Arriving in a new city can be exhilarating and a little daunting at the same time, even for seasoned solo travelers. But as instinct and experience take hold, you know that each new place brings with it a unique culture and an altered perspective. Notorious for its arty vibe and widespread adoration of coffee, Melbourne is a great place for a solo traveller to delve deeper into culture and music. As well as some great coffee.
First thing’s first, you need somewhere to dump that heavy backpack. Melbourne offers a wide array of backpacker friendly hostels, whether its in the CBD (United Backpackers, Urban Central) or slightly further afield (Habitat, Base St Kilda). On the other hand, if you’re looking for somewhere a little different, The Nunnery in Fitzroy is a unique and pleasant alternative. With its historic looking wooden interior, friendly staff and location only a stone’s throw from Brunswick Street, it offers a more relaxed and altogether intimate hostel experience — ideal for a solo traveller.
United Backpackers, 250 Flinders Street, Melbourne, VIC, (03) 9654 2616
Base St Kilda, 17 Carlisle Street, St Kilda, Melbourne, VIC, +61 3 8598 6200
A vital activity for any solo traveller is to go on at least one tour — it’s fun and a great way of meeting like-minded people who are likely to also be staying in Melbourne. Whether it is to see the Twelve Apostles via The Great Ocean Road, to walk in the Grampians National Park, to visit the penguins of Phillip Island or to drink some locally made wines in the Yarra Valley, it’ll be worth it. Last Minute Day Tours have all these options and many more for the Melbourne area, however there are countless other tour companies offering the same options, so get searching! Hop on a tour bus or brave the roads with your new friends and hire your own camper-van with Wicked Campers — they’re easy to rent and pretty funky.
Wicked Campers, 1800 24 68 69
Coffee is a constant requirement for Melbournians, so visiting local coffee shops is a must for any newcomer. Degraves Street is probably one of the most famous streets for coffee in Melbourne’s busy CBD. Tucked down a little alley just a short walk from Flinders Station, this little Parisian style lane is known for its countless cafés, serving some of the best coffee in Melbourne. A little further away, other cafes such as Auction Rooms or Journeyman (formerly Dukes) are among some of Melbourne’s other serious coffee contenders. It is definitely worth testing out some of these with your new friends, or perhaps solo with a good book.
Auction Rooms, 103-107 Errol Street, North Melbourne, VIC, (03) 9326 7749
Journeyman, 169 Chapel Street, Windsor, Melbourne, VIC, (03) 9521 4884
Not that you’d ever run short of things to do in Melbourne, but sometimes it’s the simplest things in life from which we derive the greatest pleasure. For example, heading over to the old General Post Office (the heritage-listed building now plays home to H&M) on the corner of Bourke Street and Elizabeth Street — no, not for some retail therapy — to sit on the steps outside and listen to the many street musicians perform. Firstly, because they are all supremely talented and the acoustics are brilliant, but secondly because there is something strangely peaceful about it. Lose minutes having a listen to some fabulous live music, and leave feeling just that little bit calmer.
Although Melbourne’s CBD has a lot to offer, so does its inner suburbs. St Kilda is perhaps one of the most popular of these, boasting a quirky hipster atmosphere and a beach that looks onto the cityscape. St Kilda also plays host to Luna Park, a uniquely small adventure park with fun rides and tasty treats. Just a little further on the train, and you will also reach Brighton beach. Infamous for its colourful beach huts, this sandy strip is a perfect for a pensive stroll and cheeky Instagram picture of ‘that hut with the Australian flag’.
Luna Park, 18 Lower Esplanade, St Kilda, VIC, +61 3 9525 5033
Melbourne is known for its colorful graffiti emblazoned on countless hidden streets and dark alleys. Fluorescent words and powerful images stain the walls of sneaky side alleys, making them a perfect place for a leisurely walk as a solo traveller. Marvel at true local art as you meander through the hypnotizing lanes, it is the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon. The most infamous place to do this may be Hosier Lane, however don’t restrict yourself. Check out other locations such as Rose Street Artists Market in Fitzroy for art to buy or just admire, Yarra Street, Union Lane or Napier Street.
For a social alternative to the average restaurant, you may want to try Kinfolk. Serving only local and sustainable produce, Kinfolk is run by a team of volunteers, with its income given to its partner charities. So don your apron and get serving! It’s a great way to meet some locals and make some friends, as well as to try some good local food. If that doesn’t float your boat, perhaps try The Workers Club for some food and live music or Naughty Boy Café for a delicious array of milkshakes — be aware, you may leave in a self-induced sugar coma.
Naughty Boy Café, 499 Lygon Street, Princes Hill, Melbourne, VIC, +61 (03) 9041 7870
The Workers Club, 51 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, VIC, +61 (03) 9415 6558
Kinfolk, 673 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC, +61 423 229 953