Melbourne is one of my favourite cities in the world – and it’s also my new home after living in London and glampacking around Europe for two years. I’m proud to be here. I’ve always wanted to live in this city as it has a great cultural and food scene, without the hectic pace you find in Sydney. The only downside to Melbourne is its intermittent weather which often features four seasons in one day! So what are the best things to do in Melbourne – rain, hail, wind or shine?
1. Explore Melbourne’s hidden laneways. The CBD is full of secret and not-so-secret laneways. Well known ones like Hardware Lane are full of cafes and restaurants which are busy at all hours of the day. In quieter laneways, you can find ‘hole in the wall’ bars including the stylish cocktail bar Eau De Vie on Malthouse Lane. You could easily walk past Eau De Vie, as the entrance is simply a large unmarked wooden door! On the eastern end of Flinders Lane, there are many independent fashion designers selling ultra chic clothing and up market antique shops. Hosier Lane is well known for its captivating street art which changes all the time.
2. Sample fresh food from Queen Victoria Markets. Queen Victoria Markets are the biggest open-air markets in Melbourne. It’s an incredibly lively place with stall holders yelling out prices and shoppers haggling for a bargain. There are many precincts including the Deli Hall, Fruit and Vegetable, and Organics sections as well as lots of boutique shops and cafes on the outskirts of the markets. You can find fresh fruit and vegetables for very low prices, including apples for only 99c a kilogram! During summer, Queen Victoria markets hosts a night market packed with international food stalls and free evening concerts. It’s perfect for a budget night out on a balmy Melbourne evening.
3. See penguins at St Kilda Pier. Melbourne’s seaside suburb of St Kilda has a bohemian vibe. St Kilda not only has a theme park, the unmissable big grinning entrance of Luna Park, and funky artisan markets on Saturdays, it also has a lively main street of cafés and restaurants. The biggest secret of St Kilda is that penguins live by the pier. You don’t have to go all the way out to Penguin Island or Melbourne Zoo to see them, you just need to get your timing right! Thecute penguins usually swim to the pier during late evening in summertime.
4. Enjoy a barista brewed coffee at an independent cafe. Melbournians take coffee seriously. They don’t like coffee franchises and prefer to be on a first name basis with their barista. There is a huge number of independent cafes in Melbourne which are great for coffee catch ups and lazy weekend brunches. Some of my favourite Melbourne café discoveries so far include Market Lane Coffee near Prahran Markets, which also specializes in drip coffees, and the big breakfasts from Drugstore in South Yarra.
5. Get a cultural fix at the National Gallery of Victoria or Melbourne Museum. After you’ve had a great cup of coffee, you may want to absorb some culture and visit The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). It has over 65,000 artworks including a large collection of Australian pieces and a range of temporary international exhibitions. The Melbourne Museum has everything you need to brush up on the history of the city including seeing the great Australian icon Phar Lap and the Bunjiklaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. There are also numerous other small and independent art galleries to be found all over Melbourne, like the Centre for Contemporary Photography.
6. Take a long countryside drive. Sometimes one of the best things to do in Melbourne is to get out of the city and breathe in some country air. In the Yarra Valley, go on a wine tour and taste local wines from Yering Station or sparkling wine from Domaine Chandon. For a longer drive, head down Great Ocean Road for sweeping views over the Southern Ocean to see the iconic 12 Apostles – a unique rock formation off the coastline.
All Melbourne images courtesy of @Ryanxchow (http://www.twitter.com/ryanxchow)
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Glampacker is a travel blog dedicated to travelling in style on a budget. Glampacker offers budget travel tips for glamourous global adventures, cultural experiences and eating like a local. Follow Glampacker on Twitter!