Melbourne was my absolute favourite city that I visited in Australia.
Of the two years I spent in the country, more than half of it was spent in this beautiful city – it just kept drawing me back!
Even now, years after leaving Australia, I think a little piece of my heart is still roaming the laneways, drinking flat whites and having BBQs by the river.
Below I’ve compiled all my best bits of the city that you can’t miss when you visit Melbourne, voted the world’s most liveable city for seven consecutive years (and I completely agree)!
Top Tip: Buy a Myki Card as soon as you can upon arrival in Melbourne and top it up with some credit. It can be used for almost all of the public transport in the city and for some, like the trams, it is the only way to board without risking a fine!
Melbourne’s main roads are set up in an easy-to-grasp grid system, making it quite difficult to get lost!
But branching off those roads are a whole bunch of laneways just waiting to be explored, and you won’t get bored!
From incredible street art to quirky cafes and bars, there’s something new and exciting waiting down each little avenue.
If you’re interested in street art, you’re in luck as you’ll find pieces all around the city, but the most popular laneway for this is Hosier Lane, near Flinders Street Station.
The art covers everything, including the bins!
Flinders Street Station
“I’ll meet you under the clocks” is a popular saying amongst locals in Melbourne, and they’re referring to the line of clocks above the steps leading into Flinders Street Station.
The station is one of the most iconic buildings in the city with its golden facade and green dome and it’s also the busiest railway station.
The Yarra River runs behind it and Federation Square sits opposite.
Admire the building and take some photos from the outside, but make sure you look inside as well and buy some food from one of the many takeaway vendors.
The river flows through the city, and it is well worth taking a stroll along its banks; there are BBQs located at certain places along the river, so bring some food and some drink and watch the sun set behind the city.
You might even get some hungry kookaburras coming up to you looking for cast-offs!
At South Bank, watch the huge fireballs that erupt from stone plinths beside the river at certain times every night, have a few drinks in one of the many bars and, if you’re feeling lucky, try your hand at some gambling in the casino.
Underneath the funky Evan Walker pedestrian bridge, in the middle of the river, you’ll find a unique little bar called Ponyfish Island.
As you can probably imagine, it has great views over the river and the city, but is easily missed if you don’t know where to look for it!
Royal Botanic Gardens
I always loved taking a walk around these beautiful gardens with all their gorgeous plant life and native birds.
Located on the south side of the river, the Melbourne gardens cover 36 hectares of land and are the ideal place to be on a warm summer day.
There are also events held during the summer months, such as moonlight cinema, theatre performances and exhibitions.
I was lucky enough to catch the moonlight screening of The Big Lebowski, which they showed in honour of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, shortly after he sadly passed away in 2014.
There is something magical about watching a movie on the big screen whilst sitting on the grass, as the moon rises above the cityscape in the background, and I highly recommend it.
Queen Victoria Market
This 19th century market is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere, and is now a popular tourist destination.
If you visit on a Wednesday evening in the summer months, you’ll encounter the night market – a delight for the senses, full of lights, sounds and, more importantly, smells.
You can pick up some delicious food from all around the world at the night market stalls, including kangaroo, crocodile and emu burgers!
There is also a large non-food related section which, like all good markets, offers anything you could ever want or need!
Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, you should definitely take a walk through the night market purely for the experience.
If you love a festival, whether it’s music, food, art, film or comedy, you will find one in Melbourne.
It seems like there is always a festival on!
Music festivals for all genres run at various venues year-round, but for a free music festival, check out St Kilda Fest on the second Sunday in February every year.
The whole town of St Kilda closes to traffic and there are ten stages set up, hosting many of Australia’s favourite and up-and-coming musicians and it’s located right by the beach!
It’s hard to believe that this festival is free!
You’ll find yourself stumbling upon little food festivals around the city all the time (the noodle night market is a personal favourite of mine), but if you only go to one food festival, make it the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
Every year around March, thousands of foodies indulge in the huge array of amazing food and wine that’s available in events across Melbourne’s restaurants, bars, laneways and rooftops.
White Night is hugely popular every year, as the iconic buildings of the city are literally lit up with incredible artwork displays, and music, dance and art attractions and installations are set up in various locations around the main area of the city.
The event lasts for 12 hours, from 7pm to 7am, and it’s definitely worth starting after dark as that’s when everything comes to life!
It’s best to do your research first to see what’s on and where; the city is packed and it’s easy to miss out on a lot if you don’t know what you want to see in advance.
This suburb is close to my heart as I lived here for the majority of my time in Melbourne, and I absolutely love it for its personality.
It’s an easy 20 minute tram ride from Melbourne Central, but this means it’s outside the free tram zone, so make sure you’ve got some credit on your Myki card.
Sydney Road is the main street, and is perfect for finding a coffee and a tasty treat in one of its cafes, or a gorgeous vintage bargain in one of the op shops.
For a stunning Brunswick brunch, head to the Lux Foundry on Hope Street or, if you’re after a tipple, try one of the great bars and pubs including the Retreat Hotel, Howler and the Penny Black.
You’ll also find a lot of cheap middle-eastern bakeries around so, if you’ve never tried Lebanese food, now’s the time! Delicious.
Lygon Street runs parallel to Sydney Road and is home to some wonderful restaurants, including 400 Gradi, a famous Italian pizza restaurant.
Their Pizza Margherita won the World’s Best Pizza 2014 in Italy, and trust me, it is to die for!
Finally, keep an eye out for some more famous Melbourne street art down the back streets and alleys.
I mentioned St Kilda Fest earlier in the post, but if you don’t happen to be there in February, don’t skip this lovely beach town.
Easily accessible by tram from the city, St Kilda is beautiful just to take a wander round, with its beach and palm trees, beer gardens and restaurants.
Visit the iconic Luna Park with its big mouth entrance (an Instagram favourite).
The park has been operating for over 100 years and holds the title for having the world’s oldest continually operating wooden rollercoaster, the Great Scenic Railway.
Take a walk along the pier behind the Little Blue Cafe at sunset to see Fairy Penguins nesting amongst the rocks.
Yes, penguins in Melbourne! I’m serious. They’re so cute.
Check out the market on the Esplanade every Sunday for some original artwork, gifts, jewellery and trinkets.
Honestly, I could go on and on about how much I love Melbourne, as anyone who knows me well will verify!
There’s just something truly special about the culture and the diversity that can’t really be described in words and must be experienced.
I hope I’ve convinced you to take a new trip! If you think there’s anything I’ve missed or if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Moving to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa
- 13 Essential planning tips for long-term travel
- 5 Reasons you should travel solo
All images in this post are the property of lastminutewanders.com