*Note: This walk includes the Botanic Gardens, which have been temporarily closed as of March 2020.
Explore the best of Melbourne's central parks, with a bonus stroll along the Yarra River.
Finding the city a bit intense? Simply walk away.
Starting in the heart of the City at Federation Square, this walk takes you across the historic Princes Bridge and along the Yarra River before touring the highlights of what are arguably Melbourne's best parks. This carefully selected route also avoids crossing of major roads, so it really is a walk in the park. At times you'll forget you're in the city - at least until you come across the next impressive view of the CBD skyline.
Although it feels mostly like one big park on the ground, this walk actually goes through four different parks - Alexandra Gardens, The Kings Domain, the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and Queen Victoria Gardens - as well as touching on the Shrine of Remembrance.
The parks on this walk offer far more to see than what is included in the points of interest below. We can't hope to show everything here - there are statues and memorials all over the place and the Botanic Gardens have a number of plant collections that we haven't highlighted (for more on that, see the Royal Botanic Gardens walk on this website). However, if you follow this route you will see the best the parks have to offer (at least in my view).
With so much to see and explore, this is a great one for kids too (as long as they are up for a walk of 2 hours or more).
- These parks host a lot of events, so access to some areas may be limited at times. At the time of writing, construction on the Swan Street Bridge meant that pedestrians were being diverted off the Yarra Trail, so you may need to adjust your exact route according to circumstances at the time.
- There are extensive facilities including toilets, drinking fountains, seats, shelters and BBQ areas available in a range of locations on this walk.
- Dogs are permitted on a lead. There are no dog off-leash areas in any of the parks on this walk.
After enjoying the views from the historic Princes Bridge, walk down this path to the edge of the Yarra.
Keep an eye out for this large sculpture, created by Deborah Halpern in 1988, on the other side of the River.
If you're into skateboarding , you'll be stopping here for a while. If not, keep strolling along the edge of the River and then under the Swan Street Bridge, before crossing the road to the park.
There is something beautifully serene about this sunken garden, commemorating the first female European settlers of Victoria.
The original quarry that supplied stone for the Botanic Gardens has been beautifully landscaped with pools, waterfalls and narrow paths in a shady oasis. Magic on a hot day.
Enjoy a stroll around the ornamental lake. If you haven't brought a picnic , this is probably the place for a pit stop, looking out over the lake.
Meander up the hill through the beautiful forest of Fern Gully.
Walk through this collection of plants from an American state with a similar variety of ecosystem types to Victoria.
Built in 1876 for water storage, now an amazing juxtaposition of wetland on the inside, desert garden outside. Not sure where the 'volcano' comes in, but it certainly has an other-world quality to it.
Crazy cacti and other desert plants. The Garden's collection is about 60 years old, with 1,100 plants and 100 rare species (not all on display in this garden).
Especially beautiful if it is warm, wander beneath the oak trees - some 150 years old. And if you are visiting the Gardens in the autumn, don't miss the explosion of colour.
A great place for kids to explore and have fun, from toddlers through to pre-teens. The Children's Garden is fully secure but feels like a wild and mysterious adventure for young ones.
The visitor centre is not big, but this is where you can book tours of the Gardens. You'll also find the observatory, gift shop, cafe and nice public toilets here.
There are a range of war memorials in this area, including the Shrine of Remembrance (in the background here). This is the Driver and the Wipers Memorial to Australians lost at Ypres in WW1.
Near the entrance to the Myer Music Bowl is this memorial to King George V, who ruled from 1910-1936 (but the statue was not built until 1952). The King's Domain was named in his honour.
Queen Victoria towers over these Gardens as she once stood astride the British Empire. You can share the great view she enjoys over these surprisingly beautiful Gardens, named in her honour.
A series of ponds feature a variety of statues. Together they create an oasis like atmosphere in the Queen Victoria Gardens, despite being incredibly close to the heart of the City.