Melbourne is the top destination in Australia for those who prefer to gaze at the glass ceiling of the historic Block Arcade rather than soak up the sun on a beach. Numerous festivals take place there, such as the International Art Festival and the International Film Festival, the Australian Ballet and the Melbourne Symphony. Along with a host of museums, galleries and cobbled streets full of imaginative street art of world-famous Banksy and other talented artists, Melbourne has become the cultural hub of Australia.
Lift your gaze and search for the most hip terraces. Watch movies hooded on your blanket at Rooftop Cinema, relax in the pool or drink a cocktail overlooking the illuminated cityscape. Take a tour of the city by jumping on the City Circle Tram to see the Aquarium, the Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the peculiar modern architecture of Federation Square.
Before heading for a drink at the famous rock bar on AC/DC Lane, admire the typical stained glass ceiling at the National Gallery of Victoria and stroll through the boutiques of the beautiful Victorian Post Office. When Melbourne weather begins its familiar whims, even in hot welcoming summers) Block Place’s outdoor cafes are always a good choice.
How to Get There
The country is immense, and the major cities are far apart. Unless you have the time and money to rent a car for days, the best solution is to travel by plane. Indicatively, the distance Melbourne – Canberra, although it seems small on the map, is 650 km (10 hours by car) and another 300 km to Sydney. However, there are many idyllic car routes, such as the Great Ocean Road, Nullarbor Crossing, Coral Coast, and Brisbane – Cairns. Driving in Australia is on the left, as in England.
If you depart from Sydney or any other airport in Australia, you can pre-book airport parking, to cut down the expenses of your trip. Simply look for Sydney airport parking, and you’ll be amazed about the host of options you have. The sooner you reserve an airport parking spot, the lowest rates you’ll find.
Places to Visit
There are numerous remarkable landmarks and places of interest to visit in Melbourne that we feel sorry we can’t mention all of them in this guide. However, no visitor should overlook the following.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Royal Botanic Gardens constitute a green area of incomparable beauty on the south bank of Yarra River. Designed in 19th-century garden architecture, the Gardens is an outdoor tapestry of endemic and exotic plants, swan lakes, ideal for relaxation, walks and picnics.
They admittedly are the most beautiful botanic gardens in the world. It is an oasis near the city centre, with lakes, exotic plants and the Moonlight Cinema, where you will watch movies sitting on the grass accompanied by bats!
Created in 2002 to commemorate the Centennial of the Federation, it houses art venues, museums, cafes, shops, bars and restaurants. It stands out for the spectacular events that are hosted there and for its futuristic architecture.
The city’s Federation Square is dominated by St Paul’s Cathedral and Flinders Street Station, whose green and yellow façade matches the colour of Melbourne’s historic trams. Federation Square also houses the Ian Potter Center, with the Australian National Gallery Gallery’s Australian art collection, as well as the state-of-the-art ACMI (Australian Animation Center), which chronicles the country’s cinematic history.
Victoria National Gallery
Australia’s oldest public art museum was founded in 1861 and houses 70,000 works in two buildings. The fortress-like NGV building on St. Kilda Rd hosts a collection of works of art from Europe, Asia, America and Oceania. The futuristic Ian Potter Center in Federation Square presents the kaleidoscope of Australian art from the time of the Aborigines and the first settlers to the present day.
Rembrandt, Tintoretto, Aboriginal art, temporary exhibitions, fashion designs and a stunning stained glass ceiling by Leonard French will excite art and architecture lovers.
Royal Exhibition Building – Carlton Gardens
A UNESCO World Heritage Site of rare historical, architectural and aesthetic value, the beautiful Victorian gardens are located in the suburb of Carlton, northeast of the centre. The gardens are bejewelled with fountains, decorative ponds, dense vegetation, flower beds. There, you will also find the Royal Exhibition Building, a 19th-century architectural masterpiece, and the Melbourne Museum.
Lanes Center Place, Block Place, Flinders Lane
Melbourne’s unique artistic spirit can be seen not only in galleries and museums but also in the amazing street art samples throughout the city, from Croft Alley to Hosier Lane. While looking for graffiti in the city, it is worth trying the famous coffee in the city. Enjoy a cup of your favourite blend in cafes, such as Axil Coffee Roasters or Seven Seeds.
In the picturesque alleys of the city, you will see the boldest graffiti, two of which are Banksy’s work. The laneways are vibrant, full of cafes, boutiques and galleries, synthesizing in an urban puzzle that you never know where it will take you.
What to Eat
Internationally renowned chefs cook in the kitchens of New Quay’s award-winning restaurants. In the canteens and diners of the centre, Chinatown, and the African restaurants of Footscray, you will eat delicious and affordable food. Melbourne is also worldwide known for specializing in coffee. Enjoy a cup of aromatic espresso in the European-style cafes of the centre and St. Kilda.
Fans of organic flavours, Aussies enjoy nutritious kangaroo meat at reasonable prices. Shellfish and other fish, such as Tasmanian ocean trout, are turned into elaborate gourmet dishes or quick snacks. When on the road, snack on salads and desserts with exotic local fruits, such as mango, papaya, berries.
The Barossa Valley supplies the world with collectible wines, such as Penfolds Grange, and a variety of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Melbourne Day Trips
You can take the coastal route or marvel at the wildlife on Phillip Island. But more on those destinations later.
Before you hit the road, it’s important to prepare for that long drive. Getting your car ready is definitely the first step. Check the battery and tire pressure. Do a tune up your vehicle, and change the oil if needed. If you feel like regular maintenance is beyond you, take your vehicle to a qualified and experienced mechanic for inspection before traveling.
You also want the car interior to be clean. Remove all trash and debris lying around. Vacuum every inch and condition the upholstery. To minimize the accumulation of bacteria and dirt on the leather seats, get seat covers for your Toyota Hilux or Mazda Miata.
Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most famous and spectacular road trips in the world. It is a magnificent 243 km trail in the wild, along the Pacific Ocean, at the southeastern tip of Australia, from Torquay to Warrnambool in Victoria. It is necessary to stop at the natural monument “The 12 Apostles”, a complex of giant monoliths emerging from the sea near the shoreline in Port Campbell National Park. The eight are now standing upright as the rest have collapsed due to water erosion.
Along the coastal route, you will find picturesque villages, forests, surfers riding huge waves. Melbourne travel agencies organize coach trips to various parts of the Great Ocean Road that include outdoor activities, such as horseback riding, cycling, water sports, and even helicopter flights over the “12 Apostles”!
The wildlife island is 140 km southeast of Melbourne and is connected by a 640 km bridge to the opposite mainland. At the Koala Shelter, you can see the cute animals in their natural habitat. The night parade of little penguins on Summerland beach will be the most unforgettable moment of your trip. As soon as the sun goes down, the penguins return from fishing to the dunes, offering a unique spectacle.