A visit to Australia is incomplete without a stay in its cultural capital Melbourne. Melbourne has something for everyone; from beautiful gardens to great shopping and even wildlife.

Here is my list of the top 7 things to do in Melbourne:

1. Stroll around the Botanical Gardens

The Melbourne Botanical Gardens are located on the border of the CBD, providing grassy relief from the hustle and bustle of town. You will find office workers going for their daily jog around “the Tan” early in the morning or at lunch time, at the same time others prefer to relax and have a picnic within the grounds.Budget hotels melbourne CBD

The gardens have a wide diversity of plants with special sections such as the the Tropical Glasshouse, Australian Forest Walk and the Arid Garden. Don’t miss the popular, Camellia Collection with shrubs that are world-acclaimed for their attractive evergreen and bright flowers. Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden is another famous garden that has plants and paths designed specifically for kids to enjoy.

2. Go shopping at Queen Victoria Market

If you are searching for a deal or even want to pack a holiday, then head straight to the Queen Victoria Market. Except Mondays and Wednesdays this grand old market is open every day, and sells fresh fruit and vegetables, gourmet foods, souvenirs and clothing. If you are looking for some true blue Australian keepsakes then you will find them here as well, from warm sheepskin boots to t-shirts, key rings and lovable kangaroo toys.

The Queen Vic, as locals warmheartedly call it, is also the best place to have lunch. There is a food court that has a wide choice of food including Turkish, Italian, French and even Indian.

3. Take a tour of the MCG

One of the world’s greatest sporting grounds, and the place of origin of Test Cricket, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is a must-visit venue for sports fans. This sporting area is the place where dreams are realized and history is made, which is called “the G” by Melburnians.Budget hotels melbourne CBD

Every day of the year (except major public holidays), you can take a tour around this historical venue. The tour includes visiting some of the special rooms such as the MCG Tapestry Room and the Long Room. Cricket lover can learn more about the game at the MCC Library and Cricket Victoria Bill Lawry Centre. If you are fortunate, you may even get a chance to walk around the changing rooms.

4. Take the historic train journey of Puffing Billy

For Thomas the Tank Engine fans, engineering follower or those that acknowledge a good train journey, look no further than Puffing Billy. This steam train is over 100 years old, and runs through the beautiful Dandenong Ranges from Belgrave to Gembrook. It is appraised to be one of the best-preserved steam railways in the world.Budget hotels melbourne CBD

Puffing Billy is a good day-trip from Melbourne, and every day of the year it is open except Christmas Day. The journey starts at Belgrave, a small town in the mountains and makes it way through the lavish Sherbrooke Forest, small towns and impressive views that go all the way to Port Philip Bay. The final stop is the historical town of Gembrook where you can walk the streets, grab a bite to eat or even buy some memento at Gembrook Market before heading back to Belgrave.

5. Wine Tasting at Yarra Valley

For over half a decade, visitors from all over the world have been attracted by the rolling green hills of the Yarra Valley.Budget hotels melbourne CBD

Picture this: You and your loved ones are sipping on rich, juicy wines of the red, white and sparkling varieties. And good-natured wine-makers welcome you to countryside estate with foodies, the delectable flavors of locally-grown food alone will superbly merge with the savor of wine in your mouth. Oh, and did we mention a constant pouring of hot chocolate and coffee? Enjoy a adorable day at Yarra Valley under the open sky and in the beautiful countryside.

6. Explore the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is one of the most famed beach-side drives in the world. Starting from the sea-coast town of Torquay, your journey will hug the tough coastline as the Southern Ocean breaks against the cliffs below you.

Along the way, the Great Ocean Road passes through several towns, some that are popular for family vacation such as Lorne and Apollo Bay and others with historic importance like Port Fairy and Port Campbell. But the most famous site along the Great Ocean Road would have to be the beautiful rock formations called the 12 Apostles. There are actually various rock arrangement along the Great Ocean Road but none is more photographed than these “men” that stand with pride in the middle of the ocean.

7. Visit Philip Island

Philip Island has always been a family favorite because of the wildlife you can see there. There is a fabulous koala walkway that takes you up in to the treetops where you can view these fluffy bears as they munch on eucalyptus leaves. If you want to be a little more hands-on, there is also an area where you can feed kangaroos and wallabies.Budget hotels melbourne CBD

Take your opera glasses along so you can vista the seal colony that inhabits the aptly named Seal Rocks at The Nobbies. These lively animals spring in the water undisturbed by all the on-lookers watching them from afar.

At dusk, fairy penguins come back home from a busy day in the sea, and you can sit on the beach and watch them as they swan along the sand dunes looking for their tunnel. Watching these beautiful little creatures waddling along the beach really is of great fun.

 Want to visit Australia? SahyogMantra has a variety of holiday packages to Melbourne.