Melbourne has a lot to offer besides the quirky attractions. You could easily spend days just wandering around the city center without getting bored. I spent a couple days walking around on my own, a couple days hanging out with people from the hostel, and two days on a tour of the Great Ocean Road. It’s definitely not a city to be missed. To get you started with your visit, here is what I enjoyed seeing and experiencing in Melbourne.

Federation Square (often referred to as just Fed Square) is the perfect place to start, and an easy place to meet up with friends. The square also offers free WiFi. It’s on the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street. If you need tourist information, there’s an office that can help you out. There are several cafes in the square as well as a stage area. When I was there, some local schools were having a performance competition.

The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australia is located on one end of the square, containing thousands of pieces of Australian art. There’s also the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, which Genevieve and I went into. They had exhibits for TV shows and movies from all different eras, including these Star Wars action figures in the free section.

Across from Federation Square, on the other side of Swanston Street, is the Flinders Street Station. Even if you don’t need to take a train anywhere, it’s worth taking a look at the impressive building, especially at night.

Across from Federation Square, on the other side of Flinders Street, is St. Paul’s Cathedral. The church is a really pretty and takes up about an entire block. When Genevieve and I stopped by at the end of our day walking around the city, the church was packed with people listening to the choir sing amazing Christmas songs. Outside people stood and watched as colored lights projected “Merry Christmas Melbourne” and snowflakes onto the church. No matter what time of year, take a look inside, it’s an impressive church.

Behind Federation Square is the Yarra River, which runs through the city. It’s a nice place for a stroll, taking in the nature and the buildings of the city. We saw runners along side the river and a handful of boats in the river. It’s a relaxing little escape inside the city.

Two things Melbourne seems to have in abundance are food and shopping. From Federation Square, walk down Swanston Street towards St. Paul’s Cathedral. Clothing stores, souvenir shops, and all kinds of food can be found along this stretch of road. After a few blocks is the Bourke Street Mall, a pedestrian area full of malls, department stores and smaller shops. There are also plenty of benches, nice for relaxing and people watching. I spent an afternoon weaving my way down the different side streets in this area and checking out the shopping arcades, although my budget only allowed me to splurge on a travel sized bottle of shower gel from the Body Shop.

Melbourne has a rather large Chinatown. I wandered through with Kayleigh from England and Lisa from Germany (more friends from the hostel) to find dinner one night before going to the movies. Then a few days later, Genevieve and I ate dinner in Chinatown after our afternoon walking around the city. I also had lunch with my friend Andrew (who I met in Dubrovnik a few years ago) since he lives in Melbourne. He took me to Shanghai Dumpling Palace on Tattersalls Lane, and the dumplings were delicious.

Don’t forget to check out my posts on Queen Victoria Market and the Great Ocean Road Day 1 and Day 2 for more of what Melbourne has to offer!

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22 comments on “Melbourne Basics

  1. Megan

    wow! i really had no idea melbourne had such fantastic architecture! it leaves me definitely wanting to go there!!! great photos!

  2. Matthew Cheyne

    I think you’ve nailed the basics for Melbourne really well. That picture of Flinders Street Station is stunning and really does the place justice. And you also got the statues of the three skinny guys on the corner of Swanston and Bourke streets that I was talking about in an earlier post too. I was really happy to read that you caught up with Andrew the guy from Dubrovnik. Being from eastern Europe he’d have a really original take on Melbourne because we have a significant population of eastern Europeans who migrated here from the post war years. They have their own shops and cafes that they visit so it would be really interesting to see what his favourite haunts were in Melbourne. I have the feeling that we’ll see you again in Melbourne sometime. There is still plenty left for you to see and take pictures of but like you said in your post, you’ve got the basics of Melbourne down pat. Next time you come you’ll have to tell everybody about all the shopping bargains you can find, the Puffing Billy railway and the penguins of Phillip Island just to name a few.

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Matthew! I actually met Andrew in Dubrovnik while he was also traveling. He’s a native Australian. But I had no idea there were so many Eastern Europeans in Melbourne, I’ll have to look for those restaurants next time. It might be awhile, but I’d love to take my husband back there and see some of the things I missed and I know he’d love the Great Ocean Road. Thanks for always having so many great tips on Melbourne!

      1. tehnyit

        I think Melbourne has the largest Greek population outside of Athens. The Greek culture is all over city. Their contribution to the Australia food landscape is fantastic.

        1. Ali Post author

          Really? I didn’t know that. Now I wish I had tried Greek food while I was there!

  3. Andrew

    I know it has been said, but the night shot of the train station is pretty amazing. To get the building so clear and still the people walking in front of it blurry.

    1. Ali Post author

      It’s definitely a great city. I never thought of it as a bigger Wellington, but I can see that.

  4. Francy R

    Is Melbourne so amazing? cool! I’ll probably be there this summer to go visiting a friend of mine who is about to move there. I haven’t expected to be such a colourful and interesting city!!

    1. Ali Post author

      Sounds great, I hope you have fun there! Melbourne is a really fun city.

  5. Ted

    You have summed up Melbourne in a nutshell. A big shopping mall with lots of restaurants and bars. As a native resident of Melbourne for 30 years I always wondered what a tourist could find to do. After 10 years away I returned recently…and the answer was not a lot. It’s interesting to hear you say you spent days walking around Melbourne CBD yet the Melbourne I know can be walked from Sth Melbourne market to Brunswick in a day… Glad you enjoyed the Chinese food! A great aussie delicacy ;-)

    1. Ali Post author

      You’re right, it doesn’t have a lot of the typical touristy things like cities such as Paris or New York, but it’s still a nice city, and a good base for trips like the Great Ocean Road. My days of walking around were aimed at different things, one just aimlessly wandering, one actually seeing a few things, one mostly trying a few restaurants. And I probably didn’t start my day until lunchtime! It’s a good city to explore without feeling rushed to check a bunch of things off a list.

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  7. Katja

    One must truly live in Melbourne to appreciate it, as it doesn’t have the beauty of Sydney by the harbor. If food is your thing, though, Melbourne is the place to be. Although there are great choices in the CBD, it’s best to get out to the surrounding suburbs as well. Melbournians use their city, with queues to get into trendy restaurants found every night of the week… not just on weekends.

    1. Ali Post author

      Melbourne is definitely not the same as Sydney, but I liked both cities for what they are. Melbourne doesn’t have the harbor, but I enjoyed walking by the river. The city has a great vibe, and yes great food!

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  9. Hannah Wasielewski

    I didn’t realize Melbourne had such beautiful architecture! I plan on moving there in February for the work and holiday visa, so I’m trying to gather as much information as possible! These pictures make me even more excited to go now :)

    1. Ali Post author

      That sounds like fun, Hannah! Melbourne is a really cool city, I think you’ll enjoy it. I definitely recommend taking some time to go see the Great Ocean Road while you’re there, it’s probably my favorite part of Australia, absolutely gorgeous! Enjoy your time in Australia!

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