As Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne has carved a niche as the hipper of the two, with a European style that her northern rival can’t match. The capital of the state of Victoria has elegance and edge in equal measures.
Melbourne’s weather is notorious. The best advice you can give someone is to be prepared for all four seasons in the one day. It’s warm and the sun may be shining but an hour later, it’s all changed. Make sure you bring a few jumpers in the winter season and a rain coat!
A large part of Melbourne’s attraction is the rich culture: museums, theatres, and a thousand coffee shops, restaurants, bars and clubs – namely, things which are too expensive for the average backpacker.
How to get the the City from the airport
- Take the Sky Bus from T1 Arrival which will take you to Southern Cross Station in 20 minutes. You do not have to pre-book this before your trip. Just purchase the tickets at the Sky Bus counter.
- Once you reach Southern Cross Station, check with the Hotel Transfer Service booth if there is a SkyBus mini-bus that can drop you at your hotel/motel.
Bus Schedule: 10min interval
Sky Bus Rates: 18AUD 1 Way, 30AUD Return (The return expires after 1 month)
Catch the free City Circle tram
- Ever since tram conductors were replaced by automated ticketing systems, Melbournians have joked that tram rides are free.They can be, unless you’re caught by roaming ticket inspectors, in which case it’s a very expensive tram ride.
- One tram that is truly free is the maroon City Circle tram (number 35) runs on a loop around Melbourne’s CBD bringing you to some top attractions, including Flinders Street Station, Parliament House, the Harbour Esplanade and the beautiful Princess Theatre. What’s more, it’s absolutely free.
- The trams run every day from 10am to 6pm Sunday to Wednesday and from 10am to 9pm Thursday to Saturday
Head out of the city to Chapel St in South Yarra for a complete ‘Melbourne’ shopping experience. Filled with boutiques and cafes, Chapel St cannot be beat as Melbourne’s top shopping experience. An honourable mention goes to Chadstone – the ‘fashion capital’ – however will require more travel time to reach.
Running from 10 April to 5 October, DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition is the first and largest of its kind, featuring 400 items including never-before-seen concept drawings, interviews, models and interactive experiences.
National Gallery of Victoria
Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Flinders St Station
The gold rush boom of the 19th century resulted in the construction of iconic buildings, such as Flinders Street Station (generations of Melbournians have arranged to “meet you under the clocks”) and the Royal Exhibition Building, built for the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. It is said to the busiest suburban railway station in the southern hemisphere.
Its striking Victorian architecture maintains the city’s link with the past even as it sits cheek by jowl with the contrasting 21st century Federation Square.
Just six kilometres from the CBD, St Kilda is Melbourne’s seaside playground. St. Kilda is part of the City of Port Phillip which includes the suburbs of Port Melbourne and South Melbourne.
St Kilda Beach lines the shores of Port Phillip Bay, a safe sandy beach with a long palm-lined boardwalk where you can enjoy a range of beach activities such as beach volleyball or beach cricket or just a leisurely stroll.
I decided to take a tram out to St Kilda one day to get a look at Luna Park. It’s a bit like Coney Island and it is only open on the weekends.
- Entry to the park is free
- You have the freedom to look around this historic park (it turned 100 years old this year!) and take a few photos with Mr Moon.
Acland Street – Cake Shops
Monarch Cake Shop
103 Acland Street, St Kilda Victoria 3182 Australia
+61 3 9534 2972
97 Acland Street, St Kilda Victoria 3182 Australia
+61 3 9534 3785
Europa Cake Shop
81 Acland Street, St Kilda Victoria 3182 Australia
+61 3 9534 2156
Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the world’s leading botanic gardens and a centre of excellence for horticulture, science and education.
The Royal Botanic Gardens is dedicated to the conservation, display and enjoyment of plants and extends over two locations, Melbourne and Cranbourne, and incorporates the National Herbarium of Victoria and the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology, which is based at The University of Melbourne.
Queen Victoria Market
If you’re a major foodie Queen Victoria Market (or Vic Market) is the place for you. It offers all kinds of fresh and delicious food; and you can also find a wide variety of non-food items such as handmade arts and crafts, clothing, jewellery and footwear.
The best thing is you don’t even have to spend a cent if you want to as it’s a great place to just stroll around. Vic Market (on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Victoria Street) is open every day except Mondays, Wednesdays and certain public holidays. During the summer months (November until February) there is a night market on Wednesday nights. If you like Vic Market you should also check out Prahran Market and South Melbourne Market.
Don’t be put off by the CBD (Central Business District). It may be the heart of all things business in Melbourne but it is also where all the graffiti covered lanes are, as well as many of Melbourne’s best restaurants. The streets are narrow and full of surprises.
Melbourne is known as one of the world’s great street art capitals for its unique expressions of art on approved outdoor locations. Street art includes stencils, paste-ups and murals and does not include graffiti or tagging which is illegal.
The areas with the biggest concentration of street art seems to be in the CBD (particularly Hoisers Lane just off Flinders Street), Fitzroy and Collingwood areas. The backstreets and laneways of Melbourne are full of colourful street art. It changes from laneway to laneway, backstreet to backstreet and you can find it in many different forms, including stencil art, social and political commentary, murals and sticker art. To find out more about the best street art locations in Melbourne
To see some of the city’s best street art locations, head to:
- Hosier and Rutledge Lane, opposite Federation Square
- Caledonian Lane, off Little Bourke Street
- Union Lane, off Bourke Street Mall
- Rear of 280 Queen Street in Finlay Avenue
- 21 Degraves Street
- Cnr Flinders Lane and Cocker Alley
- 122 Palmerston Street, Carlton
- Centre Place, between Collins Street and Flinders Lane
Walk along the promenade and take in the scenic views of Yarra River and the Melbourne city skyline, as well as catch a few street performers. In the Southbank area you’ll also find the Melbourne Exhibition Centre and the Melbourne Arts Centre, as well galleries and museums. Check these out as often they host free events.
Southbank is an important cultural hub that includes the Melbourne Arts Centre, Concert Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, the Malthouse Theatre, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and Victorian College of the Arts. It also includes the Melbourne Exhibition Centre (informally known as Jeff’s Shed after a former premier) and the Polly Woodside Maritime Museum.
Fitzroy, Melbourne (Inner North)
Fitzroy was your quintessential working class suburb with street after street of small brick, workers’ cottages. Now, it’s a temple to the arty, creative, boho, grungey, bookish, politically aware set. Fitzroy is easy walking distance from the city center and has some of the best cafes and pubs in Melbourne, and a long and interesting shopping strip. It’s great for people watching.
Where I stayed
As the trip was last minute I booked Melbourne Connection Travellers Hostel, 205 King Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000, Australia, as I didn’t have enough time to research the different hostels. This hostel was located on Kings St which is really close to the CBD.
I booked a bed in a 4 bed shared female dorm. Price: $23 per night
As you can see below it is quite small and messy but there was a window which made it not smell so bad. I find that sharing a room with others you make friends easier and in general have more fun.