Named the most livable city in the world for several years in a row by the The Economist magazine, Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, is a must for first-time visitors to Australia. In the past, it was often overlooked in favour of Sydney. Over the years, however, Melbourne’s popularity has risen among Australian and foreign tourists and it now has a healthy rivalry with Sydney.
The city has blossomed into a vibrant metropolis that has everything tourists would want in a vacation destination – art, culture, shopping, architecture, iconic landmarks, beaches, entertainment, great food, adventure, modern facilities, infrastructure, and festivals in an open, friendly environment. Visit Melbourne for a weekend and you’ll find yourself wanting to extend your stay. Stay for a couple of weeks and find out that you barely scratched the surface.
If you’re still unsure whether or not Melbourne is worth visiting, here are 10 reasons that will convince you to finally hop on a plane to the city.
It is a foodie’s paradise.
Aside from being the world’s most livable city, Melbourne is also a food-lover’s haven. Melburnians love to eat and eating out is part of the local way of life. And considering its diverse population, it’s very easy to find restaurants specialising in whatever cuisine you fancy or type of food you are craving for, from Australian to Asian and European.
For budget dining, do not forget to check out eateries and take-away food joints. Chinatown is a great place to start because the place is brimming with restaurants serving affordable Chinese, Malay, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes.
One thing to remember when exploring Melbourne is that the city’s entrepreneurs are known to use limited spaces in innovative and creative ways. Be prepared to spend time relaxing at rooftop bars and pub-style restaurants or pass through nondescript restaurants to get to a trendy cocktail lounge.
And of course, coffee is very, very seriously in town. The city has a strong coffee culture and the city’s baristas are considered the best in Australia. If you want to grab a cup of great coffee, visit Market Lane Coffee, Patricia Coffee Brewers, or Bother Baba Buden.
Art and culture are a big part of community life.
Melbourne is a cultural hub and everywhere you look, there’s an artistic and cultural gem waiting to be discovered.
Visit Federation Square, a cultural precinct near Flinders Street Station, to explore galleries, museums, exhibitions, in addition to a large number of world-class events. Another significant cultural attraction is the Melbourne Museum. Located within the Carlton Gardens, the museum’s collections provide insight into Victoria’s natural environment, culture, and history. What’s really nice about Melbourne Museum is that it features exhibitions suitable for different age groups, making it a family-friendly attraction in Melbourne.
For those who are into performing arts, the Arts Centre Melbourne on St. Kilda Road is the place to be. Visitors to this world-famous venue can take a tour, watch shows, and marvel at its huge collection of art installations and paintings. Art lovers will also be delighted to find out that NGV International is also on St. Kilda Road. The collections housed at NGV International are centred on Aboriginal and Colonial art in addition to Impressionist, Modern, and Contemporary artworks.
Another thing that sets it apart from other Australian cities is that it knows no boundaries when it comes to art, and is home to a vibrant community of graffiti artists. Wander through the city’s maze of cobblestone laneways and alleyways and you’ll find old buildings and walls decorated with street art. For the best examples of brilliant street art, explore Hosier Lane.
Further proof that Melbourne is Australia’s culture capital is the number of cultural events held in the city annually, such as the Melbourne Festival, Comedy Festival, Melbourne Fringe, and a never-ending list of cultural events.
You can shop ‘til you drop in Melbourne.
When it comes to shopping, Australia’s second largest city does not disappoint. It presents a wide array of options for every taste and budget. It is home to a good number of shopping precincts where you can satisfy your cravings for high-fashion and high street brands. The shopping streets that are well worth a visit include Bourke, Chapel, Collins, Flinders Lane, Crossley, and Swanston.
But for a truly local shopping experience, a must for shopaholics are the Queen Victoria Market, Fitzroy Street, and Federation Square. Queen Victoria Market, an iconic attraction, is the best place to score deals on souvenirs, clothing, and food items. For pre-loved clothing and accessories, jewellery, artworks, book bargains, and quirky finds, head to Fitzroy Street. But for awesome deals on new and second-hand books, bibliophiles should also visit the Federation Square book market.
Melbourne is a world-class sporting city.
Melbourne is known as a global sporting city thanks to its modern sporting facilities and a thriving population of hard-core sports fans. It is also home to major sporting events such as the Australian Open and Australian Grand Prix.
When in town, you can visit the Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch a game or simply take a tour of MCG, including the Melbourne AFL Club. Other major sporting venues in Melbourne worth visiting are the Melbourne Olympic Park Stadium, Flemington Racecourse, Hisense Arena, and AAMI Park.
Melbourne has some great beaches.
Unknown to many, Melbourne has its fair share of great beaches. Visitors who want to spend a relaxing day at the beach can head to St. Kilda, a cool seaside suburb that’s just a short tram ride from the city centre. St. Kilda Beach is ideal for swimming and different kinds of watersports. St. Kilda Beach also boasts a palm-fringed promenade that you can explore on foot or by bike.
Also south of the heart of the city is Brighton Beach, famous for the Brighton bathing boxes. The row of 82 brightly coloured Victorian-style beach huts that line the beach are popular tourist attractions in Melbourne.
It has many lovely gardens.
Melbourne is home to sprawling, leafy gardens where locals and visitors can take a brief yet relaxing break from city life. You can’t say you have truly visited if you haven’t been to any of its beautiful manicured gardens like Treasury Gardens, Fitzroy Gardens, Flagstaff Garden, Carlton Gardens, and Royal Botanic Gardens.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, arguably the most popular green space in the city, is a sight to behold. Nothing short of elegant, the historic gardens is an oasis of tranquility in bustling Melbourne. Spend a few hours at the botanic gardens to discover the different species of plants and wildlife it shelters.
Melbourne has a magnificent skyline.
With more than 700 skyscrapers to its name, Melbourne’s gorgeous skyline rivals that of many global cities in the world.
A vacation in Melbourne means having the opportunity to admire incredible views of a city whose structures are an interesting mix of heritage buildings and ultramodern high-rise buildings. For sweeping panoramic views of the stunning metropolis, head to the skydeck of the Eureka Tower, Australia’s tallest building.
It is easy to travel between destinations in Melbourne.
One of the hallmarks of a global city like Melbourne is the availability of multiple modes of transportation. In addition to the abundance of buses, trains, taxis, and trams, Melbourne also boasts an excellent road system and numerous bike paths.
You can easily travel from point A to point B using public transport or you can choose to pedal your way around the city. Or, you can opt to take the tram, an enjoyable activity you can add to your itinerary. The City Circle Tram is an efficient way to get to some of the tourist attractions within the city. And best of all, it is totally free. And during your ride, you will be listening to informative commentary about the city’s landmarks and attractions.
Melbourne offers outdoor and wildlife experiences.
The city has a strong passion for the preservation of Australian wildlife. Within the city, you can visit attractions that offer unforgettable animal experiences like the Melbourne Zoo and the Melbourne Aquarium.
But for those who prefer to wander further afield, there’s Phillip Island, famous for the phenomenal Penguin Parade. Visit Phillip Island to witness little penguins emerge from the sea at sunset to waddle back to their sand dune burrows. Phillip Island is also home to the Koala Conservation Centre where you can catch a glimpse of the adorable marsupials.
Also easily accessible are Mornington Peninsula, the Grampians, the Dandenong Ranges, Yarra Valley, and the Great Ocean Road. Embark on a road trip or join a tour to these travel destinations from Melbourne to experience the most scenic landscapes and exciting outdoor adventures in Victoria.
It hosts world-renowned events and festivals.
There’s always something exciting happening in Melbourne. Major annual cultural events to look forward to in the city include the Fringe Festival, the Comedy Festival, Melbourne Festival, the Wine and Food Festival, Moomba Festival, and the International Film Festival.
Victoria’s capital is also home to major sporting events like the Australian Open, Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, AAMI Victoria Derby Day, Emirates Melbourne Cup Day, and Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Furthermore, twice a year, two major fashion events are held in the city. These fashion events celebrate the impressive works of international and local designers.
Need help with your Melbourne itinerary? Check out these Melbourne tours and activities!
By: Brendelyn Balaga