Melbourne – a hip, trendy, and vibrant Australian city brimming with culture. Its neighbourhoods have personalities of their own, ranging from bohemian quarters with amazing restaurants and fashion boutiques, to edgy arty areas that are home to more tattoo shops than a city could possibly need. It’s impossible to truly understand Melbourne without actually living there. And it’s equally as difficult to explore it as a visitor.
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I’ve been to Melbourne 4 times. Each time discovering a whole new side of the incredibly complicated and fascinating city, that has topped the charts of the World’s Most Liveable Cities. But despite my frequent visits, I couldn’t possibly try to share the best that this city has to offer without some local help. Luckily, a few of my friends and Melbourne locals were eager to share their tips.
- Buy a Myki card at any 7-Eleven store, download the Journey Planner app, and use public transport to get around the city. The locals may bitch and complain about it, but in reality the public transportation system in Melbourne is pretty good. The Melbourne Tram system is one of the biggest and most developed systems in the world and it really isn’t as complicated as it may seem. Take advantage of the free City Circle Tram that operates within Melbourne’s Central Business District.
- Make use of the Melbourne’s Bike Share. Blue bikes are docked all over the city, available for rent with a simple swipe of a credit card. They are cheap (only $2.50 per day if you remember to dock the bike every 30 mins), easy to use, and will give you a chance to see the day-to-day life from a different perspective.
- Always be prepared for the unexpected Melbourne weather. An umbrella and an extra layer will go a long way in helping you carry on with your day in the city.
- There is always something to do in Melbourne. There are festivals on every weekend: an art festival, a food festival, a music festival, you name it. Check out sites like Concrete Playground or Three Thousand for what’s on and what’s cool in Melbourne and go check it out. You won’t find too many tourists here, so be prepared to mingle with the locals.
- There is literally a market on every corner in Melbourne. You can shop, eat, and people watch all in one place. On Wednesday nights head to the Queen Victoria Market for the best street food fair with hundreds of stalls that celebrate Melbourne’s cultural diversity. On the weekend, check out Rose St Artists’ Market or the South Melbourne Market.
- If you prefer to do your shopping in a proper shop, rather than a market stall, head to Chapel Street in South Yarra. It’s a favourite among the locals, filled with exclusive boutiques, cafes, and well established chain stores. Bargain hunters will also love the DFO, the Direct Factory Outlets Mall where you are bound to find tons of great brands at massive discounts.
- Mingle with the well dressed and attractive at Melbourne’s rooftop bars. High above the CBD and even in the suburbs you’ll find some incredible views that will surely beat the touristy Eureka Tower. Head to places like Naked for Satan in Fitzroy, Madame Brussels in the CBD, or the Rooftop Bar (That’s if you don’t mind climbing 7 flights of stairs to get to the top, of course)
- Visit some of the micro-breweries that are becoming increasingly popular in Melbourne. Check out the Moon Dog Brewery in Richmond or True South in Black Rock. The Local Taphouse in St Kilda East is also great, although it’s technically not a brewery, but one of Melbourne’s finest craft beer houses with over 20 Australian craft beers on tap and hundreds more in the fridge.
- If you are visiting on a warm sunny Sunday, head down to the Republica in St. Kilda or College Lawn Hotel in Prahan for a Sunday session with the local rebellious crowd of 9-5’ers that are holding on to the last hours of the weekend.
- Great food spots are plentiful in Melbourne, but the local’s favourite is brunch. You’ll hear locals say that Melbourne does the best breakfast/brunch in the world. And I definitely agree! You absolutely have to try the local’s specialty, avo on toast. It’s smashed, mashed, and diced avocado mixed with goats cheese, feta cheese, lemon and herbs, served on a delicious piece of rye, sourdough, or multigrain bread with a side of bacon, tomatoes, and other breakfast usuals. You won’t find anything like it! Try it at Kanteen in South Yarra, Grace in Fitzroy or any of these other fantastic brunch establishments.
- No visit to Melbourne is complete without trying Melbourne’s amazing coffee! Dubbed as the coffee capital of Australia, Melbourne will not disappoint…ok, it might, but not if you have your coffee at Market Lane Coffee, St.Ali or Duke’s Coffee Roasters
- If you get a chance to get out of Melbourne and explore its surroundings. The Great Ocean Road is, of course, a visitors favourite, but why not head up to Yarra Valley for wine tasting or to the Phillip Island to see the penguins.
Essential Travel Information
Getting there: Easiest way to get into the city from the airport is by taking the Skybus, a city express that will get you into the city in just 20 minutes for just $18 one way, or $30 return
Where to stay: If you want to easily get around the city, stay in or around the CBD (Central Business District). Suburbs like Fitzroy, Collingwood, St.Kilda, Prahan and South Yarra are particularly popular with backpackers and young travelers. Find accommodation in Melbourne on Hostelworld, Agoda, or Airbnb
* Many thanks to my wonderful Melbourne friends for helping me put together these tips.
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Have you ever been to Melbourne? Or perhaps you call Melbourne – home?
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