Melbourne is an amazing city and was our first destination in Australia. It was a great introduction to this beautiful country and after spending a month trekking the mountains of New Zealand, it was nice to be back in a city. The concrete jungle of Australia, Melbourne is full of great restaurants, trendy stores and beaches that encompass the many different geographical landscapes that make up the state.
We stayed at Flinders Backpackers the first few nights in Melbourne. Flinders was a super fun and young hostel that had a few "make your own pancake" stations in the morning for a free breakfast and coffee along with a cereal bar.
If you're looking for a party hostel, this is your place. It can get super loud Friday and Saturday night, but the staff and guests are incredibly fun and friendly. Each night there is a hostel noticeboard which tells you all of the activities that the hostel hosts each night. Once a week the hostel will serve a free dinner meal from spaghetti bolognese to Mexican taco night! They organize everything at night from bar crawl scavenger hunts to salsa dancing in underground clubs. During the day they will bring you around the city on a free tour or organize day trips to the Great Ocean Road or Phillip Island!
The second place we stayed was called Claremont Guesthouse which was a nice break from the partying hostel we had stayed at. Claremont had a nice free breakfast and was a beautiful old mansion that they decided to make into an inn. Across the street was a Mexican fast food restaurant and yoga studio so we were quite content.
One of the street art capitals of the world, Melbourne is very well-known for its high quality street art. Artists have structured locations that are sanctioned by the city to use as a canvas to their paintbrush. Melbourne street art tours let you explore this urban trend and provides a deeper understanding behind the graffiti. This fascinating underground art scene ironically limits the amount of illegal street art on the streets and is something that the public and artists enjoy together.
QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET
Peruse the sheds of the Queen Victoria Market for some high quality sangria and awesome steer food. The market opens every Wednesday night during the summer and is full of great markets, a beer garden, and live music. The market has expanded in the recent years to include a huge number of stalls selling clothes, accessories and home accents. It was hard not to eat everything off the vendors had to offer. There are gyro stations, nachos, paella, pizza, and much much more. For dessert, head over to the doughnut station where they fill donuts of your choosing with any flavored ice cream that you'd like...not to mention they have tons of milk shakes that are filled to the brim with whip cream and chocolate sauce!
A fan of the movie classics? Head over to Astor theatre to enjoy a vintage night out. An Art Deco cinema dating from 1946, the entire experience makes you feel like your seeing a premier film in Hollywood.
TAKE A DAY TRIP TO YARA VALLEY
Victoria's best wine region, the Yarra ValleyC is surrounded by rolling green hills, lush vineyards, and beautiful farmhouses. What is it? Victoria's premier wine region, the Yarra Valley, is all rolling green hills, swaying vineyards and old farmhouses. Organize a trip there and you'll be satisfied at any of the vineyard's restaurants and wine pairing events!
GRAB A MELBOURNE BEER FROM STOMPING GROUNDS
If wine isn't your thing, Melbourne has a history of brewing top notch beer. Since the boom of craft beer, micro breweries have popped up all over the city. A great one is called Stomping Ground. The massive beer hall has hundreds of different craft beers and provides tours of the area to see where the beer is brewed!
DRINKING HISTORY TOUR
Hitting classic Melbourne's landmarks and stopping at trendy bars en route? What could be better! You will hear all about Melbourne's scandalous history including murder mysteries!
SWIM AMONG THE PENGUINS AT ST KILDA
Visit this bohemian electric suburb in Melbourne's south. St Kilda is a one-of-a-kind bohemian suburb in Melbourne's south. Luna Park is Australia's oldest amusement parks and surprisingly, their rides still operate. Stroll down Jacka Boulevard to St Jilda's breakwater to see some penguins underneath the docks. Fair warning, you'll probably also see huge crabs and unfortunately some water rats. If the water is warm enough, go for a nice swim and if you're lucky, the penguins might join you! We went during mating season which was amazing because you would see the penguins hiding behind bushes attempting to court each other.
SHOP AT BLOCK ARCADE
With a beautiful entrance on Collins Street, the block arcade is filled with high end shops. The high glass ceilings and ornate tiled floor makes the entire place look like a Christmas wonderland. With high tea rooms, pastry cafes and chocolate shops everywhere you can easily spend a whole day there...which actually, we did. We went during Black Friday, an American post turkey day tradition which now Australia has picked up! For backpackers on a strict day to day budget, we definitely did some damage at this mall.
VISIT THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS
This expansive garden with vast lakes and lush lawns is right in the middle of the city. The gardens are perfect for a nice picnic, so pack a few sandwiches and a bottle of wine and plan your perfect day under the shade of a willow tree.
DRIVE DOWN BEACH ROAD
Drive down this beautiful windy coastal road to see Melbourne's bayside suburbs. Beach Road stretches from Brighton all the way to the southern point of Mordialloc. Stop at Half Moon Beach for a dip in water shaped like a crescent moon. What is it? A windy coastal road that shows
VISITING MELBOURNE'S ANIMAL KINGDOM
Take a visit to Melbourne's massive animal kingdom. The zoo has everything from a butterfly room, aviary sanctuary, and elephant fields!
If you're up for more, Melbourne's aquarium let's you wind your way throughout the world's aquatic ecosystems from tropical reefs through artistic waters.
Take a stroll through the aquarium's shark tunnel where you can watch majestic sharks and sting ways swim all around you.
HEAD TO PHILLIP ISLAND
If you need a break from the city, head to Australia's Island and embrace the seaside lifestyle of Phillip Island. See sunrise at sandy beaches, penguins and koalas up close, and international motor sports at high speed. Pristine white beaches and iconic wildlife, you'll find little penguins and sleepy koalas in their natural habitat just 90 minutes form Melbourne.
GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Last but certainly not least, take a roadtrip on the Great Ocean Road to experience one of the most spectacular stretches of pristine beaches and magnificent boulders. See the 12 towering Apostles, get up close to native wildlife, and take in iconic surf breaks, lush rainforest and misty waterfalls along the spectacular Great Ocean Road. Get outdoors on bushwalking, surfing and mountain biking expeditions and camping under the stars.
If the Great Ocean Road is on your bucket list (which it definitely should be), Melbourne is your starting point. It is easily one of the best road trips in the world. Be sure to check out the 12 Apostles on the Gibson steps to experience the power of the waves and the grand heights of the rocks!
Melbourne is a wonderful place, it's easy to see why so many people who visit end up resigning in this bustling city. With tons of street art, shows and restaurants to keep you entertained you won't want to leave!