The very first thing you would be advised to do is check the weather forecast. Melbourne’s summer heat is legendary. While the city’s winter is relatively mild (think rainy, not stormy), the city’s summer heat demands short sleeves, sandals and plenty and plenty of water.
Suitably dressed for the elements? Good. Now you’re ready to get exploring. There’s so much to see and do and eat and drink and buy and try and Melbourne, and a weekend doesn’t seem like enough time to fit it all in. But don’t feel overwhelmed, Aerostorie’s How to design a weekend series is here to get you started.
The basics — Whether you’re in Melbourne for an event, business or pleasure, getting the best out of your trip takes a little bit of preparation and research. If you happen get stuck, you’ll find baristas or retail staff can offer you directions or advice, but to save you from playing the oblivious tourist, here’s some basic info to get your trip off to a good start.
First thing’s first — to get from Melbourne Airport into the city you can take an Uber or taxi from the airport directly to your location. If you’re headed into the city, this will cost you around AU$50–60. The other alternative is hopping on the double-decker SkyBus. You can buy tickets for this service from the clearly marked booth outside the airport for AU$19 one-way. The SkyBus will take you straight to Southern Cross Station right in the city centre. From here you can hop onto a tram or train.
Unless you want to head out of the city, you’ll typically find yourself tramming to your destination, or getting on a train. While trams are completely free in the city centre, you will be required to pay for your trip everywhere else. To do this, you’ll need to pick up a myki card from the nearest 7-Eleven convenience store. A card will cost you AU$6, but you’ll need to put tram fare money on this as well (you can also do this at a 7-Eleven). Once you hop on the tram, tap on with your myki and find something to hold onto! Trams move quickly and erratically. Also, if you skip the miki be warned — you can be fined AU$223 by plainclothes gruff ticket inspectors. Stay on the safe side and touch on.
If you’re looking for a challenge while in the city, forget hiking and uphill runs! The city is pancake flat, making it a perfect city for cycling sightseeing. But don’t despair, there are still many ways to keep fit during your trip. Carlton Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens, Treasury Gardens and the parkland surrounding the Royal Botanic Gardens are all popular with runners for their leafy canopies and wide paths. For those feeling adventurous, there are also several rock climbing facilities in the CBD. Most suburbs also have their own local swimming pool, with the Melbourne City Baths being a heritage highlight. Need to slow things down? You can take your pick of yoga studios. Some local favourites include Humming Puppy in Prahran, The Yoga Place in North Melbourne or Move Hot Yoga in the CBD.
Sleep — To get the best experience out of Melbourne’s culture in your short trip, you’ll want to find yourself a place to stay right in the heart of the city. Airbnb has many affordable residences to choose from, and with a range of new hotels, big and small, emerging in the market, great options have never been more abundant.
Eat — Chances are, the pursuit of food is at least a part of your motivation for visiting Melbourne. For the best experience, make sure you step out the door with an apatite every morning. Arm yourself with Australian dollars as some cafes and restaurants only accept cash or don’t split bills, and prepare yourself to feast.
The restaurant of influential chef Ben Shewry, Attica, is multi-award winning. The only Australian establishment to make the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Attica offers a luxurious, nature-inspired experience. Be sure to book early to secure a place.
74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea
The Town Mouse
This Carlton eatery serves up modern Australian cuisine and delivers informed and passionate service. A homely and cosy space, The Town Mouse mix together high-end dining with an intimate setting for whiling away the hours with friends.
312 Drummond Street, Carlton
Situated happily on Flinders Lane, with a beautiful Japanese-inspired interior, restaurateur Andrew McConnell succeeds in immersing diners in casual yet refined Japanese, Korean and Chinese-influenced food, pairing the minimal aesthetic with the venue’s simple, yet nuanced, palette perfectly.
180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Coffee — Melbourne coffee is world renowned. If you’re a seasoned coffee drinker, the city will quickly become your happy place. Many local roasteries have their own specialties, so have a chat with staff about the unique flavors you can expect to find in your brew.
Market Lane is somewhat of an institution in Melbourne. With quaint shopfronts across the city, coffee connoisseurs will not be disappointed by any of the options this home-grown favourite offers. In the summer months, ask for the Coffee Spritz (tonic water, coffee and lemon).
Stores across Melbourne, South Yarra and Carlton
A large space with rustic charm and a reliable menu, Auction Rooms serve coffee by Small Batch Roasting Co. You can expect good things here. Auction Rooms is recognisable by its handsome pale blue exterior reminiscent of, you guessed it, an auction house.
103-107 Errol Street, North Melbourne
Touchwood deliver powerful coffee in a serene atmosphere. White brickwork, wooden floors, plenty of greenery and an outdoor courtyard, Touchwood is a little haven to catch up on work, or read the morning papers.
480 Bridge Road, Richmond
Drink — Drinking, dining’s beloved partner, is an essential part of any Melbourne trip. Soaking up the city’s beverages is one of the more relaxed ways to spend an evening. Bartenders and sommeliers in Melbourne take pride in both their service and extensive knowledge of liquor, so ask all your burning questions and sample something new. Cheers.
Whisky and Alement
For those who appreciate their drink slowly, Whisky and Alement offer an impressive range of whiskies, malts and ales. With passionate staff who are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge, Whisky and Alement offer rare and expansive flavour offerings in a snug setting.
270 Russell Street, Melbourne
Cumulus Up, another of Andrew McConnell’s creations, above the ever-reliable Cumulus Inc., is a wine bar in a stylish, intimate setting. With complimentary food options to the well-curated drink offerings, this venue offers a relaxed an sublimely Melbourne experience.
45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
With an impressive selection of whisky and gin from all around Australia, Bad Frankie is a cozy, nautical-themed bar nestled in the heart of Fitzroy. Offering jaffles (ask the staff for an explanation, if unfamiliar) and relaxed, yet highly knowledgeable service, Bad Frankie is somewhere you should dock for a drink.
141 Greeves Street, Fitzroy
Shop — As with most leisure destinations, shopping in Melbourne is popular. Although Melbourne is home to some impressive (if not austere) malls, there are plenty of independent offerings to pick from. You’ll generally find that shopping varies from suburb to suburb. Fitzroy has a quirky updated retro aesthetic, while the city’s centre around Collins, Bourke and Elizabeth Streets reveal high-street fashion and the occasional taste of grandeur.
A brand locally adored, Dejour Jeans offer flattering, hand-made jeans and skirts for lovers of denim. Offering personal adjustments and expert staff, their small space offers an impressive range of colours and styles. Step out of the store wearing a piece of the city’s fabric.
542 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Modern Times is the type of store that stops you in your tracks. With beautifully-curated merchandising and a range of works from local artists, Modern Times’ collection of mid-century furniture, ceramics and textiles are hard to resist. Offering helpful service and a great product knowledge, staff will offer additional bubble wrap or packaging if they know you’re about to hop on a plane with something delicate.
311 Smith Street, Fitzroy
For lovers of print, call into Mag Nation. Right in the centre of the city you’ll find an incredible selection of all the latest global and local magazine titles across the shop’s two-stories. Nab the latest issue of The Monthly, Smith Journal or Offscreen for a taste of Melbourne’s own independent publishing scene.
88 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
See — Boasting world-listed heritage buildings, mesmerising street art and a plethora of festivals, make it your mission to take in some of Melbourne’s vibrant cultural activities. While there is plenty to see and do throughout the year, the city also has many permanent sights and activities which are well worth your time. Whether you’re a lover of sport, art, music or fashion, you’ll find something to get you excited.
The city at night
With many watering holes open until the early hours, Melbourne’s city comes alive at night. With live music or theatre every night of the week, bar hopping to partake in and late night exhibitions, Melbourne is well equipped for night owls. If the weather is on your side, grab some food to takeaway and enjoy the well-lit CBD from the banks of the Yarra, or if you prefer, get cosy in one of the many excellent wine bars.
A game at the MCG
Seeing a game of AFL (Australian Football League) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground is an iconic, uniquely Melbourne experience. A meat pie, a pot of beer and a seat in the sun and you’ll gain a sense for Melbourne’s beating heart for sport and competition as you cheer along the athletes with the locals.
Melbourne’s art precinct
With The Arts Centre, Melbourne Theatre Company, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Koorie Heritage Trust, visitors are spoilt for choice. Because of their close proximity, you can easily visit them all in one day, however the range of programs, artworks and exhibitions make it easy to spend hours at one venue alone. Photo by Matt Irwin.
Families — Perhaps you’re booking a weekend escape for the whole family? Don’t be dissuaded, you’ll find the city is a great destination for families too. Little feet will surely enjoy the lively city, the quaint trams and take pleasure in sipping a ‘babyccino’ (or ‘steamer’ or ‘fluffy’, depending your origin) instead of coffee. The best way to enjoy Melbourne as a family is to arrive with a plan in mind. And make sure you’re prepared for that ever-changing weather.
Not far from Federation Square, Hosier Lane is a perfect detour to explore with little ones. A large laneway filled with all styles of street art, it’s little wonder that most travel guides recommend Hosier Lane as a destination. Despite the hype, the lane is hands-down the best place to take family photos as a memento, while appreciating the art. And the loveliest part? Next time you return to the city, the laneway canvas will be completely different.
Overlooked by the Royal Exhibition Building, recently added to the UNESCO World Heritage list, Carlton Gardens are perfect place for a green escape. No matter the time of year, this spot remains refreshing, open and wonderfully central to the city. In autumn, orange leaves flood the park, coating the ground in crisp, percussive shapes, while in winter the branches turn gnarled and gothic. Let the kids run off some energy before taking them to visit the excellent nearby Melbourne Museum.
Grub Food Van
With a menu equipped for kids, a couch made of crates, a table tennis set-up and an indoor greenhouse, this little sanctuary in Fitzroy is simultaneously exciting and relaxing. Pick up one of the local weekend papers (The Age, The Saturday Paper, or if you must, The Herald Sun) housed in a porcelain bathtub, and grab one of the outdoor tables under the fruit trees. Grub is also proudly breastfeeding-friendly, and their staff are very attentive and helpful.
Events — For a city with few natural wonders, Melbourne more than makes up for it with the huge range of fantastic events and festivals, each worthy of their own trip to the city. Try to time your mini break for an event to get the best out of your trip.
January 10-28, 2018
February 18, 2017
Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival
March 1-19, 2017
Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show
March 29-April 2, 2017
Melbourne International Jazz Festival
June 2-11, 2017
Melbourne International Film Festival
August 3-20, 2017
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
March 31-April 9, 2017
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
March 29-April 23, 2017
Melbourne Writers Festival
August 25-September 3, 2017
Melbourne Fringe Festival
Exact dates to be announced
October 5-22, 2017
Melbourne Music Week
Exact dates to be announced
November 7, 2017
Enjoyed Melbourne? Maybe you could build a life there.
Packing up your life — in one suitcase or many, with a partner or without, relocating nearby or far — is full of unpredictability. It’s a thrilling adventure that’s full of opportunities, but how do you make a life in a new city?
We’ve made it our business to explore the city from the inside out, examining everything from media to politics, property to the city’s infrastructure.
How to build a life in Melbourne is more than just a city guide – it’s the indispensable field guide to designing your life in one of the world’s most livable cities. It’s your life, after all.