Planning Your Trip
Itineraries & Day Trips
Things to Do
What to Eat & Drink
The culinary and sports capital of Australia, Melbourne is also a great city to catch live music, theatre performances, and comedy shows. Plus, shopping here is on a whole other level. On top of all that, this city is the perfect place to make your base as you explore the rest of Victoria for hiking, camping, and wine. Did you catch all of that? No worries, mate. Here’s your complete guide to Melbourne to help you plan the perfect trip.
Planning Your Trip
- Best Time to Visit: If you’re looking for hot temperatures and a lineup of things to do, then consider visiting during the summer months, between December and February. Yes, the city will be more crowded with international and domestic travelers, but summer is also when the city comes to life with festivals, events, rooftop bars, and things to do. While the other months of the year will be less crowded, the weather is hit and miss.
- Language: English, though Melbourne is the most linguistically diverse Australian capital city with 32 percent of residents speaking a language other than English.
- Currency: Australian dollar
- Getting Around: The Public Transport Victoria’s train and tram lines are the cheapest and quickest ways to get around. You’ll need to purchase a myki card to get onto trains and trams, which can be bought at 7-Eleven stores or on myki machines at train stations. Next, you need to load the card with a certain amount of money to get from A to B. You can do this at the myki machine.
- Travel Tip: Metro police conduct random checks on every train to see if passengers paid for their ride. If you don’t tap on before entering the platform and an officer catches you, you'll be fined AS$248 which you have 28 days to pay. So don’t skip on paying for public transportation!
Things to Do
No trip to Melbourne would be complete without visiting Queen Victoria Market, sipping coffee, exploring the laneways, or checking out a game at Melbourne Cricket Ground. If the weather is beautiful and you have time, you should take a day trip to the Yarra Valley wine region or the Great Ocean Road.
- To get acquainted with Melbourne, take a walking tour of the Central Business District. Opt for one that will guide you through the laneways and arcades filled with street art, boutique shops, and hidden bars.
- There’s a lot of fuss around the city’s coffee culture. Decide for yourself if Melbourne has the best coffee in the world by stopping at Axil Coffee Roasters, Higher Ground, or St. Ali Coffee Roasters.
- Shop for souvenirs at Queen Victoria Market. It’s a landmark in the city that hosts a variety of Australian produce, food, and products.
Explore more attractions with our article on the top 20 things to do in Melbourne.
What to Eat and Drink
As we mentioned before, Melbourne is the food capital of Australia. So what makes Melbourne cuisine stand out? Its chefs and bakers upgrade regular food staples with an Australian flare. For instance, Aussies love their beetroot, so we recommend trying the True Blue Beetroot burger from YOMG. If you want to get in on the Golden Gaytime action (it is Melbourne's favorite ice cream treat, after all) order a Gaytime crunch doughnut from Bistro Morgan.
Melbourne’s beer and wine scene are top-notch as well. There are a bunch of breweries located within the city and its surrounding neighborhoods. Check out Carlton Brewhouse, Colonial Brewing Co., and Mountain Goat Beer to learn about Melbourne’s beer scene. When it comes to wine, this city thrives. Wine regions surround Melbourne. Yarra Valley is the closest to the CBD and produces excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Shiraz. When ordering wine from a menu at a restaurant or bar in Melbourne, try wines from the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, or Macedon Ranges regions.
There are a lot of different types of bars in Melbourne, including rooftop, cocktail, and karaoke bars; speakeasies; and pubs. The only thing you really won’t find is a traditional sports bars, with football, basketball, or baseball playing on monitors across every inch of the pub. For a classic cocktail bar, check out The Everleigh. If it’s a clear night, walk up to Rooftop Bar for wild cocktails and an open-air cinema.
Where to Stay
When thinking about the best places to stay in Melbourne, consider where you’ll be spending most of your time and what types of activities you want to do. If you love being in the center of the action, opt to stay in Melbourne CBD. It’s the most central location, with walkable streets and easy access to public transportation.
Within the CBD, you’ll find every type of accommodation according to your budget, including hotels, hostels, vacation rentals, and couch surfing. Making the CBD your base means you’ll have direct access to the best shopping, food, sports, and nightlife that Melbourne has to offer. Plus, from here you can easily explore the surrounding neighborhoods and parts of regional Victoria.
If you’d prefer to stay outside of the big city, consider St Kilda. It’s by the beach and slightly cheaper than staying in the CBD. St Kilda is a popular hub for backpackers as there are many budget-friendly hostels in this neighborhood. There are also plenty of funky Airbnbs with the bonus of being next to the beach. Plus, it’s only a 20-minute tram ride from Melbourne CBD, so it's not too far from the center of the city.
Melbourne Airport is the main hub for domestic and international travelers flying into and out of the city. The cheapest and most convenient way to get from the airport to Melbourne CBD is by SkyBus. It’s a 30 to 40-minute direct ride to Southern Cross Station, and it costs AU$19.75 for a one-way ticket. It’s not necessary to rent a car to explore Melbourne as public transportation is a cheap, clean, and reliable mode of transportation.
Culture and Customs
Australian culture, in general, is very diverse. It’s home to the Aboriginal Indigenous community who have been living in Australia for at least 45,000 years though some scholars place estimates at 75,000-80,000 years. This culture varies throughout the continent. You won’t find many Aboriginal communities in Melbourne since they tend to call the warmer climates of Queensland and Northern Territory home.
European and British immigrants influenced the city of Melbourne during the 1850s Victorian gold rush. Today, the city is a major cultural hub, with large Italian, Greek, Chinese, and African migrant communities. It’s kind of like New York City in the sense that it’s a melting pot of people from all over the world.
Australian slang is never easy to understand. For a quick lesson, “arvo” means “afternoon,” “chook” means “chicken,” “devo” means “devastated,” and “legless” means “someone who is really drunk.” There are different accents across the country.
In terms of customs, men and women are treated equally, and people are free to live where they like and follow whichever religion and occupation they choose. When you greet another Australian, it’s common to shake a person’s right hand. Go to a gas station, and you will pay after you fill up your tank. For ordering at restaurants, you usually pay first at the counter before you sit down. A server will bring the food to you, and tipping isn’t required.
It’s known throughout the country that Melburnians are coffee snobs. They’re very particular about their coffee and might go so far as to say that it’s the best in the world
In terms of sports, Melbourne hosts several international sporting events throughout the year—including the Australian Open and Formula 1 Grand Prix—as well as local Australian Football League and National Rugby League games. The Melbourne Cricket Grounds is the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere.
Australia is generally a safe country, particularly in Melbourne. However, keep in mind that it’s always important to be aware of your safety when you travel.
- Search for restaurants that offer BYOB. Chinatown and St Kilda are excellent spots for cheap eats.
- Opt to stay in a hostel; most hostels offer private rooms and dorms.
- Skip car rentals, taxis, and ride-sharing apps. Melbourne has a reliable, clean, and safe public transportation system that will get you where you need to go. As a bonus, you can ride the tram for free within Melbourne CBD.
- Want to check out a theater performance? TodayTix offers last-minute, discounted tickets, and Tixel is a ticket resale website.
- There are plenty of free things to do in the city that include entry into the National Gallery of Victoria, a walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens, watching fairy penguins at St. Kilda pier, and browsing through the city's markets.
- Take a free walking tour of Melbourne to get acquainted with the city. A guide will explain the city’s art, cafe culture, and laneways.
- You can watch live music for free at Northcote Social Club on Monday nights.
- If you’re a student, flash that student ID! Most attractions (museums, theater tickets, public transportation, movie tickets) offer discounts to students.