Melbourne is my home town so I am naturally biased in thinking it is one of the best cities in the world.
Melbourne began to grow and prosper during the mid 1800s when gold was discovered in the state of Victoria, predominantly in Ballarat, Bendigo and Beechworth areas. Melbourne today is pleasing mix of Victorian architecture and modern design.
There is no end of sights to see in and around the city with many vibrant and eclectic neighbourhoods to explore.
FLINDERS STREET STATION
Join the hustle and bustle of Flinders Street Station. This iconic train station on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets is the main rail hub joining most suburban train lines in Melbourne.
Locals meet ‘under the clocks’ of Flinders Street Station – they hang above the main steps facing the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Street. These landmark clocks date back to the 1860s and were brought over from England.
Walk along Flinders Street away from the station to Hosier Lane to visit this quirky lane featuring urban art street, every space is covered with creative graffiti and art installations.
Unfortunately everybody loves this laneway and you’ll be hard pressed getting a photo without a stranger in the picture.
EAT AT MOVIDA – This bustling Spanish restaurant on the corner of Flinders Street and Hosier Lane is a must try!!!
This sophisticated waterfront hub stretches from Princes Bridge to Kings Bridge and home to countless restaurants, cafes and food halls that cater to all budgets and tastes.
Once you cross over Queensbridge Street, you will find many fine dining restaurants such as Nobu, Rockpool Bar & Grill and Dinner By Heston in the Crown Casino Complex.
During the day and night Southbank plays host to pop-up market stalls, cultural festivals, food truck markets, buskers and performers.
ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL
Across the road from Federation Square and diagonal to Flinders Street Station clocks, stands St Paul’s Cathedral.
Although it cannot rival its namesake in London, this beautiful cathedral was built in 1835 from Bluestone and is worth a visit.
QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET
One of the most popular markets with tourists is the Queen Victorian Markets in the north end of the main city blocks.
This historic market was opened in 1876 and is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere.
Be sure to visit the iconic donut van that has called the market its home for 50 years. Hot jam donuts for breakfast? Yes, please!
Open five days a week (closed Monday and Wednesday) this diverse and vibrant market, known as the ‘Queen Vic’, sells local fruit and vegetables, meat, organic produce, handmade pasta, cheese, chocolate and many other gourmet delicacies and specialities.
There is also a huge section of the market dedicated to clothes, jewellery, handmade local arts and crafts, souvenirs and knick-knacks.
During the summer months the market hosts many themed events – my favourite are the night markets on Wednesdays. If you are in town don’t miss a night eating under the christmas lights, sipping sangria and listening to live music.
ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS
The Royal Botanical Gardens is one of my favourite places to visit in Melbourne and the perfect place to laze about in summer. The gardens are home to over 10,000 individual species of native and exotic vegetations and was established out of a swamp site in 1846.
There is a cafe and a restaurant overlooking the ‘Great Lake’ filled with eels and elegant white and black swans and you will always find Melburnians running around ‘The Tan’, the 3.84km running track that runs the circumference of the gardens.
If you are in Melbourne during the summer months (Dec – Feb) try and catch a movie at the Moonlight Cinema held in the Botanical Gardens at twilight most nights.
ROYAL MELBOURNE ZOO
Modelled on the London Zoo, this is the oldest zoo in Australia and was opened in October of 1862.
Take tram 55 or 19 from the City and spend the day wandering among the native and international animals in an educational and friendly environment.
Keep your eye out for events held at Melbourne Zoo. They range from Jazz evenings and concerts on the lawn to the ultimate ‘Roar and Snore’ experience where you can camp overnight after the public gates are locked!
Located in Southbank is the Eureka Towers – a residential building which houses the popular Skydeck viewing glass platform offering panoramic views across Melbourne from level 88.
This is open until 10pm in the evening when hopefully the daily lines have shrunk.
Located on Flinders Street, this fascinating museum not only highlights the plight and stories of immigrants to Australia, it also houses temporary exhibitions and educational programs. This is a great museum.
STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA
No need to borrow a book or find a quiet study nook, the State Library – on the corner of Swanston and La Trobe St – is worth looking at!
Opened in 1856, today it houses over two million books, 16,000 serials, as well as the armour of infamous bandit Ned Kelly.
The dome of the main reading room brings in an astounding amount of light for the 600 readers and million books this room alone can hold.
THE MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND OR MCG
Cricket or Australian Rules Football (AFL) fans may be interested in a guided tour of the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground, better known locally as the MCG, or ‘the G” which can hold close to 100,000 supporters.
If you are in Melbourne during the AFL season (March – September) try and catch a game! Go Tigers!
MELBOURNE MUSEUM & IMAX
Located in Carlton Gardens, a quick walk from famous Italian influenced Lygon Street, this natural and cultural history museum is the largest in the southern hemisphere. There are a variety of temporary and permanent exhibits that delight children and parents.
The IMAX theatre, on the ground floor of the museum complex, houses the third largest film screen in the world.
SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE
Running along Saint Kilda Road, the Shrine of Remembrance is a war memorial originally built to honour the Victorians who fought in the first World War, but now commemorates all Australian lives lost in war.
On ANZAC Day (25th April) and Remembrance Day (11th November) there is a dawn service held annually and attended by tens of thousands.
OLD MELBOURNE GAOL
Check out the Old Melbourne Gaol which once held Australia’s notorious criminals from 1842 – 1929 including Ned Kelly.
133 people were hanged during the gaol’s working years and many suggest the place is haunted with paranormal activity, so why not take a night tour?
& BLOCK ARCADE
The Royal Arcade and Block Arcade run between Collins Street and Burke Street Mall (perpendicular to Elizabeth Street).
Both heritage shopping arcades were built in the Victorian Era between 1891 and 1893 when Melbourne was growing rapidly from the wealth found on the goldfields. Today these arcades are home to iconic fashion shops and quaint tea houses and cafes.
BOURKE STREET MALL
The centre of Melbourne’s city shopping precinct, this is a pedestrian only street, although it does share the road with trams – be careful, they seem like they are trying to run pedestrian’s down at times!
‘Busier than Bourke Street’ has even become a colloquial phrase with locals.
COLLINGWOOD CHILDREN’S FARM
Just four kilometres from the city centre, and a ten minute walk from Victoria Park train station, Collingwood Children’s farm is a non-for-profit urban farm in the Abbotsford Convent Complex.
The farm is open daily with friendly farm animals to pat, cuddle and love.
The first Sunday of the month is a ‘family-day barbecue’ theme with pony rides and cow milking lessons. On the second Sunday of the month the farm plays hosts to a local farmer’s market that is one of my favourites.
STUDLEY PARK BOAT SHED
For a romantic outing with a loved one or an elegant meal by the Yarra River, Studley Park Boat Shed is hidden in a patch of bushland in Kew, just 15 minutes drive from the city.
There is a fine dining restaurant, a cute cafe and picnic facilities.
On a sunny Melbourne day there is no better place to hire a colourful rowboat, canoe or kayak and drift your way into summer beneath the gum trees.
ST KILDA AREA
Want some beach time? Take the no. 16 tram from Flinders Street south down St Kilda Road to stop 134 at Luna Park. You are now in the heart of St Kilda where the palm trees overlook the swimmers and sunbathers on Melbourne’s inner city beach.
On Sundays, St Kilda Beach hosts its own craft market along the beach esplanade between Fitzroy Street and Acland Street.
Like the rest of Melbourne, there is no shortage of cafes and restaurants serving mouthwatering food. Acland Street is the most popular food street day and night.
It was once in the heart of a Jewish neighbourhood and today there are still Jewish bakeries selling jaw dropping cakes, slices and desserts!
If you can get a table, The Esplanade pub or the ‘Espey’ is a St-Kilda institution, with live bands and tables in the sun.
A historic amusement park right on the St Kilda foreshore, Luna Park was the first of five built across Australia throughout the 20th century.
Packed with rides, rollercoasters, fairy floss (cotton candy) stalls and a mirror maze, a visit to Luna Park is a sure way to keep the kids amused.
PRAHRAN & WINDSOR
If you like shopping with the high street hustle and bustle, head over to iconic Chapel Street in Prahran.
This road runs directly south from the Yarra River to Brighton Road and begins with high end fashion stores, turning vintage the further south you travel.
The Jam Factory Cinema is also on this road and is the perfect place to spend the evening on a rainy night.
FITZROY, CARLTON & BRUNSWICK
Effortlessly cool inner city Northern suburbs; Fitzroy, Carlton and Brunswick, are the home of street art, vintage shops and edgy bars and restaurants that have lines out the door seven days a week.
My favourite places/bars to check out on Brunswick street: The Vegie Bar (vegetarian), Rice Paper Scissors (delicious asian), Naked for Satan (great rooftop), Fitzroy Social and Poly bar (great cocktails).
Brunswick Street runs north of the city parallel to Lygon street and Smith Street which are also hot spots. My favourite coffee shop on Smith Street is Burnside (though there’s no shortage of great coffee shops in Melbourne) and my favourite places to eat around Smith Street are; Archie’s all day; Neko Neko (great ramen); Lantern lounge (asian fusion); La Niche Cafe (provincial French) and Friends of the Earth (organic and bulk vegetarian/vegan items).
Lygon street is the ‘home of authentic Italian restaurants’ with many Italian families migrating to Melbourne after WWII and settling in the suburb of Carlton. Don’t fall for the tourist traps serving frozen pizza, do some research and window shopping and find the homemade family-style restaurants, where Nonna rules the roost and the waiters speak Italian.
My favourite restaurants to check out on Lygon street: D.O.C Delicatessan & Espresso (D.O.C Pizzeria and Mozzarella Bar is on Drummond St, Carlton and delicious) , University Cafe, Tiamo and the snobby cafe that’s become an institution, Brunetti.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA (NGV)
The National Gallery of Victoria, a five minute walk down St Kilda Road, is the official state art gallery with paintings, sculptures, photography and travelling exhibits.
AUSTRALIAN CENTRE OF THE MOVING IMAGE (ACMI)
For those with a love of moving image and cinema, visit the ACMI Centre nestled in beside the Ian Potter Gallery at Federation Square.
For current information, prices and dates, click here to visit the official website of the ACMI.
Directly across the road from Flinders Street station and referred to as ‘Fed Square’ by locals, this is a large public space that was reconstructed at the turn of the millennium.
Restaurants and cafes are day and night and the stage in the square hosts many public performances, cultural festivals and ‘pop-up’ markets.
The tourist office, The Melbourne Visitor’s Centre, is located underground on Fed Square and holds a wealth of knowledge of the current events and festivals in and around the city. Their website is equally useful.
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So who am I…? Hi! My name is India.
I am a nomadic Australian who has wandered the world full time exploring over 60 countries and 5/7 continents.
After ten years on the road, I have launched my own website – Travelling Notebook – to share the knowledge I have gained on the road and the images I have collected over the years with fellow adventurers. Keep reading…
I am a freelance travel writer, photography and videographer, based in London. If you need specific travel advice or would like to collaborate please send an email my way!
Always say yes to adventure!