Oh, Melbourne – the food, the fashion, the people, the life. Whether you’re a local or a tourist visiting for business or pleasure, Melbourne is an amazing city. Melbourne looks its best at night, with the bright lights softening the harder edges. So, make sure you experience Melbourne’s night face the next time you’re in the city. And take this list of things to do in Melbourne at night with you.
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1. Take in the views at the Eureka Skydeck
We mentioned the lights already, and where better to see them than from the Eureka Skydeck?
Located on the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower, the Skydeck offers stunning views of Melbourne at night. But if you’re really brave, you’ll take your turn on ‘The Edge’. This is an exciting, and somewhat stomach-churning, glass cube where you can take in unobstructed, 360-degree views of the city.
2. See a show
Indulge your arty side and see a show while you’re in Melbourne. And of course, there’s a lot to choose from.
If you enjoy Victorian architecture, then you’ll love the Princess Theatre with its international shows and dining options. Or try the Athenaeum Theatre, the oldest in the city offering everything from comedy acts to Shakespeare.
Her Majesty’s Theatre is another popular choice, offering the city’s best dance performances and musicals. The Regent Theatre is the place for blockbuster shows coming to Melbourne.
For more experimental productions, try the Malthouse Theatre, with its focus on cultural and artistic diversity, or Union House for edgy student productions.
Things to do in Melbourne at night: Money-saving tip
To save money on shows in Melbourne, stop by Halftix to see what discounted tickets they have for sale. Tixatsix has cheap tickets for events at the Arts Centre that evening. And if Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is on your list, register for the $80 ticket lottery at Todaytix.
3. Laugh until your belly hurts
Laughing is good for your mental, emotional, and physical health and it’s never been more important. So, for the good of your health, make sure that you include a comedy show or two when you’re planning your things to do at night in Melbourne.
4. Scare yourself on a ghost tour at the Old Melbourne Gaol
If you’re travelling with young kids, this probably isn’t the best choice of late-night Melbourne activities. But if your travelling companions are a little older, then it’s an interesting and spooky way to spend a couple of hours.
The Melbourne Gaol was built in the mid-1800s and closed in 1929. In that time, it housed not only dangerous criminals but also the mentally ill and homeless. Inmates who died there would make for very unhappy ghosts. And that’s before you add in the 133 prisoners who were hanged there for their crimes.
The gaol offers a few different tours, so have a look what’s on in the city and prepare to be creeped out.
Information about the Old Melbourne Gaol night tours
Address: 377 Russell St, Melbourne
Hangman’s Night Tour: Select dates, 8.30-9.30pm, not suitable for children 16 and under, book tickets online here
Ghosts? What Ghosts! Tour: Select dates, 8.30-9.45pm, not recommended for children 12 and under, book tickets online here
Safe operating procedures
5. Catch a movie
If you’re really struggling to find things to do at night in Melbourne, then why not fall back on an old favourite? Melbourne has a range of cinemas to suit a range of cinematic and architectural tastes, so you really can take your pick.
Check each cinema for discounted tickets – often on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.
6. Enjoy the Queen Victoria Market night markets
The Queen Victoria Market first opened in 1878, and the locals have been visiting for food, trinkets and socialising ever since. It’s spread over two city blocks and offers everything from fresh produce to food trucks and clothing.
Throughout the year, there are themed night markets, so take a look at what’s on during your visit to Melbourne. The winter night markets are especially fun, and there’s also street food markets and other celebrations.
7. Relax on St Kilda Beach and take in the sunset
You wouldn’t think a beach would be on this list of Melbourne attractions at night, but you don’t have to risk the ocean at night to enjoy St Kilda Beach. Watching the sun setting over the ocean is one of the most stunning ways to cap off a day exploring Melbourne.
To make an evening of it, head down there before dark and explore the local shops. But make sure you’re in position before sunset for an added bonus. St Kilda Pier is home to a colony of little penguins who come back just after the sunset. Watching them waddle to their nests has to be one of the cutest free sights in the city. (Check out my guide to free things to do in Melbourne for more budget-friendly activities.)
8. Take flight on the Melbourne Star
Riding the Melbourne Star is one of the most popular things to do in Melbourne city at night.
The Melbourne Star is a giant observation wheel, standing at 120 metres above the city. It’s the only giant observation wheel in the Southern Hemisphere, and it offers beautiful views during the day and spectacular ones at night.
9. Take the kids to Luna Park
Need to keep the kids occupied for a few minutes (or a few hours)? Then take them to Luna Park. With everything from dodgems to carnival games and carousels, this is the oldest continuously running park in the country.
And because it’s open late at night, it’ll keep the kids happy until bedtime.
10. Drink with the cool people
You can’t talk about Melbourne nightlife without referring to its bars. And Melbourne has a lot of them, some on rooftops and in hidden alleyways. If you want to have a drink with friends at some of the coolest places in the city, here are a few cool options:
- StoryVille – for a drink in a grim fairy tale
- Heartbreaker – a grungy bar with quality drinks
- Berlin Bar – where you have to choose which side of the wall you want to be on
- Murmur Piano Bar – for an old world feel
- One of the city’s hidden bars like the Lay Low Bar inside a clothing shop or the unmarked Above Board Bar
11. Take a dinner cruise on the Yarra River
Taking a cruise along the river is one of the best things to do in Melbourne at night – it’s beautiful to see the city sparkling from the water.
There are several different cruise companies offering evening meals on the water, so choose the one that appeals to you and be prepared to see the city a whole new way. Book tickets online.
12. Watch a movie under the stars
If you were born before technology exploded, then you probably remember the wonder and excitement of drive-in theatres. There’s just something about watching a movie under the stars that even the most luxurious cinema can’t match.
Just remember that most of the cinemas aren’t open in the colder months, and understandably so – it’s just too hard to focus on the movies when you’re shivering!
Here’s where to go in Melbourne city at night to recapture this experience:
- Moonlight Cinema
- Cameo Outdoor Cinema
- Federation Square
- The Lunar Drive-In for one of the few, year-round outdoor cinemas
- Classic Rooftop Cinema
13. Stroll Southbank Promenade
Planning what to do in Melbourne at night can lead to some amazing things. But sometimes, it’s nice to just relax and go where the night takes you. And that’s exactly what you can do on the Southbank Promenade.
Close to the city centre, the promenade extends along the Yarra River and is a popular night-time destination. The views are beautiful and there are lots of little restaurants where you can stop in for a meal or a snack. You never know what you’ll end up finding!
14. Catch an AFL match
One of the best things to do in Melbourne at night if you’re here at the right time is to watch an AFL match.
If you’ve never seen an AFL game before, you can’t help but get caught up in the spirit of being among the cheering (and jeering) crowds.
AFL games are played at many venues around Melbourne, but try to time your visit with a game at the MCG, one of the city’s most iconic sporting venues.
Information about watching AFL in Melbourne
Check the latest match schedule online.
15. See a cabaret show at the Butterfly Club
Hidden away in a narrow alley, the Butterfly Club can be hard to find. But visitors and locals alike flock to this Melbourne nightlife institution to see their quirky cabaret shows, so make sure that you do the same.
The club is small, and tickets are limited, so book early to get your spot. And while you’re there, try out their signature cocktail, the Thai Butterfly.
Visit the Butterfly Club
Address: 5 Carson Pl, Melbourne
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6pm until late
16. Take a moonlight kayak ride
If you enjoy seeing a city from the water but want a more personal experience, then take a kayak tour along the Yarra River. The tours leave from the Docklands at sunset and include a stop for fish and chips along the way. Book tickets online.
17. Try your luck at the Crown Melbourne
The Crown Casino in Melbourne offers great restaurants and all the gaming action you could want. Obviously, you shouldn’t spend all your time throwing your money after a big win. But a couple of hours eating and trying your luck can be a fun addition to your Melbourne at night activities.
18. Test out your night-time photography skills
Melbourne nightlife isn’t all parties. Sometimes, being an observer in this amazing city can offer amazing rewards.
If you’re at all arty or good with a camera, then test your night-time skills and see the city from behind its lens. You’ll be amazing at how different everything looks when you examine it with an artist’s eye.
Some great locations to take photos at night are:
- Flinders Street Station
- Birrarung Marr for sunset shots over the water
- St Kilda Pier after sunset for penguins
- Brighton Beach Boxes at sunset for amazing light
- The Yarra River with a wide lens
- Luna Park
- Crown Casino on the Yarra River
19. Play Holey Moley Golf
Remember playing mini golf as a kid? The Holey Moley Golf Club has taken that to a new level with unique holes and landscapes that bring back the best and the worst of the ‘80s and ‘90s. With several locations throughout the city, it’s a little bit crazy and a lot of fun for kids of all ages.
And best of all, for adults who don’t like being reminded of the ‘80s, there are drinks and cocktails available at the full-service bar. A good drink can make all of these late-night Melbourne activities even more fun.
20. Listen to some live music
Melbourne is famous for its live music. Every night, music venues and pubs showcase the best the city has to offer as well as up and coming talent. So, if you want to see some old favourites or discover new ones, here’s where to go:
- The Tote or The Curtin for rock and roll
- The Jazzlab or the Paris Cat Jazz Club for the best jazz in the city
- The Prince Bandroom at the Price of Wales Hotel for local and international acts
- The Retreat Hotel for blues on weeknights and headliners on the weekend
- Bars all along Johnston and Brunswick streets for Latin, rock, jazz, and indie music on any night of the week
21. Eat, eat, and eat some more
Do you need to be sold on Melbourne food scene? Eating is one of the most popular and rewarding things to do at night in Melbourne. And best of all, there’s no end to this activity.
Every time you visit Melbourne, you’ll find new restaurants, new meals, and new tastes. It’s the activity that keeps on giving!
I’ve got a guide to where to eat in Melbourne which covers neighbourhoods across the city. You won’t go hungry here!
So, what’s on your list of fun things to do in Melbourne at night when you visit?
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Featured image by Roberto Seba