Established in 1846, the Royal Botanic Gardens sprawl across 40 hectares to the south of the Yarra River and are considered one of the finest of their kind in the world. The gardens include more than 10,000 different species, including many rare varieties of both native and exotic species.

The Royal Botanic Gardens is divided into numerous themed sections, including a Herb Garden, Arid Garden, Fern Gully and Rose Garden, as well as numerous different lawned areas. There are impressive collections of New Zealand plant species and those from New Caledonia, as well as a Southern China collection and a California Garden.

The Water Conservation Garden promotes the efficient use of water resources, while the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden has been designed to encourage a love of gardening from an early age. For those interested in Australia’s indigenous culture, don’t miss the Aboriginal Heritage Walk which features plant species that have been utilized for centuries.

During the summer months, the Royal Botanic Gardens host live theatre productions, as well as a moonlight cinema set up under the stars. The city gardens lie adjacent to a larger group of parklands to the southeast of the city center that includes the Kings Domain, Alexandra Gardens and the Queen Victoria Gardens. The Royal Botanic Gardens also has a second location in the outer Melbourne suburb of Cranbourne, which focuses solely on native Australian species.

Running parallel to the perimeter of the Royal Botanic Gardens is the Tan Track, a 3.84-kilometre running track built of tan-coloured stone aggregate. It was once a horse riding track and has been transformed into one of the most popular locations for athletes to train in Melbourne.