Travel Guide: Melbourne, Australia

I have a confession to make. I’ve been to Melbourne three times, but have not seen any other places in Australia…yet. My excuse is that I have family there and Melbourne simply is a very loveable city. It’s been rated the most liveable city in the world for multiple years, but lately it has become quite overcrowded and congested, I hear. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful place and soon you’ll see why. Be aware though (sigh) that Melbourne is, unfortunately, one of the more expensive places to visit.

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A lot of what you’ll be doing in Melbourne will involve eating, but we’ll get to that. Let’s start with what you can do. The Royal Botanic Gardens is a lush, green paradise where you can leisurely stroll, have a picnic or afternoon nap. On the outside, around the garden, is The Tan (track) where you'll find committed joggers in the morning and evenings.

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Degraves Street (mainly cafés) is a laneway that feels like a Harry Potter set. The Block Arcade (mainly shopping) has its own flair of glamour and transports you back in time. Then there’s Hosier Lane which is Melbourne’s famous graffiti spot.

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In Summer, movies are screened outdoors at certain locations, one of the most popular being the Botanic Gardens. Sink into a bean bag and order food from the waiters going around while you enjoy a story under the stars.

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If you’re into art, be sure to head over to the National Gallery of Victoria. Apart from the permanent collection, you can enjoy various themed exhibitions. When I visited the last time, selected art pieces were linked to philosophical questions inspired by The School of Life. The Gallery is definitely one of the more innovative ones I’ve seen.

Tennis fans, listen up: plan your trip so that you can attend the Australian Open. You will not regret it! The buzz in the CBD is even more contagious during the month of January.

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When the city gets too much, take a walk along St Kilda beach or Brighton beach, pictured below.

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Need a break from playing tourist? Head to popular holiday destination, Lorne, for a few days of pure bliss.

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On 31st December there’s a spectacular fireworks display to ring in the New Year.

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Where to stay

Unfortunately I can’t be of much help here, as I just crashed with family. Be that as it may, I really like the South Yarra area, as it is suburban enough, but close to The Botanic Gardens and the city. Melbourne has a tram system, which operates pretty well, but it’s on the expensive side. So, rather pack those sneakers!

Where to eat and drink

There is no shortage of places where you can tickle those tastebuds, but here are some of my top picks. Top Paddock is famous for its brunch like this ricotta hotcake.

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The Queen Victoria Market is often recommended to tourists, but I also quite like the Prahan Market. Melbourne is one of the world’s coffee capitals and if you like yourself some caffeine, there won’t be enough hours in the day to try out the variety available to you. Need gifts to take back home? Some beans from Jasper Coffee might be a good idea.

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Maybe I’m delusional, but it seems like even the junk food in Melbourne tastes artisanal and like-it’s-not-so-bad-for-you. Schnitz has delicious burgers and wraps and beer-battered fries. Also consider 8bit for burgers, Father’s Office and Arbory on the side of the Yarra River.

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I’m also pretty sure that you’ll love Pidapipo’s gelato in Little Italy. DON’T MISS Lune Croissanterie over in Fitzroy, one of my absolute favourite eats. A location in the city has recently opened as well.

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Entrecote, a few kilometres from the center, is a small and quaint Parisian steakhouse and café with its own hole-in-the-wall for coffee too. Just down the road you’ll find the popular Golden Triangle where locals indulge in Thai food.

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Also on my list…

  • The Yarra Valley, Victoria’s wine producing region

  • Roadtripping the Great Ocean Road

  • People often make jokes about how all Australians are descended from convicts, but I think the Immigration Museum must have fascinating information