MELBOURNE: WORLD-CLASS FOOD AND STREET ART!
When you travel from Europe, like we did, you won’t see Europe-style Melbourne’s uniqueness at first. But the vivid city in the very south of Australia offers plenty of secret gems.
There is no end to explore the capital of Australians state of Victoria, but you can easily get a good overview and do the common sights in a couple of days. Melbs, how the locals call their city, is relatively small for a metropolis.
Melbournes city center is the CBD (central business district), which would be the ideal location for your accommodation. Alternatively, the district of Southbank is also very central, as it is basically an extension of the CBD.
Tip: Try to stay in an Airbnb in one of the new apartment buildings in Southbank – you will get a breathtaking view on the city’s concrete jungle from your living room!
Here are my recommendations for anyone who visits Melbourne for the very fist time:
The Free City Circle Tram
Public transport in Melbourne happens mainly via the tram system. The great thing is: all trams that run in the city centre are free for everyone! (No worries, you will be informed onboard the tram about two stops before your tram heads outside the free zone.) The free tram zone basically represents the rectangle of the city centre.
There is even a free hop on hop of tram with audio commentaries for us tourists that circles the city centre: tram #35. This tram consists of a historical tramcar and operates all day long, from approx. 9am to 6pm (check their timetable online on the Melbourne public transport’s website ptv.vic.gov). The tourist tram runs clockwise and anticlockwise and runs about every 30 minutes. The total loop lasts approximately one hour. You can catch this tram e.g. form Spencer St/Flinders St or Bourke St/Spring St.
If you want to go further than the city centre, you need to buy yourself a “myki” card that you top up with money. Use it for the tram, bus, or train rides within Melbourne. Myki cards are available at the train stations or e.g. at 7eleven.
Sights and places you can cover with the free tram (directly at or in walkable distance from tramline; in clockwise order):
- Flinder’s Street Station
- National Gallery of Victoria
- Degraves Street
- Southbank Promenade
- Eureka Skydeck
- Immigration Museum
- Crown Entertainment Complex
- Flinders Street
- Southern Cross Station
- Harbour Esplanade
- Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
- Queen Victoria Market
- Old Melbourne Gaol
- State Library of Victoria
- Melbourne Museum
- Royal Exhibition Building
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- Princess Theatre
- Parliament Station & Parliament House (you can only enter with a guided tour)
- Old Treasury Building
- Federation Square
- Melbourne Town Hall
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Royal Arcade
To explore Melbourne by foot, join a free daily walking tour (I can highly recommend it!).
Currently the tallest building in Melbourne with 297.3 m/975 ft, the Eureka Tower offers the best overview of the city. Take the elevator up to the 88th floor observation deck and have a 360° view on Melbourne. Little binoculars will show you all the major spots of the city.
Check for tickets on their website.
The architecture of the Eureka tower is somewhat interesting and sticks out of all the other skyscrapers in Melbourne: The gold cube of the building represents the Victorian gold rush era and the red line stands for the blood that was shed during the gold rush rebellion in 1854.
There is a new skyscraper currently under construction though in Melbourne, the “Australia 108”. It is expected to be completed in 2020 and then surpasses the Eureka Tower as the tallest building in Melbourne.
Melbourne’s Street Art
Melbourne is famous for its street art and you can find it all over town. Your first address for street art would be Degraves Place (you’ll also find great little eateries here – definitely check out The Organic Food and Wine Deli for delicious vegan snacks!).
Other spots where you can find street art in Melbourne:
- Hosier Lane
- Rutledge Lane
- Centre Place
- Hardware Lane
- Tattersalls Lane
- Melbourne Place
- Duckboard Place
- Croft Alley
- Union Lane
- Presgrave Place
- Blender Lane
- Artist Lane in Windsor
State Library of Victoria
What makes the State Library of Victoria so unique is the incredible “La Trobe Reading Room”: Built in 1913, the reading room consists of no less than six storeys and is crowned with a huge dome. Enjoy the panorama from the viewing platform on the 6th floor.
St Kilda Beach & Luna Park
Luna Park is the first photo opportunity and to be explored when open. Relax at the beach if the weather is summery and take a walk out on the St Kilda Pier. At the end of the pier, the Edwardian style kiosk offers really good coffee (although there is no such thing as bad coffee in Melbourne!).
Colourful Brighton Bathing Boxes
Brighton Beach is a bit outside of Melbourne but still easily accessible by train. The approximately 20 minutes train ride on the Sandringham line will take you to Middle Brighton or Brighton Beach – from each of the stations it’s a 15 minutes walk to the beach boxes. Catch the train from either Flinders Street or Southern Cross Station. More infos and timetable on the public transport website.
Stroll Along the Yarra River & Best Sunset Spot
The Yarra River (“yarra” actually meaning “ever-flowing” in aboriginal language) divides the city in the upper and lower part.
Stroll the riverside promenade: from the marina ambience of the Docklands all the way to the Arts Centre – catch the best Melbourne skyline sunset from its Hamer Hall’s viewing platform. There are many great restaurants, cafés, shops, and hotels along the Yarra; also have a look inside the Crown Casino.
Great Ocean Road, The Twelve Apostles
Rent a car and drive the well worth seeing Great Ocean Road by yourself, or book a day tour to enjoy the incredible views along this magnificent road along the Southern Ocean coast.
Doing the Great Ocean Road is quite a day trip: From Melbourne, it will be 600km drive – take the ocean road down to the Twelve Apostles and ride back inland, or do it the other way around.
The major attractions/stops along the Great Ocean Road are:
- Anglesea (cute beach town)
- Kennet River (see koalas and cockatoos here!)
- Apollo Bay
- Mait’s Rest Rainforest Walk
- Port Campbell National Park: Gibson Steps, The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, The Razorback
The Melbourne Museum is more than just a rainy day activity – the biggest museum in the southern hemisphere has something to offer for everyone: natural and cultural history, science, dinosaurs, wildlife, and special exhibitions on various interesting topics.
We especially enjoyed the Fist Peoples section (“Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre”, on your right after the entrance/ticket office), where you can learn more about the indigenous people of the Melbourne region.
To get a good overview of this huge museum, join a daily free highlights tour (check their times on their website).
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The Catholic St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest church building in Australia. The cathedral was designed in Gothic style and built from 1858 to 1939 (although it was consecrated in 1897). Their weekday masses are at 7am and 1pm; Sunday services are at 8am, 9.30am and 6.30pm.
I hope you have a fabulous time in Melbs! Feel free to comment or message me for questions!