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27 Magical Places You Won't Believe Are Actually In Melbourne

It's time to get out and explore what's in your backyard.

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1. Montsalvat, Eltham

Instagram: @thesnapsmith

Australia's oldest artists' colony, Montsalvat is a cultural treasure trove. It's got charming mudbrick cottages, a restaurant offering French provincial fare, and rambling gardens filled with roaming peacocks. Established in the 1930s by Justus Jörgensen, it remains true to its Bohemian roots with art classes, travelling exhibits, and studio residencies.

2. Burnley Gardens, Richmond

Instagram: @the_horticologist

There's a pair of these trees at Burnley Gardens, an urban oasis that's part of Melbourne University's Burnley Campus. Half-hidden on the banks of the Yarra, the gardens date back to 1861.

3. The Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford

Instagram: @wildebyzoe

The Abbotsford Convent is a steepled, Gothic marvel bordered by idyllic surrounds. Just 20 minutes out of the CBD, it's home to the Convent Bakery where bread is baked daily in wood-fire ovens that were built in 1901. Right next door is the Collingwood Children's Farm where you can get up close and personal with pigs and chickens.

4. Studley Park Vineyard, Kew

Instagram: @youremelbourne

Did you know there's a vineyard just 4km from the CBD? One acre of Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in 1994 on the banks of the Yarra River in Kew. Start your day at the Abbotsford Convent and stroll along Andrews Reserve Trail to get there.

5. Pound Bend Reserve, Warrandyte

Instagram: @mia_xo

In the late 1800s, a tunnel was constructed to alter the course of the Yarra River. This inadvertently built a ~natural spa~, giving today's Melburnians the chance to swim in rushing water at the tunnel outlet. A great place to swim as well as to soak, Pound Bend even has a picnic area.

6. Organ Pipes National Park, Keilor North

Instagram: @kat

Organ Pipes National Park is an awe-inspiring outdoor cathedral just past Airport West, off the Calder Highway. These prehistoric basalt columns were formed by molten lava about 400-million years ago and are simply spectacular. There are a couple of walking trails along the creek and native birdlife is abundant.

7. The Japanese Bath House, Collingwood

Instagram: @flotpoint

This traditional bath house (also known as sentos or onsen) is tucked away down a back street in Collingwood. It has separate communal baths for men and women, a shared tatami lounge, and a shiatsu treatment studio. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted with robes, towels, and scrubbing cloths, and invited to submerge themselves in a 45-degree bath for an hour. Each of the bathing areas also boasts a dry sauna, and after your long soak you can enjoy a beer and a bowl of edamame.

8. Wunderkammer, CBD

Instagram: @esnaong

A "wunderkammer" is defined as a cabinet of curiosities or a chamber of rarities, and this Lonsdale Street shop is a both a museum and a retail store. It sells strange, creepy, and bizarre artifacts – including taxidermied animals, insects in jars, and antique surgical equipment – not to mention scientific paraphernalia and meteoric rocks. It's worth a visit at least once.

9. Puffing Billy Railway, Belgrave

Instagram: @monocosm

Head to Belgrave to take a ride on a historical steam train through the hills of the Dandenongs. Rumour has it that you can actually race the train on foot and win. But hey, that's fitting because it's a genuine relic of more leisurely days.

10. Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen

Instagram: @paulaalarilla

As well as three galleries, there are 15 acres worth of gardens filled with sculptures to discover. You can peek inside the long-term home of John and Sunday Reed where Sidney Nolan painted some of his infamous Ned Kelly series. There's also an elegant glass pavilion café and a Makers' Market every month.

11. Yarraville Gardens, Yarraville

Instagram: @dusty_kelpie

Yarraville Gardens play host to hundreds of happy dogs on weekends as well as the Yarraville Farmers Market on the fourth Saturday of each month. It's also a hotspot for food trucks, and on weekends, you might see as many as fourteen pull up to the kerb!

12. Methven Park, Brunswick East

Instagram: @catherinedeveny

Historic and beautiful, Methven Park has a 100-year-old avenue of English elms as well as a refurbished playground and lots of lovely shady trees.

13. Schwerkolt Cottage and Museum Complex, Mitcham

Instagram: @soozyscenic

Step back in time and explore this original pioneer's stone cottage surrounded by 2.25 hectares of bushland. Possibly Mitcham's best-kept secret, the Schwerkolt cottage was built in 1888 using stones from the adjacent Mullum Mullum Creek. It features a barn, wine cellar, smokehouse, and museum – plus plenty of colourful parrots!

14. Merri Creek Labyrinth and Wishing Tree, Clifton Hill

Instagram: @cre8tiv

Wanna see the only-known labyrinth in a Melbourne park and reenact your favourite David Bowie fantasies? This environmental art installation was built from bluestones by the Clifton Hill community over 10 years ago. It's located in a linear park that runs the length of Merri Creek, and there's a magical wishing tree nearby covered in wishes written by children and adults alike.

15. PepperTree Place, Coburg

Instagram: @mindful

A community garden and marketplace, PepperTree Place has a volunteer-powered cafe and a funky nursery framed by a historic bluestone church and stables. On the first Saturday of every month, an Incr-EDIBLE Food Swap takes place where people swap excess homegrown produce and gardening tips.

16. Alfred Nicholas Gardens, Sherbrooke

Instagram: @simonlampart

This gorgeous historic garden is filled with magnificent shrubs, flowering plants, and majestic Mountain Ash trees. It's the perfect place for a romantic stroll or a spring picnic with craggy rock cliffs, a picturesque lake, and a quaint boathouse. It's near the infamous (and overcrowded) 1000 Steps, so if you'd rather meander through the trees than muscle up the stairs, this is the place.

17. Cooks' Cottage, East Melbourne

Instagram: @lynettecostabile

Nested in Fitzroy Gardens, Cooks' Cottage is the oldest building in Australia. It was originally built in Yorkshire, England by the parents of Captain James Cook. Bizarrely, when Cook came to Australia, so did the cottage – each brick was individually numbered, packed into barrels and then shipped off. It's tiny inside with old-timey furnishings and a full English cottage garden out the back.

18. Arid Garden, CBD

Instagram: @hans_healthyfun

If you'd like to pretend you're in Arizona while staying in Melbourne, you need to visit this inner-city desert oasis. Located on the eastern side of the Royal Botanic Gardens, it's loaded with cacti, aloes, agaves, and bromeliads. Nearby you can also checkout the dreamy Fern Gully walk.

19. The Lyon Housemuseum, Kew

Instagram: @duluxaus

In 2009, architect Corbett Lyon and his wife Yueji threw open the doors to the world's first house crossed with a museum. Nestled in the quiet, unassuming streets of Kew, Lyon Housemuseum boasts the largest private collection of contemporary art in Australia. Family living areas co-exist with abstract sculptures and video installations, and the work on display changes regularly.

20. Herring Island, South Yarra

Instagram: @kat_heppell

This man-made island right in the middle of the Yarra is only accessible via a punt ferry on weekends and on certain public holidays over summer. It features a walk-through environmental sculpture park and an old Scout Hall that hosts the annual Herring Island Summer Arts Festival. Fringed by a picturesque swath of cumbungi reeds, it's a secret getaway in full view of the city.

21. Rippon Lea Estate, Elsternwick

Instagram: @elisacolla

Possibly the last of Melbourne's grand suburban estates, this heritage-listed treasure offers a chance to live out your Downton Abbey dreams. Think sweeping gardens, lush fernery, a tranquil lake, and a magnificent orchard. Built at a time when there was considerable wealth in Victoria thanks to the gold boom, it's only 7km out of the CBD. It hosts regular outdoor theatre performances during summer and fabulous indoor Night Life exhibitions in the colder months.

22. Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary, Beaumaris

Instagram: @pointfourfive

With a cluster of rockpools close to shore, Ricketts Point is the perfect place to try snorkelling and diving. A series of platforms, sea caves, and offshore reefs shelter small marine creatures like tiny brittle stars, sandhoppers, and crabs. You might also spot pods of bottlenose dolphins, a couple of fairy penguins, or even a pair of humpback whales. Located just past Beaumaris in Melbourne's southeastern 'burbs, Ricketts Point is an under-the-radar gem.

23. Canterbury Gardens, Canterbury

Instagram: @artmusiclaughlove

A traditional English-style garden with perennial borders and specimen trees, Canterbury Gardens was named after the Governor of Victoria from 1866-1873. It's a great spot for a picnic with an abundance of shade and the Maling Road shopping village nearby to gather supplies.

24. Loch and Key, CBD

Instagram: @melbournebarsandrooftops

Captain Melville is one of Melbourne's oldest pubs, and it keeps one of Melbourne's best inner-city secrets. Behind an innocent-looking bookcase on the second floor, there's a hole-in-the-wall bar boasting a sun-drenched balcony and a hard-to-beat view. There's a "confessional" booth where you can absolve yourself of sins while sipping on a classic cocktail and snacking on signature pork belly sliders, as well as DJs spinning tunes every Sunday.

25. Half Moon Bay, Black Rock

Instagram: @thenickyfox

Aptly named for its half-moon shape, this secluded beach is as pretty as a postcard. It's a great spot for swimming and snorkelling, and has some stunning hikes along the cliffs overlooking the beach. Fun fact: Half Moon Bay was featured in the movie Mad Max as well as every '90s kid's favourite series, Round The Twist.

26. Fairfield Park Boathouse, Fairfield

Instagram: @vonniebaud

Fancy a gentle row in a handmade skiff? The Fairfield Park Boathouse has been around since 1908 and offers a whimsical way to see the sights of the Yarra. Don a straw boater and row downstream where you'll find the old Alphington Swimming Pool. Leave plenty of time to have Devonshire scones with jam and cream when you disembark, or perhaps a full Boatman's Breakfast.

27. Buchan Caves, Buchan

Instagram: @kristy_jones_77

Yes, we realise that the township of Buchan is in Victoria's east Gippsland region, not Melbourne... but this honeycomb of caves full of spectacular limestone is definitely worth the road trip! Take a tour of Fairy Cave, which is scattered with stalactites and stalagmites, or check out Royal Cave, where you can see calcite-rimmed pools that gleam like jewels.