbourne may not be the best time to visit other parts of Australia – this is one big country with many different climates, and events and festivals.
Let’s get into this guide to the best time to visit Melbourne so you can start planning your trip!
I’ve done my best to check that information in this blog post remains current in light of the uncertainty around the world, but please check with individual businesses before booking. If you see any errors, please let me know so that I can keep this article updated.
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Melbourne has a temperate climate, with four distinct seasons:
- Summer: December to February
- Autumn: March to May
- Winter: June to August
- Spring: September to November
Melbourne weather by the months
Victorian public holidays and school holidays
When planning a trip to Melbourne, keep in mind upcoming public holidays and school breaks. During these periods, hotels may be booked out in advance and you can usually expect crowds.
Victorian public holidays 2021
|New Year’s Day||Fri, 1 January 2021|
|Australia Day||Tue, 26 January 2021|
|Labour Day||Mon, 8 March 2021|
|Good Friday||Fri, 2 April 2021|
|Saturday before Easter Sunday||Sat, 3 April 2021|
|Easter Sunday||Sun, 4 April 2021|
|Easter Monday||Mon, 5 April 2021|
|ANZAC Day||Sun, 25 April 2021|
|Queen’s Birthday||Mon, 14 June 2021|
|Friday before the AFL Grand Final||Fri, 24 September 2021|
|Melbourne Cup||Tue, 2 November 2021|
|Christmas Day||Sat, 25 December 2021 (Mon, 27 December 2021)|
|Boxing Day||Sun, 26 December 2021 (Tue, 28 December 2021)|
Victorian school holidays 2021
|Term 1 holidays (Autumn)||Fri, 2 April 2021||Sun, 18 April 2021|
|Term 2 holidays (Winter)||Sat, 26 June 2021||Sun, 11 July 2021|
|Term 3 holidays (Spring)||Sat, 18 September 2021||Sun, 3 October 2021|
|Term 4 holidays (Summer)||Sat, 18 December 2021||Sun, 30 Jan 2022|
Melbourne by the seasons
I’m going to lay out what to expect of Melbourne weather each season, the pros and cons of each, and some key events to consider planning a trip around. You can also check the Melbourne forecast and current temperature online here to plan out when to visit Melbourne.
Summer in Melbourne (December, January, February)
Ah, summer in Melbourne. There’s nothing quite like it. The days are heating up (sometimes a wee bit too hot), bars throw open their windows, the days are longer, and there’s a palpable happy vibe buzzing through the city.
Temperatures average between 15 and 26 degrees Celsius (59 to 79 Fahrenheit) and there are few rainy days (although, as I said already, don’t let that fool ya!).
Pros of visiting Melbourne in summer
- Warm weather – as you can imagine, there are plenty of things to do in Melbourne in summer revolving around beach time and the outdoors
- Many incredible sporting and cultural festivals and events
- Long days (it’s daylight savings) mean you can pack plenty into your Melbourne itinerary each day! (I’ve got guides to 3 days in Melbourne and 5 days in Melbourne)
Cons of visiting Melbourne in summer
- It can get really hot – I’m talking 35 degrees Celsius and above. But this rarely lasts for more than a few days at a time
- Crowds – this is Melbourne’s peak season, so expect plenty of hot, sweaty tourists
- Hotels can fill in advance and prices creep up alarmingly quickly
Best summer festivals and events in Melbourne
- The Big Design Market (December) – get your Christmas shopping done early 2021 dates: 3-5 Dec
- Christmas Festival (December) – check out the famous Myer Christmas Windows or sing your heart out at Carols by Candlelight
- Boxing Day Test (December) – cricket fans should get themselves down to the MCG the day after Christmas for one of the biggest cricket matches in the world 2021 dates: 26-30 Dec
- New Year’s Eve (December) – while our fireworks aren’t as big as Sydney’s, Melbourne’s still a great city to ring in the new year
- Australian Open (January) – one of the most famous tennis tournaments in the world 2022 dates: 17-30 Jan
- Zoo Twilights (January to March) – listen to great musical acts while also helping to save endangered animals at the Melbourne Zoo 2022 dates TBA
- Lunar New Year (February) – Chinatown comes alive with traditional dances, music and food 2022 dates: 1 Feb
- St Kilda Festival (February) – a free celebration of Australian music, summer and St Kilda 2022 dates TBA
- Sidney Myer Free Concerts (February) – the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra puts on a series of free concerts under the stars 2022 dates TBA
- Laneway Festival (February) – dance the day away to some of the biggest international and Australian acts 2022 dates TBA
What to pack for summer in Melbourne
Pro tip: Book your accommodation well in advance in summer to avoid high prices and rooms filling up
Autumn in Melbourne (March, April, May)
Autumn (or Fall for you North Americans) is a great time to visit Melbourne. The days get cooler and the leaves begin to change colour. It’s the shoulder season, so there are fewer crowds – but still some fantastic events to keep Melburnians and visitors entertained.
In March and April, temperatures hover between 12 and 24 degrees (54 to 75 Fahrenheit). May is significantly cooler, with an average temperature of 14 degrees (57 Fahrenheit). May is also the month with the highest rainfall.
Pros of visiting Melbourne in autumn
- Cooler weather, but still warm enough to enjoy Melbourne’s beautiful outdoors
- Fewer crowds
- It’s shoulder season so prices are going down, both hotels and airfares
- The city looks gorgeous as the leaves change colour
Cons of visiting Melbourne in autumn
- Chance of rain is higher than in summer, especially if you visit in May
Best autumn festivals and events in Melbourne
- Moomba (March) – family-friendly event with carnival rides, the wacky Birdman Rally, and water-skiing acts on the Yarra River 2021 dates: 5-8 March
- Melbourne Fashion Festival (March) – Australian and international labels show off their latest designs 2021 dates: 11-20 March
- Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (March) – eat your way through Melbourne’s top restaurants, often at bargain prices 2021 dates: 12-31 March
- Melbourne Queer Film Festival (March) – showcases contemporary queer cinema from Australia and overseas 2021 dates: 11-21 March
- Lonsdale Street Greek Festival (March) – join in on Melbourne’s biggest Greek street party 2021 dates: 20-21 March
- Melbourne International Comedy Festival (March to April) – the best Aussie and international comics will have you laughing your socks off 2021 dates: 24 March-18 Apr
- Midsumma Festival (April to May) – Australia’s premier queer arts and cultural festival 2021 dates: 19 Apr-5 May
- Anzac Day (April) – pay your respects at the moving dawn service 25 April
- Melbourne Knowledge Week (April to May) – talks, workshops, performances and celebrations that explore ideas about our future 2021 dates: 26 Apr-2 May
- Good Beer Week (May) – sip your way through hundreds of beers from local brewers 2021 dates: 14-23 May
- Good Food and Wine Show (May) – sample food and wine from hundreds of local and international exhibitors 2021 dates: 28-30 May
- RISING (May-June) – this festival will be held for the first time in 2021, and takes the place of the Melbourne International Arts Festival and White Night Melbourne 2021 dates: 26 May-6 June
What to pack for autumn in Melbourne
- Light, packable raincoat
Pro tip: Wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens to see the leaves changing to golden hues
Winter in Melbourne (June, July, August)
The weather is cooling down significantly (although rarely to the point of snow), everyone’s rugged up in their cold weather gear, people are slipping into cozy bars and restaurants for a hot meal or beverage.
In winter in Melbourne, expect temperatures of between 6 and 15 degrees (43 to 59 Fahrenheit). Melbourne weather in June is fairly mild, with the lowest rainfall of the whole year. The average temperature in July (the coldest month of the year) is around 10 degrees (50 Fahrenheit) and it rains around half of each month.
Read my full guide to winter in Melbourne online here!
Pros of visiting Melbourne in winter
- Fewer crowds
- Low season, so plenty of hotel availability and hotel prices and airfares are way down
- Even though it’s cold, there are still plenty of things to do in Melbourne in winter (we Melburnians don’t hibernate!)
Cons of visiting Melbourne in winter
- It’s freaking cold!! And often rainy and dreary
Best winter festivals in Melbourne
- Open House Melbourne (July) – take a peek inside some of Melbourne’s most prestigious buildings 2021 dates: 24-25 July
- Melbourne International Film Festival (August) – catch a few flicks at Australia’s leading film festival 2021 dates: 5-21 Aug
- Melbourne Writers Festival (September) – Australian and international writers flock to Melbourne to share their ideas and stories 2021 dates: 3-12 Sep
What to pack for winter in Melbourne
Pro tip: Expect cold weather! Don’t expect to do much outdoors, and plan to spend your days wandering through galleries and museums, and enjoying our fabulous restaurant and bar scene
Spring in Melbourne (September, October, November)
A Melbourne spring is usually glorious: the weather is warming up, the days are sunnier and daylight savings starts in October so the days are longer so you can pack more in to your visit to Melbourne.
September has the tail end of winter, with temperatures between 9 and 17 degrees (48 to 63 Fahrenheit). It warms up in October and November, with average temperatures around 15 to 17 degrees (59 to 63 Fahrenheit) – although as I sit here writing this in October, it was 33 degrees yesterday! Remember what I said about expecting the unexpected…? October has the second-highest rainfall of the year.
Spring is a great time for a picnic in Melbourne, and these Mystery Picnic Dates are a lovely way to spend a day with your significant other or a group of friends.
Pros of visiting Melbourne in spring
- The weather is warming up and is usually quite pleasant
- Fewer crowds in the shoulder season – which also reflects in lower prices for hotel rooms and airfares
- Like every other season, there are plenty of events to plan a trip around
Cons of visiting Melbourne in spring
- Hmmm, I can’t think of many!
Best spring festivals in Melbourne
- Royal Melbourne Show (September to October) – fun for the whole family, but especially the little ones who enjoy the rides, show bags and patting cute animals 2021 dates: the Royal Melbourne Show has been cancelled for 2021
- Melbourne International Coffee Expo (September) – showcasing Melbourne’s reputation as a coffee city 2021 dates: 9-11 Sep
- Melbourne Fringe Festival (September to October) – this festival showcases every kind of artform imaginable 2021 dates: 30 Sep-17 Oct
- AFL Grand Final (September) – a fun sporting event, even if you know nothing about footy 2021 dates: 25 Sep
- Melbourne International Jazz Festival (October) – venues across Melbourne come alive with the sounds and spirit of jazz music 2021 dates: 15-24 Oct
- Melbourne Cup Carnival (October to November) – get frocked or suited up for this world-famous horse-racing carnival 2021 dates: 30 Oct-6 Nov
- Melbourne Music Week (November) – performances, workshops and presentations for musicians and music-lovers 2021 dates TBA
- Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix (November) – rev-heads descend on Melbourne for this motor race 2021 dates: 18-21 Nov
- Queen Vic Market Summer Night Market (November to March) – November is the kick-off of these weekly night markets filled with great food and live music 2021 dates TBA
What to pack for spring in Melbourne
- Light jacket / windbreaker
- Packable rain coat
Pro tip: Find some local friends and get an invite to a Grand Final party if you’re in Melbourne when it’s on!
When do I think is the best time to visit Melbourne?
So, now that you know what to expect of the seasons, what do I think is the best season to visit Melbourne?
Summer! Although it can get pretty stinking hot here, it rarely lasts that long. There’s a gorgeous buzz around the city and everyone seems to exude good vibes and smiles. There’s so much to do and it’s fabulous to be able to get outdoors, have barbecues at friends’ houses and picnics in the park.
Of course, the heat may not be for everyone, so after summer, I think the second best time to visit Melbourne is spring. Everyone’s gearing up for the warmer weather and there are some fun events to attend.
The best months to visit Melbourne
To help you narrow down the best time to visit Melbourne even further, here’s a summary of the best months to visit Melbourne:
- January is the best time to go to Melbourne for beach weather, drinking and eating outdoors and enjoying Melbourne’s great vibe BUT it’s also the hottest month of the year
- February is the best month if you actually want to go swimming in the sea – the sea temperature is warmest
- March and November are great months to avoid the crowds but still have pleasant weather. These two months could just be the best time to travel to Melbourne if beach weather isn’t top of your priority list
- March and April are the best time of year to visit Melbourne for cool festivals and events
So, now that you know when to visit Melbourne, come on down to visit us!
Is there anything else you want to know about planning your trip around the best time to visit Melbourne? Drop me your questions or comments below!
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