Widely regarded as Australia’s coolest city (especially by Melbournites themselves), Melbourne draws many parallels with great European cities such as London or Paris. With a bustling café and bar scene, stacks of galleries and theaters, and amazing shopping, it is no wonder so many Australians are rushing to live there, and foreigners coming to visit.
It’s a bit of a journey to get there, but once you have arrived in Melbourne, you’re sure to be impressed. Here’s our top 5 things you just can’t miss:
1. Go on a Street Art Tour
Melbourne’s reputation for embracing and celebrating artists, including those that are more than a little of the wall, has turned it into a mecca for some of Australia’s best street art. The city is filled with hidden, narrow laneways that have been turned into murals by incredible artists. Many are politically charged and most are extraordinarily colorful. You can tour them either on an official tour (proceeds go to the artists), or simply on foot. Don’t miss Hosier Lane.
2. Wine tasting in the Yarra Valley
About 45 minutes from Melbourne lies one of Australia’s premiere wine regions, the Yarra Valley. Like Melbourne itself, it is cultured and sophisticated, yet never snobby. This makes it the perfect place for everyone from a total beginner to complete wine snob to enjoy a days tastings. The location is beautiful, the staff at the cellar doors friendly, and the wine, of course, delicious.
3. Soak up the Coffee Culture
Get started talking to any Australian and they’ll likely tell you they have some of the best coffee in the world. Melbourne takes this to a whole new level, and has proudly and openly declared itself the coffee capital of Australia. Here, coffee is not just a drink, but an experience, and there’s endless quirky and rustic coffee shops to visit. For the true Melbourne experience, these are best experienced at “Brunch”, with your coffee paired with “smashed avo”. Not sure where to start? Here’s a good list.
4. Queen Victoria Markets
This market has been in operation since 1878, and seems somewhat left behind by the rest of ultra-modern Melbourne. While it is slowly being modernized, with new cafes and shops, it still retains much of its old charm, with Australiana souvenirs, books, and toys for sale. There’s also an impressive food section that sells various delicatessen goods, such as cheeses and cured meats. Note the market is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
5. Walk around Abbotsford Convent
This attraction has a somewhat tragic past, having started of as a convent and also been used as a laundry, orphanage and aged care facility since its inception in the late 1800s. In typical Melbourne style, however, the space has been totally converted and is now an ultra-cool hangout for artsy types. A highlight of a visit hear is a meal at vegetarian café Lentil as Anything (a nod to a 70s Australian rock band), where you pay what you can for a tasty meal.