Melbourne is Australia’s bar capital and hub of live music. The city has a European feel to it and is popular with backpackers and young travellers looking to enjoy its laid-back vibes.
While Sydney may have the more popular tourist attractions, Melbourne is the backpacker capital of the country and known for having better nightlife. Not surprisingly, it’s my favourite city in Australia!
With plenty of culture, activities, art exhibitions, and live music, you could easily spend over a week here and not regret it. Heck, you might end up like so many other travellers and never leave! You don’t want to rush your visit here. There’s a lot to see, do, and plenty of unique places to eat at.
This travel guide to Melbourne will help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your time here.
Things to See and Do in Melbourne
Enjoy the cafés
The café culture in this city is part of its soul. Everyone here loves to have coffee or tea and a snack while doing some work or chatting in some arty café.
Don’t miss doing this either. You can take the café tour with Melbourne Coffee Tours or Café Culture Walk to learn more about why Melbournians love their cafés so much and then spend an afternoon with a good book at your new favourite spot.
Party in St. Kilda
Melbourne’s famous nightlife area is home to inexpensive restaurants, bars, and clubs — it’s the place to see and be seen. If you want to find Melbourne’s wild side, this is where it will be.
Base Melbourne is one of my favourite places to go party if you’re going to hang out with other travellers — and a few locals! Their downstairs bar is popular and has cheap drinks.
Watch the sunset from the beach, then head across the espy (Esplanade Hotel) road to listen to a live band and eat a Chicken Parma. You may want to precede this with an afternoon of fun at Luna Park (it’s a small theme park on the beach) if it is open.
If you are a sweet tooth, walk down to Acland St to 7 Apples Gelato to satisfy your ice cream cravings. Before you retire to your air BnB, venture back to the beach, walk along St Kilda pier and sit down to enjoy the city lights reflecting on Port Phillip.
You may also want to take a torch (red light only) and see if you can find some penguins nestling in the breakwater.
Moonlight Movies in the park
During the summer, there are nightly movies (most of them are major Hollywood features) in the Royal Botanic Gardens. You can bring your own food and drinks (including alcohol) and have a cozy picnic while watching some great movies.
Think of it like going to the drive-in but without the car. Just make sure to check the weather in advance and bring a blanket to sit on and a sweater (it can get a little chilly sometimes). Tickets start at 19 AUD ($15 USD).
Flinders Street Station
Opened in 1854, Flinders Street Station is a significant landmark and popular meeting place in central Melbourne.
The station features Victorian architecture and large clock faces. It was the busiest railway station in the world in the 1920s and is currently the busiest suburban railway station in the Southern Hemisphere.
Hang out in Federation Square
Right along the free City Circle train route and across the street from Flinders Street Station lies Federation Square. Opened in 1968, this open square spans around 8 acres and serves up stellar people-watching.
I like to take lunch here and just watch the city go by. Below the square on the river are also several restaurants and outdoor bars. In the summer, there are often all kinds of different events here as well.
Visit the National Gallery of Victoria
Located in Federation Square, the National Gallery of Australia is the largest, oldest, and most-visited art museum in the country (over 3 million people visit each year).
It’s home to over 75,000 works, including modern and contemporary art, sculptures, paintings, and works from aboriginal and indigenous artists.
You can see pretty much everything in a couple of hours. It’s one of the best free activities in the city. Admission is free though temporary exhibits may have an admission charge.
See the State Library of Victoria
The State Library of Victoria is a historic institution that sees 8 million visitors a year. Initially built in 1856, the library has grown into an event space that’s a source of pride for city residents.
Come here before it opens, and you’ll see a queue of people ready to pounce on the open desks.
The famous central rotunda with its octagonal shape, original dark wood furniture, and book-lined walls is definitely something not to miss. There are some free tours of the library to teach you more about its history and striking architecture.
Wander the Como House and Gardens
Over 160 years old, this regal estate blends a mix of classic Italianate architecture and Australian regency. It’s considered the best of the historic houses in the city and offers a rare glimpse at the luxurious and opulent life of high society in 19th century Australia.
Guided tours are available for 15 AUD ($11.50 USD) if you want to learn more about this beautiful mansion and its history. Admission to the gardens is free.
Visit the Immigration Museum
Founded in 1998, The Immigration Museum is located in the Old Customs House and features exhibitions about Australia’s immigration history.
Europeans started flocking to the country in 1788, bringing with them their own cultures that eventually swept the island and displaced the aboriginal peoples who called the island home for over 50,000 years. Admission is 15 AUD ($11.50 USD).
See the Melbourne Museum
The Melbourne Museum showcases Australian social history, indigenous cultures, science, and the environment. For me, the museum’s highlight was the extensive Bunjilaka Aboriginal Culture Center, which highlights aboriginal culture, art, and history.
They also have a children’s section that’s great for anyone travelling with kids. Admission is 15 AUD ($11.50 USD).
Indulge in a wine tour
Located 45 minutes from the city, it’s home to over 40 wineries. There are many day trips available to the Yarra Valley, too (which is where most tours take you).
If you don’t have your own car or don’t feel like spending the night in the area, day trips from Melbourne cost 150-225 AUD ($114-172 USD) per person.
Plan a day trip to Phillip Island
Located a few hours from the city, Phillip Island is a weekend hot spot for locals looking to enjoy some beach time. The island is renowned for the nightly penguin parade (when thousands of penguins return from the sea to nest), its koala sanctuary, and the huge seal colony that lives offshore. The island can be visited as a day trip, but I would recommend spending at least a night here due to infrequent buses.
Melbourne Travel Costs
A bed in a dorm room with 6-10 beds costs between 18-25 AUD ($14-19 USD). Private rooms start at 60 AUD ($45 USD) though most are closer to 90 AUD ($69 USD) per night. Free Wi-Fi is standard, and most include free breakfast as well.
A few holiday parks outside the city with basic unpowered plots cost between 30-60 AUD ($23-46 USD) per night for those travelling with a tent. There are a few free parks outside the city for more rustic camping if you want to stay further afield (they aren’t really close to the city, but they are free).
Budget hotel prices
Budget hotels start at 100 AUD ($77 USD) per night for a double room. Expect the standard amenities like Wi-Fi, TV, and AC. Expect higher prices in the downtown core.
Airbnb is also available around the city, with private rooms costing 50 AUD ($38 USD) per night, though they average closer to 110 AUD ($87 USD). For entire homes and apartments, expect to pay at least 170 AUD ($130 USD).
Average cost of food
You can easily find pizza parlours, noodle bars, and cafes where you can eat for under 20 AUD ($15 USD). Melbourne is probably the best place to eat cheaply in Australia, especially if you like Asian food. I’ve had some of the best sushi experiences here. However, expect to pay at least 20 AUD ($15 USD) for most sit-down restaurant meals (without a drink).
Grab and go places cost around 10 AUD ($7 USD) for sandwiches, while Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs around 12 AUD ($9 USD) for a combo meal. Beer costs around 10 AUD ($7 USD), while a latte or cappuccino costs 5 AUD ($3 USD). For a bottle of water, expect to pay around 2.75 AUD ($2 USD).
A week’s worth of food is 72-98 AUD ($55-75 USD) for basic groceries like pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other basic foodstuffs.
Melbourne Travel Tips
If you wish to interact with a Melburnian in language, there are two successful topics: the weather and also the Myki system. The contact-less ticketing system for Melbourne’s transport network value $1.5 billion and has been poked with issues, however, the all-time low line is this: a ‘Myki’ card prices $6.
You’ll be able to purchase them at machines and a few booths in any respect train stations and in some stores such as 7-Eleven and Tattersall’s outlets.
However, it is essential to remember that you can’t purchase them on the tram or bus. After you buy a Myki, choose from ‘Myki money’ or ‘Myki pass’, which is a set quantity of cash for a collection number of days of unlimited travel.
If you take a train, tram or bus, ‘touch on’ your ‘Myki’ by tapping it against the ‘Myki’ reader. After you get off at your station or stop, ‘touch off’ by touching it once more.
Tram administrators are typically well behaved and welcoming. They will alert you concerning which stop you require. Do not disturb them while they are operating the cable car.
Most local people are cheerful in such a scenario to assist you with your destination direction and other necessary details regarding public transportation subtleties.
Melbourne is a gourmet town, and you’ll notice tremendous low-cost meals in each corner of the town. You’ll additionally strive for Michelin-starred food in Melbourne for less than $10.
Or you can head to Chinatown and check out a number of tremendous low-cost and cheerful dumplings. Our honest town wears the mantle of ‘Late Night Champion’ proudly.
Nowhere else within the country are you able to party at all hours then quit for a civilised meal.
Several Melbourne restaurants do shut their kitchens at nine or 10 pm, however, some lots keep going.
You’ll get a drink late at night-time, however not all over. Melbourne does consider itself as a 24-hour town, however, it is not new york.
Several bars shut at 1 am and another shut at three. In regard to shopping Melbourne is thought of for its excellent shopping, however, do not expect that unique shop to be open when 5 pm or on Sundays.
Several outlets shut pretty early Monday-Wednesday and can be open simply weekday and/or Sunday morning. Your best bets for late-night searching are weekday and Friday nights, with several outlets available till 9 pm on those days.
Another thing to remind while shopping at malls that If you would like to take it easy on an escalator, stand on the left and chill.
Pack For ‘Four Seasons’
The temperate climate of Melbourne is comparatively delicate, with heat summers and funky winters. Summer continues from December to February, fall from March to May, winter from June to August and spring from September to November.
Temperatures within the winter will get as low as 5°F and in the summer. Rainfall over the year is comparatively low though consistent light-weight rainfall, significantly within the winter months, provides the sensation of a wet town.
Melbourne weather will change immensely each day, and it is not uncommon to feel all four seasons over the area of twenty-four hours within the spring and fall months.
Melbourne’s weather is changeable. In winter, it seems to be cold and raining, however, you’ll additionally get some beautiful 24-and-sunny days. In summer, you may arrive smack-bang within the middle of a 40-degree heatwave, however, it may equally be a cold high of fourteen with an opportunity of showers.
So while packing for four seasons’ Bring a coat, boots, and layers, thus you’ll keep comfy once the winds of changes blow. Melbourne views itself as the mould capital of Australia. On the off chance that you incline to fit in with nearby design patterns, make sure to incorporate dark attire in your bag. This is another crucial Melbourne travel tip.
Safety Hacks For Melbourne
All travel comes with risks, and it is essential to continuously bear in mind about your surroundings and take suitable precautions. Here are few safety tips to follow while you are tripping in the city:
- In a huddled space, keep tuned in to what’s occurring around you and stay together in teams. If by any chance you become separated, organise a meeting point before travel.
- Try not to go to Kings Street if you are not comfortable with strip clubs and obscure joints. Kings Street is a standout amongst the most brutality inclined porn street in Melbourne.
- Pickpockets and thieves are everywhere. To ensure that you simply aren’t a target, keep your wallets, mobile phones, and purses safely tucked away, and ne’er leave them in plain sight. If you’re eating out, keep your purses or briefcases out of sight beneath your chair in bars and eateries, or use a table clip if the venue provides one.
- Never leave your luggage unattended, and Always carry your wallet or purse near to you. Also, do not forget to Carry backpacks forward-facing in crowded areas. If your valuables are lost, dial 131 444 for the closest police office. You’ll get to create a full report as short as possible.
- Do not carry massive amounts of money on you, and if you’re using an ATM, take care no one is looking over your shoulder as you enter your PIN.
- Always keep your passports and different valuables in a secured space safe if accessible. And keep a note of your hotel’s telephone number and address with you at all times. If you are lost, you’ll be able to use this to seek out your way back.
How to Stay Safe in Melbourne
Melbourne is an incredibly safe place to backpack and travel – even if you’re travelling solo or a solo female traveller.
People are pretty friendly and helpful, and you’re unlikely to get into trouble. As Melbourne is a big city, be on alert for pickpockets and keep your valuables locked away (like any other big city).
When in doubt, always trust your instincts. If a taxi driver seems shady, get out. If your hotel or accommodation is seedier than you thought, go somewhere else. Make copies of your documents, including your passport and ID, before you travel in case of an emergency.
As a general rule, if you wouldn’t do something at home, don’t do it when you’re in Melbourne. Follow that rule, and you’ll be fine.
If you’re visiting Melbourne during the summer months, be prepared to handle the high temperatures. Wear lots of sunscreens, cover yourself, and drink plenty of water.
The most critical piece of safety advice I can offer is to purchase suitable travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.
It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.
The best times to visit Melbourne are between March and May and September and November. These shoulder seasons feature moderate temperatures and tourist crowds, plus lower airfare rates.
- Day 1: Laneway eateries and ALL the coffee.
- Day 2: Sporting Tours & A taste of culture.
- Day 3: World-class shopping and High Rolling.
- Day 4: Day trip to the coast – or the mountains!
- Day 5: Seaside relaxation in St Kilda.
- Day 6: Hang out with Australian furry friends.
Multicultural Melbourne frequently tops the list of the world's most livable cities. Visit this vibrant city at the head of Port Phillip Bay, and you'll see why. Australia's second largest metropolis exudes an unmistakably European feel.