Melbourne has to be one of my favourite cities in Australia due to its amazing mix of European influence with a very contrasting cosmopolitan vibe. The city’s food and bar scene is excellent, with a delightful mix of culture that has you wandering through the city’s laneways, seamlessly blending in with Melbourne’s art scene. Then there is the city’s history and sights that will keep you interested for hours, along with amazing shopping and nightlife, and beaches only a short distance from the city. Melbourne certainly does have a lot to offer, with plenty of places to stay to enjoy a few days enjoying the city. Convinced to visit? Here are some things you shouldn’t miss.
As a foodie, I fell in love with Melbourne’s amazing and unique laneway cafes, bars and restaurants. The city has really made good use of its little narrow alleys between the tall skyscrapers, rather than leave them looking like dirty and dangerous places like in other cities. Some of the best dining is to be found down these laneways, along with some amazing street art that brings it all to life. Some are quiet little places, while others are alive with lots of bars and restaurants and people. One of my favourites is Hardware Lane for its amazing Italian restaurants, and each one will fight for your business by offering free drinks and appetizers. I actually felt like I was back in Italy. On the corner you will also find Kirk’s wine bar, with European style bistro seating and an amazing selection of wines. For cafes, head to Degraves Street for lots of excellent options.
Speaking of Melbourne’s amazing street art scene, there is a lot to check out in the city, however the most famous of it all is situated on Hosier Lane, located between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane, just east of St Paul’s Cathedral. It is a place for troubled youths to express themselves through street art, and it is a wonderful project that produces some excellent art for you to view. Also stop in at Good 2 Go for a coffee to support the project.
Old Melbourne Gaol
For a taste of Melbourne’s colonial past, head to the Old Melbourne Gaol to experience the brutality of prison life back in the 1800’s. The city’s gaol was opened in the 1840’s and many notorious criminals were hanged here, including Australia’s most infamous bush ranger, Ned Kelly. Closed in 1929, it was abandoned until the Second World War when it was reopened to house troubled Australian soldiers and some prisoners of war. Today, only part of the gaol still stands, but it has been preserved much like it was and makes for an excellent museum experience. Next to the prison is the old court house and city watch house, where you can go through the experience of being “arrested” and then locked up to face justice.
Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Station is probably the most iconic building in Melbourne and one of the last grand railway station buildings still standing in Australia. Completed in 1909, the station was built to really catch the eye and to portray the wealth of the region at the time. The station was nearly torn down in the 1960’s and 70’s, as many other old buildings were, but luckily for us, it has managed to survive. Sitting on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets, just across from Federation Square, you are sure to pass by it during your exploration of Melbourne.
City Circle Tram
Melbourne is the only city in Australia to have retained its excellent tram lines. Trams are a massive part of the city and they run up and down most of the main streets in the CBD, and head out to some of the inner suburbs as well. Most are modern trams these days, however some of the old vintage trams are still in operation along the city circle route, which does a circle around the CBD and Docklands, stopping at most major attractions. Best of all, the tram is free to hop on and off as you please.
If you like your shopping, you will love Melbourne. The city’s central shopping precinct is located along Bourke Street, with many big brands and department stores such as Myer and David Jones. For bargains, head to Harbour Town over in the city’s Docklands area. Just hop on a tram (the circle tram heads here) and enjoy some bargain shopping in this massive outlet centre. Another spot you shouldn’t miss is the Queen Victoria Markets, open everyday except Monday and Wednesday.
Hop on the tram and head out of the CBD for a morning or afternoon in St Kilda. This is one of Melbourne’s premier beach destinations, located only minutes out of the city in Port Phillip Bay. St Kilda is also home to some excellent restaurants, cafes and bars, and there is plenty of shopping on offer too. If you’re there on a Sunday you can take a wander through the Esplanade Markets and then sink your feet in the sand of St Kilda Beach.
No, this isn’t all that Melbourne has to offer. There is so much more, and I know that there is a lot more that I have to discover in this amazing city.
Have you been to Melbourne? Any tips on what to see and do?