Melbourne (pronounced Mel-bin) is my home city and is still one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s alternative feel, abundance of parks and public art and diverse culture makes it extremely unique. Not only has it been voted the most livable city in the world for many years in a row, but it was just voted the friendliest city in the world as well. It’s also known as the sporting capital of the world. And who better to give you some tips for visiting the fashion and sporting capital of Australia than a local, right?
So here you go, my advice on the top 13 things to do in Melbourne (I tried to cut it down to ten but I just couldn’t)!
13. Head to an Aussie Rules Football (AFL) game at the MCG
Melbourne is not only the sporting capital of Australia, but the world. There are more opportunities to watch a wide range of sports here than anywhere else in the world. Melbourne hosts the Australian Open, has the Formula One Grand Prix every year, hosts a lot of Cricket matches, Rugby games, Soccer games and it is also the AFL capital of the world. 10 out of the 18 national AFL teams are based in the Melbourne area, and whilst three of our eight states favor Rugby League, the passion Melbournians have for our national sport is like nothing else. There are many sporting stadiums across the city, but the grandest by far is the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). The stadium is outstanding in itself, then throw up to 100,000 crazy fans and an exciting sport in the mix and it will be an experience you won’t forget. You won’t see this game anywhere else in the world, so head to a footy game, or if its not during AFL season, there’s cricket games during the summer or opt to do a tour of the MCG.
12. Lygon street
Lygon street is Mebourne’s Little Italy. With authentic pizza and pasta, it will make you think you stepped off the streets of Melbourne and into Rome. Go for lunch or dinner and make sure to save room for some delicious gelato afterwards. It can be a very popular street on weekends or public holidays, so it might be best to have an early dinner (Australian’s eat late) or go during the week.
11. Dine on a tram
Take the original dining experience to a whole new level and eat on board an old fashioned tram. The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant is the first travelling Tramcar Restaurant in the world and is known for its delicious food.
10. Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens
Melbourne is also famous for it’s beautiful parks and gardens scattered throughout the city. None quite compare to the botanical gardens, and it’s a relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of the CBD (Central Business District).
9. St. Kilda
This hip suburb of the city boasts Melbourne’s most famous beach and is as close as you could get to a Californian style beach boardwalk. A popular sunset location, the beach is thriving during the summer months. The St Kilda Esplanade Markets are a local favorite, held every Sunday from 10am. Head to the iconic Luna Park which is right by the beach, enjoy some beach volleyball and water sports or simply take a stroll down St Kilda Pier. Trams run straight to St Kilda from many spots across the city.
The most indie neighborhood of Melbourne is Fitzroy, and it is world renowned for being like the ‘Williamsburg’ of New York City. It’s urban feel, artistic charm, vintage shops and cool bars make it a perfect example of the Melbourne culture. Walk down Brunswick Street and into the backstreets for graffiti finds and at night, find some hot nightlife spots with endless bars and diverse eateries.
7. Walk along the Yarra River & South Bank
The Melbourne skyline is breathtaking when walking along the Yarra River both during the day and at night. Pick a nice spot to have a picnic lunch by the water or watch the rowers do their thing. Start at the Royal Botanic Gardens and make your way down to the inner city checking out the cool parks, bars and restaurants along the way. As you near the end, you’ll get to beautiful Southbank Promenade and Crown Casino. Here you will find some of the most artistic walkway bridges and views of the skyline. At night time, eight Gas Brigades release fireballs on the Riverside Promenade on the hour, every hour after sundown until midnight (or 1am on weekends). It is located in front of Crown Casino, Australia’s largest casino. For more information on times head to crownmelbourne.com.au/gas-brigades.
Docklands is a beautiful waterfront city, filled with
random spots of public art and great views. Here you will find amazing seafood restaurants along the waterfront promenade and the newly completed Melbourne Star (similar to the London Eye) is located here giving great views of the city.
5. Great Ocean Road
Whilst in Melbourne, save a day or two for Victoria’s most valuable treasure; The Great Ocean Road.
Go through a tour company, or hire your own car (this would be the time to splurge on a convertible) and drive right along the rugged coast stretching over 200km. Visit the Twelve Apostles (while you still can, as only 8 remain) and witness the beautiful limestone rock formations, caves and arches. Head to the famous Bells Beach or Apollo Bay and stop for lunch at one of the many cute beach side towns along the way (my favorite is Lorne). Voted by CNN Travels as the 3rd most scenic drive in the world, the beaches, cliffs, surf spots, wildlife and mountainous, forest like landscape make every corner a new Kodak moment.
4. Experience the underground club scene
If you love to party, then Melbourne is the place for you. The city has a crazy grungy underground club scene, where you could literally party 24/7 if you wished. For example, some clubs on Saturday nights stay open until 3pm Sundays, and if your still not tired, then there will be a Sunday ‘recovery’ club to kick on straight afterwards until Monday. This city even created it’s own genre of music; Melbourne Sound (or ‘bangers’ to the locals) and is making its way around the world via DJ’s like Will Sparks and Joel Fletcher. These clubs are quite intense and very much casual in dress, but for a night out in dress shirts, fancy shoes, cocktail dresses and high heels melbourneclubs.com has some good options. But for the local experience, head to Chapel Street or Kings Street, famous for it’s adult nightlife including many strip clubs. Cover charges usually start at $15. Here’s a list to help:
– Tramp Bar
– Cloud Nine (Inflation)
– Wah Wah Lounge
– Korova Milk Bar
– Platform One (currently hosts ‘Can’t Say’ and this club is inside a tunnel underneath one of the cities busiest streets)
– Revolver (open 24 hours on weekends)
Gaz and Scott from Geordie Shore have been seen at Tramp Bar and are regulars at Cloud Nine whenever they’re in town.
3. Explore the lane way graffiti & cafes
By far the coolest trait Melbourne is known for is it’s lane way culture. Find graffiti art, cool cafe’s and stores by exploring new alleys. In most cities, walking down a dark and scary alley way would be a no-no, but here some of the coolest finds will be hiding down there. Melbourne has a huge coffee and breakfast culture, steering clear of ‘Starbucks’ in turn for specialty coffees at hip cafe’s and all day breakfast’s are seen everywhere.
2. See Flinders Street Station and walk up Swanston street
The iconic Flinders Street Station is a major attraction. Hop off the train there and enjoy the feel of the city by walking up Swanston Street and through the adjoining bustling streets. Head to Little Bourke Street to find China Town or go in search of graffiti alleys (there’s a great one in Bourke Street Mall). The city is filled with talented buskers due to busking licensing and there are some talented artists to watch. Go shopping at Melbourne Central or check out the beautiful State Library of Victoria on Swanston Street.
1. Check out the Queen Victorian Market
Located in the heart of the city, the Queen Victoria Market is easy to get lost in. The famous market boasts the freshest local produce and any kind of food your heart desires. Also a good spot to pick up a bargain on textiles, souvenirs, toys etc. You name it, this market will have it!