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With so much to see along the river, you’ll be gazing over at the notable attractions such as the Westgate Bridge, Crown Casino, the Exhibition Centre and Polly Woodside. Many cruises start from the Southbank Promenade near the arts precinct.
We picked out the best 12 river cruises, dinner cruises, boat trips and water adventures in Melbourne for you to enjoy. All within close proximity to Melbourne’s CBD, along the Yarra River or through the Docklands, Melbourne is just itching to show off its good side!
In addition to these top 12, check out Melbourne’s latest kid on the block, self-drive Go Boat Melbourne who are setting the trend with their eco-friendly luxury Scandinavian boats. Not only are they run with electric engines to prevent both noise and pollution, they are also made from sustainable sources where possible.
Check out their video to give you a little taster – creating some amazing, affordable memories on the Yarra:
The best bit is you don’t need boating experience or a boat licence to enjoy Go Boats, and with 1, 2 or 3 hour cruises available, there is an experience waiting for everyone!
With a picnic table available, BYO food and drink on board with up to 8 friends and family for a unique cruise through Melbourne’s charm.
Melbourne River Cruises is the largest river cruise operator along the Yarra River with a good range of vessels and cruises to choose from.
There are a number of sightseeing cruises with different departure points and all reasonably priced too. Jump onboard a 1 or 2-hour city cruise, choosing from the Ports & Docklands, or the River Gardens – or why not choose both in the 2-hour option. For an even extra special treat, take the Summer Twilight cruise for an experience to remember.
Another option is to take the 2-hour round trip from Melbourne to Williamstown Ferry to this historical maritime suburb and the Port Philip Bay. Or perhaps cruise in style and dine onboard in a unique dining experience (just try not to miss your mouth as you gaze in amazement, especially at night!).
Melbourne Boat Hire isn’t just about boat hire, they also a huge range of river cruises. With their unique fleet, there is something that will appeal to everyone.
The list of cruise options (with a captain) is endless but here are just a few:
- Yarra River Cruises
- Major Melbourne Event Cruises including Australia Day, Aussie Grand Prix, Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween, Food and Wine Festival, Comedy Festival, Melbourne Cup and New Year’s Eve
- Special occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Birthdays, Engagement parties, Chinese New Year and even a Divorce Boat Party!!
- Speciality cruises such as photography cruises, proposal cruises, dinner cruises, romantic cruises, Christmas parties, hens parties, wedding transfers and water taxi transfers
And if all of that wasn’t enough, book a self-drive boat hire where no boat licence is needed! Plan your own itinerary with a map in hand and enjoy the iconic Yarra River at your own pace. Food and beverage packages are also available.
Choose a beautiful Melbourne River Cruise with Yarra River Cruises for a magical experience. This new kid on the block offers some popular cruises options from a 1-hour sightseeing tour to cruises upstream and downstream to experience the true charm of Melbourne.
Yarra River Cruises also offer events, party cruises and private functions for any occasion.
If there is one seriously good party boat in Melbourne, it’s this one!
Step onboard the Melbourne Showboat for an experience you’ll never forget. The famous Lady Cutler Showboat offers a number of different live music and art shows whilst dining in style on the water.
Ongoing events include the Melbourne Blues Cruise, Reggae Cruise, Burlesque Showboat, Swinging 60’s, Love 80’s, The Blue Brothers Boat Party and any occasion to get dressed up! Check out these awesome photos from previous events to give you an idea of what to expect!
If dancing the night away isn’t really your thing, you’ll find sightseeing cruises, brunch and lunch cruises also available.
Check out this 360-degree view onboard this amazing vessel:
If paddles are more your thing than motors, check out Kayak Melbourne for some incredible guided kayak tours. Join the spectacular Moonlight Kayak Tour with the memorising pyrotechnic fireball display at Crown Casino at dusk or hop on for a City Sights Kayak Tour to see Melbourne from a unique water-level perspective.
If you want more relaxation and even a bit of romance, Punting on the Lake is the one for you. Enjoy the picturesque Ornamental Lake in Melbourne’s stunning Royal Botanic Gardens as you sit back and relax as your guide cruises you along the water on one of their elegant wooden boats.
There is a range of tours available during summer and winter including private guided boat tours, evening cruises, sunset cruises, Wedding punt cruises or for something even more special, combine with a unique Balloon Flight over the beautiful city of Melbourne.
Situated on the banks of the Yarra River, Studley Park Boathouse offers rowboats, canoes and kayaks for hire throughout the year. Located just 20 minutes south-east from the CBD, it’s the perfect escape from the hustle of the city. Relax with friends and family as you glide along the Yarra River in this beautiful part of Melbourne.
Boat hire is from 9am until 5pm with all equipment and safety gear provided.
If you’ve worked up an appetite after your hire, enjoy fine dining or grab a bite to eat at the cafe at Melbourne’s Best Riverside Dining venue, Studley Park Boathouse.
Find out more about the Boathouse and their boat hire on their website.
This little donuts, or big donuts really, are popping up everywhere over Australia and Melbourne is no exception! Get together with up to 10 friends and family for some serious fun in the sun as you ‘grill and chill’ in Melbourne’s Docklands.
Featuring a gas BBQ station, let this be the centre of attention as you all gather around for your own dégustation on the water, exploring the views of the Docklands and its many waterfront delights.
Sessions are available throughout the day with later sessions available on weekend nights to really get the party going! Hire for 2 hours with the BBQ, cutlery, plates and cups all provided with LED lights and a shade umbrella. Just bring your own food, drinks, music and a camera to capture all those smiles.
There is a specific area the Aqua Donuts operate in so no need to worry about getting lost. And with an electric motor travelling at no more than 9KPH, there is also no need for a boat licence! Bonus!
Another way to enjoy the waterfront views of Melbourne’s Docklands is with Boat 4 Hire. With a number of different boats available, there is a boat trip experience waiting for everyone.
Enjoy hiring without the need for a boat licence and enjoy the cruise in the protected waters of the harbour and river. Find places to cast a line (fish finder, boat and rods available) or even go night fishing if your someone who thinks this is the best time to catch your personal best!
Larger boats are available for those with boat licences and these boats with engine capacities over 10hp are great for all the family. All boats can be already in the water and ready to go, so no need to worry about trailers, boat ramps, etc. Although you can hire on a trailer if you want!
No experience needed as full training is provided for operating the boats and all safety gear is provided. Comprehensive information is provided on the do’s and don’ts, the best places to go and how to make the most out of the experience.
One of the best things is that hire is available hourly, for half a day and also a full day so there are affordable options for everyone. Find out more about their boats, what to do and how to book online.
Whilst the Yarra River looks peaceful and tranquil in the heart of the city, it’s got its adventurous side just 45 minutes west of Melbourne CBD.
No experience is needed to learn to kayak down whitewater rapids with beautiful native bushlands, gorges and valleys. With an expert guide to lead you down the river, this 3-hour supercharged adventure comes with all equipment provided. The use of inflatable kayaks means a lot more stability and great for beginners.
For an even more adrenaline-filled experience, head over in the winter when the rapids are bigger and faster!
Prepared to get wet!
Don’t miss this unique opportunity that doesn’t come around very often.
Enjoy a 2-hour cruise along the Yarra’s edge onboard a luxury yacht. Take in the city skyline and views of the historical Williamstown, through the Port Phillip Bay and back into the heart of Melbourne at the city marina.
Take the opportunity to dine along the riverbank before settling in for the night, where your skipper leaves you safely anchored for the ultimate privacy. This luxury yacht stretches up to 32ft with everything you possibly want onboard – LCD TV, DVD player, hot and cold water with the all-important comfy bed.
This experience for 2 has relaxation written all over it and with continental breakfast provided onboard the following morning, you’re likely to find yourself never wanting to leave!
Whilst this experience may not be in the open water, it is one you won’t forget in a hurry!
Take the Shark Dive Extreme experience at SEA LIFE Melbourne and jump in the tank with their Grey Nurse, Black Reef and Whitetip Reef Sharks! There’s nothing better that curses a fear of this fearsome marine life.
No cage – just you and your new best friends getting up close and personal!
All equipment and scuba diving training is given (no need for previous experience or qualifications). This lasts about 90 minutes to get you trained and suited up, ready for a 30-minute dive to say hello to the fishes!
What is your favourite Melbourne River Cruise or water adventure? We’d love to read your comments below and let us know if we’ve missed any of the best things to do!
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Water loving British girl who moved to Australia and seriously caught the travel bug! Loves to explore and share destinations that inspire others to spend more time on the water and in the great outdoors. Typically, you’ll find her on a boat or next to the ocean, often in a daydream!