Melbourne, Australia’s cultural and sporting capital, is a cosmopolitan, diverse city with lots to see and do. This was my first stop in Australia and I wasn’t disappointed. With a mixture of colonial and modern architecture, and with over 200 laneways in the heart of the city, Melbourne has a unique vibe. Best explored on foot, it is a relatively compact city but has an extensive network of trams if you want to travel slightly further afield.
Here are my top recommendations for what to see, do and eat in Melbourne!
Walking tour – this would be best on your first day as it’s a great way to orientate yourself around the city’s central business district (CBD). I used Walks 101 and would highly recommend this company. They operate on a ‘pay what you feel model’, where you can donate whatever you think is appropriate. The tour lasts for about 2-3 hours and starts with a brief overview of Melbourne’s history. It takes you through some of Melbourne’s best laneways (e.g. Degraves Street and Centre Place, good for food/coffee) and arcades (e.g. Block Arcade and Royal Arcade) as well as highlighting other places of interest (e.g. China Town and Parliament House). Another great way to orientate yourself is by taking the no.35 tram which loops around the CBD and it’s free!Street Art – Melbourne has an active street art scene. Hosier Lane, Rutledge Lane, Duckboard Place, AC/DC Lane and Union Lane are very popular and well worth a visit. You should also visit the Fitzroy area (akin to London’s Shoreditch) which also has street art and, generally, a very cool vibe with lots of vintage shops and places to eat. Check out Lune for coffee and pastries – it’s the best! Eureka Sky Deck ($23 AUD) – Melbourne’s tallest building offers some amazing views of the city. I’d recommend coming here just before sunset.Royal Botanical Gardens (free) – a great example of Victorian era landscaping, these gardens are beautiful and a real highlight of Melbourne.Shrine of Memorial – this is a striking memorial to Australians killed in WW1 and also hosts a small museum covering Australia’s history of war. Although I didn’t realise at the time, there is also an upper balcony where you can see panoramic views of Melbourne.Australian Centre of the Moving Image (ACMI) – this free museum pays homage to Australia’s cinema and TV and there are lots of interactive displays that will keep you busy for a couple of hours.National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) International (free) – the museum houses an expansive and impressive collection of art (and fashion). If you have time for just one museum, I’d pick this one!St Kilda – St Kilda is an eclectic, bohemian neighbourhood which started off as a 19th century seaside resort. Walk along the promenade and up the pier where you can get a great view of the Melbourne skyline. If you’re lucky, you might also see some little penguins that come to the shore at dusk!Another place of interest is Luna Park, an amusement park opened in 1912 with it’s famous, and slightly creepy, ‘Mr Moon’ entrance. Here, you can go on the world’s oldest and continually operating rollercoaster!Brighton beach – known for its colourful bathing boxes, this beach is not too far from Melbourne and is a nice place to spend a few hours, enjoying the sand and sea.Fitzroy Gardens and Cook’s cottage – this park is a nice place to spend an afternoon, wandering down the many avenues, lined with English elms. You can also visit Cook’s cottage, which belonged to the parents of the navigator Captain Cook. It was shipped, brick by brick, from Yorkshire and reconstructed here in 1934.Ian Potter Centre – part of the NGV, this gallery has both permanent (free) and temporary exhibitions with a mix of everything (paintings, sculpture, photography etc), including Aboriginal art.Federation Square – in the heart of Melbourne, ‘Fed Square’ is a place where Melburnians hang out. With it’s patterned forecourt, paved with 460,000 hand-laid cobblestones and its buildings covered with a modern and eclectic pattern, it’s definitely one for those who love modern architecture. You’ll most likely end up here a few times while in Melbourne as it’s close to Flinders Street Station, and hosts a number of museums (including the Ian Potter Centre and ACMI).Queen Victoria Market – this is the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere, mainly focused on food but also good for souvenirs.
State Library of Victoria – famous for it’s octagonal La Trobe Reading Room, this ornate library is well worth a visit – be sure to also check out the Dome Galleries.Southbank – walk alongside Melbourne’s riverside promenade, close to many of the city’s top art institutions, lined with restaurants and bars.Great Ocean Road day trip – one of my highlights from all my time in Australia, I can’t recommend enough spending some time exploring the Great Ocean Road, which clings to the side of the ocean and it’s numerous beaches (hence the name!). I took an organised day trip as I was short on time but, if you can drive, I’d hire a car and spend a couple of days exploring the small towns and beaches along the way.I ran out of time but there is lots more to see in Melbourne including the Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum, Old Melbourne Gaol and the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Let me know if you’ve been to these in the comments below!
Melbourne has excellent public transport, including trains, trams and buses. The entire city centre is a free tram zone. If however you want to go outside of the free zone, you’ll need to get a Myki card (like an oyster card). It is a pay-as-you-go card but you can also get a weekly pass if you’re staying longer.
What to eat
Melbourne is foodie heaven with so many amazing places to eat. Cumulus is great for brunch and Stalactites, Supernormal and Chin Chin for lunch or dinner!Hopetoun Tea Room for tea and cake and Lune for beyond amazing croissants and pastries. Lastly, check out Pippadio and Messina for gelato – there is fierce competition between both these gelaterias but I think Pippadio had a slight edge!And that’s all from me guys! Let me know if you think I’ve missed anything in the comments below. See you in my next post! X