You don’t need to get out of town for a relaxing nature walk, because the city centre’s blessed with beautiful parks. Here are some favourites for a ramble, plus guided and self-guided walks if you want to head out with a purpose. From blooms to heritage buildings, ferns to fountains, there’s so much to discover.
This quiet, green oasis on the edge of the CBD beckons postcode 3000 residents and workers outside for a lunchtime stroll. From shoppers to tourists, everyone loves the avenues of English elm trees, and the fern gully with its stream and ornamental ponds.
The Fitzroy Gardens‘ other natural highlights include the Conservatory’s spectacular floral displays, which change with the seasons. The park is also home to the 18th century Cooks’ Cottage, a model Tudor village, Fairies’ Tree and visitor centre.
Queen Victoria Gardens
Part of the huge Domain Parklands, the Queen Victoria Gardens are a gorgeous formal greenspace opposite Arts Centre Melbourne and NGV International. You might know its most famous feature, the floral clock, but there’s so much more to see.
There are lots of statues, from grand monuments to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII to John Olsen’s more playful leaping bronze frog. Take a seat in the charming rotunda, watch the ducks on the ornamental pool, and enjoy Thousand Thieves coffee at MPavilion. This stunningly designed pop-up pavilion is open until 3 February.
Secret Gardens walk
The Queen Victoria Gardens are the starting point for our self-guided Secret Gardens walk [PDF 520KB], which is free to download. This six kilometre urban hike continues through Kings Domain before finishing in the Royal Botanic Gardens. You’ll see everything from an Aboriginal burial stone to Victorian-era monuments and the 20th century Sidney Myer Music Bowl. And, of course, some of Melbourne’s loveliest natural features.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Established in 1846, one of Australia’s most beautiful and botanically diverse gardens is perfect for wandering. From a lush fern gully to the ornamental lake, exotic blooms to the cacti-covered water storage known as Guilfoyle’s Volcano, there’s plenty to discover.
Follow an Indigenous guide in the Royal Botanic Gardens Aboriginal Heritage Walk, which explores the Kulin Nation’s ancestral lands and rich culture. Or join the twice-daily free guided walk, with highlights that change with the seasons.
Explore the Garden State walk
Up for a long walk? The Carlton Gardens are the starting point for this eight-kilometre guided hike through some of Melbourne’s finest parks and gardens. You’ll learn about their history, how they’re enjoyed today, and the animals that live there, before finishing up at Federation Square. Explore the Garden State also takes in built-environment highlights, including the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Shrine of Remembrance.
Best known as the setting for the Royal Exhibition Building’s UNESCO Heritage-listed magnificence, Carlton Gardens is a destination in itself. It’s home to a fab children’s playground at the north end, and 19th century formal gardens in the south. Stroll among mature European trees and ostentatious Victorian-era fountains, and watch ducks gliding across the ornamental lakes.
Looking for more walks?
Download our other self-guided Melbourne walking itineraries, designed to help you explore the city on foot. Try ‘On the waterfront’, a picturesque route along the Yarra River. ‘A walk in the park’, past cathedrals and the nearby gardens. Or ‘Aboriginal Melbourne’, which reveals some of the city’s Indigenous heritage and culture. Or drop into the Visitor Hubs at Queen Victoria Market or Melbourne Town Hall for more recommendations.