When I was first planning my trip to Australia, everyone had a suggestion for Melbourne, and as I climbs the east coast of Australia, everyone I met expressed excitement for me eventually getting to Melbourne. In truth, I was concerned that all the hype would skew my opinion of the city; afraid I’d think “It’s not that good, guys.” In reality, Melbourne was just as amazing as everyone said it would be. Every morning I wondered down a different laneway in search of Melbourne-quality coffees, I’d comfortably work from the La Trobe Reading Room at the State Library, and I’d stay up much later than I should with fabulous people I met in Melbs. Of all the places I’ve traveled before, I have never made new friends as easily as I did in Melbourne.
1. it’s a livable city
Melbourne is continually voted one of the most livable cities in the world; most people will tell you the worst thing about Melbourne is the sometimes shite weather. The city was founded by British settlers in the 1830s then subsequently boomed into one of the largest in the 1850s because of the Victorian Gold Rush, the second largest gold rush in the world (second to the California Gold Rush happening at about the same time). At the time, Melbourne was the wealthiest city in the world; the architecture and civic design of the city reflect this period of gilded wealth and thriving economy. The second generation of Victorian Gold Rush invested in Melbourne-based industry, setting the city up for the new century.
Melbourne’s CBD seen from Botanical Gardens
2. there are lots of areas to explore
I started my time in Melbourne in in the CBD (central business district). The hostel had a great common space and a social calendar, but I wanted something less city-slick. So before the weekend, I relocated to St. Kilda. Even in the winter, St. Kilda is a beautiful place to be, and I appreciated the vibe of the area. St. Kilda hostels have a reputation for being party hostels, so there was always plenty to do and plenty of people to meet.
St. Kilda is an easy 15-20 minute tram ride from the CBD.
Richmond and Little Italy were my other two favorite areas of Melbs.
3. getting around is easy
Melbourne has Uber, rest assured there. But the tram and bus system is very easy to use, so who needs Uber?
At train stations and most convenient shops, you can buy a Myki card and add any dollar amount you think will get you through your time in Melbourne. You simply tap on and tap off. Easy, peasy.
The Myki card costs $6. Two hours costs $3.90 and daily costs $7.90.
Trams around the City Circle are free. No need to get out your Myki in certain areas–just listen to the trams directions and read the signs, you’ll see what stop are in the City Circle and which are not.
St. Kilda in Melbourne
4. you can be a tourist
Free walking tours are normally my first point of entry into a new city, and the free walking tour I found in Melbourne was excellent! On the tour you see the:
- Victoria State Library
- Federation Square has several galleries and programs on all the time.
- River Walk along the south bank
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Paul’s Catedral
- and some top-notch graffit around the city, specically on ACDC, Croft and Union
The company I went with was I’m Free Walking Tour of Melbourne.
Other places of interested in Melbourne are:
- the Royal Botanic Gardens where you can limb to the top of the Statue of Remembrance for a great view of the city
- the Melbourne Museum
- the National Art Gallery of Victoria has a fantastic free gallery and fantastic exhibits (Dior was on when I was in Melbourne)
- the Eureka Skydeck 88
5. become a footy-fan
Australians call soccer, “soccer” just like Americans because, like the U.S., Australia has its own football. Don’t ask me the rules, just go watch the an Australian Football League game at the MCG. Regular season tickets cost about 25 AUD.
Australian Football League game at the MCG
6. they have a market fit for a queen
The Queen Victoria Market is massive and amazing. During the day, find homemade goods and local produce. In the winter on Wednesday nights, go for dinner, drinks and live entertainment!
7. there are penguins at st. kilda pier
If you walk to the end of the pier at sunset (or just after) you will be able to see the penguins return from their day of eating. They climb (or hop) up the rocks of the breakers and search out their chicks on the other side, hidden in the rocks from predators. They don’t start returning until 20-30mins after darkness, so be patient and dress warmly!
8. you’ll fall in love with laneways
Wondering around any new city on foot is one of my favorite things to do. Melbourne made this simple pleasure that much more rewarding with the fantastic way the city was moved into and used the spaces between buildings. Affectionally called “laneways,” they are part of the Melbourne culture and shouldn’t be missed!
9. all the places you can eat
As I prepared my trip to Melbourne, my good friend Katy gave me a laundry list of things to eat in Melbourne. She was very excited for me, and now I’m very excited for you! (Most of this is written by Katie… S/O to her Melbourne love.)
- Gami has insanely good Korean chicken at several locations around the city.
- Taseys is a train car on top of a building. Ok food, a great view. Reservations recommended.
- Saowanee Thai in the burbs but is great Thai food!
- Lentil as Anything is a must go! It’s quite popular in Melbourne as a pay-what-you-want veggie meal.
- Lord of the Fries is a popular drunk food stop with lots of different chips (“fries” in American).
- Aanagan Indian (Footseray) is amazing Indian food. It’s off beaten path but worth it. It’s also BYOB
- Shizukuramen has insanely good ramen. Get the fried chicken appetizer.
- Shanghai Dumpling House is a Melbourne staple for great cheap dumplings.
- Laksaking is “OMG” Malaysian Food! Get the massaman laksa, chicken curry. It’s byob wine.
- Crossways: I’ve heard it’s great Indian buffet for cheap.
- Big Boy BBQ is great American BBQ in an awesome laneway.
- Dear Abbey was super cool in Moonee Pond.
- Howlers in Brunswick for light eats and good atmosphere.
- DOC Pizza in little Italy… make sure you get Buffalo Mozzarella.
- Just walk around Little Italy. People will tell you were the fresh pasta is being made… or you will see if being made through windows!
- The first espresso machine in Melbourne is apparently at Pellegrinni’s Espresso Bar on Burke Street. It’s also a made-to-order Italian diner.
- Loved Happy Folk cafe in St. Kilda.
- Mork in North Melbourne for fancy hot chocolate. Get the Campfire and prepared to be impressed!
- Brunnetti’s for yummy Italian desserts.
10. the party doesn’t stop
There are bars that open on Thursday afternoon and don’t close until Monday. If you are annoyed by Sydney’s “no entry afternoon midnight” policy, then get double-quick to Melbourne. May God protect your liver.
- Sofitel Hotel has a great view of the city.
- The Desk for after work drinks and views
- Naked for Satan is a trendy place in a trendy area with great city views.
- Bimbos Deluxe is great rooftop! I’m told there are cute, local boys… hmmm.
- Trunk Diner is a great beer garden.
- Section 8 is a cool place for drinks and is close to Shanghai Dumpling House.
- Asian Beer Cafe (ABC) has cheap beer in jugs and apps 1/2 priced.
- Chuckle bar is a must do!
- Croft is cool for drinks.
- Berlin Bar is apparently divided in east and west (and appropriately designed for each side).
- Garden Stake Hotel has an awesome beer garden! It’s packed after work.
- Workshop has a cool garden-esk bar upstairs.
- Whiskey and Alement has the whiskey!
- Revolver is the place to be on the weekend, I’m told, no matter your mood.
- St. Kilda is always going, especially if you stay in one of the many “party hostels”
11. working remotely from melbs is great
Melbourne does coffee and libraries well. No wonder I’m so attracted to the city! Most days, I ventured into the CBD and to the State Library. When I didn’t feel like commuting to the CBD, I’d go to the St. Kilda library, which was just as accessible and easy to work from.
State library was my favorite place in Melbourne. Search out the La Trobe Reading Room and have your own library love story.
Victoria State Library in Melbourne
12. there are plenty of day trips
There are Penguins and Kangaroos at Phillip Island.
You can drive the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne. There are day-trips, but I recommend you venture out on your own.
And you can volunteer at the Koala Clancy Foundation one Sunday and help the Koala’s out.
13. coffee culture is on-point
I normally fare well with culture shock and jet lag… but I didn’t when I left Melbourne. I was very snotty about my coffee and couldn’t find a cup that satisfied me until my taste bud had forgotten how spoiled they were in Melbourne. I know I’m being a bit dramatic about this. … But drama is the only way I know how to drive home the point that Melbourne coffee was so great!