Melbourne, a city that has a perfect blend of historical mix of past and the present. Where one side the CBD (Central Business District) is modern, active and bursting with activities, it is the suburbs that have a unique charm and a laid back leisurely feel.
Melbourne is brimming with activities all year round but it is during the short summers when the city truly comes alive. A travel blogger @ Melbournegirl shares her list of 16 reasons to enjoy summers in Melbourne.
Once addicted to Tea, Melbourne became obsessed to Coffee somewhere in the 1950’s. Today Melbourne has best cafe’s and is also referrred to as the ‘Cafe Capital’ of Australia and trust me everyone you see around has a cup of coffee no matter what time of the day it is! Best Cafe’s in Australia
Besides the smoky barbecue, Australia’s also love their seafood especially fish & chips.
It is also a city that is quite temperamental too when it comes to its climate. Melbourne lets you experience four seasons in one day and I mean literally four seasons! It truly amazes to see the weather changes that frequently. But the good part is no matter how cloudy it becomes or how windy the air might be, just hang on as soon there will always a nice and bright sunshine soon!
As you enter the Main CBD located across the Yarra River, it is the St. Paul’s Cathederal that first captures your attention and transports you to the Victorian Gothic architecture with its massive towers.
The organ at St Paul’s Cathedral is stunning and was built in the year 1890. Originally built as a flat-top church, the 3 spires were later added in the year 1926.
The Church overlooks the Historical Flinders Station that stunningly covers two whole city blocks! I love the old clocks at the entrance and a walk along the lane is definitely a must! By the way the Flinders Station at Melbourne is one of the longest railway platforms in the world!
Get an incredible 360 degree view from the 88th floor at Eureka Skydeck or experience an amazing thrill of seeing the iconic MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). Check out the Etihad Stadium that has a roof that closes or step back into history by visiting the Old Melbourne Goal, a museum and a former prison.
Melbourne even has an Immigration Museum!
Like they say there’s more to Melbourne & this is just a glimpse of this vibrant city.
Known for its little lane-ways Melbourne’s CBD (Central Business District) is best explored by foot or by taking the local tram (Learn about MYKI a convenient way to travel around). Walking saves you transportation money and lets you soak in the beautiful heritage buildings, streets-capes and tucked away shopping places and amazing boutique stores.
The Federation Square (FED Square) is situated right opposite the historical Flinders Station and is popularly known as FED Square and is the most culturally active place that also holds the modern ‘Deakin Edge’ and ‘The Atrium’. This is where Melbourne hosts a variety of its Wine, Food and Fashion festivals through the year.
From the colorful parade at Moomba Festival to the display of lights at Vivid Festival to a laughing spree at the Comedy Festival, Melbourne hosts a variety of events and festivals that take this lively city to another level of exciting times. List of Melbourne Events & Festivals
Another fascinating attraction of Melbourne are the colorful and abstract ‘street art’ or graffiti and the best place to check these out would be at Hosier Lane. And yes, with so many artists living in the city, it too keeps changing constantly giving you a new experience every time.
National Gallery of Victoria: opened in the year 1969 and has two magnificent galleries that exhibit a huge collection of European, Asian, Oceanic and American Art. Visit Website
Do visit the Shrine of Remembrance, a War memorial dedicated to those who served in wars and other missions and laid their live.
After a tour of the memorial, take a walk and explore the scenic surroundings and tranquil lakes of the Royal Botanical Gardens that are located right across the memorial and relax in the greenery. Tip: The gardens runs a ‘Moonlight Cinema’ that offers you an open Movie experience on a giant screen (December-March).
NOTE FOR TRAVELERS: Look around for the city’s Ambassadors or Volunteers that are dressed in Red uniforms. These guys would happily assist or guide you to where to head, where to eat, what to see and what to do.
Equipped with all the local travel information on sights & directions keep a lookout for them around Federation Square, Collins Street and near to the China Town area.
There is a Travel & Tourism Information Center located at Federation Square from where you should get City Guides etc.
Foodies Paradise: Being a Multi-Cultural city, Melbourne has a mixed population that has led to a great mix of cuisine including Middle Eastern, Italian. a wide spread of Asian food and a massive variety of Seafood. Melbourne also offers a BYO option at many of its popular restaurants across the city, that gives you a chance to save money by bringing your own alcohol/drinks and order just the food.
Grab brunch at Degraves Street, enjoy a latte at Centre Place Melbourne or Hardware Lane (a fine dining area) or pick up chopsticks at one of the many Chinese spots at Chinatown, Melbourne’s downtown locale. For the best Italian, head to Lygon Street.
Be it a roof top that lets you grown your own veggies or the smallest art gallery that changes every forthright, there’s always more to Melbourne. Other Hidden Gems and things to do in Melbourne
Shopping Destinations in Melbourne
Best shopping lanes include Collins Street, where Melbourne’s largest stores ‘Myers’ and ‘David Jones’ are located and then there are Bourke Street, Flinder Street, Elizabeth Street and Swanston Street. The Chapel Street has a huge number of outlets by young and independent designers while shops located on Toorak Road cater to high end shoppers and offer exclusive shops of designer labels. This is the place to get a glimpse of some famous stars who frequent this place for the latest fashion! Located on Collins Street, also visit the Australia’s Oldest Royal Arcade, a grand Victorian building bult in the year 1869. Do see the 7ft giants Gog and Magog strike the clock and spend some time looking at the intricate architecture and handmade tiles! The place is iconic and sells glassware and couture collections.
Check out the List of Vintage Shops in Melbourne.
And if you love pre-loved items like I do, I would recommend you to visit the many Op Shops or Bargain shops as I’d like to call them to pick up some really interesting items. From clothes, Kitchen Items, Vintage collections, Antique Items, Books and even home decor, you have lots to choose from here.
And the best part, while you shop, you are also contributing towards the related community and adding in for their support. And if you happen to stay in Melbourne, do Volunteer for a while and feel the difference it brings in your life.
And yes while you get busy shopping, do stop by to hear a musician play, a painter paint artistically and watch the street artists perform some amazing and extraordinary stunts.
Fitzroy Street: Fitzroy offers you exciting places to eat and have fun including bars, restuarants & cafes and is considered as the heart & soul of Melbourne food lover’s. Brunswick Street is quite happening during late evenings and the Johnston Street is referred as the Latin ‘American quarter’ of Melbourne. Reach Fitzroy: Take Tram No: 112 to reach the main stop at Brunswick St.
Nightlife: Go bar hopping in Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street and check out ‘Labour in Vain’, ‘Black Cat’, ‘Black Pearl’,’Bar with No Name’ has a cool atmosphere perfect to catch up friends and end the night at ‘Bimbo Deluxe’ one of the most happening place to be. For Beer lovers ‘Cookie’ at Swanston Street offers a huge selection of German & Belgium Beer and a restaurant.
St Kilda is a Beach Suburb and one of the most attractive destination in Melbourne. Here you find people cycling, skating, reading a book or simply sitting by the beach watching the world go by.
Don’t forget to visit the St Kilda Pier at dusk to catch a glimpse of the fairy penguins that return back to their tiny homes in the beach rocks. And yes, incase you miss out, you must take a trip to the Philip Island, which is just an hour drive from Melbourne. Learn more HERE
St. Kilda offers you a small swanky lane known as ‘Acland Street’ which is known for its delicious sweet treats, cakes and pastries and I have tasted most of them and they are finger licking good. The Fitzroy Street has plenty of bars and retails shops and some boutique wear stores. The Grey Street here is a backpackers zone with plenty of hostels that offer budget stay options. Then there is Carlisle Street which has numerous shops, bars and some great cafe’s to hang out in.
St Kilda and nearby suburbs like Elwood has many Victorian terrace houses, Edwardian-era homes and Art Deco apartment buildings that are truly attractive and fascinating to see. Read More on St Kilda
St Kilda has some popular eating places and bars. although a little overpriced, they offer you a genuine beach experience. You can also hire a Boat or a Yatch from the St. Kilda Marina that also boasts of two fantastic restaurants called ‘Riva’ and ‘The Great Provider’.
Best way to enjoy this happening street is by grabbing a cup of coffee with a delicious cake and walk! Kids would also love to ride the roller-coaster at Luna Park, another historic landmark of Melbourne yet a functional amusement park that is located right across the St. Kilda beach! The Sunday Arts & Crafts Market at Esplanade, St. Kilda also worth checking out for some really unique and interesting things.
Nightlife at St. Kilda: Offerings live band during weekends with an outdoor siting, Vineyard is a popular bar located at Acland Street, St. Kilda and is open from 10 AM till 3 AM.
Reaching St. Kilda by Tram: Take the tram Route #16 or #96 for St Kilda.
Travelling Options to See Melbourne
City Trams: The trams are the lifeline of the City of Melbourne and are well connected with most important landmarks, lanes and market areas. More Details at www.ptv.vic.gov.au
Circle Tram: This is a free travel service that offers travelers a great way to see around the Melbourne City and its most important landmarks, gardens and other attractions. Its operates everyday (except Good Friday and Christmas Day) from 10 AM – 6 PM and extends till 9 PM during Thurs-Saturday. Route Map
Melbourne Visitor Shuttle: This is a free service and is quite popular as its offers a hop-on-hop-off service that gives you time to enjoy the sights at your own pace. The entire journey would take around an hour and includes a very informative on-board commentary sharing the history, importance, architecture, culture and everything that sets Melbourne apart. Visit Website
Melbourne Visitor Shuttle operates daily every 30 minutes from 9.30 AM to 4.30 PM (excluding Christmas Day). Please note that on Labour Day and Anzac Day, the service operates every 30 minutes from 1 PM till 4.30 only.
Melbourne Bike Share: Another nice way to explore this vibrant city is to hire a bike and explore various locations across the city.
From a daily subscription of $2.60 per day to a weekly subscription of $8.00 per week, you can book a bike from any one of many 51 terminals that are located across the city and take or leave the bike whenever you wish at these terminals. There are no additional charges as long as your trip lasts less than 30 minutes (Usage fees apply for longer trips). Visit HERE for more Details.
Melbourne for Kids
From Cycling tours to bushwalking and trekking, the kids have a lot to choose in Melbourne and here’s a list of few activities:
1. Melbourne Museum showcases Australian social history and Indigenous cultures including Aboriginal Cultural Center. Apart from a forest gallery, there’s also a stunning collection of animal skeletons including Dinosaurs, flying reptiles etc. Visit Website
2. Melbourne Zoo: It has over 250 species of wildlife that live in beautiful landscaped surroundings. Kids would love to see the animals and enjoy the walks around in the Zoo. Visit Website
3. Philips Island: Besides seeing the Penguin Parade, where you get an up close look at the penguins visiting the Chocolate factory, kids would also love to interact with cuddly Koala’s at the Koala Conservation Centre. Another fascinating place called ‘A Maze’N Things’ is located right opposite where the architecture would make your head literally turn in amazement.
4. Werribee Open Range Zoo: Experience an African Safari adventure with Rhinoceros, Giraffes, Zebras and Antelopes walking around the picturesque savannah. The Pula Reserve Walking Trail, lets you come face-to-face with amazing gorillas, a pride of lions, see monkeys and cheetahs at play and get to feel the sand between your toes at the new Hippo Beach. Visit Website
5. Visit a Farm: Another activity is to visit Children farm at Bundoora and Collingwoods and let the kids interact with farm animals and also feed them. A Farmer’s Market is held at Collingswood Farm on the second Saturday of every month and family Day with pony rides, tractor rides and a reasonably priced barbecue is on the first Sunday of every month.
6. SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium: has been recently renovated and looks amazing. Kids will be amazed to see thousands of aquatic animals under one roof including Penguins, Saltwater Crocododiles, Antartic Sharks and so much more. Visit Website
7. Kryal Castle: offers a chance to your kids to step back in medieval era. This is theme park that has knights,dragons and wizards. Visit Website
8. Go Fruit Picking: During summers to get the kids busy is to visit one of the many berry and fruit farms and enjoy picking your own fresh fruit.
Most popular ones include Buninyong Blueberry Farm, Hillbilly Farms Estate, Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm and Bluehills Berries & Cherries. While most have free entry, some of them do charge a nominal fee ($5-10)that includes 250-500 gms of fruits too. Visit here to chekc out the best farms for fruit picking
9. Apart from these there is a Clip ‘N’ Climb that is a thrilling experience with indoor climbing props with different levels.
10. Science Works: has themed exhibitions and interactive scientific displays including a Planetarium. This place would surely enthrall and entertain kids as they get to experience live demonstrations, informative tours and plenty of hands-on activities. Visit Website
11. Altona Miniature Railway: makes for a great picnic time as you and the kids get to ride on a miniature train and enjoy a day out in the open. Visit Website
Excursions & Must See Around
Besides the many National Parks, that give you a chance to go climbing, trekking, bushwalking and cycling, Melbourne also has plenty of other attractive sights and destinations that can be covered even if you have a few days at hand. Besides these there are plenty of spots that are ideal for a trip in Campervan with a variety of Camping options
The Great Ocean Road: Just 95 kms of the most scenic drives can get you to witness the stunning ’12 Apostles’ on the Great Ocean Road, which in total is around 400 Kms of one other world’s most beautiful drives by the sea. The entire drive is spectacular in every way and not to be missed. Covering a total distance of 400 kms between Torquay to Warrnambool, this drive is best experienced by your own transport (Car Hire starts at $35).
The entire drive to ’12 Apostles’ via the beautiful towns and other sightseeing activities will only take about 8-10 hours and is worth every second.
Get to experience an amazing rugged coastline dotted with hills, pristine beaches and enjoy the scenic beauty of little seaside towns of Lorne, Anglesea and Apollo Bay.
Just before you head onto Otway, stop by a place called ‘Kennett River’. This is where you can spot Koalas in their natural habitat, sitting munching leaves or usually sleeping on the tall eucalyptus trees.
At Lorne: Hike your way up to Erskine Falls, one of the most popular falls in the Otways. The second one down maybe a little steep for few but worth the trip!
If you are in a mood to shop after a day soaking in the sun, head to Mountjoy Parade that has some cool shops and cafes. Teddy’s Lookout is a recent scenic spot that has been added at the top end of George Street and offers a breathtaking coastal view.
Eating at Lorne: Lorne has some amazing places to eat including cafe’s restaurants and bars and the place has a great vibe no matter what the season. Visit ‘Lorne Central’ that offers great views of Loitte Bay and order fresh seasonal food and try their award winning coffee and cocktails. For gourmet pizzas head to ‘Pizza Pizza’ and visit Beach Pavilion for a heart Lunch. For healthy eats, ‘HAH’ offers a good range and then there is ‘The Swing Bridge Cafe’ which is everyone’s favorite.
You must also take a guided walk through the Otway Rainforest (take a quick jungle walk at Maits Rest) before driving by the Port Campbell National Park as you head towards the 12 Apostles. There’s also the beautiful Otway Lighthouse, that dates back to 1848 located near the Otway Rainforest area.
The ’12 Apostles’ despite its name now only has 8 towering Limestone structures that were eroded by the ocean waters 20 million years and offer you a panoramic sight along with a deep blue sea. Do take a walk along the beach at a place called ‘Loch & Gorge’. You also have an opportunity to look at the ’12 Apostles’ with an exciting Helicopter ride ($100). Another spot is of the ‘London Bridge’ aptly named by the way it looks and has a lot of tragic shipwreak tales surrounding it. If you can, then stay to witness the sunset that is truly mesmerizing with a golden glow along with the orange burnt colors and shadows of the apostles.
Cape Woolamai: with the backdrop of the ancient pink granite, the Cape Woolamai offers one of them most stunning views in Victoria. It is also a very popular surf beach attracting surfers across the globe to its pristine waters and large surfs.
Cape Woolamai comes under the Philip Island Zone and is just 1.30-hour drive from Melbourne that offers you to take it the beautiful country road across tiny towns of San Remo and New Heaven. You can combine this trip as you go visit the Penguins at Philip Island.
Yarra Valley & Wineries: Yarra Valley is popular for its Rose, Merlot, Reisling, Chardonnay & Pinot Noir.
To explore Yarra Valley you must book a day tour that includes wine tasting tours to selected vineyards and a sumptuous Lunch. Next time, drive on your own and explore the place one step at a time.
Some of the most famous and recommended Wineries in the Yarra region include Domaine Chandon, Tarra Warra Estate, Yering Station and many others like the Fergusson’s Winery, Rochford Wines and Dominique Portet.
Yarra Valley also has many events and festivals including a Balloon Festival and Horse Racing Competitions.
Watch The Winemakers of Yarra Valley
Dandenong Ranges: This is your escape from the city life and soak in nature’s hidden treasures. Dandenong is a scenic attration that offers you magnificient gardens like Alfred Nicholas Gardens, William Ricketts Sanctuary that has plenty of clay scultures and flower gardens at National Rhododendron Gardens and the Tesselaar Tulip Farm.
For nature lovers the Sherbrooke Falls offers a nice peaceful trekking or bushwalking experience as you travel alongside region’s finest sassafras and mountain ash, some of them being almost 200 years old.
Puffing Billy: Another special day trip from Melbourne would be to take the Puffing Billy, a century old steam engine train that runs from Belgrave to Gemrook.
Enjoy the ride as the train travels along the beautiful dense forests of the Dandenong Ranges.
Step back in history as the train skirts through timber bridges moving along old track routes and travels along the tall Mountain Ash trees of the Sherbrooke Forest and also gives you a chance to enjoy scenic sights at Menzies Creek or have a Lakeside Picnic at Emerald Lake. For train fares and other details CLICK HERE
Healesville Sanctuary: lets you see Australians wildlife in their natural habitat. Located on Badger Creek Road, you can combine a visit here with your trip to Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. Visit Website
Daylesford and Hepburn Springs: During the 19th Century, Daylesford and Hepburn Springs area were prosperous mining towns and there are plenty of historic buildings that still give you a glimpse of the settlers lifestyle then. It is located 115 Kms from Melbourne.
The towns are known for the best Natural Mineral Springs in Australia and has plenty of Spa Resorts and Nature Therapy Centers. It is just a 1.5 hours drive from Melbourne and is also known for its amazing restaurants, cafes and pubs and offers a lively atmosphere. Know More on Daylesford HERE
Marysville: a quaint little town near Melbourne, yet a charming place to spend some quite time. It is located just an hours drive from Melbourne and is truly a nature lovers paradise.
Enroute you will pass by many wineries where you can stop by wine tasting like we did and enjoy the vineyards.
There are also Beer breweries like the White Rabbit, where you could check out the Beer making process and also grab your stock of beer!
At Marysville, you can also go trout fishing, see the beautiful Stevenson Falls or drive up to Lake Mountain Resort (20 kms away) that has a spectacular drive and offers great outdoor activities. Read More on Marysville travel guide HERE
There was also a beautiful garden full of art & sculptures created by Bruno Torfs here at Marysville in the open. But unfortunately a bushfire in 2009 destroyed everything and took many lives. Now the artist is rebuilding his dream yet again. Learn More and check out Pictures of Bruno Torf’s Art & Sculpture Garden
Mornington Peninsula: at a distance of 76 kms, it is just a 1.5 hour drive from Melbourne. It is sea side town that is also referred to as ‘Italy of Australia’ and has charming little towns like Sorrento and Portsea. It is also famous for Peninsula Hot Springs and beautifully laid out maze gardens (Heronswood Diggers Garden). Here you should also try Tree Sufing, yes it may sound a little strange but is really adventurous.
The wild remoteness, rugged coast and historical ambience of Point Nepean National Park is another winner with tourists.
Other fascinating Day trips from Melbourne would include:
Bendigo: (150 Kms) known for its Art Gallery and Photograhy exhibitions, Bendigo can also be reached by Train (Vline.com.au). A place called Castlemaine is a quiet town with some nice cafes and restuarants. More Details
Queenscliff: (104 Kms) has a Victoria Ear seaside resort that is simply stunning. The place also has craft outlets and Art galleries along with plenty of good eating places. It also hosts the Annual Queenscliff Music Festival in the month of November. More Details
Beechworth: (284 Kms) is most famous for its bakery that makes bee-sting cakes. More Details
Markets of Melbourne
Queen Victoria Market: Now this market has to be in your itinerary while you are at Melbourne. It’s a local market (established in year 1878) that carry the usual buying-selling activities but what sets it apart is the energy it has.
The Queen Victoria Market has everything you could buy under one roof, be it clothes, souvenirs, grocery, handicrafts, Kids stuff, Electronics and a whole of lot other things to blow up your budget. And then there are delicious food to hog on.
Rose Street Market: Located in Fitzroy this is the place for the Artist’s and Art lovers. It is small compared to other markets, but has a wonderful range of clothing, accessories and artists work available.
Richmond: is a small but an affluent neighborhood of Melbourne that has plenty of boutique shops, fine dining restaurants and lots more. Do look out for last minute sales and you could get great some really awesome stuff at dirt prices! Check out Victoria Street, Bridge Road and Swan Street. I picked up few items for as less as $5-10 that were originally for $ 50-150.
Prahan Market: Located on Commercial Road, the Prahran Market is the city’s best food market and is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
The Prahan Market even has shops where you could shop for fresh & Exotic flowers, Vintage Wear, Art collectibles and other treasures.
Shopping for Indian Spices & More in Melbourne
Melbourne has a number of shops that have most of the Indian grocery, condiments and spices, so Indian’s need not be afraid. While the most prominent brand is ‘Pattu’ you will also find MDH, Ramdev Patanjali items, Ready to Eat Meals and even Indian Curd!
Daily Shopping & More
For the Budget travelers here are the best places for your daily needs and more:
Kmart: ideal for clothes. Although most are made in China and Bangladesh as with most of the things available in Australia, the quality is good enough and really affordable. Kmart is also recommended for buying Kitchen Ware, Electronic items, kidswear and Cosmetics.
Coles & Woolsworth/Safeway: are your daily produce, meat, condiments, cosmetics, daily needs and of course grocery items including Asian, Italian, Indian etc. The vast range of items and categories are highly recommended for their freshness and quality.
Big W: is located right under the Target store and is a great place to buy products like toys, home decor, electronics, gaming, DVDs etc. at really low prices.
Target Centre: is a one stop place for all your shopping essentials and more. As one of Australia’s most successful department stores, Target aims to make stylish living affordable and available to everyone. They have a good collection of home decor, kids toys & games, trendy clothes, jackets and so much more.
ALDI brings you genuine products that are grown and made in Australia and are made available at exceptionally low prices. I would recommend stocking up on chocolates, frozen veggies & pizzas and locally made condiments and sauces.
Costco: offers great products at discounted prices and is an ideal place for Permanent settlers. It is a membership only wholesale warehouse that entitles you to buy at cheaper rates for the whole year and is great for buying in bulk quantities.
Costco, Melbourne is located at Docklands and at Ringwood, I’ll recommend stocking up on your daily essentials from here!
Bulk Shopping at Costco
Daiso: is a small shop tucked in a basement right in the corner of Swanston Street and is a good option if you are looking to buy some cute decorations for kids room or utility items.
Daiso is a Japanese store that sells items priced for $2.80 that are decent for gifting to all your friends back home without pinching your pocket.
Chadstone: is another shopping destination that offers over 500 stores ranging from food, clothes, grocery to all sorts of other retail category.
Located in the south-eastern suburb of Malvern on the Dandenong Road, Chadstone is the largest and biggest shopping centre in the whole of Australia and even in the Southern Hemisphere.
How to Reach Chadstone: By Train Route: From Flinders Station, take a train to Oakleigh Station and take hop on the reguilar bus service to reach Chadstone.
By Tram via St. Kilda: Take Tram No 16 or 96 to reach St. Kilda and then take Bus No: 623 that drops you straight at Chadstone via Glen Waverly.
There is also a free fashion shuttle that leaves at regular intervals from Federation Square daily.
Other Important Information:
- Most shops and businesses are open between 9 AM-5:30 PM on weekdays and Saturdays. Sunday trading is usually between 10 AM till 4 PM. The other stores like Kmart, Coles, ALDI or Chadstone remain open till about 6 or 8 depending on the shops.Currency: Australian Dollar
- Check out the best backpacker Stay options in Melbourne HERE
- Electricity: 240AC/50Hz
- Area Code: +61 (Aus), 03 (Melbourne)
- Emergency Codes: Ambulance/Fire/Police 000
- Time Zone: Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT+10)
- Taxi Services:
Yellow Cabs: 13 22 27
Arrow Taxi Services: 13 22 11
City & Suburban Taxis: 13 11 19
Image Copyright: Please Note: While most of the images are mine, there are others that have been procured from Flickr & Google Free Sharing Files.