Parkville is located just north of the Melbourne central business district, with North Melbourne to the west, Carlton to the east and Brunswick to the north. It incorporates the attractive and wide tree-lined boulevards of Royal Parade and Flemington Road.
Parkville contains only small pockets of residential areas. The precinct along the western side of Royal Parade is the oldest part of Parkville and includes terrace homes and apartment blocks. In Parkville's north-western corner, off Oak Street, is Parkville Gardens. This modern housing and social development is situated on a former psychiatric hospital site that later became the athlete's village for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
The majority of Parkville is taken up by huge expanses of parkland, sporting facilities, several hospitals and a number of educational institutions.
Royal Park, which occupies 170 hectares and thus a significant area of Parkville, is home to the Melbourne Zoo, the Royal Park Golf Course, the State Netball Hockey Centre and many sporting ovals. There are also sections of native bushland, wetlands, an Australian native garden and a large circular native grassland which has Melbourne's towering CBD skyline as its backdrop. Royal Park features an extensive network of walking and bicycle tracks as well as a tram line which connects the city centre to the zoo.
Melbourne University, one of Australia's most prestigious educational institutions, is located within Parkville and features a large range of student residential colleges grouped centrally around the University Cricket Ground. The University, which opened in 1854, has grown significantly since then, now spilling over into neighbouring Carlton around the central courtyard of University Square.