I couldn’t help but fall in love with Melbourne. The city is an absolute treat for travelers, with its beautiful architecture, stunning street art, interesting laneways, and hip cafes. Melbourne is artsy, stylish, funky, dynamic and exciting — no wonder so many people go to the city and never return!
The city of Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria, located in the southeastern part of Australia. It is the second most populous city in the country, and such a well-known tertiary education provider that almost half of the people I know in my country went to study in a university in Melbourne. After visiting, I half wished I did the same — but I had so much fun as a visitor in the city that it didn’t really matter, plus there’s always the choice of returning, and returning again!
I only spent a week in Melbourne, and there was never a day where I had nothing to do! With the amount of time I had, I could only skim through the surface of what the city has to offer — but it involved some of the best things like getting up close and personal with the country’s wildlife, soaking up some sun along its coastlines, and getting wonderfully lost in the city’s lanes and urban beauty. So here’s a list of all the favorite things I did during my visit to Melbourne, an awesome introduction to this city where the fun never stops.
1) Visiting the Australian Animals and Wildlife
If you’re in the country for just a couple of days, the Melbourne Zoo is a great stop to see some of the unique Australian wildlife, as well as different animals from around the world. The zoo is situated about 4km north of Central Melbourne, and because (before this visit) I hadn’t been to a zoo for a long, long time, I had a great afternoon with the animals.
I also made a trip to the Ballarat Wildlife Park to get up close and personal with the koalas! Now, Australia is the only place that you can find these adorable creatures, so you must see one when you’re in the country. Read about my koala encounter here:- My Day in Ballarat, Australia: Of Gold and Koalas.
2) Admiring the City from Up High
The best way to get your bearings of a new city is from up high — and in Melbourne, you can do it from the Eureka Skydeck 88, the highest viewing platform in the Southern hemisphere. Situated on the 88th floor (of course) of the Eureka Tower, it offers a 360-degree panorama of the city, and far beyond.
For an extra fee, visitors can test their fear of heights at The Edge experience, where they can get in a glass cube (with walls, ceiling and floors made of glass) that suspends over the city! I visited the Skydeck at night to see the bright lights of Melbourne; and unfortunately, The Edge experience was closed while I was there.
3) Chilling in the Beautiful Gardens
Melbourne is surrounded by relaxing green spaces to run, cycle, stroll, chill and have a picnic in. During my visit in spring, I had a wonderful time wandering around the lush greenery of the gardens and visiting some of the most significant monuments and attractions located within them.
I dropped-in Cook’s Cottage during my visit to the Fitzroy Gardens. Constructed in 1755, the cottage belonged to Captain Cook’s parents, and was brought all the way down from England. I even played dress-up during my visit! I also spent some time at the Royal Botanic Gardens, and visited the nearby iconic Shrine of Remembrance. The shrine is Victoria’s largest war memorial, and pays tribute to the country’s fallen soldiers of World War I and II.
4) Walking Melbourne’s Lanes and Arcades
There is no where I’d rather get lost in than Melbourne. Every wrong turn seem to lead to an even more beautiful lane filled with hole-in-the-wall eateries, lovely cafes and the most stunning art works. And of course, filled with lots and lots of people.
During my visit, I remember admiring the chequered flooring and steel brims of the Royal Arcade; walking through Centre Place, one of the most photographed lanes in Melbourne; and gawking at the most gorgeous collection of graffiti I’ve ever seen at Hosier Lane. If that isn’t enough, I really have to give a special mention to the Soup Place I stumbled upon on Flinders Lane. I love my soup, and I’ve never been given so many choices of delicious soup to choose from. It was awesome!
5) Dropping by Queen Victoria Market
I made a visit to the Queen Victoria Market in the early morning to pick up some treats and trinkets. I really enjoyed my visit, as it was fun seeing the hustle and bustle in the market that sells everything from fruits and vegetables to fresh meat, poultry and seafood, as well as lots of souvenirs and random stuff.
This open air market is the largest market in the city and a major landmark, having survived from the 19th century. It got its name from being located at the corner of Melbourne’s Queen Street and Victoria Street… and not after the English queen!
6) Admiring the Historical Buildings
One of the many things I enjoyed during my visit to Melbourne was walking around the city center and admiring the beautiful historical buildings that stand side by side with the modern ones. Dating back to the 19th century, some of the Victorian landmarks that dot the city are the St Paul’s Cathedral, Flinders Street Station, Melbourne Town Hall, as well as a couple of old theaters.
After visiting the Flinders Street Station and its historic clocks, and admiring the St Pauls Cathedral and its beautiful Gothic architecture — I made my way to the nearby shopping district for some retail therapy in this fashion-forward mecca that is Melbourne.
7) Soaking Up Some Sun at St. Kilda
If you’re looking for a seaside location with lots of fun things to do, head on to St Kilda for the day. The vibrant suburb is located about 6km south-east of Central Melbourne, and is known for its lively beach scene, and the many bars and restaurants that line its popular streets.
I had a lovely spring day at St Kilda — having brunch at one of the cafes along Fitzroy Street, soaking in the sun, sea and cold breeze along St Kilda Beach, walking on the St Kilda Pier towards the iconic kiosk at the end of the platform for some ice-cream and coffee, and taking a picture with the huge clown-faced entrance of Luna Park. I didn’t stay for the evening, but I heard that St Kilda has a pretty active night scene too.
8) Spending a Day on Philip Island
A day is not enough to experience all that Philip Island has to offer — but that was all I had! The island is located about 90 minutes from Melbourne, and offers a fun family getaway with its beautiful beaches, wildlife viewing in their natural habitat, and lots of exciting activities like water sports, motor sports and fishing.
During my visit to the island, I watched the pelicans feed at San Remo, experienced Victorian-era farm living at the Churchill Island Heritage farm, dropped by the Koala Conservation Centre to see more koalas, and had a seaside lunch of Fish ‘n’ Chips. The highlight of my trip to Philip Island though, has got to be the Penguin Parade. Only once a day during sunset, visitors can quietly observe groups of little penguins emerge from the sea and waddle towards their burrows by the beach. I found it so amusing!
9) Riding the Puffing Billy Train
I felt like a kid again, sitting with my arms and legs hanging out on the steam-powered Puffing Billy Train Ride. Australia’s iconic narrow-gauge railway is an experience not to be missed — the tracks wind through the mountainside of the Dandenong Ranges, passing by spectacular views of endless farmlands, lush wilderness, and stations from the olden days that it felt like I was traveling back through time.
The original train line opened in 1900. During my visit, I took the train from Belgrave Station (where it starts), and got off at Lakeside. My entire journey took me about an hour; but the tracks continue all the way to the last stop at Gembrook, another 50 minutes away.
10) Road-Tripping the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most famous routes in Australia for a roadtrip, and offers beautiful ocean views, unique rock formations, breathtaking beaches and lush rainforests. You can spend days exploring nature’s wonders along this 244km road; but I only had a day to see as much of its beauty as I could.
I started my journey from the city of Melbourne, and made my way to the start of the Great Ocean Road at Torquay. From there, I visited Aireys Inlet, the Memorial Arch, the pretty seaside towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay, the famous Twelve Apostles and ended the trip at the stunning Lord Ard Gorge. More about my Great Ocean Road adventure here:- My Day Along the Great Ocean Road.