If you are looking for a comprehensive Melbourne Travel guide, this is it!
The city of Melbourne lines Port Phillip Bay, and it stretches into the plains of Ballarat to the west, and out to the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges in the east. Additionally,The southern suburbs lead to the beach and holiday gem – Mornington Peninsula. Moreover, the murky Yarra River defines the city centre, dividing the busy CBD and the neat Southbank and its vast verdant gardens. Melbourne is home to 5 million people, and due to its huge popularity (perhaps greater than Sydney), its population continues growing.
MELBOURNE – THE GATEWAY TO ALL VICTORIA`S ATTRACTIONS
Melbourne is an ideal gateway to all attractions in Victoria. Within only a few hours driving, visitors can enjoy little penguins parading up the beach on Phillip Island, the spectacular Great Ocean Road and Twelve Apostles off the west coast, the charming villages around Bendigo, and the remnants of the gold mining era in the north, or the picturesque wine region of Yarra Valley in the east. Similarly, if you drive further up towards the Alpine National Park, you will be surprised to find snowy slopes at Mt Buller.
Consequently, from city enthusiasts, gourmets and shopping addicts to nature admirers, sports lovers and surfers – Melbourne has something to do for everyone.
MELBOURNE`S MAJOR POINTS OF INTEREST
Although the iconic Eureka Tower is the first building that comes to sight in the city, the Central Business District is much more than ultramodern skyscrapers. In fact, the area offers a smorgasbord of diverse experiences.
Landmarks like Flinders Station – once the busiest train station in the world, Federation Square, St. Paul Cathedral, Capitol Theatre, Melbourne Town Hall, State Library and the University of Melbourne are a feast for the eyes of all architecture lovers.
St. Patrick Cathedral is a spectacular example of Gothic Revival architecture, and the vast bluestone and freestone bulk of Parliament House presides over the city centre at the top of the Bourke Street – Melbourne`s glorious shopping zone. Collins Street and Spencer Street are another hotspots for all shopping enthusiast and food lovers.
The “tram-famous” Swanston Street, defined by important historic landmarks, shops, restaurants, is the best place where to get a feel for Melbourne`s character.
The most popular city promenade is wrapped around the Yarra River. The northern riverbank, fringed by the Immigration Museum, Melbourne Aquarium, and Melbourne River Cruises, is connected to the other side – Southbank, via several bridges.
Restaurants, nightclubs, cafes and ice creameries, musician and artisan street performances, and much more can be enjoyed in Southbank. Here, luxurious shopping malls, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, and Crown Plaza Casino proudly line the Yarra River. Also, the symbol of Melbourne – Eureka Tower, the Victorian Arts Centre and the National Gallery of Victoria, standing right the start of the promenade, make some of the most visited attractions in Melbourne.
The Southern Cross Station is not only the main railway station and Melbourne`s transport but also an important meeting, shopping and eating venue. The station is also the gateway to Docklands – another great entertainment area.
Docklands is well-known for Friday summer fireworks and the Melbourne Star and Observation Wheel, countless waterfront bars, shopping malls, vibrant Sunday markets, and other attractions like Black Light Mini Golf, Ice Arena, Fox Classic Car Collection, Lego Educational Centre and the Victoria Harbour Promenade.
To live in Port Melbourne is almost like a Melbourne dream. It is a posh bayside suburb with gleaming contemporary architecture and fantastic views. Upon arrival in Port Melbourne, is spotlessly neat streets, palm-lined paths, architect-designed houses, innovative high-rise apartment blocks that overlook the Port Phillip Bay and its private yacht club.
Furthermore, the backstreets of Port Melbourne offer elegant cafes and smart boutiques, which only the local ladies know about.Indeed renting a bicycle is the best way to explore the area, its beaches, and piers with pretty restaurants.
Ask yourself: “What metropolis does not have “Little Italy”? If there wasn`t one in Melbourne, one could never believe the city was built by the Italians. In fact, Melbourne is a sister city to Milan with the highest concentration of Italians within Australia.
Stopping by the celebrated Lygon Street in Carlton, it is easy to see why. Particularly, during the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Piazza Italia and the whole area is bathed in the yellow and red banner in support of the Ferrari Formula One team.
Strolling down the Lygon Street will takes you back to the old Italian days; stylishly dressed, promenading people, pimped up cars trying to draw attention of the girls, smell of the freshly baked pizza, romantic taverns, old-fashion Italian music and charming waiters calling out ever-the-same menu in pursuit of making alive the Italian stereotypes and bringing out the nostalgia of the “La Dolce Vita”.
Moreover, the highlight of the “passeggiata” is Brunetti Carlton – the symbol of Italian hospitality in Melbourne. With an immense array of tarts, cakes, and pastries, it is the Australian Disneyland for dessert addicts.
QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET
Melbourne city district is proudly a place where the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere was born. It is said that Queen Victoria Market is the heart and soul of Melbourne.
Indeed, the city owns great European heritage, and it has a long history associated with food and hospitality, brought over mainly from Europe, but also Asia, Middle East, and the American continent. Remarkably, the place has been serving the Melbournians since 20 March 1878.
The market is open six days a week, all year round. There are winter markets, summer markets, special events, permanent stores and seasonal stalls, organic product markets that sell international groceries, gourmet products, clothing, jewellery, artworks, homewares, souvenirs and more. Truly, the Victoria Market truly is a shopping-mecca offering world-wide cuisines at their best in a pleasant setting and vibrant atmosphere.
Chapel Street is the undisputed shopping gem of Melbourne. Exclusive designer fashion, trendy street style, posh eateries – this is the Melbourne show-off hotspot.
Strolling down the long street of Chapel you will get to feel the Melbourne vibes. Prahran -the southern end, is rather more vintage-ish, with nice markets, alternative cafes and op shops.
On the other hand, in the north of Chapel Street, a little different image comes to view: expensive cars, luxurious hotels, and fashionable stores, and if you get lost in the “Hollywood-style” suburbs of Toorak and South Yarra, some of the private mansions might just make your jaw drop.
ST KILDA & FITZROY
Although these two suburbs are kind of antipodes, yet they have much in common. They both are loved by social butterflies!
Notably, FITZROY & BRUNSWICK boast galleries, flower and art shops, organic cafes, funky bars and unconventional fashion style, and it is rather visited by students and local communities. The area is one of the most densely populated and oldest suburbs in Melbourne, and the locals are very proud of the Victorian architecture and cultural heritage – Brunswick in particular.
Conversely, ST KILDA often greets international tourists, party seekers, festival lovers and beach bums. The entire area is lively 24/7, and particularly in the summertime, there is always something going on. The precinct offers great entertaining options at the Fitzroy Street, restaurants, cafes and cake shops at the Acland Street, and the iconic Lunapark has been a much-liked seaside funfair since 1901.
Furthermore, if you are ready for a real spectacle to visit the Midsumma Festival – a radiant Gay and Lesbian festival held in St Kilda every summer. It is an equivalent to the famous Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney.
Equally captivating are The Catani Gardens, with the picturesque seaside setting, beachfront bars, restaurants, and a yacht club, are on every tourist`s bucket list. After dark, you can have a stroll to the end of the St Kilda Pier and meet the local penguin colony permanently living in the area.
Similarly, The O`Donnell Gardens come alive on Thursday evenings during the summer months when the open-air Twilight Markets introduce their qualities: great food, vintage wear, artworks, alternative music and dance performances.
GARDENS AND PARKS
Often referred to as “The City of Gardens,” Melbourne is renowned for its long English-influenced landscaping tradition. For example, the DOMAIN PARKLANDS is a vast, verdant recreational area, which spreads across 35 hectares beside the Yarra River. It comprises of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kings Domain, Alexandra Gardens, the historic La Trobe`s Cottage and the iconic Queen Victoria Gardens – home to the Queen Victoria Memorial and splendid Gardens` Floral Clock. The next-door Fawkner Park is as an extension to the domain.
There are numerous CENTRAL GARDENS within the Melbourne CBD: for instance, Flagstaff Gardens, situated right at the city heart, are often used by the office workers at lunchtime, and the nearby Fitzroy Gardens is a wonderful green area with lakes, fountains, sculptures and historical landmarks such as the James Cook`s Cottage. Similarly, another centrally located are the Carlton Gardens, and it is a significant domain listed as a World Heritage Site with their Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Centre.
ROYAL PARK is an extensive sporting and recreational venue that includes several sites, e.g., Melbourne University Campus, Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne General Cemetery, The Royal Children`s Hospital, Golf Course and many sports clubs and parks. Additionally, not far from the Royal Park, there is the home to the legendary Melbourne Cup – the Flemington Racecourse.
Likewise, YARRA PARK is a similar sporting place with numerous stadiums, ovals, arenas, cricket ground and Olympic Parks and Rod Laver Arena – the main venue for the Australian Open since 1988. Annually, the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix takes place in the Albert Park. There is also a golf course, aquatic centres, indoor and outdoor sports centres and ovals within the zone. Interestingly, the Albert Park overlaps with the Catani Gardens in St Kilda and enjoys close distance to the beach
YARRA BEND PARK is one of the most popular picnic areas for Melbournians. It stretches along the Yarra River from both sides, and it provides great bushwalking, cycling, and recreational activities. Studley Park Boathouse is the starting point for all activities.
In addition, the Collingwood Children`s Farm, including a farm market, is a great spot for families with young kids. The historic Abbotsford Convent has a relaxing atmosphere, and it is popular with couples and young people. For nature enthusiasts, the Andrews Reserve Trail, Bushland Circuit Trail, or a Dights Falls Walkaway are excellent choices
Although Melbourne is not exactly a “beach paradise” and it has always lived in the shadow of its greatest rival Sydney, there are some lovely seaside resorts even here. For example, the seaside St Kilda is rather known for its ambience than the actual beach, but if you take the coastal walk from St Kilda to Brighton, you will come across much nicer beaches.
These brightly coloured bathing boxes that line the Brighton Beach take the visitors back to the early days and today, they are the major attraction on the coast. Crescents of golden sands and clear blue waters make Brighton seem to be much further away from the city than it actually is.
Moreover, at Sandringham, visitors can find the most beautiful beach spot in Melbourne – Black Rock. As you move further south, around Frankston, the lifestyle becomes slower, and streets less busy, signaling that you have arrived in Mornington Peninsula – the celebrated holiday hotspot of Melbourne.
WHEN TO VISIT
Melbourne is good to visit anytime, as the major points of interest have little to do with the weather. However, if you are more interested in natural attractions and like to explore Greater Melbourne, travel in summer (Dec-March). Keep in mind, Melbourne weather has not the best reputation, and one can truly experience four seasons in one day any time throughout the year. Therefore, make sure you always have a spare jumper with you.
HOW TO GET THERE
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