Adoration 4 Adventure’s local guide for visitors to Melbourne, VIC, Australia by A4A guest writer Toni Frazer.
Local guide posts provide recommendations for destinations from locals who are currently living or have lived in that particular place. Including information on the top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around with an emphasis on saving money.
Overview of Melbourne
Continually voted the most liveable city; it isn’t hard to see why Melbourne is rated as the best city in the world. Whether it is because of its iconic street art, its world famous coffee scene, endless array of rooftop bars and renowned cuisine; history or just the multitude of national and international sport and cultural events: Melbourne truly has it all!
Top 5 places to visit
5. The Carlton Gardens
Located just off Parliament station on the cusp of the CBD, the Carlton Gardens are an understated part of Melbourne. Housing the Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building which was built in 1880; visiting this area – right near the famed Lygon St makes you forget you’re even in the city. Featuring flower beds, fountains, ornamental lakes and just beautiful walkways – if you’re looking for a relaxed lunch stop or just a wander…do not miss visiting here.
An honorable mention must also go to the Queen Victoria Botanical Gardens just past the National Gallery of Victoria.
Location: 1-111 Carlton Street, Carlton.
4. Street Art Laneways
Street Art is renowned in Melbourne. Graffiti is illegal and there has been a big effort to clean up non-sanctioned ‘art’ across the city. However, street art has helped produce the popularity of officially sanctioned laneways like Hosier and Union Lanes, which are full of amazing Street Art displays.
Hosier Lane, near Federation Square is by far the most famous; whilst Union Lane, near Bourke Street’s famed shopping strip is also worth a look. If you see something from either of these on Instagram? Get there ASAP. Because Street Art is not designed to last, and every visit (even a few weeks apart), offers a completely different experience to what one sees each time they are there.
Location: Hosier Lane & Union Lane, Melbourne.
3. St Kilda Beach
St Kilda is an exciting neighbourhood to visit. Whether you want to try the rides at Luna Park, check out famed Acland Street or drink a cider by the beach at one of the many restaurants and bars (check out Republica!)…this is the place to be on a beautiful day. St Kilda Beach is one of Melbourne’s most popular beaches; and the boardwalk along it invites young and old to spend their day here no matter what you feel like doing.
Location: Jacka Blvd, St Kilda.
2. The Yarra River
The Yarra is the river which flows through the CBD area of Melbourne. However, there are 2 main areas along the Yarra (which are separated by the Princes Bridge), that visitors should see when visiting Melbourne: Birrarung Maur & The Sports Precinct and Southbank.
Birrarung Maur is a really nice area, where many events take place throughout the year – including pop-up bars and restaurants. The walk from Federation Square to Birrarung Maur, and further on through to Rod Laver Arena, Olympic Park and the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is a really lovely trek to make on a nice day.
Southbank on the opposite side of the bridge, is one of the city’s most popular areas; with restaurants and bars located along the Yarra. The Crown Casino complex and the Eureka Tower; which is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere – and offers amazing views of the city, are both located here too. In the evenings, on the hour you can enjoy the Casino’s ‘fireball’ Gas Brigade shows from 6pm (start times vary depending on the month).
Location: Southbank, Melbourne CBD.
1. Degraves St & The Block Arcade
Melbourne is renowned for its casual dining laneways. Degraves St and The Block Arcade are two of the most famous. Degraves is very much a café/restaurant area, with outdoor seating and just a great café vibe to it.
The Block Arcade is Melbourne’s most famous laneway arcade. Steeped in history and charm, this Arcade features food options like the iconic Hopetoun Tea Rooms; and houses many reputable and well known stores like Haigh’s Chocolates and Gewurzhaus Spices. Walking through the Block Arcade truly takes you back to another time. The Royal Arcade, a little further up from here is well worth exploring too.
Location: Degraves Street, Melbourne & 282 Collins Street, Melbourne.
Eating and drinking
Melbourne is well-known for its amazing dining options, whether you find them at the Crown Casino Complex, Chinatown, at one of the many rooftop bars in the city or along the Yarra – Melbourne has so much choice, it really is hard to decide! Here are 6 of my favourites (even though I have 100 other places I could mention!):
Hopetoun Tea Rooms
The Hopetoun Tea Rooms are located in the historic Block Arcade, and truly take you back to the early 1890s dining it was known for – with its classic floral wallpaper patterns, old world charm and delicious high teas. If you just want a light snack – or just some tea and scones…this is the place to get them! There is always a wait, but the line does move quite fast.
Location: Block Arcade, 282 Collins Street, Melbourne.
Open since 2015, this is one of Melbourne’s most popular bars – and rightfully so. The Arbory is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening in Melbourne as you sit along the Yarra. But if it is a nice day, expect it to be busy. Food prices are reasonable and the bar is quite long in length as it runs along the Yarra; offering both sitting and standing options.
Location: Between Flinders Street Station & The Yarra River, Melbourne.
Rooftop Bar offers one of the best views of the city, and is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening in Melbourne. Over Summer to Fall, Rooftop Bar’s night scene offers the Rooftop Cinema with the rooftop closing to the public around 8pm. Classic films and new ones too are shown here, making for a good night out as patrons sit in deck chairs, sipping a beer or even the aussie favourite lemon lime and bitters (non-alcoholic). There is an elevator to get up top, but if you walk up the stairs it is quite a workout. Cookie, another popular bar is located a few floors below it too.
Location: 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne.
Deciding between Supernormal or Rice Paper Scissors (which is also a favourite) was tough. But after a number of meals at Supernormal, it is one of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne. The Asian inspired menu is best eaten banquet style amongst friends. The entire restaurant has a relaxed vibe, with communal seating and tables. You really can’t go wrong here. Top choice dishes include: the Dumplings (Pot sticker or Vegetable), the Pan Fried Spicy Beef Bun, the White Cut Chicken Salad and the Lobster Roll – all at very reasonable prices! No matter what you eat here, it is sure to be amazing!
Location: 180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.
Australian cuisine is represented in Melbourne via many restaurants, but one of the best in the city is Mrs Parmas.
A Parma (or Parmigiana) here is a chicken breast, (veal or eggplant is also available) that is crumbed in a special mix, and topped with a traditional Napoli sauce with mozzarella cheese. Diners can then choose to go traditional with a slice of double smoked ham under their cheese (which is how parmas are usually eaten); or branch out into everything from meatball, to Mexican, to Cajun to Greek. The choice is yours. Sides are included (chips and salad) but are served separately to the parmas…because well, the parmas are quite large in size. Prices here are well worth what you get for your money.
Location: 25 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne.
Melbourne’s Coffee Scene
Ok, so since Melbourne is famous for its coffee, I had to mention my favourite coffee haunts; as NO visit is complete without a visit to any of these! Be sure to stop by for at least a cappuccino or latte at one of these establishments- which continue to top the list every year. You won’t regret it!
- Brother Bada Budan (359 Little Bourke St, Melbourne)
- Seven Seeds, (106-114 Berkeley St, Carlton)
- Patricia (Little Bourke St & Little William St, Melbourne).
Melbourne public transport consists of buses, trams and trains. In order to use public transport in Melbourne and surrounding areas, a plastic MYKI card needs to be used, following the ‘tap on’ ‘tap off’ system.
Visitors can buy an Adult MYKI for $6 or a Concession for $3 and this can be loaded with any numerical value at all train stations in the Melbourne CBD, or retailers like 7 Eleven.
A 2 hour adult fare within Zone 1 costs $3.90 and is capped at $7.80 per day. Concessions are $1.95 and capped at $3.90 per day. Weekend and Public Holiday caps are set at $6.00. Seniors are capped at $3.90 per day (Prices current as of March 2016).
City Circle Tram
The City Circle is a brown coloured tram that circles around the CBD & Docklands region. It is a fun way to see the city, taking in the sights from one of Melbourne’s heritage trams. Best of all? It is free of charge. You can catch it at any stop that has the brown city circle stop listed on it.
Melbourne is famous for its trams, being the preferred way to get around.
Since Jan, 1st 2016, all trams within the CBD area are free to use within the FREE FARE ZONE. The zone is a rectangular area from Flinders Street to the Queen Victoria Market. However, you will be notified when you are exiting this free zone, and then passengers must tapon with their metro card to ensure they have a valid ticket.
Trains run in the Melbourne CBD in what is known as ‘The City Loop’. The main stations in Melbourne are Flinders Street and Southern Cross; however; city loop stations are all underground. These stations are Melbourne Central, Parliament and Flagstaff. Melbourne’s train system does extend into the outer Melbourne suburbs from Flinders Street, which makes getting out into these areas quite easy. However, trains do not always run on time, services are cancelled regularly and ticket inspectors are often on board fining people – so always ensure you have a valid ticket.
There are a number of destinations available through V-Line services. Whether it is country Victoria like Bendigo and Ballarat; or inter-state to Sydney or Adelaide; there are many ways to travel from Melbourne which do not include flying.
Melbourne is a walkable city. Whether you start at Flinders Street or Parliament Station…you can really get anywhere on foot. Melbourne has some beautiful streets and exploring the city like this is a wonderful option to get a real feel of the city.
Sightseeing buses operate for daily fares. But as Melbourne has so many public transport options, these buses are not really necessary.
Airbnb is very popular in Melbourne. If you’re after cheaper rates staying in the outer suburbs will benefit you more than being in the CBD: such as Carlton, St.Kilda, and anywhere between Malvern through to South Yarra.
Hostels are a very popular choice, with Flinders Street alone full of options. United Backpackers are one of the more popular ones. No matter where you are within the CBD, the location can’t be beat. But always make sure you read the reviews as some are better than others.
There are many quality hotels that meet any budget in Melbourne.
Whether it is a Travelodge or Ibis, or the higher end of Hilton or Crown: there are so many accommodations centrally located all over the city; and the inner city suburbs. Booking sites Wotif and Lastminute do offer awesome deals throughout the year, with hotels like the Doubletree Hilton on Flinders costing as little as $115 per night.
Toni is a Melbourne born teacher, travel writer, and social media manager. You can usually find her at filming locations across the USA, exploring history in Europe, at a rooftop bar in Melbourne or living it up in London with the friends she made as an expat. She is headed to Canada in 2016.
If you would like to work with Adoration 4 Adventure, contact A4A.
All photos in this article are the property of A4A guest writer Toni Frazer.
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