Melbourne City Guide
As one of the top-ranking cities in the world for quality of life, Melbourne doesn't seem to lack anything. The world-class street art, cutting-edge modern amenities, vibrant café culture and eclectic international cuisine are just a few of the things that the city is famous for. At once sophisticated and bohemian, old-world and modern-day, Melbourne manages to blend different vibes, traditions, cultures and ideas in a mix that is wonderful to explore and experience. Just come and see for yourself.
Culture and attractions
Melbourne has an excellent public transport network and with trams that can whisk you to any part of town you will have have no worries about getting around. Figuring out where to start your journey is a far more challenging question as there is so much to see. Melbourne owes a lot to the Gold Rush that transformed it from a modest settlement into a dynamic city with splendid cultural and administrative buildings, wide boulevards and vast parks. As a result of its expansion, today the city is an architectural mishmash of ornately decorated Victorian houses, glass-and-steel towers and re-purposed industrial buildings sporting rooftop bars.
A perfect illustration of this architectural variety is Federation Square whose neo-Gothic cathedral and ultra-modern museums are encircled by a belt of skyscrapers. Fed Square is a great place to catch local events and a good starting point for sightseeing. Start by checking out the museums on the square. Take a glimpse into the world of film at the Australian Centre of the Moving Image, explore thousands of artworks at the Ian Potter Centre or simply pop into the underground Melbourne Visitor Centre for up-to-date information on all that's happening in town.
After Fed square make sure to visit Southbank, one of the most dynamic areas in the city and a major hub of entertainment, shopping and dining. Here you can catch a performance at the Arts Centre (a popular theatre and music venue) or take the elevator to the 88th floor of the ultramodern Eureka tower for a stunning view from the top of the highest building in the southern hemisphere. You can also browse in the numerous shops or grab a bite at one of the many open-air eateries and cafés.
Melbourne's street art scene is second to none and one of the best ways to get introduced to it is by taking a guided tour. The Blender Art Studios, which are a hub of local artists, are a popular stop on many graffiti tours but there are at least a dozen other locations throughout town known for their marvellous street art, so you will have plenty to see.
Shopping, dining and nightlife
With its eclectic ethnic cuisine, vibrant café culture and vast food markets, Melbourne is a real treat for foodies. Southbank is a popular stop for all things shopping and dining, but it's not the only place in town. Downtown Melbourne is a real maze of lane ways and elegant arcades filled with shops, restaurants, bars and cafés where you can mingle with local residents, and after dark, the nightclubs and bars along Flinders Lane and King street are where it's at. Wander away from this touristy hotspot and you still find plenty of cool places. Acland street in the St Kilda neighbourhood is a bohemian thoroughfare lined with restaurants, cosy cafés that have been around for decades, and some of the best pastry shops in the city.
For a more rustic experience, make sure to check out the city's bustling markets. There are several major ones but the largest and most famous is the historic Queen Victoria market. The Vic (as it's affectionately called by locals) comprises more than a thousand stalls spread over two blocks. Locals come here to stock on fresh produce, but apart from basic groceries, you will also find a huge variety of delicatessen and gourmet products from around the globe, as well as general goods and souvenirs. Prahran Market is another great place for all things gourmet food, while the St Kilda market offers an attractive choice of arts and crafts goodies.
Australians are passionate about sports and Melbournians are no exception. Horse races are hugely popular and so is cricket, the nation's favourite sport, which has found its home at the MCG stadium. To those who are not so much into sport, the city offers plenty of other outdoor activities. A boat cruise on the Yara river is a great way to see the metropolis, while a day at the historic, century-old Luna Park is always a good choice for a family outing with the kids. Nothing, however, beats a day at the beach. A short journey to the suburbs will take you to Brighton beach, which is famous for its soft sand and colourful beach shacks – perhaps the most photographed in the southern hemisphere.
In a city that has so much to offer visitors, it's best not to rush. Take your time when exploring Melbourne and you won't regret it.