The best free botanic gardens and beautiful parks to visit in Melbourne

Two girls walking through blooming Royal Botanic Garden

Tianna Nadalin

Posted October 04, 2022

Melbourne is a nature lover's playground with beautiful botanic parks and gardens aplenty. Here are 14 of the best blooming places to escape the hustle. 

Dubbed the parks and gardens capital of the country, Victoria is home to some of Australia's most impressive, beautiful, and epic open spaces. Melbourne in particular boasts beautiful botanic gardens and sprawling public parks blooming across the city.

With the arrival of spring’s longer days and warmer weather, what better time to get out and explore Melbourne’s best, not to mention most lush, urban (and suburban) oases. 

Here’s our guide to Melbourne’s 14 best botanic parks and gardens that won't cost you a cent to visit.

Use arevo to get there, find a car park, fuel prices, and public transport options. 

14 best botanic gardens in Melbourne

Victoria State Rose Garden, Werribee Park 

You’ll want to stop and smell the roses on a visit to Victoria’s State Rose Garden, especially when there are more than 5,000 of them spanning some five hectares of pristine Werribee Park Mansion grounds. The vibrant flower park was awarded the International Garden of Excellence by the World Federation Of Rose Societies in 2003 – making it first rose garden outside of Europe to receive the award. 

Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

When it comes to public gardens, Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Garden is synonymous. Extending over 38 hectares, and with a dazzling display of more than 8,500 species from around the world curated across a variety of themed garden designs, this much-loved Melbourne attraction is a must-visit at any time of year. 

Williamstown Botanic Gardens

If you're already visiting Williamstown Beach, it's well worth extending your day out to include the nearby botanic gardens.  Williamstown Botanic Gardens opened in 1860, making it one of Melbourne's first public gardens. Be sure to stroll down the palm avenue before relaxing on one of the expansive grassy lawns for a picnic. 


Fitzroy gardens

Sunlight filters through the trees at Fitzroy Gardens. Image: Visit Victoria. 

Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden, Sherbrooke 

From cascading waterfalls and scenic walking tracks to ornamental lakes and flowering gullies, Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden has it all. Originally the garden of the historic Burnham Beeches estate, the verdant public haven, set across 13 hectares of majestic Dandenong Ranges terrain, is a feast for all the senses.

Carlton Gardens, Carlton  

Just north of Melbourne’s CBD you’ll find the city’s only World Heritage Site. The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens were added to the UNESCO list in 2004, making it one of only two sites in Victoria to achieve World Heritage Status (Budj Bim, in the state’s south west, was officially recognised in 2019). Designed by Joseph Reed, and combining elements from the Byzantine, Romanesque, Lombardic and Italian Renaissance styles, it is one of only a few remaining examples of a nineteenth-century Palace of Industry, a relic of the international exhibition movement which blossomed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Fitzroy Gardens, East Melbourne 

It wouldn’t be a list of Melbourne’s best parks and gardens without the popular green hangout Fitzroy Gardens. The heritage-listed 26-hectare park, located on the city’s southeastern fringe, is one of Melbourne’s most historic, not to mention handsome, gardens. For spectacular floral displays (and a few cheeky photo ops), make a beeline for The Conservatory. Housed in a Spanish mission-style building, the horticultural haven has five floral displays each year. From September to November, it’s Schizanthus / Calceolaria season, so head down to get a load of the pretty in pink and purple showing.


Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne

Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne. Image: Visit Victoria.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne 

For a more natural bushland experience, look no further than the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne. The stunning Australian garden is a celebration of native flora, featuring more than 100,000 plants from nearly 2,000 plant species, with more than 450 of those indigenous. 

As well as a stellar seed resume, the contemporary native landscape also boasts more than 10km of walking tracks, six kilometres of cycling tracks, a lookout tower, barbecues and playgrounds. Pack a picnic lunch and pull up a table at one of the many picturesque shelters or stop in at the Boon Wurrung Café for a toasted sandwich, a coffee or a sweet treat overlooking the Red Sand Garden. Gardens close at 5pm with last entry at 4:30pm.

George Pentland Botanic Gardens, Frankston

When it comes to pretty coastal parklands, George Pentland Botanic Gardens is up there with some of the best. This hidden green oasis, in the middle of Frankston, has become a go-to eco escape, set against a backdrop of undulating grassy expanses and native garden beds. The park, which recently reopened to the public after substantial improvement works, also has a kids playground, ornamental lake, walking tracks and plenty of picnic and barbecue facilities.


Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden

Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden in full bloom. Image: Visit Victoria.

Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, Olinda  

Often referred to as Melbourne’s premier cool-climate garden, this mountain beauty – formerly The National Rhododendron Garden – is a technicolour masterpiece. Blanketed with more than 15,000 rhododendrons, 12,000 azaleas, 3,000 camellias and 250,000 daffodils, as well as breathtaking views over the Yarra Valley, the garden’s ever-changing landscape is a year-round delight. 

Altona Coastal Park, Altona

There are coastal wetlands and then there’s Altona Coastal Park. The stunning, 70-hectare reserve, just 11km from the Melbourne CBD, is an important nature conservation area consisting of intertidal salt marsh communities as well as important mangrove habitats and mudflats that sustain resident and migratory shorebirds. The area is part of the Cheetham and Altona Important Bird Area, with at least 149 species recorded here, of which 13 are rare or endangered. 

Melton Botanic Garden, Melton

This community garden and education space is the passion project of the Friends of the Melton Botanic Garden. The sprawling park offers visitors a range of themed gardens, including an Eastern Australian Dryland Garden, a Mediterranean Garden, Sensory garden, Victorian Volcanic Plains garden and even a Bushfoods garden. Walk, scoot or cycle ride around the Botanic Trail, which laps around the lake, check out the eucalyptus arboretum, and kep an eye our for local wildlife. You can even visit the on-site nursery if the garden's diverse flora and fauna has provided inspiration for your own backyard.


Karwarra Australian Native Botanic Garden

Muted hues at Karwarra Australian Native Botanic Garden. Image: City of Yarra Ranges. 

Karwarra Australian Native Botanic Garden, Kalorama 

If you’re searching for the ultimate secret garden, Karwarra is it. Established in 1965, Karwarra Australian Native Botanic Garden is one of Melbourne’s hidden jewels and is one of the few public gardens that features exclusively native plants. With more than 1,400 different species spread across two brilliant hectares, the idyllic oasis offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn how to incorporate native plants to create a low-maintenance garden that is more water efficient, heat tolerant and drought resistant.  There is also an on-site plant nursery, as well as picnic tables and barbecue facilities at nearby Kalorama Memorial Reserve.

Alexandra Gardens, Kew

Get ready to step back in time at Alexandra Gardens. The magnificent, Edwardian-style grounds, just a short walk from the Kew Junction shopping precinct, are a fine example of Federation landscape, featuring expansive lawns fringed by avenues of mature trees and evergreen borders. Bring a book and sit back in the decorative rotunda overlooking a glimmering lily pond and escape the daily hustle and bustle.

Wilson Botanic Park, Berwick

There is something magical about Wilson Botanic Park. The 39-hectare natural wonderland is a nature lover’s paradise, brimming with more than 1000 different plant species - both native and exotic, 80 different species of birds, as well as turtles, frogs, lizards and snakes. Bird watchers will love the Bird Hide, which is perched at the edge of a glittering Basalt Lake, while history buffs will enjoy the guided geo-heritage tour. Hungry? Refuel at the Gather: Food, coffee and Co café before heading for the Hoo Hoo Tower, where you’ll be treated to commanding views over the Berwick district and beyond. 


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