Cool Guide to Melbourne
As I already mentioned when I came back from Australia I absolutely loved Melbourne. It is so easy to see why it has been voted the most liveable city for the last seven years. It is such a vibrant city with its street art and I could have spent so much longer exploring the city 5 days was not enough. In fact, this is one of the only places I have visited on my travels so far that I could actually see myself living. The city is so clean, I didn’t see any homeless people they must have been there maybe in the areas I didn’t visit. Everyone I met was so friendly and welcoming.
I visited in October it seemed very quiet the weather was still a little chilly but when the sun did come out it was nice and there were a few showers. However, I thought it was perfect time for exploring the city as I can not do too much sightseeing if it is too hot as it makes me tired and cranky.
The streets seem to be in a grid style and a lot of them are named after English Monarchy.
There always seems to be something going on in the city so its well worth checking what is on during your trip to Melbourne you can find some very useful and up to date information here. I would also recommend having a look on Groupon to see if you can save any pennies for the tourist attractions or even somewhere to eat in the city. I got 50% off the hop on bus and 50% off a river cruise which were both really enjoyable.
Getting to Melbourne
I have always been put off visiting Australia purely as it is so far away from the UK. As I am not the best flyer I thought how could I be on a plane for so long but I actually loved the flight. We managed to get a great deal on a Business class flight to Melbourne with Vietnam airlines and stopover in Vietnam with free tour and hotel and then returning to the UK with premium economy which was still good. I flew into Sydney spent a few days there and then got a domestic flight to Melbourne with Virgin Australia. This was the best option for us as we were limited with our time. If I had longer I would have used the train, so I could see more of the country side but this flight was just over 1 hour and better value.
The international airport in Melbourne is called Tullamarine. We used the Sky bus to get to the city from the airport it was so easy to use and very reliable, we were even lucky enough that one of the stops was right outside our hotel. When we were returning to the airport we used a door to door service purely because it was such an early flight.
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Transport in Melbourne
I loved the wide roads I could even see my self driving in Melbourne or at least when I left the city as the roads didn’t seem manic. I haven’t driven for a few years but if I was to spend more time in Australia I would seriously think about hiring a car as it is so large and to explore properly own transport is required you can find out about reliable car hire in Melbourne here. There is no jay walking in Melbourne, in the UK it is so popular to see someone crossing the road at any point but in Melbourne you can be issued with penalties especially if you cross the road within 20 meters of a proper crossing.
One of the things that I loved about the city was the free tram. We used it a couple of times I admit it was kind of strange getting on a tram and not paying but unless you are going past a certain point then it really is free. There is an announcement on the tram to say, “we are about to leave the free area if you are carrying on your journey please purchase a ticket”. There is also a free tourist tram no 35 which again we used as it goes past most of the major tourist attractions however it was packed so you are not going to be able to see much and there is no commentary but it will get you from A to B.
There were plenty of buses in the city and they seemed to be very popular if you want more details about the buses you can check their website here. https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/projects/buses/
flinders street station is an iconic building in Melbourne. “It was the first railway station in an Australian city and the world’s busiest passenger station in the late 1920s.” (source Wikipedia ) It was having a refurb during my visit so I didn’t get to see it full scale architecture. You can get trains from Melbourne to many places in Australia and lot of them making perfect day trips from Melbourne.
I used Uber in the city and there is also a app called Silver taxis which I did download but never used, this is an easy way to book a taxi in the city.
Things to do in Melbourne
Being from Bristol the home of Banksy one of the worlds most famous street artists I love seeing what the other cities around the world has to offer. Street art is not to be confused with graffiti which I feel is more about vandalism, but street art is exactly as the name suggests it is art and some of it is so amazing. There is a famous street that is known as street art alley in Melbourne but to be honest I wasn’t that impressed. Maybe because it was absolutely packed with tourists, so I couldn’t really see the art, but I found some alleys just on my walk around the city that has some very talented artists. I found some great pieces by the Vic Market.
I loved Victoria Market, and this is actually one of the reasons I could see myself living in Melbourne. This market has everything you could imagine. I enjoyed looking around the tacky souvenir section, but the best bit was the food hall. I would like to live near this market and I could see myself going every few days for my fresh food and it wasn’t even that expensive. We were staying in an apartment in Melbourne so got some steak and chicken from the market and it was a fraction of the cost of eating out obviously but also really food quality.
Federation Square is a great meeting place in the city and it seemed to have so much going on. There were large screens with music playing, stalls and people dancing or just chilling with their friends. You can find out more about what is going on at federation square on their website.
Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Garden is a great place to see some of the plants and flowers that grow in this region also a lovely place to spend some hours if the weather is nice and sunny for a chilled afternoon.
One thing that surprised me about Melbourne was the amount of green space. We stayed near the Victoria Market and we were opposite Flagstaff gardens which was a park popular with locals who were sat reading, there was even a cake sale going on and people were playing sport, considering this is in the middle of the city it is great there are places for recreation such as this.
The IMAX cinema is the 3rd largest in the world if you are a little bored or sightseeing or it is raining this is the perfect place to spend a few hours.
The Icehouse (also known as the O’Brien Group Arena) is a sporting arena in the Docklands area of Victoria. It has various events going on throughout the year including spots and shows and you can even do a spot of ice skating.
Tours in Melbourne
Street art tour
There are several street art tours in Melbourne but one that stood out for me and I would have done this if I had time was the Melbourne Street Tours as it is run by actually street artists. They would be able to tell you some of the stories and explain about the techniques that are used.
Cemetery and night tour
You might think it is a bit strange to do a cemetery tour when you are travelling but they can be so interesting and can give you an excellent history into the destination you are visiting. Plus I love anything spooky and doing a tour of a cemetery at night can be so atmospheric. Click here for more information on cemetery tours in Melbourne.
I did a ghost tour with Lantern Tours and it was enjoyable. It wasn’t scary and to be honest didn’t involve that much walking. I would have liked a few more stories and some of it did seem repetitive but since I always do ghost tours when I visit a city it had to be done.
Hop on bus
I did the hop on bus which I always do when visiting a new place as it gives me a great insight into the city but to be honest if you only have a short visit in Melbourne I would recommend just using the tourist tram and the free city trams to get you to the cities attractions. unless you can get a good discount on Groupon. I didn’t think this was one of the best bus tours I have been on it was lacking interesting information and it didn’t even have wifi.
The Great Ocean Tour
If you are in Melbourne you definitely need to try and get to the see the great ocean road and it was so beautiful and one of the highlights of my trip. As we didn’t have a car we used a company that offered group tours called Go West tours and it was brilliant. It was a small group varied in nationalities. Our driver was also the tour guide and gave us lots of useful information and was funny as well as friendly helping with any guest questions.
The ocean road is beautiful and a lot of the time I was just looking out the window looking at the amazing scenery. One of the stops was a holiday park that has its own resident koalas. This is the first and only time we saw koalas in the wild. I thought they would be all over Australia but was slightly disappointed they weren’t. But this was amazing we spent some time here as this is where we had a delicious lunch and then I just went and watched the koalas in the trees who were looking down at us I bet they were thinking “another group of people that just keep watching us”. There were also some beautiful birds in the trees.
Eating in Melbourne
To be truthful I didn’t eat out in Melbourne as we had an apartment, so we could save some money and got our fresh produce from Victoria Market. However, I did see a colonial tram restaurant which looked so much fun. The tram travels through the city whilst you have a 3-course lunch or dinner. People would stop and wave as the tram went past. The prices were also quite reasonable unfortunately I didn’t know about this and it was fully booked for the days we were in Melbourne.
There are sections of the food market where you can buy fresh produce but also nearly everything else you can think of. There were stalls selling hot food, cakes and pastries cheese and meats we spent a good few hours just looking around everything.
Lygon street is known as little Italy where you can find many delicious Italian restaurants.
Interesting fact : Melbourne is twinned with Milan
Witches in Britches
The Witches in britches is a interactive dinner show, definitely something different to do whilst you are in Melbourne. It has excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and I would book this next time I am in town as it was fully booked the night I was free so book in advance.
Accessibility in Melbourne
One of the things I noticed were all the disabled toilets seemed to be out of order. I even asked at the information tourist office and they sent me to one that was out of order and then the attendant there sent me to another one that was out of order this could have been drastic for someone who was in real need.
The traffic lights make a noise when it is time to cross which is good for people with visual impairments. However, the time to cross did seem quite short and we were only just making it over the road in time.
I found the city a little hilly, my mother was using her walking cane and people were considerate and were not banging into her and we also felt we could take our time. I have visited cities when everyone is rushing around, and it can be a bit chaotic if you have mobility limitations but both of us felt at ease.
Thank you to Go West Tours and Lantern tours for my complimentary tours whilst visiting Melbourne.