Twelve gardens close to the Melbourne CBD

What better way to spend a day than in Melbourne’s beautiful parks and gardens? To help you get started, here are 12 locations for your next great meander.

Shrine of Remembrance Reserve

Take a moment of quiet reflection at the Shrine of Remembrance Reserve, within the pretty and varied Kings Domain parklands. As well as the Shrine, the wider reserve’s other points of interest include memorial trees, statues and the Eternal Flame. The entrance to the shrine, with beautiful views of the city skyline and surrounding green space, is a favourite photo spot.

A view of an old monument surrounded by parks with the city skyline in the background

Aerial view of the Shrine of Rememberance

Queen Victoria Gardens

Discover the huge floral clock, consisting of more than 7,000 flowering plants, at Queen Victoria Gardens. Or take in a workshop, talk or gig at MPavilion, the architect-designed pop-up currently in residence at the gardens until 11 February 2018. For more eye-popping displays, take a stroll through the gardens at the National Gallery of Victoria across the road. It’s also a good place to stop for a bite.

Alexandra Gardens

Stock up on picnic supplies before heading down to Alexandra Gardens on the banks of the Yarra River. Or check out the tricks performed by local skaters at Riverslide Skatepark.

A park by a river with the city skyline in the background

Riverside view at Alexandra Gardens

Princes Park

In Carlton, just north of the CBD, is the very sporty Princes Park. The centrepiece is one of Melbourne’s second-tier stadiums, Ikon Park, home to the Carlton Football Club. It’s also a key venue for 2018 NAB AFL Women’s Competition in February and March. Want to get active yourself? Take advantage of the public sports field and facilities, children’s playground, or avenues of trees for picturesque power-walks.

Royal Botanic Gardens

You could spend weeks in the Royal Botanic Gardens and still discover something new every day. Wander winding paths to admire the flora and fauna, take a punt on the lake or wine and dine at The Terrace. Explore some more with our Essential Royal Botanic Gardens experiences guide, then refuel nearby. There are seven foodie gems to discover on Domain Road.

A lawn with trees in the background

Head to the Royal Victoria Gardens for their free Summer Discovery Tour

Flagstaff Gardens

Bordering the north-west of the CBD, Flagstaff Gardens have been reserved as parkland since 1862. Today the stretches of lawn are a favourite lunch spot for local office workers, but a little wander reveals much more. There are eucalypts, Moreton Bay figs and avenues of elm trees, a bowling lawn, rose beds, tennis courts, sculptures and electric barbecues.

Birrarung Marr

The diverse culture of Victoria’s Indigenous peoples is celebrated through a series of artworks at Birrarung Marr. A winding pathway represents the eel (a traditional food source) and five shields represent the five groups of the Kulin Nation. A little further along the river, you’ll discover Deborah Halpern’s two-headed ‘Angel’ sculpture watching your every move. During the Sustainable Living Festival throughout February, there’s also the Cool Down, Power Up pop-up urban forest. Down at Federation Wharf, treat yourself to bites and beverages at Pilgrim Bar.

Five Aboriginal shields on display in sand. In the background is the Yarra river and trees

Five shields represent the five groups of the Kulin Nation at Birrarung Marr

Treasury Gardens

Tranquil Treasury Gardens is a relaxing spot for people-watching, including politicians popping in and out of the grand State Parliament close by. There are more curious creatures at night, when the resident possums are out and about! After a garden stroll, wander into local history at the Old Treasury Building.

Fitzroy Gardens

Offering generous open green space in the city centre, Fitzroy Gardens is a favourite with visitors and locals alike. There’s an old world feel, with English elms, flowerbeds, heritage water features and a surprising piece of 18th century England: Cooks’ Cottage. Lately the gardens have added award-winning 21st century eco-friendly features, including stormwater harvesting and even more open space. Pick up a map from the Visitor Centre.

A cottage surround by green lawns, flowers and leafy trees

Fitzroy Gardens

Docklands Park

Here’s a park that’s perfect for the whole family. The interactive playground at Docklands Park is sure to be a hit with kids, while the giant moving BlowHole sculpture is strangely mesmerising for all ages. The fun reaches new heights at Ron Barassi Senior Park. There are ‘big kid’ slides, tyre swings, rope bridges and sand-play equipment.

Carlton Gardens

Designed for the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880, the Royal Exhibition Building and surrounding Carlton Gardens are World Heritage listed. While there, pay a visit to the Melbourne Museum, the tennis courts and the children’s playground. And you can’t miss the Victorian-era Hochgurtel Fountain and circular French Fountain – good Instagram fodder. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s just a five minute walk to Chinatown for dumplings.

A lawn of green grass, trees on either side. At the back of the photo there is a fountain, and behind that, an old building.

Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition Building

Royal Park Nature Playground

Nearby in Parkville’s Royal Park, there’s a new nature playground where kids can go wild – safely! Slides and swings are just the beginning. There’s also a sandpit and water play area, logs, rocks and ropes to climb all over, and a grassy hill for rolling. When the fun becomes too much, the whole family can chill thanks to barbecues, picnic tables and paths among native plants.

Free tours

Make the most of your time in Melbourne’s green spaces with these free guided tours:

  • There’s so much to see at the Royal Botanic Gardens – make a beeline for some highlights on a Summer Discovery Tour.
  • Join the Climate Watch Walk to learn how climate change is affecting plants and animals, and collect data for EarthWatch.
  • In a hurry? Take a lunchtime Green Break: Walk and Talk Tour during February to de-stress, get moving and learn about urban ecology.

Find more parks and gardens in Melbourne

Gardens close to Melbourne CBD map