Melbourne has consistently been voted as the most liveable city in the world for seven years in a row. This reason alone is why you must visit Melbourne to see what the fuss is all about. The city has a unique culture that differentiates itself apart from any other city in the world.
Visitors to Melbourne can expect to find an eclectic mix of world class dining, shopping, sporting venues and events, theatre, live music, rooftop bars, laneways, markets and street art that showcases its individuality, creativity and uniqueness. The city is always buzzing with activity but there are also many getaways spots for a quiet weekend away at Phillip Island National Park, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra River or Mt Buller and Mt Hotham.
It is hard to describe the vibe of the city to you. You just need to go and experience it for yourself. Here are ten reasons why we think you should visit Melbourne.
10. Gourmet Food Scene
Melbourne has the one of the best gourmet food scenes of any city that I could think of. Whether it is coffee, chocolate, sweets, pastries, whisky, wine or gourmet food that you crave there is something to suit everyone’s taste and budget.
Lygon St is Melbourne’s Little Italy with famous delicatessens, restaurants, artisan gelato, coffee and late night artisan wine and cheese cafés. Whether it is a Friday night or a Tuesday night, you will always find this area bustling with people till late in the evening eating great food and socialising with friends, family or colleagues.
Melbourne’s Chinatown can be found on Little Bourke Street between Swanston and Spring St. The impressive arches will alert you to the fact that you are entering a distinct are steeped in history and brimming with Asian grocers, noodles houses, herbalists and retail outlets that extend into nearby arcades.
The many laneways and arcades of Melbourne have also given a home to trendy bars, cafes, patisseries and chocolate shops that ensure that city workers and tourists will never go hungry or thirsty. The once unused laneways are now filled with businesses, noise and laughter. There are now so many laneways that food tours are offered taking people to the best coffee/macaroon/dumpling/chocolate places in the city.
The city has so many award winning restaurants it is not possible to name them all here but rest assured you will be satisfied with the gourmet food that is on offer at any time of the day or night.
Melbourne is one city that you can shop till you drop, in fact, even the men will enjoy shopping here. There are bargains galore to be found at the inner city outlets- DFO South Wharf, Harbour Town Docklands. Designer bargains can also be found outside of the city on Bridge Road, Richmond and Smith Street in Collingwood.
Shopping at the Queen Victoria Markets has become one of the cities most popular tourist attractions. The historic markets have been operating for 139 years and the site has been used at one point as a cemetery and a livestock and fruit and vegetable market. The markets now house over 150 stalls that operate five days a week. The shopping destination has not lost its connection to it origins and still operates as a food market with several deli halls, butchers, seafood outlets and eateries on site.
Visitors can get their shopping at any of the inner city shopping centres but there is nothing like purchasing an item or souvenir from an independent boutiques or artists. The laneways and historic arcades are pieces of artwork themselves and you are sure to find a hidden treasure. Have fun exploring them on your own or join a shopping tour and shop to your heart’s content at warehouses, outlets and little known boutiques.
8. Sporting Events
Sports fans love Melbourne because of its world class venues that host Rugby League, Australian Rules, Cricket and Tennis. This can be attributed to its sporting precinct in the city centre at the iconic MCG, Etihad Stadium, AAMI Park, Melbourne Park and Hisense Arena.
Throughout the year, football matches attract hundreds of thousands of passionate and loyal fans from both codes who travel from far and wide to follow their favourite teams.
Motor sports enthusiasts will enjoy the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix and the MotoGP and tennis fans from all over the world come to Australia to see their favourite players at the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam. This grand slam is a favourite with Raffa Nadal and Rodger Federer who often end up playing each other in the grand final. Serena Williams also loves to play here and Australian fans love to watch her in action.
The first Tuesday of November the Melbourne Cup is held at Flemington Racecourse in a race that stops the nation. The fashion, glitz and glamour of the day and the events leading up to the race are just as exciting as the horse racing.
These sporting venues also hold large stadium concerts for international artists that travel to Australia. Most recent concerts include Adele, Coldplay, U2, ACDC, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Pink and many more who play several stadium shows when they tour in Australia.
The venues kindly open up to the public when they are not hosting sporting events and sporting fans will love taking a sports tour walking around the venues that they have seen on TV to hear first hand about historic sporting moments.
7. Laneways and Architecture
The laneways of Melbourne are iconic and have become culturally important to the city. Unused laneways have been revitalised and turned into trendy cafes, art galleries, boutiques and a canvas for street artists.
The laneways have featured artworks in the past from the elusive ‘Banksy’ and other artists in approved locations throughout the city. The colourful artwork in public spaces provides a gallery for creative and artistic expression and the artworks change on a regular basis.
In fact, the street art has become so popular that street art tours are now offered so that you can discover the many hidden laneways of the underground art scene. If you are lucky you may even visit when an artist is on site and see first hand how they create their masterpiece.
Some of the best street art locations are in ACDC lane that pays tribute to the Australian band. Other street art can be found in Hosier Lane, Centre Place, Flinders Court, Union Lane, Presgrave Place, Russell Place, Stevenson and Tattersalls Lane, Drewery and Sniders Lane and Blender Lane.
Melbourne has become a very modern and trendy city but it has not forgotten its heritage. The city celebrates its history by maintaining, restoring and sharing its heritage building and theatres. Walking around the city you will spot modern high-rise hotels and office blocks mixed amongst beautiful old arcades sand stone heritage listed buildings, decadent theatres and old government buildings that are still in operation and open to the public. Those with a keen eye for architecture will enjoy walking around this city because of the diversity and rich history.
6. Public Transport
Ordinarily you would not travel the world to see another cities public transport system, however, it is an important factor in contributing to an enjoyable and stress free holiday. Melbourne is also the only city in Australia to still run trams in and around the city centre and while they have been replaced by a more speedy and modern fleet you can still find the traditional trams in operation.
These streetcars are not just a fun and easy way to get around but a iconic symbol of the cities heritage. The City Circle tram is a free tram that travels around the city in both directions taking you to the tourist hotspots. Everyone needs to jump on for a ride at least once and if nothing else your feet will get a few minutes rest. The easy of accessibility around the city is what makes it one of the most liveable cities in the world. The City Circle runs 7 days a week between the hours of 10am-6pm and later on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and takes approximately 1 hour to circle the outskirts of the city.
Trams,trains and buses also operate in and out of the CBD to other popular tourist destinations such as St. Kilda, Brighton, Richmond and Docklands. The city is very walkable though and those who make the effort are rewarded by the discovery of new laneways and arcades, cafes and street artworks.
5. Cultural Events
Image: Her Majesty’s Theatre – Melbourne
Melbourne is easily the cultural capital of Australia with several theatres, art galleries, museums and live music venues. The city also has several festivals and events scheduled throughout the year. It is unlikely that you will be bored in Melbourne as there are always something happening. From fashion to art, film, food, sport, music, kids events or spiritual and multicultural festivals- the city is always buzzing with activity. Christmas in Melbourne is truly magical for children with the cities extravagant decorations and the carols by candlelight at the Sidney Myer Bowl attracting thousands of peoples every year.
If you are interested in theatre than you can easily find many international and local productions in decadent, historic theatres. If international musicals and blockbuster dramas come to Australia it is Melbourne that they visit first. There is also a very big comedy scene here with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival held here every year and regular shows throughout the year.
The city also comes alive in January with the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam and various cricket matches. Later in the year on the sporting calendar, the football season begins with a bang with Rugby League and Australian Rules played at various world class sporting venues around the city.
4. Snow season
Believe it or not, but a lot of Australians have never even seen snow. Our warm climate means that there are only a handful of places that reach temperatures cold enough to ever receive snowfall in the winter. The Victorian Alps are one of those places and there is a very vibrant snow season at the alpine resorts north-east of Melbourne.
The alps are approximately 2-4 hours drive from Melbourne depending on whether you travel to Mt Baw Baw, Mt Buller and Mt Stirling or Hotham and Falls Creek. The Victorian Alpines are a great place to visit whether you want to experience the novelty of snow and skiing for the first time or you are a seasoned pro back at home. Tours are available to take you out to the alpine region to experience skiing.
3. Mornington Peninsula
The Mornington Peninsula is a charming area just one hour from Melbourne. Ideal for a day trip or a weekend getaway there are so many things to see and do. The rural area is a great place to head out on a road trip and enjoy the fresh country air. Visit a lavender farm, wander through hedge mazes, take a beach horse ride, stroll through the gardens and literally smell the roses or slide into the Peninsula Hot Springs.
You won’t go thirsty here either as there are several wineries and microbreweries in the area. Find your designated driver and head out on the ‘Beer, Cider and Spirits Trail’ or the ‘Wine Food Farmgate Trail’. Many cellar doors are open to the public and have stunning views overlooking the winery and the peninsula. Artisan retailers in the area finish off the gourmet food and wine experiences.
2. Phillip Island National Park
Phillip Island National Park is only 90 minutes from Melbourne and is filled with an abundance of wildlife. It is here that you can see first hand what is called the ‘Penguin Parade’. Every evening the penguins return home at sunset to one of the largest penguin colonies in Australia on the beach at Phillip Island.
To view the Penguin Parade you must book ahead as park rangers only sell a limited number of seats per day to this incredible experience. Tiered seating and raised boardwalks run parallel to the penguin pathways and shelters for close viewing.
This is a unique experience and one of those things that you must do at least once in your life. Seeing wild penguins up close as they go about their day is a marvellous thing to watch. Bring your winter woollies though as you will be sat out in the open by the beach and it is cold even in summer.
1. Great Ocean Road
It is the 12 Apostles that have put this region on the map. The dramatic limestone cliffs and rugged coastline along 243 kilometres of Victoria’s coastline are an instagrammer’s dream but the Great Ocean Road has so much more to offer and definitely should not be missed. The road trip is one of the best scenic drives you can take in Australia.
The drive takes you through a variety of landscapes from coastal towns to fishing villages to roads that are lined by rainforest and rivers. Along the way you will see waterfalls and gorges and ancient mossy trees. If you have the time, stop by at Bells Beach in Torquay. This scenic coastal town is a surfing hotspot and professional surfers converge here every year for the Rip Curl Easter Pro.
The journey out to the Great Ocean Road will likely take you through Apollo Bay and Anglesea where roads are lined by stunning views of the Southern Ocean and the Bass Strait. There are various designated sights along the road that you can stop at because everyone loves to stare at the ocean and beaches below. The views are mesmerising but further down the road you will come across The Otways rainforest.
The Otway Ranges is a lush rainforest with several waterfalls. Enjoy relaxing walks and picnics in stunning surroundings. See giant tree ferns and ancient plants on the fly with the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk and Zipline Tours. Serious hikers might like to take the 104 kilometre Great Ocean Walk through idyllic towns and national parks.
The highlight of the journey is the limestone cliffs that were created over millions of years through erosion of the seaside cliffs. See the ‘London Bridge’, which was originally a bridge to the cliffs edge but has been a victim of natural erosion, or take a walk down Gibson steps to get a sense of the size of these magnificent vertical cliffs. It should be noted that despite the name there are now only 8 Apostles left standing due to natural erosion over time but the these incredible limestone cliffs and stunning ocean views are worth the hype it receives.
Day and overnight tours are available to Great Ocean Road if you prefer to let someone else do the driving while you admire the scenery. And who could blame you it is a beautiful scenic drive.
For more ideas of what you can see and do in and around Melbourne head to our main experiences page.