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This post is part of our Australia/New Zealand Series. You can find the rest of the series here.
At the very end of our down under adventures, Brooke and I spent two days in Melbourne. Melbourne is known (at least by the locals) as the artistic and cultural capital of Australia. The city features a vibrant art scene, and a very diverse selection of dining options. Despite our brief visit, we really enjoyed our time here. Read on for our top 5 things to do in Melbourne, especially if you have limited time.
Top 5 Things to Do in Melbourne
1. Free Walking Tour
Any time we visit a new city, we try to find a free walking tour. These tours are usually an excellent way to hear a bit of the local history, and to learn the city’s general layout. The free walking tour in Melbourne was no exception!
I’m Free Walking Tours offers a wonderful, 3-hour walk around the city. The tour departs twice daily from the front of the Library of Victoria. Our favorite stops along the tour route were:
- Old Melbourne Gaol (Jail) – Hear the story of Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly
- Street Art/Laneways – Melbourne is famous for its graffiti art laneways
- Carlton Gardens/Royal Exhibition Building (see top image) – A world heritage site in the heart of the city
2. City Circle Tram Tour
Melbourne features a network of free trams to help you get around the city. Tram Route 35 is specifically designated as the “tourist tram.” This route circles the city and passes by many major tourist attractions. Hop onto one of the maroon or green historic tram cars along this route for an easy ride around the city, complete with informational pamphlets and audio narration. If you see an attraction or cafe that you would like to visit, simply hop off and catch the next tram when you’re finished.
3. Lunch on Ponyfish Island
Ponyfish Island offers a unique dining experience. This restaurant sits on a floating island in the middle of the Yarra River and is only accessible by the pedestrian bridge, Southbank. The menu itself is relatively basic, with a rotating selection of sandwiches, cocktails, sangria, and microbrews. Brooke and I sat along the railing, enjoyed our sandwiches, and watched a group of kayakers pass by.
4. Drinks at Eau de Vie
We love secret bars. Eau da Vie is a hidden prohibition era bar, with incredible craft cocktails and the best whiskey selection I’ve ever seen! If you don’t know where to look, you could easily pass right by the big, unmarked, wooden door at the end of Malthouse Lane. When you find the door and step inside, you will be transported back in time. Tie and vest-clad bartenders whip up eclectic cocktails, and whiskey bottles absolutely cover the walls behind the bar.
Our favorite cocktails were the Smoky Rob Roy (fire involved), the Banderillero (served in a bull horn), and the Honey Butter Old Fashioned (as good as it sounds).
5. Great Ocean Road Tour
The Great Ocean Road is a beautiful stretch of highway along Australia’s southern coastline. Take a tour with The Little Penguin Bus, which departs from a central Melbourne location. This full day tour includes visits to few towns along the coast, a rainforest walk, koala spotting, and the famous 12 Apostles.
We generally review the hotel where we stayed, but I’ll just say avoid the Intercontinental Melbourne! This hotel is absolutely not worth 35,000 points per night. The staff was rude, our shower had mold, and the maids did not clean our room. Don’t waste your points or money there.
This is by-no-means an exhaustive list of things to do in Melbourne. If you have the opportunity, definitely try to catch a cricket match. Cricket is pretty much a form of religion here. Melbourne also has a ton of great coffee shops. Stop in at Patricia Coffee Brewers for a fantastic single-origin pour over or latte! Enjoy your time in Melbourne and take in the eclectic, artsy, off-beat culture of the city. Cheers!
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