Melbourne has a rich past and a vibrant present. It has grown from a small settlement into a bustling city. Here are three top sights you should check out on your Melbourne adventure.

Parliament of Victoria

You can pop on in to see this sight at any time in the year. The building itself is absolutely stunning, with intricate details throughout, and the history here is vast and fascinating.

If you're around on the days that Parliament sits, take the opportunity to see politicians in action. On these same days, the public galleries of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly are open for your viewing pleasure. In August, the sitting days are 5-7 and 19-21. In September, the days to visit are 2-4 and 16-18.

A great way to see the highlights of this attraction and learn more about the history housed here, is with a public tour, which take place throughout the day.

If you're interested in historical buildings and design, you won't be disappointed with the architecture tour. These go for an hour and a half and include a brief presentation, a tour of Parliament House, and take you through areas of the complex usually closed to the public. Be sure to book ahead for this tour.

The Shrine of Remembrance

You can't visit this attraction without feeling a sense of awe and calm. This is Victoria's memorial to those who were a part of the wars and peacekeeping operations of the past. 

There are various sections that highlight a particular battle or significant moment in history surrounding the main shrine. The Gallipoli Memorial is a garden that focuses on those who gave their lives in the campaign that took place from April 25 – December 20 1915. 

Known as the most ionic building in the city, people from far and wide journey here to learn all about the men and women who fought for peace and for their country, about how these engagements shaped the area, and what happened because of their efforts. Due to the nature of the attraction, be sure to be respectful when you visit.

While the Shrine is currently undergoing redevelopment, it is still open. However, bear in mind some wheelchair access areas have been affected and that the Crypt is closed. 

The Shrine is open from 10am – 5pm every day. Guided tours are available, leaving from 11am and 2pm every day from the Visitor Centre. It's easy to get to when travelling with a hired car. It's on Birdwood Avenue, and surrounded by roads with plenty of parking.

The Old Melbourne Gaol

This is a fascinating look into Melbourne's oldest prison system, with opportunities to learn more about the Magistrate's Court and what was once the Police City Watch House.

It's here that many pivotal moments revolving around crime, law and order took place. Well known Australian gangster Squizzy Taylor stayed within these walls, as did infamous rugged bushranger Ned Kelly.

When you visit, you'll see the original Gaol – including three levels filled with sights and sounds such as the execution area and watch house. Self guided tours are a chance to explore this attraction on your own, learning all about the secrets and scandal held within these walls.

There are many immersive experiences you can take part in. The Watch House Experience is an interactive experience that lasts 40 minutes and shows you what it would have felt like to be arrested and locked up. Take the opportunity to stand in on Ned Kelly's trial at the Old Magistrates Court.

The Gaol made it to the Hall of Fame for the Victorian Tourism Awards in 2010, so be sure to check out this wonderfully eerie attraction.