Heading to Melbourne for a holiday but you’re not sure what to see? A great place to start is with a free ride on the City Circle Tram which takes a rectangular route around the city past many of Melbourne’s major attractions along with a dog leg into the developing Docksland area. Along the way, jump off wherever takes your fancy and enjoy an extended tour of the city. The equally free City Tourist Shuttle is a similar service taking a different path through the city passing other points of interest and providing an informative commentary along the way. Nearly all Melbourne CBD accommodation is close to either a tram line, bus route or train station so navigating the city is easy and accessible.
Federation Square is a must see for tourists with its distinctive modern buildings, irregular piazza and atrium. Designed as a public meeting space, it was completed in 2002 and its unusual construction is dazzling to the eye. There are a number of great restaurants and bars in the complex and the nearby Melbourne Visitors Centre is a great resource for tourists.
Queen Victoria Market is considered a Melbourne institution, operating for over 120 years, and is said to be the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere. Take a tour of the market to find out its history or explore on your own, and take home some fresh produce or a cheap souvenir. Expect to see buskers, street theatre and spruikers, and be prepared to haggle for the best price. On Sundays Queen St is closed and the markets take on a carnival atmosphere with rides, cafes and other entertainment and activities.
The city laneways are the jewels in the Melbourne crown, with hidden bars, quirky boutiques, hole in the wall coffee shops and exclusive restaurants. Take some time to explore as many of the laneways as you can. Old favourites such as Degraves Street, Hardware Lane and Centre Place are well known for their eateries while others are home to myriad of boutiques, bars, or galleries. Modern street art features heavily in Cocker Alley, Manchester Lane and Westwood Place. The lanes also harbour some of Melbourne’s best hotels, with boutique chains and independent hotels choosing the exclusivity and intimacy of a laneway location.
St Kilda Road, Melbourne’s main artery is tree lined and the gateway to beautiful parks and famous land-marks. Sundays Arts Centre Market is held on the banks of the river and is well worth a visit. Get lost exploring the lush Royal Botanic Gardens and visit the children’s garden, rainforest walk and themed gardens and lawn.
The Docklands has become Melbourne’s newest attraction, once a heavily used dock area, the Docklands has been transformed into a Mecca of shops and restaurants and is now home to international entertainment and sporting venues such as Etihad Stadium. The Southern Star observation wheel is a local icon and offers spectacular views of the city from its 120m apex. For families, the Icehouse is home to two Olympic size ice rinks open 7 days a week, 364 days a year.
For lovers of the arts, the Yarra precinct is overflowing with galleries, theatres and eateries. The Australian Centre for the Moving Image will immerse you in the world of film, television and digital culture and is home to Melbourne’s best and most popular film festivals. The nearby National Gallery of Victoria houses both international, Australian and indigenous art and consists of two galleries joined together.
There is a great selection of accommodation in Melbourne, ranging from friendly backpackers and lodges to luxury Melbourne hotels and everything in between. The large choice of hotels in the Melbourne CBD caters for all style of travellers and budgets and offers a large range of services and facilities. Melbourne is a fabulous city with a lot to offer and sure to excite and delight anyone who takes the time to explore it.