Why visit Melbourne?
For international visitors, Australia’s so-called Culture Capital is often overlooked for the bright lights and big attractions of Sydney, the dazzling white beaches of Queensland, or the mystery of the dusty red Outback.
But if you plan a trip a little further south, you’ll discover a city that is brimming with art galleries, cool cafés, top-notch restaurants, hip street art, gorgeous parks, eclectic music venues – oh, and who could forget, some of the best coffee in the world.
Whatever your interests or reasons for visiting Melbourne – called Naarm in the Woi Wurrung language of the traditional owners of the land – this city has something for everyone. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed when you spend some time in Melbourne.
I’m a Melbourne local who’s returned home after 8 years living abroad. I’m rediscovering this city that I love and have missed – and I’m excited to share this city with visitors on this Melbourne travel blog.
On M is for Melbourne you’ll find guides to the best things to do in Melbourne, including itineraries, where to eat and practical info such as how to get around the city.
Can I visit Melbourne right now?
Yes you can! Check this website for the latest information about visiting Australia.
How do you pronounce Melbourne?
Australia has some strange place names, many of which are challenging to pronounce. If you’re not from Australia, here’s how to say Melbourne properly: it’s not Mel-BORN, it’s MEL-buhn. Here’s a video.
Best time to visit Melbourne
Melbourne has a temperate climate and can be visited year-round, but there are some pros and cons to each season. I have an article dedicated to the best time to visit Melbourne, which includes a huge list of the best events to plan a trip around.
But, for a quick summary, I’d say spring and autumn are the best months to visit Melbourne. The weather is mild and it’s really pretty (in autumn the leaves are changing colour, in spring flowers are blooming). Depending on what events are going on, you might also be able to get some good shoulder season bargains. Read more about Melbourne in spring and Melbourne in autumn.
Summer can get pretty hot, but the vibe in the city is fantastic! Bars pop up everywhere, people are out walking and there’s always an event going on. But, it’s also peak season which means crowds and higher prices. Here’s a guide to summer in Melbourne.
Winters can be miserable and rainy – but not always! It was winter when I originally wrote these words and that week was sunny with temperatures of 16 degrees each day. Prices are far cheaper during this time of the year, and there are still some fun events scheduled. Read more about Melbourne in winter.
Regardless of the time of year, the “four seasons in one day” adage is true. Come prepared for unexpected weather: maybe a heat wave followed by rain and then a drop of 10 degrees. Who knows what kind of weather you’ll get?!
You can check the latest Melbourne weather forecast online here as you get closer to your trip departure date.
Useful resources for planning a trip to Melbourne
If it’s your first time – or even your fifth time – visiting Melbourne, here are some handy resources I use to book travel in Melbourne (and around the world).
In full disclosure, this page may contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you).
- Skyscanner, Momondo and Kayak – I check prices for flights on all these sites to compare and get the best deal
- Booking.com – this is the site I use to book hotels (plus they give me a “Genius” discount because I book so frequently and I’ll never say no to being called a genius)
- VRBO – when I want something with a kitchen and a few more homely amenities, I’ll book a home on VRBO (kind of like Airbnb)
- DiscoverCars – while you don’t need a car to get around Melbourne, you will need some wheels if you want to do a few day trips from the city
- Get Your Guide, Viator and Klook – there are some great tours around Melbourne to explore the city’s culture, history and food, as well as entrance fees and transport options
- World Nomads – Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more (World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.)
How much time do I need in Melbourne?
I think you need at least two or three days to really explore Melbourne and get a sense for what makes this city tick.
To help you plan your visit to Melbourne, I’ve prepared a few Melbourne itineraries:
More itineraries coming soon!
Best Melbourne attractions
While Melbourne doesn’t have the iconic sights of the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Opera House, we do have a tonne of things to keep you busy. A trip to Melbourne will be more focused on experiencing the city.
My top 5 things to do in Melbourne are:
- Get lost in the laneways and arcades and go hunting for street art
- Eat your way around the world at the incredible restaurants we have
- Go neighbourhood-hopping and explore the different vibes of Melbourne’s suburbs
- Learn about Indigenous Australian culture on a tour of the Botanical Gardens
- Visit one of our many Melbourne museums
Visiting Melbourne with kids
I don’t have children myself but I know that this city is great for kids. I consulted a few experts for the best things to do, and the top 5 are:
- Melbourne Museum – dinosaurs, animal displays and all things creepy crawly
- ArtVo – a fun, immersive, “trick art” gallery
- LEGOLAND Discovery Centre – LEGO everywhere!
- ACMI – a visual museum of film, TV and video games
- Luna Park – ride the rollercoaster and play fun games
Here’s my full guide to the best things to do in Melbourne with kids.
Melbourne has everything you could ever want to eat. With a diverse, multicultural population, you can choose from everything from Afghani food to Greek eats to Yemeni cuisine.
There are cheap eats, funky cafés serving brunch, cutting-edge restaurants, and fine dining experiences to be had in Melbourne.
Check out my guide to where to eat in Melbourne as a starting point, and come to Melbourne with a healthy appetite.
How to get to Melbourne
Melbourne has two airports: Melbourne Airport and Avalon Airport.
Melbourne Airport (often referred to as Tullamarine, code: MEL) is the largest airport and it’s where international flights arrive. This is the closest airport to the city, although it’s still a 30-minute drive into the CBD. There are plenty of hotels near Melbourne Airport if you want to stick close.
The second airport is Avalon (code: AVV), which is further from the city, near Geelong. The airport is currently only servicing domestic routes.
How to get to the city from Melbourne Airport
Melbourne is still without a train to and from the airport, so to get from Melbourne airport to the city, your options are Uber or taxi, renting a car, or taking the SkyBus.
An Uber or taxi will cost you around $45-$75, and possibly more during peak periods. The taxi ranks are clearly marked when you leave the terminal – there are two different ranks out the front of T1 and under the T4 car park. You can estimate your fare with this handy online calculator.
Uber has a dedicated stand outside of Terminal 2, as well as a pick-up zone at T4. Other rideshares pick up in a separate area in T4 (follow the signs).
The Skybus is a bus transfer that operates 7 days a week. It goes from Melbourne Airport to Southern Cross Station, as well as to Frankston via St Kilda. One-way fares cost from $19.95. You can buy tickets online here.
Rental cars are easily accessible from the airport. All the rental companies are located outside Terminal 2. I use Discover Cars to compare the major car rental brands to get the best price.
How to get to the city from Avalon Airport
If you decide to book a flight into Avalon because it’s super cheap, remember that you need to also factor in the cost of then getting from the airport to Melbourne.
As the airport is around 50 kilometres from Melbourne, an Uber or taxi will set you back $100-$135.
A far more affordable option is the SkyBus, which costs $24 one way and takes around an hour to get to Southern Cross Station.
How to get around Melbourne
I’ve got a full guide using getting around using Melbourne transport, or read on for a quick overview.
While all Melburnians will complain at some point or another about our public transport system, it’s actually pretty good, especially if you’re sticking to the inner city and major tourist areas.
Download the Public Transport Victoria app to figure out how to get from A to B.
Trams are great – and can be fun for first-time visitors! They’re also free around the CBD. The Free Tram Zone conveniently passes by the top Melbourne city attractions. The Free Tram Zone map online shows you what’s covered.
If you’re heading outside this free zone on the trams – or taking a train or a bus – you’ll need to get a myki travel card. You can buy them from train stations and 7-Eleven stores (see a full list of places to buy a myki here).
Recharge your myki at 7-Eleven stores, ticket offices at train stations or the myki machines that are at some tram stops.
When travelling on public transport, you simply tap your myki on the reader machines when you get on and off the tram, or tap it to enter the train station. It’ll then deduct the fare for your trip. You can check your myki balance at the top-up machines.
When you leave Melbourne, gift your myki card to someone else or leave it at your hotel, as it’s reusable. Or keep it if you’re planning to return to Melbourne in the near future.
There is a myki app but it’s currently only available on Android phones.
Ride sharing and taxis
Beyond public transport, Ubers are everywhere. Book them like you’d do anywhere else in the world.
Taxi ranks can usually be found in front of hotels and out the front of major train stations. If you’re in a taxi between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. you’ll need to pay an upfront estimated fare (thanks to all the drunken passengers skipping out on paying!).
Renting a car
A car really isn’t necessary in Melbourne if you’re just sticking to the inner city. You can rely on public transport to get around. Parking can be expensive. Plus, we have these weird things called hook turns in the CBD that will confuse the hell out of you! You also need to remember to stop for trams.
But if you want to do some day trips from Melbourne, renting a car can be an affordable way to do it. Check out Discover Cars for rental options that you can pick up from the airport or at other locations in the CBD.
If you want to burn some energy, it’s easy to get around Melbourne by bike. There are several marked bike lanes around the city. But do keep an eye out, because some Melbourne drivers are aggressive when it comes to cyclists. Helmets must be worn.
Unfortunately, our bike-sharing system was scrapped some time ago, but you can rent a bike from a private company like Blue Tongue Bikes.
Where to stay in Melbourne
There are some great neighbourhoods (suburbs) to stay in Melbourne. I’ve got a guide to deciding where to stay in Melbourne, but for a quick overview:
- Where to stay in Melbourne for first-timers – hotels in the CBD
- Where to stay in Melbourne for nightlife and funky bars – Collingwood or Fitzroy
- Where to stay in Melbourne for foodies – the CBD (or anywhere inner city really!)
- Where to stay in Melbourne for sports-lovers – Richmond
- Where to stay in Melbourne for shopaholics – Prahran
- Where to stay in Melbourne for families – St Kilda, East Melbourne or the CBD
Regardless of where you decide to base yourself, it’s really easy to get around Melbourne, so you’ll never be far from the action.
What to pack for Melbourne
- A cool daypack like this Herschel backpack
- A reusable water bottle to save on plastic consumption
- An umbrella for when the Melbourne skies inevitably open up
- A light, packable rain coat
- Sunglasses, hat and sunscreen – even in winter (the UV rays are strong down under)
- Good walking shoes
Final Melbourne travel planning tips
I hope this Melbourne travel blog has helped you with planning your Melbourne trip. Feel free to get in touch if you have further questions or come say hi in our Melbourne Travel Planning Facebook group!