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Melbourne Travel Guide
Last Updated: November 2020
Listed second on the top 10 most liveable cities, Melbourne is not only a sought-after place to reside in, but it's also a tourist magnet for many good reasons. Every year, more than 10 million visitors come all the way down to Melbourne to find out the things that make Victoria's capital stand out. Melbourne has earned the title and the recognition of being the cultural capital of the country thanks to its vibrant art scene, numerous museums and galleries, and its multicultural character with a strong European flair. Its trendsetting power expands to gastronomy, and it's also reputed for having the best coffee not only in Australia but in the world!
How to Get There
Melbourne is located on the South East tip of Australia. It's around 1 to 1.5 hours away by plane from Sydney, Canberra, and Adelaide. Many people choose to rent a car and visit the big cities, but this means, for instance, that driving from Melbourne to Sydney takes around 9 hours.
If you enjoy driving and you get even more fascinated by the idea of a road trip, then you're in the right country. The most popular road trips in Australia are the ones between Melbourne and Sydney. These include the Coastal Drive (1,032 km / 642 miles) and the Inland Heritage Drive (1,031 / 640 miles).
Hundreds of domestic and international flights arrive in and depart from Melbourne Airport every day. Domestic flights last up to a few hours. For example, Brisbane is only 2.5 hours away. International travelers usually have to take two to three connecting flights to reach Melbourne. Although a long journey that requires to spend a day or so from one airport to another, it is worth the hassle. Upon landing, you can hire a car, take a bus or a taxi to the city center.
There are many bus services available, public and private, that connect Melbourne with other major cities, such as Sydney that takes around 12.5 hours. The travel time is always longer by bus than by car.
If you wish for a more idyllic journey, you can take the train. There are also night lines, in case you want to sleep on the train and wake up at your destination the next morning.
Where to Stay
Melbourne is a massive and populous city, so deciding where to stay can be overwhelming. Most first-time visitors prefer to limit their choices in the city center area because of its proximity to attractions, public transport, shops, and a handful of restaurants and cafes. That's reasonable, but it'd also be a pity to only roam around within the city center limits, let alone the overpriced hotels. Other popular areas to stay are:
- tourist attractions: City center
- cafes and high-quality restaurants: Southbank, Prahran, Windsor
- shopping: City center
- nightlife: Fitzroy
- family-friendly: Docklands
- solo travelers and backpackers: Brunswick, St Kilda
- on a budget: South Melbourne
Things to Do
We bet that every local will recommend you different spots to visit, which makes sense as there are plenty of options when it comes to food, shopping, culture, outdoor activities, sports events and many other areas of interest. Some of the must things to see in Melbourne are:
- Flinders Street Railway Station is the most recognized landmark of Melbourne and a historical gem. It was built in the 19th century and is distinctive for its Victorian architecture, yellow-colored facade, the towers and clocks. Today, it remains one of the busiest suburban railway stations in the city and in the Southern part of Australia with more than 110,000 passengers commuting every day.
- Eureka Skydeck is an imposing skyscraper 297.3 m (975 ft) high that offers spectacular panoramic views of the city. The 360-views glass tower is located in Southbank, along with other city landmarks. From up there, you can gaze at the Flinders Street Station, Shrine of Remembrance, Albert Park Lake, Port Phillip Bay, the Dandenong Ranges and even more interesting sights.
- Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is a 38-hectare green area that hosts serene lakes, numerous plant species, and native wildlife. You can take a free guided tour, the Aboriginal Heritage Walk, or have a quiet picnic. The entrance to the Gardens is free.
- Melbourne's Laneways are the perfect opportunity to discover some of the locals' hangouts, best coffee shops, boutiques and famous wall street art. In Melbourne's pathways, you'll even find artworks of the worldwide known graffiti artist, Banksy. You'll be surprised by quirky bars and restaurants of culinary excellence in these alleys.
Day Trips from Melbourne
Escape the city and head to one of these amazing destinations. Each of them is unique in its own way and offers different experiences to the visitor.
- Daylesford : It's a great wellness escape with spa retreat centers and natural mineral springs. For thousands of years now, this place is known as a healing and invigorating spot only 1.5 hours far from Melbourne. Among the things you can do is to stroll around Daylesford lake, shop at Vincent Street, explore the Convent Gallery, and visit the Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm.
- Phillip Island's Penguin Parade : Within a two-hour drive, this wildlife sanctuary attracts many nature lovers. Every sunset the much-awaited penguin parade takes place, where penguins come ashore at Summerland Beach. The area is full of wildlife parks in which you can also interact with koalas, kangaroos, and wallabies. A pleasant stop on your way there is the fishing village of San Remo to watch the feeding of pelicans and stingrays.
- Yarra Valley : Prepare your taste buds for a great wine and dining experience in Yara Valley. This weekend getaway, only an hour drive from Melbourne will introduce you to the local produce, food and wine. The scenery is just magnificent and the mild weather all year round shows why it is a popular destination for many Victorians. You can turn this day trip into a two-day excursion, by staying in one of the cozy lodgings and paying a visit to one of the 80 wine cellars of the region.
- Mornington Peninsula : The Mornington Peninsula is an ultimate favourite day trip for locals and visitors alike, and it's not hard to see why. Featuring gorgeous beaches, stunning rock formations and panoramic viewpoints, this day trip is only about an hour's drive from Melbourne city. For the perfect Mornington Day Trip Itinerary from Melbourne, check out the post from our friends over at Beyond the Bay
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