Think Melbourne and chances are no real tourist icons spring to mind. Often overlooked in favour of its showy sister Sydney, the Victorian capital prefers to attract visitors in a cooler, more demure way – think multicultural rave restaurants, a relaxed cafe culture, year-round festival fever, dream daytrip spots, plus the best shopping Australia has to offer. Below are the city’s top ten sights, attractions and generally quintessential Melburnian things to do.
Experience Melbourne’s Bustling Festival, Cafe & Restaurant Scene
One thing visitors simply must do while in Melbourne is to experience one of the city’s many festivals. Recently crowned ‘Events Capital’ of Australia, Melbourne has a festival of one form or another going on almost year-round so there’s no need to plan in advance. Melbourne’s fervour for a festival sees the city streets transformed into a haven for tourists and natives alike to celebrate, well, just about anything. All of Melbourne’s festivals include free events.
Food and drink is a big part of Melbourne’s festivals and of city life in general. In fact, Melburnians dine and drink out more than any other Australian city. And why wouldn’t they, being blessed with the country’s largest number of cafes and restaurants per capita. Coffee connoisseurs, take a wander down Flinders Lane or treat yourself to an iconic coffee and cake on Acland St, St Kilda.
But it’s not just cafes that line Melbourne’s streets. Due to its European influence, the restaurant scene is a magnifiscently multicultural affair. Little Bourke St is Chinatown, Carlton is largely Italian fare while traditional Aussie kangaroo is increasingly popular about town. Koala’s are considered both too endangered and too cute for consumption. For Melbourne’s best cheap eateries, read Melbourne’s Best Vegetarian Cheap Eats.
Tram it to Melbourne’s Best Shops, an ‘Australian Rules’ Match or the Set of Famous Soap ‘Neighbours’
And why not ride the trams with a shopping destination in mind? Melbourne loves to shop and with some of the biggest names in fashion down to the greatest, one-off local designers, it’s no surprise it’s known as the shopping capital of Australia. Collins St is home to high-end haute couture, Bourke St is more highstreet, while Chapel St is great for unique local fare.For information on the best bargain shopping in Melbourne, have a look at Best Factory Outlet Shopping in Melbourne.
And now one for the lads. If shopping’s not your thing, why not take in a game of Australian Rules Football or ‘footie’ as they say Down Under? While Melburnian’s are a relatively sedentary bunch, they don’t take their team-supporting lying down and are frequently seen sporting their favourite teams colours. Match tickets range from $42-$150.But it’s not its sporting heroes who have put Melbourne on the map so much as its famous soap opera ‘Neighbours’. With this in mind, the ‘Neighbours Tour’ now runs twice daily, visiting all the major sets including Ramsay Street. The ‘Neighbours Night’ also takes place every Monday night in St Kilda. Tickets are available at the Neighbours Shop, 570 Flinders St. For more info on the Neighbours tour and night, have a look at Meet the Cast of Australian Soap Neighbours.
A suburban delight of another variety, Melbourne’s inner neighbourhoods are attractions in themselves. Up North, Carlton and Fitzroy are reknowned for their vivacious, bohemian cafe culture. South of the river lie posh Prahran and South Yarra where perpetually busy Chapel St draws crowds to shop, dine and drink. Further south lies relaxing bayside ‘burb St Kilda.
Smack bang back in the centre of the action is Federation Square, Melbourne’s public hub. Built in 2002, it was quickly embraced as a public space to flock to for a coffee, a bit of culture and the many free events. It’s also the best place for protesting and the location of the Melbourne Visitor Information Centre.
Daytrip to Melbourne’s Nearby Beaches, Wineries & Mountains
Melbourne has a lot of sights and attractions to offer. Ironically though, the quintessential thing to do in Melbourne come the weekend, is to leave it and venture further afield. The Yarra Valley is home to 30-odd boutique wineries, while the nearby Dandenong Ranges offer walking/hiking trails drawing all the fitness freaks. The Mornington Peninsula offers a long stretch of the best beaches in Victoria while the greatest daytrip of all is the Great Ocean Road, a drive to blow all those cobwebs away.