Melbourne is Australia’s second city only by population. When it comes to culture, art, food and coffee, this is a city that competes and often beats it’s larger neighbour, sometimes by a healthy margin. Here are 12 things to do in Melbourne.
1 – QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET
The Queen Victoria Market, also known as Vic Market or Queen Vic, is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s home to fresh fruit and veg, meat and seafood, clothes, jewelry, arts and crafts and best of all, a whole section dedicated to cooked food, where you’ll find amazing snacks and food from all over the world. It’s open every day apart from Mondays and Wednesdays.
2 – DRINK AMAZING COFFEE
Australians take their coffee very seriously, and none-more-so than Melbournites, many of whom claim that their city is the best coffee city in the world. Standards are indeed very high, so if you love coffee, or even if you don’t, it’s worth making a stop in one of the countless coffee shops and cafes that are everywhere.
3 – CHECK OUT THE STREET ART
Melbourne is often described as the “Street Art Capital of the World” and with good reason. Many of Melbourne’s graffiti-adorned streets throughout the city centre are a testament to the city’s creativity, and are unsurprisingly one of the most popular places to grab an Instagram selfie. Check out AC/DC Lane (named after the Aussie rockers), Hosier Lane and Degraves Street in particular for some of the best street art.
4 – WANDER THE LANEWAYS
Melbourne’s laneways are where the heart of this city lies. Over 40 narrow streets in central Melbourne, each uniquely filled with restaurants, boutique shops, cafes, and plenty of other treasures (including street art). Grab a coffee, go shopping, eat food from all over the world, and at the end of the day, have a cocktail in a rooftop bar. This area is uniquely Melbourne, and there is nowhere in the world quite like it.
5 – CHILL IN ST KILDA
Around 20 minutes on the tram from central Melbourne is where you’ll find it’s closest and coolest Beach. Once Melbourne’s answer to Coney Island, St Kilda became the city’s hippy, and then hipster, hangout. As well as homing some of the city’s richest residents, it’s also a hub for subculture, although in recent years, unsurprisingly, it’s becoming more and more gentrified. That said, it’s still an accessible, cute and colourful seaside town, very near to the city but with a village feel.
6 – WATCH A GAME AT MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND (MCG)
With a capacity exceeding 100,000, the MCG (or “The G” as locals often call it) is the largest cricket ground in the world, the largest in Australia, and the largest stadium in the southern-hemisphere full stop. As well as Cricket though, The G plays host to Australia’s even larger sport; Aussie Rules Football, which regularly draws crowds of 70,000+. Four of Melbourne’s AFL teams play their home games here and the atmosphere is electric. Check the fixture list and if you happen to be around on gameday, General Admission tickets give you a good view and are a bargain at $27 AUD ($19 USD).
7 – SEE SOME LIVE MUSIC
Australia’s live music scene is among the world’s best and Melbourne is considered to be the best city in the country to see live bands. As well as playing host to a number of music festivals throughout the year, Melbourne’s many venues also host many international and local acts. Check the listings at Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, The Corner Hotel, The Old Bar and the Cherry Bar for starters.
8 – RIDE THE TRAM (FOR FREE)
Pick up a myki card from one of the street-side dispensers, stations or convenience stores and you’ll be able to jump on and off trams within the CBD and Docklands areas at absolutely no cost. The free zone is clearly marked on maps and onboard and outside of that, the fares are from $3-$5 AUD ($2-4 USD).
9 – WATCH A MOVIE AT THE WORLD’S MOST POPULAR FILM MUSEUM
Melbourne has a number of very cool museums and galleries but my favourite (being a movie nerd and video editor/producer), is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). It’s the world’s most visited film museum, and with good reason – the exhibits are excellent, and it also houses a couple of cinemas that play a great selection of art movies every day.
10 – ESCAPE TO NATURE IN THE DANDENONGS
The Dandenong Ranges (locally referred to as The Dandenongs) is an area of lush rolling hills 35km outside of Melbourne, home to rivers, lakes, reservoirs and forests that make for a good day or even overnight trip from the city. There are a number of hiking trails and places to swim and have a picnic, as well as plenty of hotels and spas. If you have a hire car, the drive around this area alone is lovely, and the best bit of all (if you’re a train geek like me) is Puffing Billy, a narrow gauge railway that chugs it’s way along a lovely route through forests and valleys.
11 – SHOP AND EAT AT BLOCK ARCADE
One of the many things Melbourne does very well is shopping. Yep, it has the usual international brands and gentrified shopping malls, but what it does best is boutique brands. The Block Arcade is one of the best examples of this; a beautiful old building (over 126 years old), you’ll find plenty of nice stores as well as a great strip of restaurants and cafes serving typically excellent (if a little overpriced) food and coffee.
12 – EAT IN THE GREEK PRECINCT & CHINATOWN
Melbourne is home to the largest Greek community outside of Greece and the Greek Precinct is one of the best places in the world to eat Greek Food. There are plenty of Greek restaurants and cafes in the Greek precinct which is basically Lonsdale Street around the Greek Community Centre (try Tsindos), and if you’re in Melbourne at the end of February, check out the Lonsdale Street’s Greek Festival. Greek music, art, dance and of course food attracted nearly 150,000 people to the street making it one of the city’s largest yearly events. Just down the road, Melbourne’s Chinatown claims to be the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western World. It’s also where you’ll find historical Chinese buildings, the Chinese Museum, and of course lots and lots of great Chinese grub.
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