Melbourne is famous around the globe for being a melting pot when it comes to all things culture. With the many great museums, restaurants, parks, sports teams and shops, there is almost more to do than can ever be achieved. Here’s our guide to the top 10 things to get up to.
Hit a market
This really is a must-do for all those visiting Melbourne for the first time. Saying that though, for all those Melbourne locals who have never bothered to wander down to their local, we say get out there! There are great treats to be found, and some of the best food of the city, both ready to go from vendors, amazing fresh produce and gourmet pre-made items that you can take home and pretend that you made.
The most famous market in the city is probably the Queen Victoria Market which is bounded by Peel, Franklin, Victoria & Elizabeth streets. One of our faves though, is the South Melbourne market on the corner of Coventry and Cecil streets. Here you will find some next level food. Keep your eyes peeled for Little Town Pie Co. if you’re after a proper Aussie meal experience.
Having first opened in 1936, The Astor Theatre is the oldest remaining theatre in Melbourne. This classic single-screen theatre has a seating capacity of over 1,000. It has state-of-the-art facilities, including the highest quality 4K projection hardware that offers the best presentation of films in the country, and is also one of the only theatres in the country that shows 70mm prints of classic films. While providing a top quality viewing experience, The Astor has also managed to maintain its glorious décor and style that is reminiscent of the early 20th century. Check out the session times on The Astor’s website to see when they’re showing a double feature of your favourite cult-classics, or the newest blockbuster in stunning quality. If The Hobbittrilogy followed by The Lord of the Ringsextended edition trilogy is your idea of 20.5 hours well spent, then The Astor is the cinema for you.
This sounds like a rather ambiguous recommendation, but if you do even the smallest piece of research you will find that Melbourne’s laneways are an entity unto themselves, and have a well deserved reputation for providing visitors with the choicest food, drink and entertainment options in the city. Degraves Street is arguably one of the best. It’s a Parisien-looking lane that connects Flinders Lane and Flinders Street and boasts a bunch of cafés with on-street dining.
The great thing about hot air ballooning is that you never know where you’re going to start, or where your journey will take you, because of the weather conditions. If you can handle dragging yourself out of bed well before dawn, then the flight really is worth it. Unsurprisingly there’s not a lot of people around at sunrise, and drifting over the city in the dawn light feels surreal. By the time you bump gently to earth and head back into town for a spot of breakfast it’ll seem like a different city.
Hot air ballooning over the city is a rare experience
This is the home of not only Test cricket, but also the uniquely Australian game of Aussie Rules. You know a venue is seriously iconic when it can be identified by one solitary letter: “the G”, Australia’s grandest sporting cathedral, where 100,000 devotees routinely come to worship the footballing gods. There’s nothing particularly charming about the G—it’s basically a symmetrical concrete bowl, split into three levels—but its sheer scale is mesmerising. The six-figure capacity makes it the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, and one of the biggest in the world, swamping the Nou Camp in Barcelona (99,354), the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (93,607) and London’s Wembley Stadium (90,000). If you get the chance to catch a game of AFL here, don’t pass it up.
If you want to experience Melbourne at night, treat yourself to a splendid dinner and take a tour all at once, then why not take to the water and enjoy a dinner cruise down the Yarra River? Hop on board a boat like the Spirit of Melbourne and coast along and take in the sights of the city at night while getting around some top-class cuisine. It’s a delightful ride and well worth the booking if you have someone to impress.
Take a day trip to the Yarra Valley
The cellar doors of the region’s famous wineries are open every weekend, and the winery restaurants are becoming some of the most sought-after dining destinations out of Melbourne. It might seem that this is the sort of thing you have to set a weekend aside to enjoy, but this lush and rolling country is less than an hours drive from the city. This means it is totally conceivable to duck out of work early after lunch in the summer and spend the afternoon sampling a few of the delicious varieties of wine in the region before heading to dinner at one of these fine dining establishments. So what are you waiting for?
When people think of Abbotsford Convent, artsy exhibitions and cozy cafés come to mind, but did you know that the newly Heritage-listed location has its own running track? If you don’t like sticking to the beaten path, then this run is for you. Start at the gates and follow the pathways along the Main Yarra Trail past the Collingwood Children’s Farm where you can take a pit-stop and feed the adorable animals before continuing on your adventure through the grounds and along the river.
If you’re looking for a cocktail bar that epitomizes Melbourne’s love of the unique, quirky and independent then make sure you head out and search for this secret little watering hole. Translating to ‘water of life’, Eau de Vie is home to one of Melbourne’s most beloved espresso martinis. Their impressive Espresso Zabaione is crafted from vodka, coffee, and maple syrup and is capped with a frozen saffron and vanilla mousse lid. Grab a spoon, crack the seal and enjoy the decadence within.
If you’re in the mood for something exotic, and interpret that to mean you require a Chinese food fix, then the natural solution to the problem is to head to the red paifang arches in the centre of the city, at Little Bourke Street, and go for a wander in Chinatown. You should probably go anyway. Even if you’re not hungry you will be after a little while. And when you finally give in to the call of a basket of dumplings, you’ll find that your wallet is a happy chappy too. It’s here that you can find some of the tastiest and cheapest food in the city centre.