Regularly rated as one of the most ‘livable’ cities in the world, Melbourne is a place that really gets under your skin. Known as the ‘culture capital’ of Australia, this is one modern, funky and happening urban city with so much on offer. Leafy boulevards are complemented by European architecture and contrasted by high quality graffiti art. A variety of cultures including Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese, Lebanese and the largest Greek settlement outside of Greece add to the exciting fabric of this city and provide a gastronomic paradise of delicious cuisine and crafts in this multi-cultural metropolis.
Sports events and festivals fill up the year attracting a wide range of travelers from all over the globe, and there are plenty of parks, esplanades and recreational facilities to tempt the outdoor enthusiasts – so many reasons you should be stopping over in Melbourne!
Any time of year is good to visit Melbourne but Summer and Autumn (December – May) is one of the best times. Seasons are more dictated by events than the weather, so take note of the festival and sporting calendars if you are looking to avoid high prices and early bookings.
Melbourne Airport is about 15 miles (25km) north of the city centre, and transport options are well connected making getting into and out of the city easy and accessible. We can arrange your transfers for you, but if you want to do it independently, Skybus connects the airport to the city centre, as well as buses, taxi cabs and shared shuttle vans which offer a reliable door- to- door service. The MET is an effective and easy public transport system made up of trams, trains and buses. Taxis are available, but can be an expensive option in comparison to efficient public transport. Central Melbourne is easy to explored on foot and with the free city circle tram!
Melbourne has many different quarters with their own benefits. We can always recommend Melbourne accommodation to suit your style and budget, but if you can’t find your price range on offer in any centrally located options, try heading out to the edge of the city. Carlton and Fitzroy are both only a short walk to the city centre; Carlton has an Italian infused feel with plenty of restaurants and bookstores, Fitzroy conjuring a bohemian arty scene with plenty of live-music pubs, craft beer and retro vintage designer boutiques. Southbank sits of the Yarra River bank and borders the Casino and Parks for Art Galleries and markets. East Melbourne offers art-deco tranquillity away from the central city but is still on the edge housing the Melbourne Cricket Ground, discount fashion outlets and multicultural eateries.
Each suburb is so easily accessible by public transport that you can choose an option to suit your budget, and whether you are looking for affordable hostels, self-catering apartment or a luxury hotel – there’s something for everyone!
Melbourne City Circle Tram is a great way to get your bearings and it is free. The circuit takes about half an hour and stops at many of the city’s major attractions, so you can hop on and off as many times as you like. The trams are generally gold and burgundy in colour, although befitting of Melbourne’s artistic reputation many are painted creatively. The trams operate 7 days a week, from 1000 to 1800 and depart every 10 minutes. Once you’ve got your bearings, take a wander through central Melbourne with its maze of narrow lanes and stop for a coffee at one of the many al fresco cafes.
Federation Square is right at the very heart of Melbourne, both geographically and culturally. This huge structure consists of two open squares, St Pauls Court and The Square and houses a whole host of attractions including the Australian Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and the outstanding Australian Centre for the Moving Image. The unusual and ultra-modern design of Fed Square, as it’s known locally, has caused a lot of controversy...people tend to love or hate it but you certainly can’t ignore it! Located right on the City Circle Tram route playing host to all sorts of free activities, there’s always something going on, including festivals, exhibitions and concerts, and early morning tai-chi sessions. To find out what’s happening when, check out Federation Square.
Lose yourself in Victoria Market
A Melbourne institution, the Queen Victoria Market, located on the corner of Elizabeth and Victoria Streets, opened in 1878. Spread over seven hectares, it’s the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere and is home to nearly a thousand traders plying their wares. Home to around 200 different stalls, selling locally made clothing, artwork and jewelry, fresh food and clothing, to souvenirs, plants and even pets, there’s almost every product imaginable for sale. The highlight though is undoubtedly the food: hawker style food stalls serve up delicious delicacies from all over the world. Closed Mondays, Wednesdays and Public Holidays.
Get on your bike
Melbourne is a cyclist’s dream, with dozens of cycle paths criss-crossing the city. One of the most scenic is the Bay Trail, which hugs the coast between the seaside towns of St Kilda and Brighton. It’s free if you walk it (allow a couple of hours) or have use of a bike, and you can also take advantage of the Melbourne Bike Share Scheme which offers heavily subsidised or even free cycle hire, depending on the duration.
St Kilda and Luna Park is Melbourne’s most famous seaside suburb. Wander along the pier and seafront and you’ll be able to enjoy the buzzing atmosphere, boutique shops and al fresco cafe culture. There’s no shortage of options for lunch in St Kilda; one of the best places is ‘Lentil as Anything’, a donation-only restaurant serving up delicious vegan food, where you pay what you feel the meal was worth. The food is so good that everyone ends up overpaying! A great selection of boho and kitschy shops, cafes and great beach makes for a great place to hang out for a few hours or stay and watch the little penguins on pier at sunset. Visit the Luna Theme Park and head out past St Kilda Marina along the shoreline to Brighton and watch windsurfers and yachts zip across the bay.
Museums and Galleries Melbourne has a well-deserved reputation as a cultural hotspot, with a wide range of museums, galleries and theatres; old or modern, large or intimate, there’s something to suit every taste. Visit Federation Square, home to the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia – the world's first major public gallery dedicated to Australian art. For cutting edge video art and new media see changing exhibits at ACMI, or head down St Kilda Road and explore the National Gallery of Victoria's international collection. It’s Australia’s oldest public art gallery and houses a huge and diverse collection of Australian and International art (more than 60,000 pieces at the last count!). It’s open every day except Tuesday, from 10am – 5pm and admission is free.
Great Ocean Road Melbourne - head out of the city, rent a car or campervan and drive west along the coast to witness the majestic limestone stack formations known as the 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road.
Phillip Island – take day tripto Phillip Island (south of Melbourne), visit the Nature Park and watch the ‘Penguin Parade’ – the nightly return to the shore of the island’s tiny penguins!
Puffing Billy Steam Train, Yarra Valley and Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary - get out of the city and take a ride through towering gum trees and tree ferns of the Dandenong Ranges to the premier wine growing region of the Yarra Valley. Whilst you’re here, head to Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary one of Australia’s premier wildlife reserves home to wallabies, wombats, kangaroos, emus, and koalas.
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Melbourne is a common stop on a round the world ticket or multi-stop itinerary, particularly if you’re looking to get to Tasmania. If you’d like to include Melbourne in your ticket, I can build any itinerary to suit your style and budget, including other stops in Australia, campervans, car hire, accommodation and different types of tours. Just contact Annette for more info!