If you’re looking for some great things to do in St Kilda, I have you covered! This post highlights everything from the iconic Luna Park and stunning botanical gardens to the beautiful stretch of beach and the famous St Kilda little penguins!
St Kilda is a vibrant Melbourne beach suburb and the perfect place to spend a day away from the city or for a long weekend, chilling with friends and enjoying the St Kilda attractions.
During my 6-week road trip around Australia, we stayed for two nights in St Kilda after arriving in Melbourne following our Adelaide to Melbourne 3-night road trip via the Great Ocean Road. We wanted to be by the ocean rather than in the centre of Melbourne, so St Kilda was a perfect choice.
So after returning our hire car and doing a spot of sightseeing in Melbourne, we hopped on a tram and, in under 30 minutes, arrived in St Kilda.
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Best Things to Do in St Kilda Victoria
Find your inner child at Luna Park.
If Luna Park looks familiar, it’s because its twin is located in Sydney Harbour; however, Luna Park in St Kilda is Australia’s oldest theme park, having opened in 1912.
The iconic open mouth of ‘Mr Moon’ welcomes adults and children into his amusement park to have fun on the carousel, Ferris wheel and try-your-luck stalls.
Luna Park is a must-visit in St Kilda, and you can buy a ticket for unlimited rides or a ticket that will allow entry to look around this iconic Melbourne landmark, with one ride included.
Next to Luna Park is another iconic St Kilda landmark, the art deco Palais Theatre. Constructed in the early 1920s, it has hosted many stars, such as Ed Sheeran, Shirley Bassey and Bob Dylan.
If you want a trip to the theatre while in St Kilda, please check the official Palais Theatre website for details of what’s on during your visit.
Stroll around the Botanical Gardens
I love exploring botanical gardens around the world, so I had to visit this one.
Created in the 1800s, this little oasis in the heart of St Kilda has beautiful planting, from palm trees to colourful flowers.
At its centre is an ornamental lake, home to a figure called The Rain Man. It is solar-powered, and raindrops continuously fall from his umbrella; It is rather lovely to see.
St Kilda’s botanical garden is the perfect place to bring a picnic and relax under the shade of the tree because it can get hot in St Kilda, even on a windy day!
Buy a mouthwatering cake from Ackland Street.
No trip to St Kilda would be complete without a trip to the famous Acland Cake Shop.
It opened 90 years ago and is still popular in St Kilda. Baked pastries include such delights as Crostoli and French Vanilla Slices.
It’s a hard decision what to buy when faced with so many mouth-watering cakes. We ended up buying two meringues and a cream slice, which were delicious.
Grab a bite to eat at Fitzroy Street.
St Kilda’s hub is Fitzroy Street, where you will find shops, restaurants, bars, entertainment hubs and tons of visitors all out for a good time.
During the day, the pavement becomes a space for outdoor dining with tables and chairs to accommodate hungry diners. At night the area comes alive with music and funky bars serving craft beers and cocktails.
If you want nightlife in St Kilda, Fitzroy Street is where you need to head to.
Wander along Melbourne’s most famous beach.
Walking along the beach is one of the best free things to do in St Kilda.
It stretches around 700 metres between the harbour and the marina and has a lovely parkland foreshore called South Beach Reserve. Here you will find many lovely restaurants and cafes.
The iconic Beachcomber Cafe is a local favourite whether you need breakfast, lunch or dinner.
I woke up early on my second morning and walked the length of the beach. I treated myself to an iced coffee in the marina at the end of my walk, which was lovely. From the beach, you get great views of the Melbourne city skyline.
Watch kite surfers take to the air.
St Kilda’s coastal positioning means it gets a lot of westerlies (winds) which plays havoc with your hairdo but is perfect for kite surfers.
If you want to have a go at this popular St Kilda watersport, Kite Republic offer introductory lessons.
Stroll along the iconic St Kilda Pier.
The original pier was built in the 1800s and is an excellent vantage point to watch the comings and goings in Port Philip Bay, especially showtime with the fairy penguins and the amazing kite surfers as they rise out of the water and into the air.
At the end of the pier is a kiosk offering refreshments and light bites. There is also the Little Blue Restaurant for evening dining.
* The pier is currently closed for renovation until 2024.
Spot the adorable little penguins.
St Kilda is an enchanting little haven, home to a thriving colony of over 1400 Little Penguins. This species is only found on the Southern Australian coast and parts of New Zealand.
I had read about these adorable creatures before I arrived, but I didn’t think I would stand a chance of seeing one, and yet I did! A Little Penguin nestled between the breakwater rocks at the end of the pier.
St Kilda’s Little Penguins (or Fairy Penguins) spend 80% of their day in the ocean, but in the evening, at dusk, the colony comes ashore. You can view them from the breakwater promenade.
There is another form of wildlife called rakali (native water rats) living close to the penguins, but I am glad to say I didn’t see any myself.
Visit the Sunday Esplanade Market.
Esplanade Market, an institution since the 1970s, is packed with artisan traders and a must-do activity in St Kilda on a Sunday.
Each stall is run by the artist or craftsperson that has produced the items on display. They are happy to talk more about their crafts and help you choose the perfect gift to take home.
The Sunday craft market is open every Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (Oct to April) and from 10 am to 4 pm (May to Sept) along the esplanade.
Take to the water on the St Kilda Ferry.
Used by the locals as a way to get from A to B, the St Kilda ferry is also a great way for tourists to enjoy a boat ride around Port Philip Bay.
Sunset penguin cruises are also available to take you out to watch the antics of Little Blue Penguins of St Kilda.
During my two days in St Kilda, I found this seaside suburb to have a quirky vibe but, sadly, also many unsavoury characters hanging about cafes and bars, which I didn’t like. That said, it is still a destination in southeast Australia worth visiting. Just be vigilant, especially at night.
St Kilda is a great jump-off point to reach Tasmania by sea, my next port of call.
The overnight Spirit of Tasmania Ferry departs from the Spirit of Tasmania Quay in Geelong, a 50-minute taxi ride from St Kilda.
If you are contemplating whether Tasmania is worth visiting, I recommend it 100%. It ended up being my favourite place to visit in Australia.
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