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I left Melbourne a few years ago, I lived there for 15 months out of my 24 months whilst on a working holiday visa, but I still remember my time there perfectly. I love Melbourne so much, it really is the best City in the World! However I remember that when I lived in Melbourne, people I knew who were visiting for a few days would often contact me to say that there isn’t anything to do in Melbourne or they don’t know what to do in Melbourne as it’s not an iconic City like Sydney, and I continue to hear that even now.
I totally understand that initially, however there really is so much to do and see in Melbourne. The thing is that Melbourne is one of those cities that you need to live in to really understand, and you need to spend time exploring the best suburbs of Melbourne outside of the CBD. I loved Melbourne because it felt so local and quirky!
So, based on the above and based on my time being a Melbournian for awhile,
Here are 12 things I WILL do WHEN I go back to Melbourne, and if you get there before me, I suggest you do all of these things when you visit!
(I wanted to use all of my photos from Melbourne, they aren’t the prettiest because I was by no means interested in blogging or photography back then but I think they make the points more special and personal.)
1 – Victoria Night Markets
I love the Victoria Night Market. Held every Wednesday throughout the Summer (and the edges of Spring and Autumn). The night market is full of the best street food vendors in Melbourne with cuisines from all around the world which really showcases how diverse Melbourne is and shows off how good the food is in Melbourne too!
Not only that but there’s usually a band playing and there are clothes, jewellery and art stalls.
I used to meet my friends here after work all the time and we’d sip Sangria with delicious food, enjoying the warm evenings and the awesome atmosphere.
Tip: If you can, make sure you get there early to get a table in a good place, especially if there’s a group of you.
2 – Pony Fish Island
This sounds a bit random I know, but this unique bar in Melbourne is located in the middle of the Yarra River within the CBD and it’s so cool! I spent many summer days on Pony Fish Island out on the deck with a beer, and if I was meeting a friend for a drink who was new to Melbourne I would take them there to show off Melbourne’s quirky side!
It’s in a central place in the CBD but I feel like it’s a bit of a gem that you might not know about until someone tells you so be sure to visit here too!
Tip: It can look a bit hard to get to as it’s in the middle of the river, but you use the pedestrian bridge from the Southbank to get onto it.
3 – Hot Air Balloon Ride
Melbourne now offers Hot Air Balloon Rides over the City and wow, do these look amazing! I never saw or heard about this when I lived in Melbourne and I probably wouldn’t have spent the money on it anyway as I was saving to go travelling but next time I go to Melbourne I would love to do a Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride over the City that I love and see some Australian Landmarks from above.
Tip: Hot Air Balloon Rides over the Yarra Valley which is the wine region outside Melbourne are also offered and look amazing, just look:
4 – Brunch!
Melbourne is where my love of brunch started because in some ways, I think Melbourne started the big brunch culture that now exists all over the world, including London where I love to brunch at the moment.
Melbourne does the best brunches but I’ve heard that the prices of brunch are a bit silly now and Brunch can often cost more than going out for Dinner but, I think it’s probably worth it! Melbourne has some seriously cool brunch cafes which are designed so nicely and some of them can be really quirky and unique and just very, Melbourne.
I’m sure places have changed since I used to Brunch in Melbourne so here is a blog post from The Sweet Wanderlust with 35 Imstagrammable Places to get Brunch in Melbourne, recommended by locals!
Tip: Use the brunch places that are in the suburbs as a way to explore these areas outside the CBD.
Related Post: Melbourne – to go or not to go?
5 – Explore Fitzroy!
I spent a few months living in the suburb of Brunswick which is really cool and quite hipster. I visited Fitzroy a few times and even looked to live there once but the rent was too high for me, because this suburb is seriously cool! When I go back to Melbourne I really want to explore it more.
This is where people go wrong when they visit Melbourne I think, the CBD is good and a good place to start but you need to get out into the suburbs and Fitzroy is probably one of the best to go to, plus its really close to the CBD.
Fitzroy is home to Brunswick Street which is full of really unique shops like record shops and vintage clothes shops. You can find some of the most incredible Street Art there too, which is something else Melbourne is famous for!
You won’t be surprised to here that there are so many cool bars in the area, but what I really want to go back and see more of is its cafe culture. Coffee is what Melbourne is very famous for (another thing I know!) and Fitzroy covers this so well with awesome cafes which of course also serve awesome brunches too.
If you really want to explore the cafes in Fitzroy too and know a bit more about the area, have a look at this post from Never Ending Footsteps on The Best Brunches in Fitzroy. Even if you just want a coffee, this post will help point you in the right direction!
Tip: Don’t get Brunswick Street mixed up with being in the Brunswick suburb, Brunswick Street is in Fitzroy, and the main street in Brunswick is Sydney Road!
6 – Visit Mornington Peninsular
What I love about Melbourne is that there are so many places surrounding the City that are gorgeous and perfect for day trips or 1-2 night trips.
I did do a 2 day road trip down the Mornington Peninsular but I would love to do it again!
The Mornington Peninsular makes up the East Side of the Bay that surrounds Melbourne, and the end point is Sorrento which is a gorgeous town. On route to Sorrento from Melbourne we passed Mornington, Mount Marta and Rosebud which are all lovely area’s to stop a long with beautiful, quiet beaches.
Tip: It is possible to do this as a day trip from Melbourne however it would be a long day. When I did it we stayed over in Sorrento in the Sorrento YHA Hostel which I would recommend!
7 – Visit The Grampians
This is another place that isn’t in Melbourne but easily accessible from Melbourne. The Grampians are somewhere I really wanted to visit and never did so I will definitely visit them at some point.
The Grampians is a region of sandstone mountains full of gorgeous hikes, views, waterfalls and wildlife.
I’ll be honest and say I always thought The Grampians were just the mountains, but after reading The Melbourne Girls 8 Amazing Reasons to Visit The Grampians, I’ve learnt that there’s a lot more to do than just hiking! Wine tasting, plus the awesome food that is on offer there makes me want to go even more!
Tip: This can be done as a day trip from Melbourne but as always if you want to explore more, a 2 day trip would be better! If you don’t want to drive or go alone, a tour to the Grampians from Melbourne is a great way to see the area and the way I’d probably see it, here are some ideas:
8 – Chill in one of the many Beach Bars in St Kilda
I lived in St Kilda for a few months when I first moved to Melbourne and I think it’s every backpackers right of way to live there.
If you are basing yourself in the CBD or the outer suburbs, St Kilda can seem quite far away as pubic transport wise, its connected only by Trams rather than Trains, so it can take longer to get to. However it’s well worth visiting St Kilda.
If the sun is shining you can head to the beach, and if it’s not you can head to the beach bars for drinks or just some great food and atmosphere. (Melbourne’s weather is very unpredictable and the only thing I didn’t like about Melbourne).
Tip: One of my favourite bars was Republica Beach Bar which is very Australian and perfect for the day or evening!
9 – Shanghai Dumpling House
Melbourne is home to a pretty impressive Chinatown right in the CBD. In fact its the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western World! The food in Melbourne is awesome as I have mentioned, but the Asian food in Melbourne is incredible!
Shanghai Dumpling House is often dubbed THE best place to get dumplings in Melbourne which is saying something! So I would definitely go back to this little cafe within the laneways of Chinatown.
If you have just one day in Melbourne CBD you should get lunch here or in Chinatown.
Tip: Don’t expect anything fancy here, it’s very small and very unpretentious but very yummy! After eating here head to Section 8 which is next door!
10 – Section 8
Melbourne is full of awesome bars (and cafes, and restaurants, as you can probably tell from this list!). However one that really stands out for me is Section 8. It’s located literally next door to the Shanghai Dumpling House in Chinatown and it’s essentially an open air bar made out of shipping containers, covered in street art and graffiti with awesome music!
Section 8’s website claims – ‘It’s as Melbourne as it gets’, which is probably true!
Tip: This is one of those bars that is perfect for early evening/after work drinks or day time drinks!
11 – Madame Brussels
Not only are the bar’s on the street cool in Melbourne but there are also so many amazing rooftop bars in Melbourne which are perfect during the Australian Summer!
There are so many to choose from but one that really sticks out in my mind is Madame Brussels because it’s themed in an Alice in Wonderland / Garden Party kind of way, with a pink and white rooftop, garden furniture inside and out, plus a grassy area too!
Overall, it’s just a really cool place to go, especially for a special occasion like a birthday, or to just celebrate being in Melbourne!
Tip: I’d go during the day rather than in the evening and try to book a table in advance!
12 – Horse Races
Australian’s love their horse racing and they especially love it in Melbourne. There is even a public holiday for the main race – the Melbourne Cup!
The races are really social events, everyone goes all out, and the race courses are pretty central to the city which makes them so accessible!
There are many races that happen around the end of the year so if I was to go back then I’d be so keen to go to the races again! The Melbourne Cup is the biggest and main race, Derby Day which I went to is another big one but not so big that its possible to get tickets and not too expensive, and there are some smaller ones too.
Tip: Even if you don’t like horse racing, like me, still consider going as they are so much fun with a group of friends and its a very Aussie thing to do!
And there we go, 12 Things that I will do when I go back to Melbourne and 12 Things I suggest you do in Melbourne too!
To help you plan your trip to Australia and to Melbourne, Flight Centre have Brand New look for their Holidays to Australia page, so why not take a look and see what other inspiration and idea’s you can get to help make your trip the best possible!
For more of my posts on Australia see:
This post was brought to you with the help of Flight Centre, but all thoughts, opinions and love of Melbourne are my own! This post contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you.