Proudly known as the world’s most liveable city, Melbourne has the charming, relaxed vibe that leaves you hankering for more. From its laneways filled with iconic street art and quirky shops, to exciting festivals, to stunning nature trails, the city has much to offer for the adventurous. Don’t limit yourself to the city centre but venture further out into the suburbs, where different neighbourhoods deliver their own surprises.
Our first night at Melbourne was an exploration of late night food options, as our plane touched down late at night. After checking in at the hotel in Melbourne CBD, it was just past 11 p.m. I have been warned that Australia becomes boring after 5 p.m., when most businesses close for the day, so we were apprehensive about getting dinner at such a late hour. Fortunately while roaming the streets near our hotel, we noticed a number of eating places still open. Shortly after, we sat down at Stalactites Restaurant (177/183 Lonsdale St; stalactites.com.au), which serves classic, scrumptious Greek food and is open 24 hours daily. We found out later that this is a well-loved Melbourne diner. We had their mixed Giros platter of marinated chicken and lamb, and spiced it up with some chilli sauce – we were in Greek heaven.
In the following days, things got a lot easier when we had help from Mick Locke and his team at Melbourne Urban Adventures (melbourneurbanadventures.com), which is in the business of showing people around the city. Mick shares some of the best places to eat, drink and visit in Melbourne.
On a sunny day, chill at one of the bars by Yarra River to watch rowers or cruise boats pass by. Mick recommends Arbory Bar & Eatery (1 Flinders Walk; arbory.com.au) or Ponyfish Island (Southgate Pedestrian Bridge; ponyfish.com.au). The relaxed vibes capture the spirit of Melbourne.
Melbourne is the city for coffee aficionados. The hole-in-the-wall Jungle Juice (20 Centre Place) doles out good coffee, freshly squeezed juices and their addictively popular bagels. Little Mule (19 Somerset Place; facebook.com/thelittlemule) is another favourite for coffee and sandwiches. Merlo Coffee (Queen Victoria Market, Peel St; merlo.com.au) is a chain that serves reliable coffee and freshly roasted beans that you can buy back to make your own. You can even see the whole coffee roasting process in the shop. Find out more good cafes on Melbourne Urban Adventures’ Bites and Sites tour.
Melbourne, recognised as the sporting capital of the world, is a favourite among sports junkies. Melburnians are passionate about their sports, be it cricket, football, Formula One, horse racing, rugby or tennis. Mick says that “a must for any visitor to experience this passion is to head to the MCG and watch a game of AFL (Australian Football League) or cricket, while enjoying a pie and beer, and hear the locals cheer. The MCG also has a fantastic, informative and interactive National Sports Museum which can be combined with a tour of the MCG (Brunton Ave, Richmond; mcg.org.au).”
For time off from the CBD, some favourite relaxing spots include Edinburgh and Treasury Gardens. “Edinburgh Gardens (Fitzroy North), 10 minutes by tram from Melbourne CBD, has plenty of recreation choices such as bowling clubs and football grounds, and is a popular place for BBQs. Treasury Gardens (2-18 Spring Street, East Melbourne) is where many city workers take their lunch break. The gardens are close to Parliament House and the Old Treasury Building, and house memorials including one of John F Kennedy.”
Located about 45 kilometres from Melbourne CBD, the 1000 Steps Walk in the Dandenong Ranges National Park (visitdandenongranges.com.au) is popular with local fitness enthusiasts. The track is three kilometres long and is surrounded by beautiful forest and wildlife, and you can also find plagues dedicated to soldiers who died in World War 2 in Papua New Guinea. If the 1000 Steps is too rigorous, you can also explore other less demanding walking and cycling trails, gardens, picnic areas, spas and eating places.
Visit at least one of the four neighbourhood markets: the Queen Victoria market (Corner of Elizabeth Street and Victoria Street; qvm.com.au) with a 140-year rich history, South Melbourne Market (322-326 Coventry Street; southmelbournemarket.com.au), Prahran Market (163 Commercial Rd, South Yarra; prahranmarket.com.au) and Footscray Market (81 Hopkins St
Footscray; footscraymarketvictoria.com.au), all of which offer locally grown produce and arts and crafts. “The beauty of the markets is the long history and the multiculturalism so representative of Australian society. The vendors who are usually first or second generation immigrants, have had their stalls passed through the generations.” For a firsthand experience of the markets, Melbourne Urban Adventures’ Multicultural Markets tour will bring you around to meet the market vendors and sample local produce.
Where To Stay
Crown Metropol Melbourne
Designed by renowned architectural firm Bates Smart, The Crown Metropol Melbourne is a super sleek hotel in the Southbank that makes astatement with its distinct wave-like building and grand spiralstaircase. It is also equipped with some of the best facilities thatguests would appreciate. This includes the panora mic pool and deck,roomy gym with city views, business centre, good restaurants, and ashort stroll away, the Crown Entertainment Complex that comes with acasino, bowling arcade, and movie theatres. Spacious rooms come withcomfy beds, work desks and floor-to-ceiling windows with skylineviews on higher floors. A short walk brings you to popularattractions like the popular DFO (Direct Factory Outlets) SouthWharf, the massive Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, and the colourfulSouth Melbourne Market.
8 Whiteman Street; crownhotels.com.au/crown-metropol-melbourne
Oaks on Market
Staying at Oaks on Market has all the advantages of staying in a real apartment: the rooms are spacious and comes with sofa beds and stocked kitchenettes, plus separate lounge and dining areas. Guests can choose from studios, and one and two-bedroom apartments that range from 37 to 63 square metres. Rooms on higher floors facing Southbank offer a scenic view of the riverfront and city skyline. Centrally located in the busy financial district, Oaks on Market lies tucked away on a quiet side street sheltered from the city buzz. A myriad of shopping, dining and entertainment options are all within a short walk away, and so is the Southern Cross Station, the terminal for Melbourne’s airport SkyBus. Newly refurbished less than a year ago, the property contains a fully equipped gymnasium, heated lap pool and sauna, and conference facilities for business guests. Guests and visitors can also enjoy convenient onsite dining at Oak & Vine – a contemporary restaurant and bar that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, as well as offering room service for in-house guests.
60 Market Street; oakshotels.com