There’s just something about Melbourne. The smaller, trendier sister to chic, perfectly manicured Sydney, it exudes effortless cool by the bucketload, complete with hidden laneway restaurants, grungy underground bars and feats of modern architecture you won't find anywhere else in Australia. Melbourne is Australia’s undisputed charming cultural hub, and a damn fine cosmopolitan city that ticks all the boxes; chic, arty, edgy, and just the right side of hipster.
If you're short on time but big on getting your bang for your buck, here's what we recommend...
THE PRACTICAL BITS
First thing’s first – getting around Melbourne is as cheap as chips and as easy as 123. Melb’s grid layout makes it a relatively easy city to navigate your way around, with plenty of its best sights in close walking proximity. Purchase a myki travel card from any retail outlet displaying the myki sign – 7-Elevens or train stations are always a safe bet. This is your ticket to travelling inbetween trams, trains and buses in the best possible way.
9 AM: Grab yourself a coffee and have brunch. Hash Specialty coffee on Hardware street is literally heaven to your lips with their own house-roasted coffee. If you’re feeling game, try the signature hot chocolate served with impossible amounts of fairy floss. For munch, give the maple glazed bacon a go, wisely washed down with another coffee to avoid the imminent food coma.
10 AM: Work off those brekky calories by walking through the Melbourne CBD. Start along the river through to Federation square, and eventually, you’ll end up on Flinders street. Take some time to explore down Flinders lane and hop on over to Collins street if you don’t mind blowing a bit of money. We’re talking Haute couture Chanel and hip designer labels with Melbourne’s finest home-grown designers.
12 PM: Grab lunch on the sidewalk – Central Place if you’re game. If you’re like us and consider yourselves burger fiends, head to 8bit for Melbourne’s finest and try the double dragon bacon burger with a peanut butter milkshake…and don’t think about the calories.
1 PM: Consider yourself a bit of an art enthusiast? Melbourne’s internationally renowned street art scene can be found down Hosier-lane – the most unorthodox art gallery in town. Some seriously big name street artists have made their mark on these laneways, including Ruskidd – an acclaimed graffiti master who focuses on street murals and free-flowin’, vibrant and uplifting colours. There’s also plenty of street art in Fitzroy off Brunswick street that’s worth checking out too.
2 PM: Looking to pick up some vintage finds and threads? Jump on the tram to Brunswick and get your fix at Melbourne Vintage. From furniture decor to clothing, this retro store is a total throwback of 50s & 60s vibes. If you’re in Melbourne over the weekend and love the flea markets, check out Camberwall market on station street – but take note, it’s only open on Sunday’s!
4 PM: Up for a bit of sand and sea fun? Take the 96 tram from Brunswick to St Kilda and watch the kite surfers do their thang. The best way to experience the spirit of this suburb is by walking down Acland street and stopping at one of of the many restaurants and entertainment areas. We recommend Uncle, a Vietnamese restaurant with an awesome rooftop dining area.
7 PM: For cheap eats and fast thrills why not dine in Chinatown, the longest Chinese settlement in the western world which dates back to the gold rush days of the 1850s. If you want to save some $$$, there are plenty of BYO joints serving delicious dumplings. Shanghai village dumpling house serves up (we think) the finest in town. If you’re still hungry for action post dinner, wander your way down to Rooftop Bar, located on the roof of Curtin House, 252 Swanston Street, for killer views of the city by night. Visit in the summer, and you’ll be greeted by cute colourful deckchairs and outdoor cinema magic showing classics and new blockbusters alike.
9PM: Like to P-A-R-T-Y? Melbs offers an array of fun spots to go get your groove on – Brunswick if you’re a hipster lovin’ culture fiend, Fitzroy if you like to take a walk on the kooky and alternative side or Collingwood for a grungier kinda night. This city is your oyster.
9 AM: After a busy day in Melbourne, treat yourself to a cheeky city getaway and give The Great Ocean road a visit – a spectacular and iconic sight, and literally every Instagrammers dream. This Australian listed heritage site stretches far and wide with awesome surf, white sandy beaches, and towering cliffs. The 12 Apostles are one of the main Melbournian attractions and a total must-do, rising up from the Southern Ocean of Victoria’s coastline. The erosion of the limestone cliffs are believed to have formed 10-20 million years ago, causing the remarkable 45-metre high cave formations.
6 PM: No Melbourne experience is truly complete if you haven’t explored the famous laneways, eaten delicious meals at well-known eateries and checked out a Rooftop bar or 5. Go out with a bang and head to Cookie bar – one of the best joints in the CBD with a mammoth beer selection to match.
And there you have it – the ultimate 48-hour guide to Melbourne compiled by travel experts and locals alike. Explore the culture capital of Australia on our 4-day Melbourne Discovery trip and see why it’s a traveller fave. Check out trips to Australia now for 2016/17 or take the quiz below and find out which city your heart truly belongs to…