Melbourne Basics

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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