The Ultimate Melbourne City Break
January 1, 1970
by Rebecca Brunning
Perhaps you are thinking of visiting Melbourne, or perhaps you have a city break booked in Melbourne and you need some inspiration for your visit? Well, you have come to the right place. I’ve put together my favourite things to do in this beautiful city which will hopefully help you fall in love the way I have.
First off let me tell you a bit about getting into the city itself. By road, you can enter the city via CityLink with an E-tag or a visitor pass for one-off occasions. However, if you have hired a car your rental agency will explain about the toll road charges as you will already have an E-tag located in your vehicle. By train, you will arrive at Southern Cross Station where you can find City Circle trains and trams to connect you with other areas of the city. There are heaps of friendly faces around to help you find your next means of transport. I always use google maps and in Victoria, I used the Public Transport Victoria – Journey Planner to assist me in finding my way around. If you are arriving from the airport via the Skybus, you will also arrive at Southern Cross Station. You can find all information about fares and such at their website, it is only around $18 for a one-way ticket! Once you are in the city and you are thinking “Ok, where to now?”, you can use your Journey Planner to find trams, trains and buses to all of the locations listed below. However, most of which are within walking distance! Make sure you make use of the free City Circle Tram. It takes you around the city and is an attraction in itself with the old-fashioned style trams. It will explain to you where certain tourist attractions are and what is near each stop. There is also a public bike hire in the city, this is a great way to see the city and get your exercise in for the day!
Laneways and Coffee Culture
The laneways in Melbourne are absolutely superb and well worth a visit! As soon as you enter Degraves Street you are emersed in a European style culture with quaint little coffee shops and outside seating areas. Talking of coffee shops, the coffee culture in Melbourne is superb with its independent cafes popping up here there and everywhere. In the laneways themselves, you have an abundance of choice; coffee shops specializing in coffee and bagels for example or some specializing in doughnuts! In truth, Melbourne has so many cute cafes you just have to go out there and explore them all for yourselves but if I were you I would find the ones hidden away in nooks and crannies for the best Melbourne coffee experience. The laneways also hold jewellery shops, clothes shops, restaurants and bars. There is so much they can offer and so many of these European style streets, that even I, who lived in and out of Melbourne for two years, haven’t experienced it all.
If you wander past Federation Square and continue along Flinders Street on the left and heading east, you will find Hosier Lane, another laneway. This laneway is different, although it still has a coffee shop or two along with a restaurant and a bar! Hosier Lane is dedicated to Street Art, you will find beautiful pieces painted with spray paints by very talented people. We would visit Hosier Lane often and each time we were surprised by another new piece. I would also like to mention the street performers in this section because to me they are also Street Artists. You will be greeted by so many talented individuals as you find your way around the streets of Melbourne, they will truly brighten your day. In Federation square you will find some that stay for up to an hour and put on a whole show for you and the crowds.
The Yarra will always hold a special place in my heart, I fell in love with this beautiful river which flows through Melbourne. I love how you can walk, run or cycle along the banks of the river and find so many interesting things along the way. For example, the bridges in Melbourne, if you are like us and really into your photography they make for a photographers dream. Check out Webb bridge if you get the chance, it has a very interesting design.
You can also find so many beautiful places to eat, our personal favourite is ‘The Abory’, it is located just outside of Flinders Street Station. If you come out of the station and head towards the river you will find steps on your right that lead you down to the river and to the bar in question. Whenever we go, we order the same food every time; the double cheeseburger. It may sound regular but hear me out, it is honestly the best burger you will ever taste, they have got it just right. The pickles, the sauce and how well they cook the patties. This is an outside bar but it can be enjoyed any time of year, in the winter they have gas heaters and fire pits. It is, however, truly wonderful in the summer months. Sipping cold drinks and looking out onto the beautiful Yarra. From here you can see the Eureka Skydeck, which for a small fee you can go to the top of and see the amazing views of Melbourne.
Shrine Of Remembrance
Next on the list and something I feel is very important to mention is the Shrine of Remembrance. It is one of many truly magnificent war memorials in Australia and was built to honour the men and woman of Victoria who served in world war one. The designing of the Shrine was based on the Mausoleum of Maussollos which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. As you approach this beautiful building and climb the steps to the entrance, turn around and take in the glorious views of Melbourne through the parkland that surrounds the Shrine. Upon entering the Shrine it is important to be respectful and keep talking to a minimum. Once in the main entrance, you will come to the Stone of Remembrance which is inscribed with the words “Greater love hath no man”. If you are there in the month of November on the 11th day at the 11th hour (Remembrance Day), you are in for a special treat. There is an aperture in the roof that allows a ray of sunlight to shine through and light up the word “Love” in the inscription on the stone. As you continue through the shrine you will be greeted with collected artefacts from the families of those fallen. In the crypt below you will be able to see the Gallery of Medals. One medal represents a hundred Victorians who have served. At 5 pm each day there is a Flag Ceremony which the general public can attend, we stumbled across it one day and were so happy to have experienced it. Don’t forget to climb the stairs to the top of the shrine and take a walk around the balcony, there are sweeping views of the city, Port Phillip Bay and St. Kilda.
When in Melbourne you are never too far from the ocean. Head to St. Kilda for a day at the beach or an afternoon at Luna Park. Luna Park is a small theme park with a rollercoaster and other thrill rides for all ages. St. Kilda is very good for shopping and a good place to grab some food or listen to live music in The O’Donnell Gardens. There is also a market every Sunday along the esplanade. In the summer, be sure to hit up the Twilight Market.
Brighton is home to some of Melbournes wealthiest, beautiful homes line the streets there and are worth walking by. I am only going to briefly mention Brighton because it is a lovely place and shouldn’t be missed. We haven’t done much in Brighton, however, we did hit the beach to find the beautiful English style beach huts that are painted in all sorts of ways. Trust me, they make for very good postcard photo to send the family back home.
Shopping, food and Accommodation
St. Kilda is a very good place for backpackers, plenty of hostels and backpacker bars. The bars all have backpacker budget-friendly drinks and meals so it is an ideal spot for you to settle in order to explore the delights of the city. Although if the backpacker scene isn’t for you, there are plenty of accommodation options in and around the city. Accommodation is superb in Melbourne and you can get a cheap private room or even an entire place on Southbank for an affordable price. If you are looking for that ultimate city experience I would recommend getting an apartment in the CBD (Central Business District). We have had a few apartments in our time, the views are incredible and the apartments aren’t too shabby either!
For the city shopping experience I would hit up Bourke Street Mall, it has every shop you can think of and is laid out on the one street so it is impossible to get lost! Melbourne Central is also another good spot, this is more of a shopping centre and is mostly undercover so very good on a rainy day. You can find a cinema, bowling centre, escape rooms and lots of other activities to keep you busy.
You won’t be stuck for food in the city, amongst all your usual chain restaurants you also have the individually owned restaurants and eateries. If you fancy Greek, head to the Greek Precinct on Lonsdale Street. If you fancy Chinese, head to Chinatown on Little Burke Street or perhaps Italian? Head to Little Italy on Lygon Street, the possibilities are endless!
So, where will your Melbourne city break take you? I’d love to hear all about it!