An Insider’s Guide to Melbourne

Tram riding through North Melbourne on east coast Australia

An Insider’s Guide to Melbourne

Why Melbourne?

You might be asking, why Melbourne? Out of all the places in Australia, why would you pick Melbourne?

Melbourne has something unique to offer.  The kind of vibe you only get in a city like this one.  A combination of features which make up this city are; the edgy street art scattered across the city, the best nightlife scene in Australia, coffee which will turn even the biggest coffee loathers, so many restaurants that you will want to eat out every night and tons more! Melbourne hasn’t been named the worlds most liveable city for six consecutive times for no reason, has it?

Don’t get me wrong, Australia has some wonderful and exciting cities.  Melbourne is totally incomparable though.  When you think Australia, the elements which make up Melbourne probably won’t be what comes to mind.  Certainly when I think Australia, stereo-typically I think; beaches, BBQs, sun, kangaroos and all kinds of creepy crawlies.  

You do get some of the previous in Melbourne, but if you are after beaches, none-stop sun and BBQs, you might be better looking elsewhere.  However, if you’re looking to visit one of the most exciting cities in the world, get yourself to Melbourne!!

Picture from the summer night markets, one of the melbourne markets

Summer Night Markets, Melbourne

What to do in Melbourne

A selection of things to do in Melbourne…

Spend a Day Photographing the Street Art

Grab your camera and head out for the day in search of new and interesting street art.  Melbourne’s CBD has lane ways covered head to toe in street art and graffiti, which definitely make for that instagrammable shot.  Also, if you venture out of the CBD you can really find some masterpieces.  The tram network in Melbourne is spot on, so take full advantage of it.  The most the trams can cost you in one day is $8.20, so all in all it could be a really cheap day.  My favourite suburbs for street art are; Fitzroy, Collingwood, Windsor and Richmond, but most of the inner suburbs will have you stumbling across new and quirky artwork.

Check Out the Cities Markets

Melbourne will leave you spoilt for choice when it comes to markets across the city.  From the permanent markets like South Melbourne Market and Queen Victoria Market.  All the way to the seasonal Summer & Winter Markets at QV Markets and the famous yearly Night Noodle Market.  It’s not just mouth watering food you can discover at Melbourne’s markets, oh no, much more in fact.   You will find; fresh produce, arts and crafts, books, coffee, souvenirs and much more.

Check out this post on Melbourne’s markets.

See the Penguins in St Kilda

St Kilda Pier’s main purpose is to house the boats which are parked there.  However, the pier is also home to hundreds of tiny, cute penguins.  Head down to the pier after sunset and you will be sure to spot a few of the fluffy penguins clambering about the rocks which surround the pier.  There’s volunteers there every night who can provide you all kinds of Melbourne penguin facts.

Sample the Cities Coffee Culture

If one thing springs to mind when it comes to Melbourne, it has to the be the cities coffee culture.  There’s new, quirky and sometimes strange coffees popping up all over the city, as the cities young and vibrant cafes aim to stand out from the crowd.  You won’t be disappointed if it’s a classic you’re after though.  You will literally be spoilt for choice! Some of my favourite cafes for a coffee across the city include; Journeyman (Prahan), Auction Rooms (North Melbourne), Hardware Societie (CBD), Top Paddock (Richmond).

Relax in One of the Cities Park/Gardens

Around the city you will find little pieces of nature which are the perfect escape from the often hectic city life.  You don’t even have to venture far from the CBD to find these peaceful retreats.  Carlton Gardens which is just north of the CBD is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to the magnificent Royal Exhibition Building.  The perfect location to chill out on a Melbourne summers day.  In East Melbourne you will find 64 acres of tranquil greenery, in the form of Fitzroy Gardens.  South of the city is the giant area of Albert Park, where you can wander round for hours on end, with views of the city over the lake (if you’re looking for a peaceful day, make sure you avoid on Grand Prix day, as Albert Park is the home of the Formula 1 track).

View the City from the Shrine of Remembrance

Built as a memorial to the men and women who served in World War I, the Shrine of Remembrance is a beautiful and calm area.  The Shrine is located not too far out of the CBD, in fact around a 10 minute walk, or a couple of minutes on the tram.  The main draw of the shrine, apart from the commemorative aspects, is the breathtaking 360 views from the roof.  The shrine is free to enter.  Head up to the roof and enjoy the views for miles around Melbourne, and especially the views of the city skyline.

Take a Look at the National Gallery of Victoria’s Stained Glass Roof

The National Gallery of Victoria certainly has some excellent exhibitions on throughout the year.  However, even if these exhibitions aren’t your cup of tea, I would definitely recommend getting yourself down to NGV.  The gallery building is free to enter.  Head straight from the main entrance, into the large hall at the rear of the building.  Here you see just exactly why NGV is worth that visit.  The stained glass roof is breathtaking, the sheer size of it for one and the details involved, will leave you in awe. The perfect way to spend a rainy day in Melbourne

Watch a Movie at One of the Outdoor Cinemas

Come summer in Melbourne, open air cinemas pop up all around the city.  Whether it’s on a rooftop in the CBD, one in St Kilda offering free ice cream, the screen in Coburg which is surrounded by food trucks, you will be sure to find an outdoor cinema to suit your tastes and preferences.

By far the most famous outdoor cinema in Melbourne is Moonlight Cinema, located in Botanical Gardens.  Lay down a blanket and set yourself up for the night.  The movies usually shown at Moonlight Cinema are recent Hollywood hits and the odd cheesy classic thrown in there.  At 19 AUD  (13.85 USD) a ticket, the outdoor cinema is more of a treat than a regular occurrence.

Chill Out on St Kilda or Brighton Beach

Melbourne may not be famous for its beaches like other Australian cities.  However, that doesn’t mean to say you can’t head down to relax on the sand by the sea on a sunny day.  There’s a few beaches around the city.  The most famous two beaches are St Kilda, which is around a 20 minute tram journey from the city.  If you feel like heading a bit further out, then get yourself to Brighton Beach.  Famous for it’s multi-coloured painted beach huts.

Union Lane street art in Melbourne CBD. Excellent to spend the day taking photographs

Melbourne Street Art

Picture of the paella at simply spanish being cooked at south melbourne market, one of the melbourne markets

Simply Spanish Award Winning Paella at South Melbourne Market

Picture of carlton gardens and the royal exhibition building. Perfect for a day of relaxing in Melbourne

Carlton Gardens

Picture taken of the melbourne skyline from the shrine of remembrance

Melbourne Skyline from the Shrine of Remembrance

Picture of the stained glass window at the national gallery of victoria in Melbourne

National Gallery of Victoria

Where to Stay in Melbourne

If you’ve never been to Melbourne before, it can be quite tricky when it comes to deciding where to stay.  There’s a vast amount of choice when it comes to hostels and hotels in and around the city.  The main suburb where backpackers usually find themselves staying is St Kilda, around 20 minutes south of the city on the tram.  Melbourne CBD is obviously the most central location and there is also a free tram zone within the CBD.  I would say though, as long as you’re in an inner suburb and near a tram stop, you won’t have too much of an issue getting anywhere around the city.

Recommended hostels: Space Hotel (CBD), YHA Backpackers (CBD), Base Backpackers (St Kilda)

Where to Eat in Melbourne

My main aim in Australia is to save money. I’m a serious food lover and although I’m on a budget I still eat out in Melbourne, probably once a week. It’s hard not to, trust me. Where to start… If a delicious brunch on a Saturday morning is what you’re after, then you’re in the right city. The cafes around Melbourne offer incredible, unique and creative brunch dishes. Sir Charles for instance, serves up a roti, topped with runny scotch eggs and a creamy sriracha hollandaise.  Other brunch favourites include; Auction Rooms, Grain Store & Journeyman.  

Brunch isn’t the meal you can enjoy at Melbourne restaurants though. South Melbourne Market offers a huge choice of culinary delights. Tuck into some Vietnamese on Victoria St, North Richmond or enjoy fresh dumplings in Chinatown, CBD. How about the perfect pizza at Lazerpig in Collingwood. The list could go on and on...

Brunch at sir charles in melbourne

Brunch at Sir Charles

Where to Drink in Melbourne

It is often said that Melbourne’s nightlife cannot be rivalled across the rest of Australia.  There’s certainly no lack of choice when it comes to a good spot for a few beers, that’s for sure.  On a sunny day in Melbourne, embrace the outdoors and city views with a drink at rooftop bars Naked for Satan or Cookie’s Rooftop Bar.  Another excellent spot in the sunshine is Ponyfish Island, literally a bar on an island in the middle of Yarra River.  If you’re looking for a few drinks in one of the coolest bars in the city, then make your way to Section 8, located in one of the cities famous laneways in CBD.  Finally, if it’s your scene, possibly Melbourne most infamous bar, Revolver, is open from Saturday all the way through until Monday at 9am.  Take from that what you will.

Picture from naked for satan rooftop bar of the melbourne skyline

View from Naked For Satan

Image of melbourne at night for pinterest

For more information and destinations in Australia Click Here.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section.

 Have you been to Melbourne before? Where are your favourite places in the city? Or, what are you looking forward to most if you’re planning to go?

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