Top after-work walks in Melbourne

With daylight saving ending on 7 April, now’s the time to catch some rays after work while you can. Here are some great places to step out in the city’s heart.

Royal Park

At 170 hectares, Royal Park is the largest green space in the city, and also the only one dedicated to Australian natives. Most of the flora is actually indigenous to Victoria – though we still love the Australian Native Garden’s plants from across the nation. There’s lots of fauna too. The park’s combination of grassland, wetland and remnant bushland means you could spot more than 250 different bird species while walking here.

A highlight is the Trin Warren Tam-boore wetlands in the park’s north-west corner, where waterbirds thrive. The trail through this area takes about 90 minutes, though between the birds, insects, reptiles and informative signs it could take hours!

Secret Gardens walk

The Queen Victoria Gardens is the starting point for our self-guided Secret Gardens walk [PDF 521KB], which is free to download. This six-kilometre urban hike continues through Kings Domain before concluding 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.

A small lake surrounded by trees in a public garden

Queen Victoria Gardens

Docklands Harbourside Art Trail

Sure, you’ve seen that cow-up-a-tree sculpture, but did you know there are dozens of other public artworks dotted around Docklands? Discover them all on the Docklands Harbourside Art Trail with a map from the Melbourne Visitor Hub at Town Hall. Or get the free app (available for iPhone and Android) and hear commentary by several artists, including Sally Smart and RONE. The trail is divided into three themed 2.5 km sections: ‘real and unreal’, ‘the dynamic earth’, and ‘you, us and them’.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Established in 1846, the Royal Botanic Gardens is among Australia’s most beautiful and botanically diverse parks, and perfect for wandering. From lush fern gully to ornamental lake, exotic blooms to the cacti-covered water storage known as Guilfoyle’s Volcano, there’s plenty to discover.

Extend your walk (or come back another day) with a stroll around The Tan. This broad path surrounding the gardens is fairly flat, except for one challenging section: the Anderson Street hill. It inclines about 30 metres over a distance of 300 metres, so it’s a good workout even at walking pace.

An aerial shot of a large green park

Guilfoyle’s Volcano

Walks with history and liquid refreshment

Combine some fresh air and exercise with insights into the city’s drinking history and a few drinks on a post-work walking tour. Drinking History Tours has a 6pm Wednesday option, and there’s a Beer Lovers’ Guide to Melbourne walk departing 6pm Thursdays. From the city’s boozy early years to its recent love affair with small independent distilleries, breweries and laneway bars, you’ll learn lots. Don’t worry about getting light-headed – there’s food too.

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 through gorgeous gardens. Or ‘Aboriginal Melbourne’, which reveals some of the city’s Indigenous heritage and culture.