Image by Australian illustrator Helen Li

The Insider Guide to Melbourne

If Sydney is Australia’s tourist capital, then Melbourne is the bohemian hotspot. Split by the Yarra River, the city is cosmopolitan all over. It boasts a booming bar and foodie scene, it’s sports-mad and it loves its arts and culture, which culminate at Federation Square, where the historic architecture meets modern art and more than 2,000 events are hosted each year.

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Let’s Go! The Main Attractions

If you’ve ever spoken to a coffee enthusiast of any nationality, there’s a good chance you’ll have heard of the Melbourne coffee scene. The city is deemed by many to be the coffee capital of the world; with a whole range of bustling, indy roasters and brewers calling it home. You may have also heard that everyone in the city wears black all the time. Melbourne has a hipster reputation. Fitzroy is where you'll find the coolest and quirkiest of the city, in the vintage clothes stores and bookshops of Brunswick Street, or the artist's market on Rose Street. Grab a coffee and go for a walk at Fitzroy Gardens - where you'll find 26 hectares of vibrant trees and plantlife. If inner-city green is your thing then continue the stroll across the Yarra River, 25 minutes down to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Victoria. There they host an array of colourful, rare plant life, from bamboo and Camellia collections to cycads - "living fossils" from the age of dinosaurs. For traditional sightseeing, the Shrine of Remembrance in Kings Domain, a parkland area, is the stunning memorial to the service and sacrifice of Australians in war and peacekeeping. The National Gallery of Victoria is just across the river from Federation Square, and further north, you’ll find Queen Victoria Market, a great spot for foodies. It’s no stress to get around the sights - just jump on the zero-fare City Circle Tram which runs around the centre of Melbourne. Like much of Australia, Melbourne is always sports-mad. Aussie Rules originated in Melbourne in 1858, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground is known as the spiritual home of the game. Known locally as “The G”, it’s the largest sports stadium in the southern hemisphere.

Neighborhoods in Melbourne