Melbourne or once known as Batmania (not kidding…look it up) is a really cool city. The vibe is very different from Sydney and dare I say cooler? Both literally and figuratively. Situated south of Sydney the weather in Melbourne is cooler year round. Great for summer when you need a reprieve from the extreme heat, not fantastic in the winter when you need a heavy jacket. So summers are going to be my preferred time to travel down here.
The city is full of art, music, secret alley ways, and the food is incredible. It’s a foodie’s dream come true. So I will defend Australia against the haters because the quality and variety of food here is impressive. This wasn’t my first trip to Batmania oops I mean Melbourne (come on how awesome would that name be…), however, this was going to be my first time spending longer than a couple of days here. I started to really know my way around and felt very comfortable in Melbs.
They have a free tram which runs in the center of the city, which is pretty cool and then trams that extend outside of that area and buses. To use the transport you’ll need the myki Pass – this is $6 plus whatever you put on it. The transportation in Melbourne has a daily maximum cap and they also have weekly rates. This is something that we are really missing out on in Sydney.
Melbourne feels like the best parts of many cities combined into one. When walking around you can feel like you’re in NYC, Chicago, London, Paris, or Prague just based on the street you turned on. It’s very cool. Their coffee culture is also so impressive with some wild history too. I’m not even a huge coffee drinker and I was craving it daily.
Here are some of my top picks (in no particular order) if you’re planning on visiting Melbourne:
St. Kilda Penguins – It’s pretty freaken cool to see wild penguins okay and not behind glass at an aquarium. I recommend coming a bit earlier in the evening and checking out the pier as some of the penguins may be hanging out it and won’t be as dark or crowded at that time. Then head over to a cafe or restaurant for something to eat and drink. It’s perfect timing because it’s probably Happy Hour with some kind of special no mater what day you go at all the neighboring establishments. The penguins start coming back right after sunset so check your phone to see when that will be and head there 10ish minutes beforehand. Stand back and observe. They start coming one by one and then all at once are in the nooks of the pier. The penguins are smaller than you expect so it really is the cutest thing. Just make sure you don’t disturb them by using flash on your camera or touching/feeding them.
Hopetoun Tea Room – Has been in the Block Arcade since 1907. Rich with history and full of decadence this is the perfect stop of coffee or tea and a cake while shopping or exploring the city. They also have a breakfast and lunch menu, but it was on the more expensive end and not amazing. Although, they did make a modification to my order which was very much appreciated.
See a show – There’s tons of plays, musical performances, and comedy shows in Melbourne so pick your poison. I went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (finally).
Festivals – Check out if there are any outdoor festivals going on while you’re in town. I was there for the Night Noodle Market and it was to die for.
Cooking class – A really fun way to spend the afternoon. I took a tapas/paella cooking class. We went to a local market to pick up ingredients and then prepped and cooked in a small group over fresh sangria. I also found this class on Groupon.
Brighton Beach Boxes – On a sunny day definitely head over to Brighton Beach for some sun. The beach itself isn’t too impressive, but it’s nice to get a break from the city for a little bit and the beach boxes are really iconic.
Street Art – Melbourne’s art scene is world renowned and although it’s not quite legal the art is everywhere and don’t worry it’s totally safe to go into the alley ways. There’s Hosier Lane, Duckboard Place, AC/DC Lane to name a few of the popular ones, but you can just wander and stubble upon some laneways and cool art. There’s also the art galleries and exhibitions that are always changing so just google before you arrive to see what’s on.
Hidden Bars/Restaurants – I’m a sucker for a speakeasy and Melbs is full of them. There’s secret bars in alleys without signage that you only would know are there if you were looking for them (kind of the definition of a speakeasy), but then there’s also secret bars within bars (like one that’s hidden behind a bookcase). Just go out and explore. If you see a group of people just lingering around a brick wall there’s likely something just beyond it.
Eureka Skydeck – Get a bird’s eye view of Melbourne at about 975 feet from the ground. Known as the “highest public observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere.” It costs about $25AUD (less if you book online)
Markets – Queen Victoria Market is likely on any Melbourne to-do list you’ll see. It’s open every day, except Mondays, and sometimes with a special night market on Wednesdays. You can get fresh produce/food, cooked specialties, gifts, clothes. etc. Not as well known with tourists, but the South Melbourne Market is even better in my opinion (open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sundays). The markets are a perfect place to grab lunch and shop around.
The more I reflect on Melbourne the more I realized how fabulous of a time I had. I can’t wait to go back and see even more of it!