Melbourne loves its sports but also its café culture too – so finding great coffee is not hard to do. It is also easy to find small bars tucked away in city laneways and arcades, as well as clothing boutiques and fresh food of every variety.
From a Vietnamese Roll (some of the best) to Italian, Greek, French, Japanese and Thai food, there are restaurants and cafes to meet your every taste and budget.
The most central part of Melbourne is Bourke Street Mall, where many of the main shops and department stores are located in this area. The magnificent GPO (General Post office) is located on the corner with Elizabeth Street, Chinatown off Little Bourke Street near Russell Street, and the Parliament of Victoria off Spring Street.
For high end fashion – look to Collins Street, where you will also see some great architecture – such as the ES&A Bank on the corner of Queen Street. There are also small arcades that link Collins Street to Bourke St – and it is easy to wander in this area and visit some shops or cafes that take your fancy.
For food, the most famous street is Lygon Street in Carlton where some of the best Italian restaurants are located (15 minutes out the city), but there are restaurants to be found in almost all suburbs as well as in and around the city centre.
So, what are the ‘must see’ places to see in Melbourne?
On a cultural level, Melbourne has some of the finest Victorian architecture anywhere in the world – with many large ornate stone buildings, grand houses, but also large and small Terrace style houses particularly in some of the older suburbs, and in the City small laneways and arcades lead off the main streets – with cafes and interesting shops along their sides.
Take a walk down some of the main streets like Swanson Street, Collins and Bourke Street in a city to get the feel for Melbourne and its people – but also look for Degraves Street/Degraves Place off Flinders Street Campbell Arcade and the subway Underground; The Block Arcade/Block Place between Collins and Little Collins Street; Royal Arcade and Hub Arcade (between Little Collins St and Bourke Street Mall, close to Elizabeth St).
The city itself also has many large government buildings, theatres, banks and insurance companies and of course a number of skyscrapers, including the Rialto Towers and the Eureka building at Southbank that has a Skydeck on top with views over the whole of Melbourne.
Some of the more famous attractions to see in Melbourne are –
Federation Square (Cnr. Swanson and Flinders Sts) is where you will find a Visitor Information Centre and can buy a MYKI Card and City Tourist Shuttle bus tickets. It is also where a lot of indoor and outdoor events are held throughout the year. (There is also another Visitor Information Centre in the Bourke Street Mall.)
The Federation Square Building has itself been very controversial in its design – some say it is the ugliest building in Australia, others are complimentary. It is however next to Hosier Lane (worth seeing) and also next to the Yarra Ferry Wharf and the Princes Walk (walkway along the banks of the Yarra River) and walking distance to Birrarung Marr and the Federation Bells. The Ian Potter Centre, part of the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) is also located at Federation Square.
St Pauls Cathedral (198-206 Flinders St)The first Christian services were held on this site in 1836, , with a small wooden chapel built here, with the area around it becoming a corn market, used until around 1848, with a Parish church built in 1852. The foundation stone for the Cathedral was laid down in 1880, with the Cathedral consecrated in 1891, but it wasn’t until 1926 that the spires were added. The Cathedral is Melbourne’s main Cathedral with beautiful stained glass windows, built in what is called a neo-gothic architecture transitional style.
The Capital Theatre (115 Swanson St)designed by the American Architect who also designed Canberra and the suburb of Castlecrag in Sydney – Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin. One of the most beautiful theatres you will see anywhere.
Melbourne Arts Centre (100 St Kilda Rd) where a number of performances are held.
Flinders Street Station (207-361 Flinders St) a classic Victorian building with a clock tower on top, and an identifiable landmark if you are looking to meet with people.
Campbell Arcade (Flinders St) built in the 1950’s connects Flinders Street station to Degraves St with small shops on each side of the arcade (see above)
The Block Arcade (280-292 Collins St) was built in the 1800’s and has a stunning mosaic tile floor, glass canopy roof and an eclectic mix of small shops inside. This is a great part of the city to head for as it is also close to Royal Arcade, Bourke Street Mall and GPO.
Melbourne Town Hall – (100 Swanson St) build in 1870 and home to Melbourne City Council. A number of events are also held here.
Forum Theatre (150-167 Flinders St) a Melbourne landmark with an amazing ceiling inside and Moorish Minarets and Roman statues.
Government House (next to Botanic Gardens in the Kings Domain) Built in 1876 in the Italianate style and home to the Victorian Governor, it was said to be the most grand house in all Australia at the time.
La Trobe’s Cottage – (next to Government House) was built in England in 1839 and shipped to Melbourne to be erected for Victoria’s first Governor, Charles La Trobe.
NGV National Gallery of Victoria – (St Kilda Rd, opposite to the Queen Victoria Gardens) houses a great collection of Australian art and has changing exhibitions throughout the year.
Queen Victoria Market (65-159 Victoria St) has long been an institution in Melbourne and is where you will not only find the freshest fruit, vegetables, fish, flowers, but also lots of other things too. It is closed on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Melbourne Zoo (in the suburb of Parkville. Entrance on Poplar Rd), next to Royal Park Railway Station, or tram 55 from Peel St) The Zoo is over 150 years old and has a vast array of different animals, birds and other wildlife.
GARDENS – Melbourne has many magnificent gardens and it is one the features of the city that set it apart from other cities in the world. These are some of the more famous ones –
Royal Botanic Gardens, Alexandra Gardens, Queen Victoria and the Kings Domain gardens all link together as one vast parkland space off St Kilda Road, with main access being from Linlithgow and Birdwood Avenues. The Alexandra Gardens are next to the Yarra River and walking distance from Southbank; Queen Victoria Gardens has the Queen Victoria Monument, Edward VII Monument, Lady Janet Russell Clarke Rotunda and a Floral clock; Kings Domain has the King George Monument and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Blamey Monument, Malta George Cross Memorial, Government House, Temple of the winds, Plant Craft Cottage (built in 1850), National Herbarium , Shrine of Remembrance and Vietnam War Memorial and next to an ornamental lake is the Royal Botanic Gardens established in 1846. Walking tracks and the lawns, trees and gardens are a showpiece for Melbourne.
Fitzroy Gardens – (located off Landsdowne Street and Wellington Pde) is home to Cooks Cottage (built in England in 1755 and transported to Melbourne where it was erected in 1934, it was the original home of Captain James Cook). The Gardens are also home to the Dolphin Fountain, Fountain of the Birds, Fairy Tree, Sinclair’s Cottage, Model Tudor village and a magnificent Conservatory built in 1930.
Carlton Gardens – (off Victoria St Pde in Carlton) is home to the Royal Exhibition Building (built 1879) and also Melbourne Museum containing a Children’s Museum, Forest Gallery and Australia Gallery as well as an IMAX Theatre.
THE MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground dates back to 1853 and located off Brunton Ave in East Melbourne). It is the most famous cricket ground in Australia, and contains the National Sports Museum. It is the home for Cricket Test matches and also home for Grand Final AFL matches too.
Etihad Stadium – is located close to Spencer Street Station in the City and is home for both sporting and big entertainment events too.
Flemington Racecourse – is where Australia’s most famous horse race is held on the first Tuesday of November each year. There is horse racing throughout the year – particularly in Autumn and in the Spring.
Royal Melbourne Golf Club – is located in Cheltenham and is perhaps the most famous, but there are many gold clubs throughout Melbourne
Skateparks – are also located in many parts of Melbourne too, as are swimming pools, squash courts and other sporting facilities.
strong>Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre is located in Albert Park.
Tennis – Look for the Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena as well as a number of other courts in Melbourne Park – all close to the city centre off Batman Avenue. A number of other events also happen here during the year, including concerts.
Formula One car racing – is held each year on a street circuit at Albert Park – where there are a large number of sporting ovals located next to Albert Park Lake – also home to sailing and rowing clubs. The Albert Park Public Golf Course is located on the other side of the lake.
SOUTHBANK and DOCKLANDS –
Over the last number of years, the banks of the Yarra River have to come to life – with great walkways on both sides, a number of bridges crossing the river, and the establishment of entertainment venues, restaurants, exhibition places, nightclubs, bars and business and residential buildings. This is the home of Crown Entertainment Complex and also Melbourne Exhibition Centre.
Melbourne Exhibition Centre stages many exhibitions during the year – both trade and public exhibitions, and it is located next to the Crown Entertainment Complex. Nearby the Exhibition Centre there is the Melbourne Maritime Museum and South walk complex which houses the ‘Polly Woodside’ 1885 sailing ship.
Crown Entertainment Complex is home to a large casino, bars, hotel accommodation, theatres, restaurants, shops and cafes and is one of Melbourne’s best known attractions.
This whole area has become the entertainment centre for Melbourne and is a great place to wander around and take in the ambience and enjoy the attractions.
It also leads on to Docklands – which has been developed over recent years with a number of high rise buildings for both residential apartments and business offices for many of the bigger Australian companies as well as small ones.
Docklands is developing fast and you will find attractions like the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel (like a giant Ferris wheel) for views over Melbourne; also Costco and the Medibank Icehouse – ice skating rink, also set up for Ice Hockey games; and Harbour Town shopping centre. Docklands and Southbank are both close to each other, making this whole area very attractive.
HEADING TO THE BAY –
While the central business area, City of Melbourne is really the heart of the City, there are lots of other places to explore out in the suburbs and outside of Melbourne too. (SEE SUBURBS and COUNTRY TRIPS to read more), but if you have limited time, head to Port Melbourne (where the Tasmanian Ferry Terminal is located) and travel (walk, cycle, roller blade, drive) along the coastline/beachfront on Beaconsfield Pde towards St Kilda. Look for Fitzroy St the main street of St Kilda. It is also possible to catch a tram from St Kilda back to the City from here too.
MELBOURNE has a great atmosphere, food and fashion culture – and is a fairly safe city for walking and seeing the sites. It is a big city however, and like all big cities, it is wise to stay where the crowds are and stay safe.
We hope you have a great time seeing Melbourne and getting to know the city.