Melbourne, the cultural capital of Australia, is quite a popular destination for tourists heading to the Down Under! For all those travelers looking to see what’s on in Melbourne, Australia’s most “European” city, read on!
One of my favorite places in Australia, Melbourne is a place that you just have to include in your Australia itinerary!
Now that you have decided to go, you might be wondering what to see in Melbourne! A hub for museums, vintage stores, coffee shops, art galleries, etc., there is literally nothing you cannot do in this city! Just like other Aussie cities, Melbourne has a certain intercultural vibe, due to its migrant communities from all around the world, such as Italian, Greeks, Maltese and many others.
In order to share all the love that I have for this city, I have created this ultimate Melbourne travel guide that will take you through the best places to visit in Melbourne and have included some practical information at the end so as to help you organize your Melbourne trip more efficiently.
Let’s get to it – here’s my list of the best things to do in Melbourne City:
- 1. Explore the City Center
- 2. Hop on a train at Flinders Street Station
- 3. Explore Queen Victoria Market
- 4. Try the famous Melbourne coffee
- 5. Become an art expert at National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
- 6. Explore St Kilda and the iconic Luna Park in Melbourne
- 7. Learn more about aboriginal culture in Koorie Heritage Trust
- 8. Celebrate multiculturality at the Immigration Museum
- 9. Admire the street art and sculptures
- 10. Enjoy a drink on the best rooftop bars in Melbourne
- 11. Relax at the Royal Botanical Gardens
- 12. Enjoy the view from Eureka Skydeck
- BONUS 1: Extra Things to do in Melbourne, AU
- BONUS 2: Day trips from Melbourne
- Melbourne tourism – Practical Information about the city
1. Explore the City Center
There are countless Melbourne city attractions to enjoy and see, and the smartest way to go about it is by taking one of the amazing Melbourne walking tours out there! Most walking tours take you through Melbourne City Center, which is made up of the Central Business District (CBD) and the neighborhoods that border it.
There’s no better way to explore a city than by walking its streets. When in Melbourne, get on a walking tour and admire places such as Federation Square, Chinatown, Flinders Street Station or the Parliament House – there are just so many Melbourne attractions to see!
I recommend checking out this 2.5-hour Melbourne city tour, in which a knowledgeable guide will take you through Melbourne’s best sightseeing spots.
NOTE: If you are not the type of person who enjoys walking or if you ever get tired of doing it, why not hop on the free tram that goes through the city center? It stops at all the major landmarks, such as the Queen Victoria market, Federation Square or Flinders Street Station (will mention them all below).
2. Hop on a train at Flinders Street Station
Being the busiest suburban railway street of the Southern Hemisphere, Flinders Street Station is, out of all the places of interest in Melbourne, a must-see!
In my opinion, train stations are one of the most charming parts of a city – and Flinders Street Station is no exception! While you’re there, you can admire the beautiful yellow victorian building, explore its interiors and get lost going up and down the floors. On the third floor, there is an eerie old abandoned ballroom that is, unfortunately, closed for visitors! However, you can always take a leap of faith and kindly ask an employee to let you in for a quick sneak peek, maybe you’ll get lucky!
Finally, make sure you check out Federation Square, which is just across the street. It hosts the best cultural events, exquisite restaurants and cafés and it’s also great for people watching!
FUN FACT: Flinders Street Station opened in 1854, which made it the first railway station in an Australian city!
With so many historic buildings, Melbourne is the perfect playground for those who like ghost stories! Keep an eye out, legend has it that platform 10 is haunted by the ghost of a fisherman!
3. Explore Queen Victoria Market
Melbourne is full of BIG things! For instance, Queen Victoria Market has 7 hectares and it’s the biggest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere!
This market was built in the 19th century and it has since become one of the biggest Melbourne tourist attractions; it homes over 600 small businesses that sell products ranging from produce to handmade goods.
FUN FACT: In the 1960s, the mayor of Melbourne wanted to destroy Queen Victoria Market in order to build a parking lot, but the neighbors reacted and forced him to turn the building into a national trust, so that it could never be destroyed!
You can check it out with this 2-hour foodie tour that will take your through Queen Victoria Market, where you’ll get to taste some of Melbourne’s yummiest produce!
OPENING HOURS: They vary depending on the section you’d like to visit, check them here
4. Try the famous Melbourne coffee
Did you know that Melbourne is worldwide famous for its coffee? Not for growing it, but for making an exceptionally good one!
And drinking it is one of the best activities to do in Melbourne! There are so many cafés in Australia’s cultural capital that the chances of you not coming across one of them are almost non-existent – and what’s best, due to the large competition, most of this city’s coffee is just unbelievably good!
You can check out the cafés that I talk about below in the restaurant section; alternatively, you can try out the best coffees on this 3-hour coffee walk, designed for all coffee lovers!
5. Become an art expert at National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
What to do in Melbourne, Australia when you want to admire some local art? It’s simple, head over to the National Gallery of Victoria!
You are probably going to think I am lying but, once again, another landmark in Melbourne makes it to the Guinness World Record Book! The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is Australia’s largest, oldest and most visited art museum!
This iconic museum displays a permanent collection of international art from all over the world that will only take you a couple of hours to see. It also displays very interesting temporary exhibitions, so make sure you check those out as well!
OPENING HOURS: 10am to 5pm
6. Explore St Kilda and the iconic Luna Park in Melbourne
St Kilda is Melbourne’s cutest neighborhood. With its historic buildings, seaside restaurants and cafés, beaches and exciting nightlife, it is an awesome place to spend a day or even to stay during your Melbourne trip!
Once in St Kilda, why not check out Chapel St? This iconic street is famous for providing a great shopping experience: from international designers to vintage stores, you can find something for every type of buyer out there!
PRO TIP: If you head to St Kilda Pier after sunset, keep an eye out for penguins coming back home after a day spent fishing! They are present all year round!
If you are a fan of amusement parks, you’re in luck! Australians are quite good at it, they love to have fun and this can easily be seen in the number of amusement parks that they have! Luna Park in Melbourne is a historic amusement park built in 1912, which makes it a retro gem that will turn your Instagram feed into an aesthetic dream! Trust me, it is a must see and one of the most fun things to do in Melbourne! Oh, and by the way, it’s also perfect for those who’d like to save a couple of bucks, as it is one of the best cheap things to do in the city, too!
OPENING HOURS: 11am to 8pm
PRICE: Entry fee is AU$5, each ride is AU$11, you can purchase unlimited rides for AU$50
7. Learn more about aboriginal culture in Koorie Heritage Trust
Even though Australia is said to be a “young country”, this couldn’t be further away from the truth! Australia homes the oldest civilisation in the world (40.000 years old!) which has unfortunately been somewhat overshadowed by colonization. This is why learning about their indigenous culture is essential if you are visiting Australia!
The Koorie Heritage Trust is a non-for-profit indigenous organization and it is the best way to learn about Aboriginal culture in and around the region of Victoria!
They have a collection of more than 60.000 items related to the Victoria indigenous culture, such as paintings and artifacts. Through this, they help promote and spread the knowledge of these ancestral Australian communities.
Visiting them, you would not only educate yourself on the oldest culture on the planet, but you would also help support them in spreading the message!
OPENING HOURS: 10am to 5pm
PRICE: Free entry
8. Celebrate multiculturality at the Immigration Museum
I cannot think of a more appropriate museum to visit when you travel to Melbourne! The Immigration Museum is a museum that celebrates the multiculturality of the world that we live in – and what better place to do this than Melbourne?
If you are a little bit of an anthropologist or if you are simply curious about how modern Australia was formed through the arrival of different communities and the indigenous local community, you should visit the Immigration Museum!
PRO TIP: Make sure you engage in the interactive activities of the Museum – spoiler alert: you can become part of the border control police! So fun!
OPENING HOURS: 10am to 5pm
PRICE: Entry fee is AU$15
9. Admire the street art and sculptures
Melbourne is quite famous for its street art culture, so I couldn’t possibly forget about this section!
A must see when heading to Melbourne is Hosier Lane, where you’ll always find street artists working on their pieces. Next to Hosier Lane, you can check out AC/DC lane and Centre place for even more stunning street art pieces!
On another note, you’ll find, as you’re walking around Melbourne, that there are plenty of sculptures scattered all throughout the city. Ranging from surrealist to realist, each one of these sculptures shares its own story with those passing by.
PRO TIP: Check out this walking map: in just 56 minutes, this 3.7km walk guides you to some of the most famous sculptures in Melbourne!
If you’re quite into art, I would suggest you check out this Street Art Tour, in which you’ll get to admire the best Melbourne pieces from the most famous artists!
10. Enjoy a drink on the best rooftop bars in Melbourne
If you are a night owl or if you simply enjoy a little night fun on your trips, Melbourne has a wide array of cool bars that you can head to!
And why settle for a regular bar, when you can go to a rooftop bar? Here are my favorite ones:
- Easey’s – go there if you want to mingle with the young crowd
- Heroes – for some karaoke fun
- Rooftop at QT – for a more sophisticated night out
- Bomba – a rooftop tapas bar, heaven!
- Albion Rooftop Bar – for a fun night out!
Alternatively, you can check out the Southbank Crown Casino. In case you didn’t know this (I know I didn’t) – Australians love gambling! That’s why each city’s casino is always a big landmark and a pretty fun stop, if you gamble in moderation!
OPENING HOURS: 24/7
PRICE: Free entry
11. Relax at the Royal Botanical Gardens
Royal Botanical Gardens holds a place very close to my heart, as it is precisely where my brother and sister in law got married. Needless to say, this overwhelmingly beautiful place greatly contributed to the beauty of the wedding!
Visiting the botanical gardens is one of my top things to do in Melbourne! When the hustle and bustle of the city becomes a little too intense, you can switch off by heading to this stunning and calming place. While you’re there, you can even see the Shrine Of Remembrance, a shrine commemorating World War I!
If you want to visit the city and the Botanical Gardens with an organized tour, I recommend this one – in 4 hours, it takes you through the best places in the city and, of course, to the Botanical Gardens, where you’ll get to punt around the lake!
This is definitely a great plan for those who are not familiar with Australian flora and fauna – and whom I can assure that they are in for some really curious things!
PRO TIP: During the summer, you can attend one of the movie nights organized at the Royal Botanical Gardens! Admission is AU$19 – and you can even bring your own snacks and have a great picnic!
NOTE: Another place to relax at is Fitzroy Gardens. Just a 20 min walk from the Botanical gardens, it’s a lovely place to chill, unwind and go for a stroll. Check out their free guided walking tour that departs from the visitor center every Saturday at 10am!
OPENING HOURS: 7.30 AM to sunset
PRICE: Entry is free
12. Enjoy the view from Eureka Skydeck
If you’d like to see the city from up high and marvel at its breathtakingly beautiful skyline, you can visit the Eureka Skydeck on the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower!
Very close to the Botanical Gardens, the Eureka Tower is a 300m skyscraper that was built in 2006. The view from the skydeck is one of the most stunning panoramic views in Melbourne – you can actually see the Dandenong Ranges National Park!
BONUS 1: Extra Things to do in Melbourne, AU
Melbourne is an ever-growing city with an endless amount of things to do. I doubt that anyone could get bored in such a bustling city!
However, if you have already followed all of my above-mentioned recommendations – or if you simply find yourself with a bit more time on your hands than you have anticipated, check out my list of extra things to do in Melbourne below!
1. Relax at ACMI’s ‘Screen Worlds’
ATTENTION: This museum is closed for renovation until mid 2020
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image or ACMI is, as its name depicts, a museum working towards promoting the image in all its various forms.
It is a great place to visit because it has got quite an interesting permanent exhibition. Moreover, it hosts events and screens many films, which is a great activity to do in order to wind off after a day of walking around!
Make sure you check out “Screen Worlds”, a free and interactive permanent exhibition that defies popular culture through strange footage and different displays!
OPENING HOURS: 10am to 5pm
PRICE: Free entry
2. Check out Melbourne Museum
If you head to Melbourne, you have to make sure you visit the Melbourne Museum! Being the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll get to know life in Victoria from a natural and cultural history perspective!
This is a museum packed with different galleries showcasing the most informative and educational pieces, and during your experience here, the size and design of the building will only be the cherry on top! Finally, whether or not you come with kids, I can assure you that you will be making use of the interactive area! So much fun!
PRO TIP: Once there, make sure you check out the Royal Exhibition Building, which is one of the most famous Melbourne landmarks, as well as Carlon Gardens – they are both part of the UNESCO world heritage!
OPENING HOURS: 10am to 5pm
PRICE: Entry ticket is AU$15
3. Shop ‘til you drop at Bourke Street
One of the most important streets in Melbourne, located right in the middle of the CBD, Bourke Street is a must visit on your Melbourne itinerary!
Head to Bourke Street on a shopping spree and find literally all that you need. From clothing chains to local stores, this is the place where everyone meets up for a day to be spent strolling through the Bourke Street Mall!
PRO TIP: If you don’t like crowds, avoid it during the weekends, as it can get a bit hectic!
CAUTION: Smoking is banned in Bourke Street. Yes, in Australia they ban smoking on some main streets! Be careful, or you may end up taking a very unwanted souvenir back home – one in the shape of a fine!
4. Get creeped out at the Old Melbourne Gaol
Visiting prisons when heading to Australia might sound like a bit of a cliché, but it is definitely a part of Australian history that shouldn’t be missed.
The Old Melbourne Gaol or the Old Melbourne Prison is a prison turned into a museum that will help you discover Australia’s past and history through the bars!
A great way to explore this prison is to buy a skip-the-line ticket online – this way, you won’t have to wait and you can even present the ticket on your phone!
OPENING HOURS: Daily from 9.30am to 5pm
PRICE: AU$28 for a skip-the-line ticket
5. Take a river cruise
If you’d like to admire the city from another perspective, you can get one of the many Yarra river cruises that check out Melbourne’s most popular landmarks!
6. Check out State Library Victoria
State Library Victoria is not just a regular library, it’s a cool library! It hosts many events that range from courses, readings, art displays, etc. And many of them even have free entrance!
If you check out their website, you can have a look at what’s on in the library at the moment, and whether it’s a paid or a free exhibition!
I totally recommend supporting libraries around the world – they’re such an important cultural resource and they need to be acknowledged more!
OPENING HOURS: Monday to Thursday 10am–9pm, Friday to Sunday 10am–6pm
PRICE: Entry is free
7. See the city from above at Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
If you are a keen photographer or if cool views are your thing, head to the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel!
Thanks to Melbourne’s very own “London Eye”, you can get a whole new perspective of the city from the most iconic Melbourne observation wheel!
PRO TIP: Make sure you head there on a clear night – such breathtaking views!
PRICE: The price for one adult is AU$27 for the fixed date ticket
8. Join a cricket match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
You might not know it yet, but cricket is a big thing in Australia! The Melbourne Cricket Ground was built in the 19th century and it has since become one of the most legendary landmarks of the city!
FUN FACT: A cricket game can last up to 5 days, so it is quite usual to enjoy an entire day at the cricket ground – and basically drink the day away!
If you are new in the cricket world, you should check out the Big Bash – a cricket competition between teams from each Australian city. The matches last for 2.5h and it makes for a thrilling and quicker way to get a sneak peek into this interesting sport. There are games all throughout the year and you can get tickets online, starting at AU$26 for adults!
PRO TIP: You can purchase a behind the scenes pass with this Melbourne Ground 75 min tour, where you’ll get to explore places such as the arena or the changing rooms!
If you’re a sports lover, you can check out this 1.5h Sports Lover tour, where you’ll venture into the most famous stadiums and discover the most popular sports down under!
9. Enjoy a Musical in Melbourne
For a taste of Broadway just 16.662 km away from New York, you can attend a Melbourne Musical!
Melbourne hosts the best musicals in the country – and who doesn’t like a music show with a tad of Australian accent? I know I do!
Dress up a bit and check out an Opera performance at the Arts Centre Melbourne! But there is no need to worry if you are not an opera fan! They have a wide array of plays, ballet dances and even music shows for every type of taste out there. To check out the schedule of performances, you can head to their website.
10. Go to a jazz club and see a jazz performance in Melbourne
One of the best things to do in Melbourne at night is going to a jazz club – my boyfriend and I enjoy them all the time! Melbourne is such a good place for this, as it’s got several jazz clubs where very good, yet not necessarily well-known bands play for your ear’s pleasure!
If you want to know about some of the best places to go, you can check out Paris Cat Jazz Club or Bird’s Basement. Both display their performers on their website so you can buy tickets beforehand, usually starting at AU$35, but it also depends on the night, the artist and whether dinner is included or not!
PRO TIP: Make sure that you check out the performing style of each artist online – that way, you’ll know if you will enjoy the performance!
Do not hesitate to experience one of the most unique things to do in Melbourne!
11. Have some fun at the Melbourne Show
NOTE: This show only takes place once a year. You can check out the dates for the next edition on their website, but it is usually September/October.
If you’re in Melbourne at the end of September, you have to explore the Annual Royal Melbourne Show!
Every Australian city has its own Royal Show – for instance, in Brisbane we have the EKKA, and in Melbourne we have Melbourne Royal Show!
What started as an agricultural fair in 1848 has turned into a week-long show full of rides, competitions, food and, of course, animals that holds more than half a million people per year.
It is one of the most Aussie things you’ll get to experience when in Melbourne, so make sure you don’t miss it!
OPENING HOURS: Gates are open from 9.30am to 8.30pm, show ends at 9pm
PRICE: Depends on the time of day, general admission is AU$42, but if you head there after 5pm, it would be AU$21
BONUS 2: Day trips from Melbourne
Due to Australia being the natural wonder that it is, a trip to Melbourne wouldn’t be complete without visiting a couple of the surrounding natural areas! That’s why I have elaborated this list of Melbourne day trips that will give you some ideas in case you run out of things to see in Melbourne and if you find yourself with more time on your hands than you have expected:
1. Great Ocean Road
The most popular day trip from Melbourne and a MUST (with capital letters!) is to see the Great Ocean Road!
Driving along the Victoria coastline, on one side of the road you’ll be able to see the ocean and wonderful views such as the 12 Apostles, a group of limestone little islands off the shore. Whilst on the other side of the road, you can admire the beauty of the Port Campbell National Park and the Great Otway National Park!
I think one of the best ways to discover the famous 12 Apostles would be to rent a car and explore the area on your own! It is a 250km road, so if you’d like to do it all and come back to Melbourne on the same day, it is probably going to take you the whole day! With photo stops included, of course 😉
Alternatively, you can check out a day tour just like this 14-hour Great Ocean Road tour, where you’ll get to see shipwrecks and wild koalas! (Not at the same time, though!) Alternatively, to avoid crowds, why not start this road trip from the other side of the Great Ocean Road, instead of from Melbourne? You can do it on this full day Great Ocean Road Reverse Experience!
2. Dandenong Ranges National Park
Another great day trip idea is visiting Dandenong Ranges National Park – a set of low mountains or ranges about a 30 min ride away from Melbourne city that offers plenty of attractions for visitors to enjoy!
While you’re there, you can check out the cool climate gardens and the Cloudehill Gardens, where you can explore how a man-made stone maze blends in with the natural landscape. Whilst in this national park, you can spot kangaroos, wombats, swamp wallabies, possums, lyrebirds, platypus and deers!
A very popular activity during your Dandenong Ranges day trip is to hop on the Puffing Billy Railway, an old steam train that runs through the forest providing the most scenic views.
Again, you can organize the trip by yourself – just rent a car and explore the area on your own. You will find it is pretty easy, as the navigation is clear and the quality of the roads is fantastic! You will get there in less than an hour from Melbourne.
PRO TIP: Try to leave as early as you can! Even though it is reasonably close, there are lots of things to do there that you can fit in a day! By the way, there is no need for you to pack your lunch as there are plenty of places to eat as well!
Otherwise, you can book this 5-hour Dandenong Ranges Tour from Melbourne, where you’ll get to enjoy some tea, get on the Puffing Billy Steam Train and hand feed some of the most typical Australian birds! If you only want a Puffing Billy Steam ticket, you can go for this one.
3. Phillip Island
If you’d like to see some real wildlife, but you don’t want to see it in captivity at the Melbourne Zoo or at the Melbourne Aquarium, you can head to Phillip Island!
Phillip Island is a true heaven for Australian fauna! While you’re there, you can spot seals, penguins, whales, kangaroos, koalas, etc. Such a dreamy place!
The drive to Phillip Island takes about two hours from Melbourne and it is perfectly feasible on your own! You can rent a car and park it on one of the many parking sites on the island! By the way, even though it is an island, there’s a bridge that connects it to the mainland, so you don’t have to worry about ferries!
You can also reach it through public transport by getting a AU$4 train to Dandenong or a AU$8 VLine Bus to Cowes in Phillip Island (you can get the ticket at Dandenong Station).
Once there, you can enjoy this 2-hour cruise in which you get to see the humongous number of Australian fur seals that populate the coast off of Phillip Island and enjoy the tremendously beautiful coastal views!
Alternatively, you can’t leave Phillip Island without checking out the penguin parade! It is where you get to see the penguins coming back home after having spent the whole day out fishing! You can buy the tickets in advance here.
You’ll get to see the cutest little penguins in the world with a guided tour and through a viewing platform as they emerge from the sea and make their way home through the sand!
4. Yarra Valley
If you are a wine lover, you are in the right place!
Victoria, the region where Melbourne is located, has quite a reputation for its wineries! Specifically the Yarra Valley region surrounding the Yarra river, which provides perfect conditions for the wine grape to grow!
It is also a region that traditionally makes gourmet products, such as manuka honey, jams or local nuts; so prepare your taste buds for a feast!
If you’d like to head there, you can rent a car – it will only take you 1.5h to get there from Melbourne. Once you’re there, you can explore the wineries on your own. Make sure you pay a visit to Chandon Winery or Dominique Portet, as I find these two to be the best wineries in the area!
However, due to road safety and in order to make sure that you can enjoy and taste as many wines as you want, I recommend checking out this amazing 8-hour Yarra Valley Gourmet tour – you get picked up from Melbourne’s city center and you have the opportunity to try the finest wines and top foods of the region, all whilst you learn how they are produced and enjoy the stunning scenery. It doesn’t really get any better than that, does it? Alternatively, why not book this full day wine tasting experience? You’ll get to taste wine from the top wineries and you’ll also have the best gourmet lunch!
DISCLAIMER: Even though the Melbourne Zoo and the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium are quite popular Melbourne attractions, I do not recommend heading there because in Australia you can spot wildlife in many easily accessible places around the city. In this post, I have talked about plenty of places (such as Phillis Island, Dandenong Ranges and even the city of Melbourne!) where you can see many real wild animals that do not need to be held in captivity for our entertainment.
Of course, this is just my opinion, but I thought I would let you know why I am not including these places in this post. 🙂
Melbourne tourism – Practical Information about the city
Travellers usually spend a whole day flying to Australia, so once there, every minute counts! The key to enjoy your holidays and all the things that we want to fit in our sometimes (if not often) tight holiday schedule is to have all the essentials sorted out as soon as possible. That’s why I have elaborated a throughout guide of practical information about the city of Melbourne.
Keep reading for all the tips:
Where to stay in Melbourne
Being the massive city that it is, Melbourne doesn’t lack good accommodation for all budgets! However, all the good spots get booked out rather quickly, mainly during the summer! That’s why booking in advance is essential in order for you to enjoy your holidays to the fullest and stay at the best accommodation provider possible!
Here, I have selected some great hotel recommendations for Melbourne, all sorted by price range:
Luxury (US$160 and up)
Located on the banks of the city river, The Langham Melbourne Hotel is a top pick amongst travelers! One of the most elegant hotels in the city, its rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, perfect for a nice rest after a day of Melbourne sightseeing! Alternatively, check out The QT Melbourne Hotel, a fine and stylish choice – this luxurious hotel features a terrace where you can enjoy the most stunning city views!
Middle-priced (from US$55 to US$160)
The boutique Treasury on Collins Hotel is situated in a historical 19th century building, such an iconic place to stay at when in Melbourne for a middle range price! Alternatively, for more modern vibes, you can head to Novotel Melbourne Central Hotel. This chain is always a great and safe choice when selecting accommodation, and their Melbourne Hotel is no exception! Right in the heart of the city, you can enjoy a great Italian dinner after your tiring day of walking around the city at their amazing onsite restaurant!
Budget (up to US$55)
If you are on a strict budget, you can try your hand at meeting other travelers and kindred spirits at Hub Hostel. Just 2.5km from the CBD and perfectly connected with public transport, this is one of the best Melbourne Hostels out there! Alternatively, you can stay at Bev and Mick’s International Backpackers at Mcmahon’s; it offers shared rooms right in Melbourne’s city center, but book ASAP! They sell out fast!
How to get from the airport to Melbourne city
Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (MEL) is 23 km away from the city center. Considering what Australian distances are like, this is really nothing, but it is still a significant distance – and this means we should have a look at other ways to get from the airport to the city!
I will make this bit as bearable as possible, I promise! Here are your options:
The SkyBus is my favorite option, as it runs buses between the airport and the city every 10 minutes. It costs AU$19.75, and you can purchase your tickets at the desks located at the exit of every Melbourne Airport Terminal. It is the best option when you are traveling by yourself, as it’s completely safe – and they even provide a free city hotel shuttle!
You can buy your tickets beforehand here.
By public bus
Public Transport Victoria provides several public buses from Melbourne suburbs to Tullamarine Airport. You can hop on at the undercover bus interchange located at Terminal 4.
Routes 478, 479 and 482 take you from Melbourne Airport to Airport West and Sunbury, while Route 901 provides a frequent connection between Melbourne Airport and Broadmeadows Station, where you can then get a train to the city center.
To enjoy these services, you would need a Myki card – check out how to get in in the “Transport in Melbourne” section below. And finally, make sure you use the Journey Planner to plan your journey home!
This trip will cost you AU$4.40, which is the fare for a journey of up to 2 hours in Zone 1 and 2 (regardless of the many different ways of public transportation you might use)
Getting an Uber is always a great and convenient option when traveling between the airport and the city center. It is many times worth the price, especially when you travel with friends or family, as it ends up being cheaper than public transport!
Melbourne belongs to that category, so if you choose this option, make sure you download the app beforehand, so everything is ready when you arrive! The ride from the airport would cost around AU$45, depending on where you want to get off!
This is actually my least preferred option when traveling. However, it can really save you when you have forgotten to do your research or when you just don’t need to! A taxi to the city center can be hailed at the exit of the airport and it costs about AU$60.
Transportation inside Melbourne city
To survive in Melbourne, you are going to need to master its transport system. Keep in mind that it is quite a busy town, so make sure you use it smartly and read the following tips thoroughly, as they’ll be the key to your navigating the city successfully!
PRO TIP: For most of the following methods of transportation, you can use the Journey Planner in order to plan your journey around Melbourne!
I have broken down the Melbourne transport in tram, train, public bus, Uber and taxi, so you can understand everything you need to know about all the available options:
One of my favorite things to do in Melbourne is riding the trams, a sometimes deadly experience, but one of the most romantic things to do in Melbourne! Just kidding, although I have had my share of scary tram surprises in Melbourne, you just have to be a bit more aware and conscious of your surroundings in order to avoid an accident!
In order to get on a tram, you need to purchase a Myki card that will just cost AU$6 and which you can buy at the stations or at 7-Eleven stores, the same places where you can top them up (bear in mind that you can pay neither cash nor card to the tram driver directly).
A ride will cost you around AU$4.40 (Zone 1 and 2) or AU$3 (Zone 2). Alternatively, you can purchase a 7-day pass whose price from $30 (Zone 2) to AU$44 (Zone 1 and 2) and which can be used in all types of public transportation.
NOTE: The city center has a Free Tram Zone, so if you exit it, but you still need to stay on the tram, you just need to “touch on” with your Myki card (no need to touch off on trams).
Just like in Brisbane, the best way to get to the outer suburbs in Melbourne is to catch the train. A ride usually costs around AU$4.40, which you will have to pay with your Myki card. You will be using the train V/Line if you head to places such as Phillip Island.
NOTE: Make sure you touch on when you get on the train and you touch off when you get off!
By public bus
Another way of public transportation in Melbourne is the good old public bus. Even though it can get stuck in traffic jams, it is usually a great way to get you home if the train station is a bit far or if the tram just doesn’t pass through your area. You can use your Myki card in order to enjoy Melbourne bus services.
It works exactly as the tram – a ride will cost you around AU$4.40 (Zone 1 and 2) or AU$3 (Zone 2). Alternatively, you can get a 7-day pass that costs from AU$30 (Zone 2) to AU$44 (Zone 1 and 2) and which can be used in all types of public transportation.
By Uber and taxi
Uber is my favorite private mode of transportation in Australia – it is safe, reliable and cheap! You can download the app and book rides that will pick you up in minutes and take you to your destination for a very affordable price! For instance, a 10 min ride would cost you around AU$10.
Alternatively, you can always get a taxi! Taxis are quite safe in Melbourne and you can always hail one on the street. The only con? It is a bit pricier, as compared to Uber! They cost AU$1.8 per km, plus a AU$5 initial charge, which means that, depending on the traffic, a 10 min ride can cost around AU$15.
Must-try food in Melbourne
And what else do we love about multiculturality, apart from its cultural richness? FOOD! Yes, all this makes Melbourne a great city, culinarily speaking!
And no, we are not just talking about kangaroo meat. Australian modern cuisine is a twist between all these cultures that form this new Australia, and even some aboriginal delicacies!
Find below the best Melbournian food that you have to taste while in the city:
- Barramundi – Now that you can find this yummy fish at the Yarra River, why not have a taste of it whilst in Melbourne?
- Meat Pies – classic Australian pies made out of meat
- Chicken Parmigiana – Baked chicken breast with a layer of tomato and parmesan cheese
- Barbecued meat – Having a Barbie is the Aussies’ favorite excuse for a get together!
- Coffee – Melbourne is the coffee capital of the world, so make sure you have as many coffees as your nervous system allows!
- Greek food – having once hosted the second largest Greek community after Athens, Melbourne is bound to have some yummy Greek food.
- Pizza – Probably the best pizza after that from Italy. You have to know where to go, though, so check my recommendations in the restaurant section below!
- Traditional Australian Sweets and Desserts – Anzac Biscuits, Pavlova, Tim Tam’s, Lamington’s, etc. You can find most of these in a supermarket, but I suggest you try them out at a bakery!
The best Melbourne restaurants and cafés
Melbournians like to eat well, that’s a fact. They also like to eat out. This could only mean one thing – that they have the best restaurants in Australia!
I’m no expert, but believe me – the restaurant scene is exciting for a foodie like you and me!
Apart from this and as mentioned above, Melbourne is considered to be the “coffee capital of the world”, so it is highly unlikely to have a bad cup of coffee while there. But it is impossible if you check out my list of best cafés and restaurants in Melbourne:
- Etta – My favorite Melbourne restaurant! I took my boyfriend here to celebrate his birthday – and everything, from the food to the service, was outstanding! The menu has since changed, but I am sure it’ll be delicious anyway. The way it’s designed is to order a little bit of everything and SHARE as much as possible! Also, as it was a special occasion, I politely asked for a nice table during my online reservation, and they gave us the best table at the restaurant, a 10 out of 10!
- Stalactites – One of the oldest and most popular Greek restaurants in Melbourne, Stalactites is a MUST during your visit. Having served traditional Greek food for decades, this uniquely decorated restaurant will be one of your Melbourne highlights!
- 400 Gradi – Taste the award-winning margherita pizza at the famous Italian restaurant 400 Gradi. They have several restaurants all throughout Melbourne, make sure you check your closest one and let me know how you like it!
- Charcoal Lane – I couldn’t forget an Australian restaurant featuring native ingredients and indigenous cuisine such as Charcoal Lane. They employ young aboriginal people in need of an opportunity like this and help them achieve their dreams and potential, while also giving you the best Australian food experience! If you don’t believe me, just check the reviews 😉
- Vue de Monde – Located in the Rialto Building, the Vue du Monde dining experience is otherworldly, from the dècor to the service – and, of course, the delicious food! When was the last time you dressed up for dinner?
- Florentino – Who doesn’t love a fancy Italian restaurant? And what better place (apart from Italy, of course!) than Melbourne to experience the ultimate Lady & the Tramp vibes?
- Lentils as Anything, Abbotsford – If you would like to enjoy a vegan or vegetarian feast in a restaurant where you just pay whatever you like, you should check out Lentils as Anything! A non-for-profit run by volunteers that makes the best international food in Melbourne for next to nothing!
- A1 Bakery – This Lebanese bakery located in the trendy Brunswick neighborhood is also a historical food venue in Melbourne! The quality of the food is amazing, and it’s the perfect place to grab a quick lunch before heading out to keep on exploring!
- Seven Seeds Café – choosing from Melbourne’s best cafés is an almost impossible task, as most of them are unbelievably good. However, a must is the Seven Seeds Café: with an impressively diverse menu, it will satisfy even the pickiest of your friends!
- Market Lane Coffee – In this café, you will be served single-origin coffee, so make sure you pick the right one. If you are unsure, ask the staff – they’re experts on matching a person with the right kind of coffee!
Money and prices in Melbourne
The rumours that you’ve heard about Australia being a very unaffordable country are not totally mistaken; HOWEVER, most of us traveling to the Antipodes come from European countries or the US, which means that our currencies are way stronger than the Australian dollar!
PRO TIP: If you are a smoker or if you just like to enjoy a whisky glass at night James-Bond-style, first of all you’re really cool – but second of all, you should note that those items are highly taxed in Australia! So you might want to bring your own in your luggage. And no, that is not tacky, it’s called smart! 😉
ATTENTION: I recommend checking what you can or can’t take into Australia here. The border police don’t mess around!
Check out below a list of average prices in Melbourne, so you can get a better idea about how expensive the city really is:
- A meal in an inexpensive restaurant for 1 person – AU$17
- Dinner for 2 in a restaurant – AU$80
- A night in a hotel (very approximate) – AU$160
- Taxi – AU$1.8 per km + AU$5 initial charge
- A bottle of water – AU$1
- Domestic beer 0,5L – AU$9
- Metro ticket – AU$4.50
- Average price for a museum – FREE
- 1l of gas (1/4 gallon) – AU$1.46
TIPPING CULTURE: Tipping in Australia is not widespread; however, if you choose to do it, you’ll get a great smile in return. And if you don’t, the service will still be excellent and no one will think of you as a cheapskate!
SIM cards in Australia
While I lived in Australia, I happened to always own a prepaid card; maybe because of my fear of commitment, or because they just have amazing plans – I just never got a contract!
When traveling through Melbourne, having a SIM card can prove to be quite useful, as you can get as many Ubers as you like or search for the best coffee shops around you – you know, first world needs! 😉
PRO TIP: Something that I love to do while I travel and I have data is to check out the history of every landmark that I see – so useful!
Vodafone was the cheapest company to use when I made my research – with a AU$20 plan for 20 GB, it makes for an awesome deal.
If you are going to be traveling to the Australian Outback or to areas that are a bit further away from the cities, you are better off buying Telstra, which is the company with the biggest coverage in Australia and, unfortunately, the most expensive one.
Regarding the purchase of the SIM card, you can buy it from home and get it delivered to your accommodation in Melbourne, or you can purchase it at one of their stores in the city, as well as in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets.
PRO TIP 2: Before leaving your country, make sure your phone is unlocked and that it accepts all types of sim cards. Otherwise, it won’t work!
When to visit Melbourne
Unlike its friend Brisbane, Melbourne does get quite cold in the winter, and that is not just Australians complaining for no reason! It can get down to 6 degrees Celsius (or 43 degrees Fahrenheit) during the winter and it even snows in the Victorian hinterland – who knew?
That’s why, if you are traveling all throughout Australia, you are most likely going to have to bring all types of clothing, as weather differs so much between regions – that’s what happens when one country is as big as a whole continent!
Moreover, Melbourne gets a fair share of tourists! It is quite a busy city and the second biggest in Australia, so if you are not the type of person who likes crowds, I suggest you avoid the city center in the peak times of the day, it gets hectic!
Long story short, taking into account the weather and the affluence of tourists, the best months to travel to Melbourne are from March to May, which is Autumn, and September to November, which is Spring (the seasons are the other way around, as it’s the Southern hemisphere!).
Tourist Visa for Australia
Traveling to Australia can be the easiest or the hardest thing ever – it all unfortunately depends on where you are from (and also on how well you’ve read this article! 😉 ).
All tourists going to Australia need a tourist visa that needs to be prepared with as much time in advance as possible (15 days should be enough, in most cases). However, if you are a bit tight on time, don’t worry – they are super-efficient and generally process these types of visas quite fast. For instance, 90% of the European tourist visas are processed within a day!
- If you’re from a European country – you are eligible for the Evisitor 651 Visa, which allows you to stay for a total of 3 months in a 12 month period. Also, they are free!
- If you’re from the USA – you can apply for a 601 visa, which allows you to stay for up to 3 months of traveling in Australia. They are free as well, but there is an online application service charge of AU$20! It usually takes a day for them to be processed.
For more information about visas, you can check out the official website.
Insurance for Australia
If you are traveling to Australia, you better get some travel insurance! Not because it’s an unsafe country, as that couldn’t be further away from the truth. But just because if even the tiniest thing happens to you, your wallet is going to have to be ready!
The Australian health system will not cover everything, in case of an accident! For instance, my friend broke her toe and she had to pay AU$600 upfront before her insurance could reimburse her back!
World Nomads is a very popular insurance company chosen by all types of travelers when going to Australia. It is super reliable and it can cover literally anything. You only have to check their reviews to see how good they are!
Thank you for reading this article!
Here, I have explained my favorite things to do in Melbourne and talked about the best cultural attractions. I have also mentioned the best day trips around Melbourne and my favorite ways to see the beautiful landscape around it.
If you need a hand choosing the right Melbourne accommodation, you can read my Best Hotels in Melbourne article, in which I choose my favorite hotels and apartments at the best prices!
I hope that I have now turned you into Melbourne’s biggest fan – just like me! Make sure to tell me how much you love it in the comments below and what your favorite part of your trip was!
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