Melbourne has topped the charts as the world’s most livable city for the past six years because of its street art, festivals, and sport. After spending four days there (not enough time whatsoever), I knew I was in love and completely understood the allure. Actually, I knew I’d love it way before I even stepped off the train from Sydney (yes, I said train… that’s another story).
As my train buddy explained, “Sydney is a city you visit, but Melbourne is like a woman– she needs to be discovered.” My train buddy was an older gentleman with a lot of character. A lot of character.
Having arrived in Melbourne on my birthday, I decided to go on a pub crawl organized by my hostel with new friends I had met less than 30 minutes prior, as one does while traveling alone. Our first stop was The Mill House, which provided both a comfortable seating area and room to mill about (hehe). From there we went to a couple other bars that were not very impressive (I promise this was a decent pub crawl though), and wound up at Asian Beer Cafe.
Apparently it’s not a trip to Melbourne during footy (Australian Rules Football) season without going to a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. As someone who knew absolutely nothing about the sport other than what the ball and uniforms looked like, I was in for a treat when a friend graciously took me to see Collingwood vs. the Western Bulldogs at the MCG. I understood very little of what was going on, but it was a valuable experience and, if nothing else, prepared me for watching two footy games the following day at the home of another friend.
I found myself back in an area of Melbourne called Fitzroy several days in a row. Brunswick Street is a well-known strip full of cafes, live music venues, and “alternative fashion” shops and had good vibes to it. Lots of vegetarian food options as well! I went out with a friend for my first visit, wandered around the shops the next day, and went back that night for a drink with another friend. It’s safe to say that I enjoyed the area.
A trip to H&M (don’t judge) gave me a surprise when I stopped dead in my tracks from the sound of a two-person band playing on the street. That is when I realized that Melbourne’s street performers are really good. Like, really good. I later learned that buskers have to audition for a council and obtain a permit before they are able to perform on the streets, which ensures that they are truly talented people and not trying to swindle folks out of a quick dollar.
The final favorite of Melbourne was the Royal Botanic Gardens. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but 1. the area is gorgeous and 2. when you walk into the park, it’s as if you’re transported out of the city. The sights and sounds of the city disappear and you become surrounded by (perfectly landscaped) nature and paths. I ended up visiting a couple times during my short time in Melbourne.
My final day in Victoria was spent on the Great Ocean Road. I won’t ramble on too much about it, but I would greatly suggest going on a tour or driving it yourself if you have the time. Some of the most notable views from my entire time in Australia are from that day trip!
Transportation: I got around the city by walking, the tram, and Uber. The tram is free in the city circle, but is easy to use outside of that line by purchasing a myki card at any convenience store. I didn’t use the tram much and most often opted to Uber or walk. Someone gave me a code to get 40% off my first 3 trips with Uber, so I ended up spending under $15 on three different trips in and around the city.
Accommodation: I stayed at Greenhouse Backpacker and really enjoyed it. It was one of the least expensive hostels in Melbourne, but it was in a great location, everything was clean, and my roommates were great! I walked from Southern Cross train station to the hostel (a 20-30 minute hike with my backpack), but it was manageable. I did take an Uber back to the train station on my way out of the city though.
Notable tours: The Great Ocean Road is a must if you are only going to be in the city and haven’t rented a car. Just google it and the 12 Apostles and you’ll understand why. I used Sightseeing Tours and had a great experience. We saw wild koalas and kangaroos, and I narrowly missed stepping on a tiger snake.
For a tour of the city, I recommend I’m Free walking tours (also available in Sydney). They are usually between an hour and a half and three hours, but you’ll get your bearings of the city and may even learn a thing or two. Don’t forget to tip your tour guide at the end!!!