Explore Melbourne, Australia
Explore Melbourne at the head of Port Phillip Bay, Australia‘s second largest city and the capital of the south-eastern state of Victoria. Serving as Australia’s undisputed cultural capital, Melbourne is bursting with Victorian-era architecture, famed cafés, great bars and restaurants, extensive shopping, museums, galleries, theatres, and large parks and gardens. Its nearly 5-million residents are both multicultural and sports-mad, and the city has year-round festivals, sporting events and the best of Australian culture on display.
Melbourne is famous as the host city for a range of major international sporting events such as the Australian Open, Melbourne Cup Carnival and Formula 1 Grand Prix. It also features some of the world’s most popular art galleries and museums (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Museum) and internationally acclaimed festivals (Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne Fringe Festival). The city is also represented by its world-famous street art, coffee culture, pubs and live music… most of which can be found tucked away in a large number of iconic laneways. Frequently named as the World’s Most Livable City, Melbourne is close to and features many gardens, national parks and areas that are home to some of Australia’s iconic wildlife (The Great Ocean Road, Grampians National Park, Phillip Island, and Royal Botanic Gardens). Indigenous sites, museums and experiences (Koorie Heritage Trust, Birrarung Marr, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre) maintain a vital link to the people and culture of the First Nations.
Innumerable great restaurants, cafés, pubs and clubs abound in the city, often hidden down its famous grid of heritage listed and street art-covered laneways. The centre of Melbourne throbs with life, reflecting the residents’ pride in its regular award as “the world’s most livable city”.
Entertainment, (including a superb art and theatre complex, ballet, opera, and more), fine dining, plus some inexpensive cafes and the vast Crown Casino and entertainment complex. River trips depart from Southbank.
Features a famous Sunday art market along The Esplanade, and home to many backpacker hostels and cafes. Also features Luna Park, Palais Theatre and St Kilda Sea Baths.
Includes the old ports of Melbourne, as well as the historic Clarendon Street and town centre. Home of Melbourne’s F1 Grand Prix circuit around Albert Park Lake. Features South Melbourne Market (1867), with a famous variant of Dim Sims (a Melbourne invention).
Parkville is famous as the university district, whereas Carlton is well-known for Lygon Street, world famous for its authentic Italian culture and cuisine. Parkville features Melbourne Zoo and many gardens and leafy areas, contrasting with the high-energy multicultural vibes of the hipster mecca of Brunswick.
Working-class and Bohemian quarter, with many trendy boutiques, some of Melbourne’s best ethnic cuisine – especially Vietnamese – and an amazing range of inner-city pubs full of character. Another of Melbourne’s hipster centers with lots of creativity and multicultural pursuits, particularly centered on Brunswick St (Fitzroy), Gertrude St (Fitzroy/Collingwood), Smith St (Collingwood), Johnson St (Fitzroy/Collingwood/Abbotsford), Victoria St (Abbotsford/Richmond), Bridge Rd (Richmond) and Swan St (Richmond).
Footscray is an occasionally run-down, working class suburb with a cool, multicultural vibe. It features cheap markets, dozens of Vietnamese and East African shops and restaurants. Yarraville is a quieter suburb with well-preserved Victorian architecture and a funky, artsy vibe including the famous Sun Theatre.
Melbourne is famous for being capable of showing ‘four seasons in one day’ and has a temperate climate with distinct seasons and usually mild weather.
The Kulin Nation (as it is known to the peoples of the First Nations) has existed in present-day Melbourne for an estimated 60,000-100,000 years. The area has been inhabited by five First Nation groups continuously since this time, with unique cultural ceremonies such as Tanderrum surviving to this day.
Melbourne is often called the cultural capital of Australia, with its many art galleries, film festivals, orchestras, choral and opera productions, vibrant live music scene, and a strong food, wine and coffee culture. People in Melbourne tend to dress up more than in Sydney, partly due to the colder climate. Many bars and clubs have strict dress regulations, such as requiring collars and dress shoes for men.
Particular events to note include the Melbourne International Film Festival in August, the Melbourne International Arts Festival in October, and the Melbourne Comedy Festival in April. There are also many concerts and exhibitions throughout the year. In addition to the Melbourne Museum, there are special museums dedicated to subjects such as science, immigration, Chinese history, Jewish history, sport, racing, film and moving image, railways, police, fire brigades and banking.
Sport is integral to Australian culture and Melbourne is the unquestioned sporting capital of Australia. Two major sporting administrations base their operation in Melbourne: Cricket Australia and the Australian Football League (AFL). The Melbourne Sports Precinct is a 15 minute walk from the CBD and features Melbourne Park, AAMI Park and the world famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), a major tourist attraction in the world’s top 10 largest stadiums with crowds regularly exceeding 100,000 people. The city also features numerous other sporting venues that draw large crowds and enthusiastic supporters year round.
Cricket is also a big draw card in the summertime, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground (the ‘MCG’) is one of the world’s most famous cricket grounds. The National Sports Museum (NSM) (including the Racing Museum) -Australia’s only dedicated multi-sports museum- is also located at the MCG. One Day Test matches (annual) and The Ashes series (quadrennial) are the most popular events and often hosted at the MCG, with crowds often exceeding 90,000 spectators.
Horse racing is another key sporting event, with the Spring Racing Carnival running between the AFL and Cricket seasons from October to November. The carnival makes use of Flemington and Caulfield race courses and features world-famous races, principally the Melbourne Cup. The majority of the state has a public holiday on the first Tuesday of November as Melbourne Cup race day, whilst other horse racing events in the carnival, such as Derby Day and Oaks Day, combine to draw crowds in excess of 400,000 yearly.
Each January, Melbourne hosts the Australian Open, one of the world’s four Grand Slam Tennis championships played on hard-court. It is the largest annual sporting event in the southern hemisphere with in excess of 700,000 attendees and over $55,000,000 in prize money.
Melbourne has hosted the first race of the Formula One season, the Formula One Grand Prix since 1996. The race is held around Albert Park Lake in South Melbourne and draws in excess of 90,000 attendees for main race day.
Melbourne has wildlife both in and out of the city, and is the gateway to Victoria: Australia’s most bio diverse state. Victoria has 516 bird species recorded – 54% of Australia’s birds in just 3% of Australia’s land area.
Parks and reserves outside of Melbourne have the most to offer the wildlife enthusiast. East of Melbourne is generally cool, wet forest – home to Superb Lyrebirds, King Parrots, Wombats & Wallabies. The Far East Gippsland also has a spectacular coastline and mountain forests with Platypus, Goannas, Greater Gliders and wild Dingoes (but you have to be out at night to see them). West of Melbourne is largely drier open woodland and plains – home to koalas, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Kookaburras & Cockatoos. The far north-west – the Mallee – is very dry, known for Malleefowl, Major Mitchells Cockatoos, Regent Parrots, Emus and lots of reptiles.
Melbourne is served by two main airports —
- Melbourne Airport, also referred to as Tullamarine Airport, is situated to the northwest of the city and is the main international and domestic hub.
- Some domestic flights also use Avalon Airport, located to the southwest of the city centre on the road to Geelong.
Melbourne has an excellent network of bike paths, plus a generally flat terrain, making pedal-power a great way to take in the city. Most paths are “shared footways” under the law, although the majority of users in most places are cyclists. This means cyclists should expect to share the path with pedestrians, dog-walkers, rollerbladers, joggers, prams and tricycles. Some trails contain on-road sections (in marked bike lanes). It is legal to cycle on footpaths only when supervising cycling children or when the path is marked or signposted as allowing bikes. Helmets are required by law, and care should be taken when cycling near slippery tram tracks, where many have gotten injured in the past. Reflective clothing and lights are essential for safe night rides.
The major car rental chains are well-represented and include Redspot, Avis, Budget, Europcar, melbourne Hertz, Thrifty. Independent car rental companies are also plentiful and can offer good value for money. If you are looking to cover a long distance by car, ensure your rental policy includes unlimited mileage – most economy to standard sized car rental include this already.
The City Centre, including nearby Southbank and Docklands has much to attract the traveller, including theatres, art galleries, cafés, boutiques, plenty of live music, clubs and bars, department stores, and interesting Victorian architecture. Most of the most well-known attractions in Melbourne, most notably:
- Flinders Street Railway Station
- Queen Victoria Market
- National Gallery of Victoria
- State Library of Victoria
- Old Melbourne Gaol
- Federation Square
- The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
- South Gate and the Arts Precinct
- The Yarra River
- Shrine of Remembrance
- Coops Shot Tower
- Melbourne Exhibition Centre
- Crown Casino
- The Inner North encompasses Carlton, Parkville, North Melbourne and Brunswick. The district is famous for gardens, thriving migrant communities and historical architecture.
- Melbourne Museum & IMAX
- Italian Community (Lygon and Rathdowne Streets)
- Royal Exhibition Building
- Carlton Gardens
- Melbourne Zoo
- Royal Park
- The University of Melbourne
- St Kilda
- Luna Park
- St Kilda Pier
- St Kilda Esplanade
- St Kilda Botanical Gardens
- Palais Theatre
- Jewish Museum of Australia
- South Melbourne Market (including famous dim sims)
- South Melbourne Beach
- Clarendon Street (Main Street with Restaurants/Cafes/Pubs)
- Port Melbourne
- Port Melbourne Pier (Cruise Ship Terminal)
- Port Melbourne Beach
- Brunswick St (a long and lively cafe/bar strip with cheap and decent eats)
- Johnston St (home of the local Hispanic community and has many restaurants, bars and pubs, as well as the infamous Tote Hotel and Night Cat for a late-night disco)
- Gertrude St (a charming street, with yet more cafes, bars, upmarket restaurants and unique clothing, as well as a yearly nighttime projection festival)
- Smith St (a slightly run-down but cultural street with cafes, dive bars, cocktail lounges and an increasing number of highly-regarded restaurants.
- Carlton United, Mountain Goat and Moon Dog Breweries
- Pubs are concentrated in and around Church, Victoria and Swan Streets, with outlet shopping on
- Bridge Road. Don’t miss the hipster-haven of the converted Abbostford Convent and Collingwood Children’s Farm next door in Abbotsford.
- Greenery, high-end living and shopping .
- Chapel Street and Toorak Roads (famous for fashionable stores, cafes and restaurants draws tourists and locals alike)
- Royal Botanic Gardens
- Prahran Market is a market dedicated to the finest quality fresh food
- Commercial Road (known for restaurants, eateries and as a formerly prominent gay cultural district)
- Brighton is a family friendly, upmarket area.
- Bay Street (featuring excellent upmarket cafes and boutique shops)
- Brighton Beach
- Bathing Boxes (Brighton Beach)
What to do in Melbourne, Australia
- See interesting films at the Art Deco-styled repertory cinema Astor Theatre in St Kilda. There are several moonlight cinema programs in summer. The Melbourne International Film Festival is on in August.
- Alternately, visit the Cinema Nova on Lygon Street on a Monday for films before 4PM.
- Melbourne is also known for great street art often located down narrow laneways this art is displayed on approved outdoor locations.
- Learn about aboriginal culture and history at the Koorie Heritage Trust
- Watch the mesmerizing process of personalized hard candy being hand-made at Suga. Around lunch time is a good time to see (and sample!). There is a store at Queen Victoria Market, but if you visit the Royal Arcade location, you can also watch chocolate making next door at Koko Black.
- Watch a game of AFL football at the MCG or Etihad Stadium during the winter, or a Cricket Match during the summer.
- Kick back at one of Melbourne’s fantastic cafes in the CBD (Degraves St, The Causeway, and other laneways are fantastic for this), South Yarra (Chapel Street) or Fitzroy (Brunswick Street, Smith Street).
- Melbourne has an exceptionally vibrant live music scene. Many bars and pubs will have copies of the free magazines “Beat” and “Inpress” which provide local gig guides. Fitzroy, Collingwood and St. Kilda are generally your best bets for seeing some of the great local talent Melbourne has to offer. Venues where you generally can’t go wrong include: “The Tote”, “The Evelyn” and “The Espy”.
- The Black Light Mini Golf is located at the Docklands. This is an 18 hole mini golf range designed around an Australian theme. It is under black light with a light and sound system and featuring fluorescent colors. If you’re game, you could also take a ride in a Coffin.
- Indoor rock climbing with a view. Hardrock on Swanston Street has an indoor climbing wall suitable for beginners and advanced climbers.
- go kitesurfing – West Beach, St Kilda.
- Melbourne is an excellent place to master your photography skills. So many places to take a fantastic picture.
- Brewers Feast – Craft Beer & Food Festival, The Abbotsford Convent St Heliers Street. Brewers Feast is a Craft Beer, Food & Cider Festival. A showcase of Australia’s favorite Craft Beers and Ciders at the iconic Abbotsford Convent. Don’t miss out on the first craft beer festival of summer! Enjoy Great beer with Great Friends at Brewers Feast.
Shopping hours in metro Melbourne are typically 7 days a week, 9AM-5:30PM. Most suburban shopping centres such as Chadstone have later closing hours on Thursdays and Fridays – mostly up to 9PM. Supermarkets have extended hours 7 days, the majority opening at 7AM and closing at midnight or 1AM, however there are many 24 hour supermarkets around.
Alcohol in Victoria can be purchased at licensed shops/venues and supermarkets often have an adjoining bottle shop, which close earlier than supermarket hours.
- The historic Block Arcade on Collins Street
- Bourke Street Mall
- Little Collins Street is home to some of the world’s top designers and fashion houses; Collins Street also boasts other high end shops such as Louis Vuitton. Brunswick Street (Fitzroy), and the southern end of Chapel Street in Prahran/Windsor, have clusters of stores selling an eclectic mix of vintage, rave, retro and alternative gear such as Shag, Fat Helen’s and Beaut Vintage to shop around.
- Melbourne Central is another shopping mall based in the city, adjacent to the underground station of the same name.
- The Bourke Street Mall with the department stores Myer and David Jones is another city-central shopping hub.
- Emporium connects Myer and David Jones to Melbourne Central and containing a large number of Australian and International brands.
- For the bargain shopper, there is a DFO Outlets Centre located at South Wharf, on the southern bank of the Yarra River. It is located next to the Convention Centre.
- It is also worth noting, for Backpackers, that Elizabeth Street has plenty of Bargain backpackers stores.
- Bridge Road in Richmond is a strip where warehouse direct outlets rule and no one pays recommended retail price.
- Chapel Street in South Yarra is a favorite among the locals, with its spread of exclusive boutiques, cafes and well established chain stores.
- There are also several huge shopping complexes in the outer suburbs, such as Chadstone and Southland (Cheltenham) in the South-East. Westfield Doncaster Shoppingtown. Eastland (Ringwood) and Knox City are in the outer East. Northland in the north, Highpoint in the west. Chadstone in Monash is the largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere with over 530 stores.
- For those in the bridal market, High Street in Armadale, Stonnington and Sydney Road in Brunswick, Moreland are the two main clusters for bridal apparel and accessories. For those who are looking for local, aspiring designer creations, try Greville Street in South Yarra, Stonnington or Smith Street and surrounds in Fitzroy.
- To buy funny souvenirs and Australian typical stuff, walk or take the tram to Victoria Market. You’ll find all you need there and the price is usually a half or a third of the prices in the souvenir shops downtown.
Payphones are easily found through the city, but many are being phased out due to growing mobile phone ownership. These phones are coin-operated or use prepaid Phone cards, which are available from most convenience stores or newsagents. International calling cards are also available at these outlets.
Internet cafes are dotted throughout the city, especially near the backpacker enclaves of St Kilda and Flinders Street. Speeds are usually excellent.
The Australia-wide emergency number is 000, with the ambulance service, fire department and police being available through this number.
Melbourne is consistently ranked amongst the 10 safest cities in the world by the Safe Cities Index. It can occasionally attract the opposite reputation within Australia due to media beat-ups, however it is unlikely visitors will encounter any crime and normal safety precautions are recommended.
Melbourne has a strong police presence, as does the remainder of Victoria. Police in Melbourne and throughout Australia are extremely helpful, honest, respectful and reliable. Police will nearly always treat you how you treat them and remaining respectful at all times is recommended. It is sometimes possible to receive a warning for a minor offence (in place of a fine) by showing contrition and respect for the Officer. Never attempt to bribe a police officer in Melbourne, or the rest of Australia.
Places to see within an hour’s drive of central Melbourne.
- Werribee Mansion
- Werribee — World-famous birdwatching site, historic mansion and open-range zoo.
- Dandenong Ranges — National park, gardens, historic steam railway.
- Wine-tasting in the Yarra Valley, Healesville and the Healesville Sanctuary.
- Mount Donna Buang — winter sightseeing snow.
- Northern Victoria
- Mount Buller — skiing and sightseeing.
- Eastern Victoria
- Mornington Peninsula.
- Phillip Island.
- Western Victoria
- The Victorian Goldfields — Bendigo, Ballarat, Castlemaine, Maldon.
- Macedon Ranges and Spa Country.
- Geelong, the You Yangs & Serendip Sanctuary.
- Bellarine Peninsula.
- Great Ocean Road — with its many scenic vistas.
- Grampians National Park.
Official tourism websites of Melbourne
For more information please visit the official government website: