Melbourne Travel Guide

Melbourne, Australia's downtown river front and old train station
Melbourne is Australia’s bar capital and hub of live music—often called the country’s “European enclave”. The central business district not only serves its after-work drinkers, but also attracts a young, trendy crowd of professionals. Many of the city’s smarter bars are tucked away in the city’s numerous narrow lanes. Across the Yarra River, Southgate provides the arts precinct with a strip of bars and riverside views. With plenty of culture, activities, art exhibits, and live music, you could easily spend over a week here and not regret it. Heck, you might end up like so many other travelers and never leave! This travel guide for Melbourne can help you figure out everything you need to know!

Typical Costs

Hostel Prices – Dorm rooms start at around 20 AUD while private rooms cost around 40 AUD. Base Melbourne is a great hostel to stay at and one of my favorite hostels in the country, and even the world! Definitely stay here if you can.

Budget Hotel Prices – You’ll find a bit of everything in this large city, with singles starting at 68 AUD, and doubles at 110 AUD per night.

Average Cost of Food – You can easily find pizza parlors, noodle bars, and cafes where you can eat for under 14 AUD. Melbourne is probably the best place to eat cheap in Australia, especially if you like Asian food. I’ve had some of the best sushi experiences here. However, expect to pay around 27 AUD for most sit down restaurants. There is also a lot of wine in this region that is very affordable. A week’s worth of food is between 68-100 AUD depending on what you buy.

Transportation Costs – The city has an integrated public transport system based around extensive train, tram, and bus networks. Its tram and rail networks are the largest in the world. The Metlink will give you the prices for the train, trams, and buses depending on where you are going within the city. Ride costs are based on distance.

Read more on the costs of traveling around Oz.

Money Saving Tips

Get free transportation – A free tourist shuttle bus runs around the city and part of the inner suburbs from 10am to 4pm. Free city circle trams run in both directions around the perimeter of the central business district and through Docklands from 10 am-6 pm at 10 minute intervals.

Shop at the markets – The best value food is usually found at markets right before close. You can usually purchase food for about a quarter the price you would pay in a supermarket, or barter for a good deal.

Read The Age – Every Saturday and Sunday, The Age newspaper has a supplement with “what’s on” in Melbourne (A2 on Saturdays and M Magazine on Sundays) You can count on a great list of free and interesting events and activities.

Top Things to See and Do in Melbourne

Take the City Circle tram – More than just a means of free transportation, the City Circle Tram provides a “hop on, hop off” service between Melbourne’s sightseeing attractions including Federation Square, Old Treasury Building, Parliament House, and Princess Theater. There’s a running commentary as you pass or stop at a place of historical, cultural, or architectural significance.

Flinders Street Station – Flinders Street Station is a major landmark and popular meeting place in central Melbourne. With Victorian architecture and large clock faces, the station was built in the late 19th century. It is said to be the busiest suburban railway station in the southern hemisphere.

Federation Square – Right along the route of the free City Circle tram lies Federation Square across the street from Flinders Street Station. Both Flinders and Federation Square are great for people watching.

NGV Australia – Located in Federation Square, this is the home of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Australian art collection, which is said to be the largest in the world. Admission to the permanent collection is free, but fees may apply to special exhibitions.

Royal Botanic Gardens – The Royal Botanic Gardens contain extensively landscaped gardens covering 86 acres and feature thousands of plants from across the country and around the world. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through a landscape of plants, shrubs, and trees. Free guided walks or self-guided audio are available.

Queen Victoria Market – The southern hemisphere’s largest open-air market offers fresh farm produce and a variety of merchandise. It’s a historic landmark and an institution dating back more than 120 years. It’s best to go on weekends when there are more vendors and activity.

Wine tour – Wine tours are very popular in this area because of their unique varieties. The Mornington Peninsula is a famous wine producing region about 45 minutes from Melbourne and is home to more than 40 wineries.

Docklands – Teeming with people when the sun is out, the Docklands are a developed area with shops, bars, restaurants and a stadium on the water.

A penguin sunset – About 90 minutes from Melbourne is Phillips Island where you will find hiking, beaches, and shopping, however, the main attraction here are the thousands of penguins that can be seen at sunset. It’s quite a sight, but don’t just take my word for it.

Dandenongs – Just outside of the city is this forest, which features many different birds, as well as the Puffing Billy Train. This is a family friendly spot to check out with kids.

The Yarra River – The Yarra River is a peaceful escape from the busy hustle and bustle of the city, especially if you’re a runner. At night, there is a “fireball” show along the banks of the river from the Casino Melbourne.

Como House and Gardens – Now over 160 years old, this estate is a mix of classic Italianate architecture with Australian regency, and it is considered the gem of historic houses within the city.

Sorrento & Portsea – Stop by for a little piece of the Mediterranean and a top spot for summer lunch and drinks. There are many high end pubs within this area and a gorgeous sandy bay with clear still waters. Dolphin swim tours are also offered from the Sorrento Pier.

Party in St. Kilda – Melbourne’s famous nightlife area is home to cheap restaurants, bars, and clubs- the place to see and be scene. If you want to see Melbourne’s wild side, come here.

State Library of Victoria – Melbourne was named UNESCO City of Literature in 2008, and this library has played a prominent role in its literary achievements since its opening in 1854. It has a collection of over 2 million books, an impressive concrete dome, and decorative plasterwork.

Birrarung Marr – Meaning “River of Mists”, this park is covered in indigenous flora, river promenades, grassy knolls, traditional Australian art, and spectacular views of the surrounding city.