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The Best Runs In Melbourne For 2023

By Ben Clement

As the popularity of running has grown exponentially, getting your own slice of pavement has become a prized commodity. Across Melbourne, the ritual of putting one foot in front of another has hit new heights with Park Run, Run Clubs and regular punters shaving down their splits on Strava.

To help get a read on the bust runs Melbourne has to offer we enlisted the advice of Ben Clement, one of the city’s foremost experts on the subject as one of the founding members of AM:PM run club and editor of Good Sport Magazine. Ben’s love for the craft goes far beyond just lacing them up, as a photographer he also captures the pleasure and pain of the pursuit and is an endless advocate for the running lifestyle.

Here are the best runs in Melbourne for 2023: 

Yarra Boulevard 

DISTANCE: 10km 
STYLE: Views of the city, rolling hills, and river's edge

Begin your journey at the Gipps Street Bridge and take a left turn up and along the Yarra Boulevard. With 5 kilometres of rolling hills, the fragrance of native bush, and the rush of cyclists passing by, you'll arrive at the Wurundjeri Spur lookout where you can catch your breath and take in the epic view of the city (mind you, the last hill is quite the haul). Descend the short hill and cross the Fairfield pipe bridge to find yourself on the Main Yarra Trail. The trail meanders alongside the Yarra River (Birrarung), past Dights Falls—a significant site for the Wurundjeri people who gathered here to trade and socialize where the Yarra River and Merri Creek intersect. Keep on moving, past the Collingwood Children's Farm, until you complete the full 10km loop, bringing you right back to where you began at Gipps Street.

A person running down a crossbridge on one of the best runs Melbourne.

Yarra Trails

DISTANCE: 5km + 
STYLE: Trail Run

The Yarra trails are a maze of twists, turns, and loops, offering endless variations that make each journey a unique adventure. Even seasoned trail runners find new areas to explore each time they venture out. Start your run at the Fairfield Pipe Bridge, and you'll have the option to choose either side of the river to explore. As you wind your way through the native bush and rocky terrain, the sounds of the local Flying Foxes will guide you along. For the best experience, don't forget to wear appropriate trail shoes and take your time to stop and admire the stunning views of the Yarra River. And, as always, be mindful of others on the trail, whether they be fellow runners, walkers, or mountain bikers. One of the best things about Melbourne is the abundant native bush and immersive nature that's accessible so close to the CBD.

A person running through a trail with bush around, one of the best runs Melbourne.

Greensborough to Clifton Hill

DISTANCE: 21km
STYLE: Long Run

Hop on the Hurtsbridge Line with your trusty MYKI Card and take a ride to Greensborough Station, a journey of about 30 minutes. Once you're there, get your blood pumping and begin your long run on the Plenty River Trail. This trail winds its way through several suburbs, passing by football fields, parklands, horses, and plenty of fellow runners eager to wave and say hello. When you reach the 10km mark, take a well-deserved break for a drink of water and a pit stop at the Heidelberg Football Ground. From there, merge onto the Main Yarra Trail, which will guide you all the way back to Clifton Hill Station, just in time for a hearty breakfast and hot cup of coffee. If you're running during the colder months, remember to bring an extra layer or a pair of gloves, as running along the river can be chilly compared to other areas.

A group of people running through a misty trail on one of the best runs Melbourne.

Beach Road

DISTANCE: 12km
STYLE: Flat/out and back

For a popular 10km out-and-back run, check out this Beach Road route. Begin your journey at the Lagoon Pier in Port Melbourne, and set out along the smooth, well-paved path that leads through St Kilda and on to Elwood. Take a break at the Point Ormond Lookout to catch your breath and capture a snapshot of the city skyline. This is your opportunity to pause before heading back the way you came, but if you're seeking a longer run, keep going. The path remains flat and even the entire way, making it easy to lose yourself in the rhythm of your run. And if you're feeling adventurous, remember that running apparel doubles as swimwear, so it’s never a bad idea to cool off with a bit of a recovery swim at the end of the journey. 

A person with a tattoo and a hat running on one of the best runs in Melbourne.

Capital City Trail

DISTANCE: 27km
STYLE: Long run

The Capital City Trail, a 27km loop, is the kind of run that'll have you feeling like a champion, posting about your achievement, or planning a post-run café visit to refuel. It's essentially a complete loop of Melbourne's inner north/CBD region that you can begin from any point and circle around. But to keep it clear, let's start at Rushall Station. The trail meanders through the Yarra River parklands, past the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and along the Yarra River to the Docklands. The aroma of freshly baked goods from various cafes wafts through the air as you run past them, urging you to wrap up the run quicker so you can indulge sooner. Cross the Yarra River and loop back to the start via the streets of Melbourne's inner suburbs. Seasoned runners seeking a challenging and diverse route that highlights the best of Melbourne should look no further than this course.

A person running under a bridge next to a river on one of the best runs Melbourne has.

Royal Park-Zoo

DISTANCE: 9km 
STYLE: Variety 

You know, we hear folks say they just don't get Royal Park. But let us tell you, this place is a runner's paradise. It's vast, sprawling out like a giant green blanket all the way to the edge of Brunswick and the zoo, Royal Park is so big, even the 58 tram goes through it. Sure, it might not be as popular for social gatherings like Edinburgh Gardens, but that's precisely what makes it so special and peaceful. You can run for miles and miles, weaving in and out of the native bushland, past the softball pitch and hockey stadium. Listen to the songs of colourful birds fill the air. And if you're lucky enough to time your morning run just right, you might catch the sight of the hot air balloons gracefully landing in the middle of the grassland. It's moments like these that remind you just how magical this place truly is. So go ahead, lace up your shoes and head to Royal Park. Trust us, you won't be disappointed.

A person running through a bush trail with the CBD in the background, one of the best runs Melbourne has.

The Tan - Yarra River

DISTANCE: 5km 
STYLE: Classic

Set the main Tan loop as your home base, and branch out to Fawkner Park, the Main Yarra Trail, and Docklands to add some distance and variety to your runs. One of the beauties of The Tan is its ability to connect you to a plethora of routes that meander through Melbourne's lush greenery. If you're looking to switch things up, take on the challenge of running in a different direction, or opt to run several loops of the Tan (counter-clockwise is the way to go if you're avoiding the steep part of Anderson Street Hill). The Tan is always bustling with movement - walkers, joggers, runners - so there's a sense of community that envelops you as you glide through the winding paths.

A person running across the bridge with the CBD in the background. One of the best runs in Melbourne.

Princes Park - Canning Street

DISTANCE: 8km 
STYLE: Classic

Perhaps one of the most beloved running spots in Melbourne, Princes Park is a true staple for runners of all levels. Here, you'll find regulars who have been lacing up their shoes and hitting the gravel loop for years, the odd Olympian hitting their weekly workout, as well as new runners just getting started on their journey. Keep things interesting by using the 3.2km loop as your base and then veering off onto the Park Street bike path (Capital City Trail) before taking a right turn down Canning Street. This quiet, smooth street is a runner's dream, as long as the wind is on your side. Once you reach the end of Canning Street, head towards the cemetery and you'll find yourself back at Princes Park, ready to complete your run.

Two people walking across a tennis club with the sun shining on one of the best runs Melbourne.

Check out more of Melbourne's best: 

The Best Walks In Melbourne
The Best Hikes In Victoria 
The Best Beaches in Victoria 

Image credit: Ben Clement 

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