Learn to surf, stay in sand-side hotels and feast on the freshest ocean produce in the cool, beachy suburbs of Victoria’s state capital.
St Kilda Beach, Brighton Beach, Sandringham Beach, Altona Beach… if you’re keen to replace your winter chill at home with a warm winter escape, Melbourne has plenty of beaches to do just that. It also has a snaking sea-flowing river, the Yarra, which divides the second-most populous city in Australia in two. If you’re looking to try your hand – and feet – at surfing, this is just the place. Arrive as a beginner, and leave as a bona fide beach bum.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Book you and your travel mates onto the Moonlight Kayak Tour down the Yarra River. You’ll paddle under the Princes Bridge to the Polly Woodside tall ship docked at South Wharf, then to the Docklands and the Yarra’s Edge Marina. Catch your breath, hydrate, then paddle your way back upstream where the tour finishes at Boathouse Drive, just across the river from Federation Square.
The Prince Hotel has reigned supreme since the mid-1800s when it was a guesthouse – long before its art deco makeover in the 1930s. It eventually housed the longest-running LGBTQ-friendly bar in Melbourne. These days, this cool hideaway in coastal St Kilda – the nearest decent beach to the central business district (CBD) – is known for having stylish guest rooms featuring the talents of local artists and delicious food. Guests flock to the Prince Dining Room for the buffalo ricotta and fig starters and mains of fresh market fish, lamb and pork, to name a few. There are also two bars: Little Prince Wine and Prince Public Bar.
After a long-haul flight to reach beach-friendly Melbourne (especially coming from colder climes in the depths of winter), book yourself into Willow Urban Retreat day spa in the upscale Armadale neighbourhood. It’s a spa, cafe and yoga studio all rolled into one. Treatments like the featherlight leg and foot therapy could be just the thing to re-energise your body and soul before that much-anticipated day on the beach at nearby St Kilda.
If you’re looking for a boutique hotel with a contemporary vibe, Rydges St Kilda Melbourne is it. Rooms reflect the beach theme with lots of aquamarine and shades of blue. Oenophiles will lose themselves in the wine list at Second Act Wine Bar, which embraces pan-Asian cuisine. In-house sommeliers choose from the best vineyards in Australia – not to mention carefully selected craft beers and spirits from small distilleries.
Who says your winter escape to the sun can’t double as a learning opportunity? The Zu Kite Club offers a six-hour course designed specifically for beginners who’ve never before touched a kiteboard. Classes are spread over three days, which is ideal for newbies. You’ll learn kite control, how to steer, how to create power and important self-rescue skills. Lessons take place right on the beach at St Kilda West.
A family-owned property for almost six decades, the Brighton Savoy is the only boutique hotel in Brighton Beach, which is generally calm and, therefore, safe for swimming. All 60 rooms have excellent views of the coast through silhouetted palms so that you can keep tabs on conditions. The deluxe rooms face onto Port Phillip Bay, resembling a horse’s head. The Seaview Restaurant lives up to its name, with ocean views and plates of saffron-spiced prawns and pan-fried barramundi.
So, you’ve escaped the cold and travelled to Australia with the idea of learning to surf. But maybe those waves look a little intimidating? Don’t worry. The technologically advanced URBNSURF water park can generate 1,000 ocean-like waves every hour to various intensities – safe, gentle, rolling green and whitewater. It’s in Tullamarine, near Melbourne Airport (ie not the coast), but once you’ve learned in that safe and controlled environment, you’ll be geared up to take on the real waves and master that Australian surfer tan in no time.
“House on the beach” is an apt description of Donovans. At Kevin and Gail’s beachfront restaurant, you can enjoy drinks on blanket-covered sofas and comfy ottomans in the lounge (or library) upon arrival, and then make your way to the dining room decorated with personal tchotchkes and Donovan family photos. There’s also an enclosed veranda overlooking St Kilda Beach. The Mediterranean-inspired menu is paired with wines from local Victoria vineyards and others throughout Australia.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.