Known for its many events and popular landmarks, there is definitely no shortage of reasons to visit Melbourne.
However, as with all popular tourist destinations, there are a few things that you really need to know before you get there.
The second-largest city in Australia and the capital of Victoria, Melbourne is a mix of modern metropolis and history dating back to the cities founding back in 1835.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Melbourne served as the capital city of Australia from 1901 to 1927 whilst Canberra was founded?
Having spent much time in Melbourne over the last several years, I’ve picked up a few things that will really help you out when you first arrive in the city. All of which you can read below.
Where To Stay In Melbourne?
As with all major cities around Australia, finding accommodation in Melbourne isn’t too much of a challenge. From backpacker to luxury, and hotels to short term apartments there is something for everyone.
That said, where you stay within Melbourne can have a big impact on your experience within the city. Particularly with the cities often fickle weather in the winter.
Staying within the CBD proper offers the most variety of options, but I would really recommend the following properties that are all within easy walking distance of a lot of the key parts of Melbourne.
- The Victoria Hotel – Conveniently located in the centre of the city and well presented while still being reasonably priced.
- QT Melbourne – A more premium experience, ideal for business trips. Make sure you check out the views from the inhouse restaurant.
- Punthill Apartment Hotel – Little Bourke – Ideal if you need to stay in Melbourne for a week or longer.
Southbank and South Melbourne is also a good area to stay while still being extremely convenient with easy access to the city.
- Crown Metropol Melbourne – Within in the Crown Casino complex, this is the ultimate in premium experiences while in Melbourne.
- Travelodge Hotel Melbourne Southbank – A clean comfortable option for those who are little more price-conscious.
If you would rather stay outside the city, while still being able to easily access it via the public transport system, then St Kilda is your best bet.
- Tolarno Hotel – Known for its local artwork, something a bit different while within walking distance to the beach and restaurants.
- Rydges St Kilda – A bit more of your traditional hotel experience and centrally located.
Getting To The City From Melbourne Airport
I should probably point out that Melbourne is serviced by two airports Tullamarine and Avalon. Well, technically three but commercial services don’t operate out of Essendon Airport.
The vast majority of flights operate out of Tullamarine which is known as Melbourne Airport, including most international, Qantas and Virgin domestic services. However, the budget airlines, Jetstar and AirAsia in particular, do have services through Avalon and Tullamarine. So it’s always good to double-check your flights in and out of Melbourne.
Fun Fact: Melbourne is the only major city (at this stage) in Australia with multiple airports. Sydney’s second airport isn’t due to be operational until 2026.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, the best, easiest and cheapest way to the city from either Tullamarine (Melbourne) or Avalon Airports is the Skybus service.
Skybus connects both airports to Southern Cross Station on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD. As part of the ticketed price, Skybus also includes a hotel drop off service to select locations around the city.
However, if you find that where you are staying isn’t covered, Southern Cross Station convenient connects with Melbourne’s trains, trams and busses and is also a central pickup point for Taxi’s, Uber and other ride-sharing services.
That said, if you are staying elsewhere in Victoria, then renting a car will be your best option. The public transport system within the city is fantastic, but beyond can be a little tricky to get around without a car.
Getting Around Melbourne
I know I’ve just made mention of it, but Melbourne’s public transport system within the city is one of the best in the world. Between the trains and the trams getting around the city and the surrounding areas is a breeze.
The Free Tram Zone within the CBD is a really great way to get around and sample the trams. But once you start to look at travelling beyond that you will need to purchase a Myki Card which is available at most convenience stores (7-Eleven and City Convenience) around the city.
It’s also worth noting that the way the CBD is laid out in a really neat grid, it makes Melbourne really easy to walk around and explore on foot. A particularly good way to discover the hidden-away street art and unique cafes that the city has to offer.
The only other thing I will mention is that Melbourne is one of the few cities you really don’t need a car to get around. Well, at least not within the tram network. That said if you do intend to drive around Melbourne, there are some unique rules that you need to know about. Especially with the tramlines in the CBD.
Getting Beyond The City
Once you start looking beyond the suburbs that surround the city, the trains are a good option.
Run as part of the Public Transport Victoria system, trains run a regular schedule connecting the city with outer city suburbs including Geelong, Ballarat, Glen Waverley and Frankston from both Southern Cross Station and Flinders Street Station.
Again you will need a Myki, but its really straight forward system. That could save you from renting a car while in Melbourne in most cases. Handy for those who are budget conscious.
That said, if you do plan on travelling beyond the train network or need a bit more flexibility in your travel arrangements then you will need a car.
Melbourne’s motorway network around the city is fairly straightforward getting you out of and/or around the city. Based on my experience the Bolte Bridge, in particular, can be a little tricky to navigate with late lane changes for exits. So just keep that in mind.
Otherwise if you can avoid the peak hours in and out of the city, both the trains and the motorways are fairly smooth experience.
What Should You Do In Melbourne
Melbourne has plenty to offer no matter why you need to travel there. Check out my whole blog post dedicated to the must do things while you are in the city.
Where To Find Food/What To Do In The Evenings?
Food and nightlife is part of the very essence that is Melbourne.
The first place I’ll direct you to is Southbank near the casino. You’ll find a variety of options from casual to fine dining along the riverfront. Then if you’d like to keep going into the event the Crown Casino also offers a variety of sports and cocktail bars.
Within the CBD, take a stroll along Little Bourke Street for the biggest concentration of restaurant options. There are plenty more options around the city for you do discover, but Little Bourke Street is a good place to start while you get your bearings.
Lygon Street in the cities north is famous for its Italian restaurants.
While Swanston Street near Chinatown is a great place to go if you are searching for authentic Asian flavours.
Pubs, nightclubs and all sorts of other venues are also scattered around the city. The best way to discover it all is to wander around Melbourne and see what grabs your interest.
If you’d like to get some more information to help in planning your trip to and around Australia… I’ve got a whole series of blog posts with all sorts of tips and advice to you.
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