My first destination in Australia now got my new favourite city in the world. Being overwhelmed at first and feeling uncomfortable, I fell in love more and more day by day and now I am already excited to go back.
Besides the wonderful cafés, pubs, shops and sights obviously the people I met there are a huge reason for my Melbourne love as well.
In this travel guide, I tell you all my beloved places to go to, things to see and facts to know that I discovered in 2 ½ weeks in the city and I will hopefully be adding more experiences and favourites when I go back soon.
Blog posts from Melbourne
- Exploring Melbourne & Making Friends // Diary 002
- What I Eat in Melbourne as a Backpacker on a Budget
- The Best Weekend ever in Melbourne // Diary 003
- Last Week in Melbourne & Saying Goodbye to my first Friends here // Diary 004
Things to know
When you arrive at the Melbourne Tullamarine airport you can take the Skybus to the city for 19$
Melbourne has a Free Tram Zone in the CBD area which means that you don’t need to pay when travelling in this zone or when you use the Free Tram Route 35 that goes around the CBD. This makes exploring the city 100 times easier, quicker and cheaper and it was so practical to not worry about your ticket.
I only paid for going to St. Kilda and Brighton Beach (both 20-30 minutes away from the centre) and otherwise I used the free tram and walked the rest.
Melbourne has a free Wifi in the whole CBD area which was great to use google maps, check out places and it also worked in my hostel (as most hostel Wifi’s are shit :D )
I never ever thought that Melbourne is so cold! I’ve been there in the End of September / Beginning of October and even though it was 18-24 degrees at that time, I always wore all my warm clothes because the wind is freezing. When you are in the sun and protected from the wind it is nice but in the shades and windy streets, it feels like winter.
The vibe of the city reminds me of a mix between London, Seattle and New York (even though I haven’t been to NY). I can’t really describe why, but the people, their style, the shops and restaurants have this urban hipster vibe (in a very good way!) – especially Fitzroy.
There are a lot of awesome Vintage Shops in Melbourne. This is another reason why I really want to go back – so I can shop the perfect Vintage Levi’s Mom Jeans and Shorts as well as Dr. Martens, cool Hoodies, band t-shirts and awesome jackets…
Fitzroy is the coolest, hippest, nicest area in Melbourne and especially the Brunswick street is awesome! Nice shops, cafés, restaurants, pubs and vintage shops.
Apparently, Melbourne has the best coffee in the world! I don’t know if that is really the case, but at least they have the most coffee shops in the world (per person), but not the big chains – Melbourners love their individual, cute coffee places and you find them at every corner.
Where to Stay
Of course, I can’t tell you which place is the best to stay in Melbourne as I haven’t tried them all.
In the beginning, I’ve stayed in the CBD area the Nomads All Nations hostel that was cheap, but not very clean and nice. The vibe and the kitchen weren’t that great and considering that it wasn’t even a good price (24$ for a 12-bed-dorm). They offer free pancakes for breakfast as well as tea, coffee, pasta and rice which is great!
Afterwards, I moved into The Nunnery in Fitzroy. I really recommend this area and also this hostel, but it is also pretty expensive (35$ for 12-bed-dorm). The vibe there is super chilled, it isn’t that big and it’s easy to meet people. Everything is clean and they offer free breakfast, tea, coffee and pasta as well as specials like a pub crowl, soup, BBQ or movie night every week.
What to do
For me, the most important thing when visiting a city, is walking through its streets and soaking up its vibes. Not the sights but the streets, buildings and people give it its charm.
You will see a lot of Asian people, shops, supermarkets and restaurants, many barbers & hairdressers, coffeeshops, chocolateries & bisquiteries.
Streets I recommend to check out are: Brunswick Street in Fitzroy (vintage shops, cute cafés, restaurants & pubs, many vegan places), Lygon Street in Calton (many European and especially Italian restaurants), Fliders St, Bourke St, Swanson St, Elisabeth St, Collin St (in the CBD) and Little Bourke St (Chinatown).
At Federation Square a lot of open-air (Veranstaltungen) take place. You also find an aboriginal museum and ACMI Museum (modern, technology) there. The immigration museum is another recommended one on Federation St.
The Eureka Tower is the highest building in Melbourne and you can enjoy an awesome view from above over the city. Sadly I didn’t do it, but it is on the top of my things to do next time for sure!
The Queen Victoria Market is one of my favourite places in Melbourne. They don’t just sell fresh fruits & veggies for a great price (and offer so many different options), but also the best hummus I ever had and yummy bread, sweets and take-away dishes. There is also a part that sells shoes, clothes, souvenirs and everything else you could think of.
Another market in Melbourne is the South Melbourne Market that is meant to be great as well.
South of the Yarra River, you can find the Royal Botanical Garden (that I only saw a small part of and want to go back to!)…
…as well as the National Art Gallery that had a Moma exhibition from New York at the moment and the Arts Centre Melbourne where I really wanted to see the Australian Ballet dancing Spartacus, but the tickets where too expensive sadly.
St. Pauls Cathedral, State Library Victoria, City Square and Melbourne Town Hall are worth a look as well.
Walk101 do a Free Walking Tour in the centre of the city as well as in St. Kilda. Originally I wanted to do both, but I only made it to the centre tour which was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it.
You go to the meeting point, join the tour, meet a lot of other travellers, learn a lot about the city and history as well as some insider tips from the tour guide and in the end you pay as much as you can / want to.
The laneways in Melbourne are very famous with their street art. You just need to walk through some smaller streets and you will find amazing artworks. At ACDC lane and Flinders Lane (and the areas around), you will find the most famous pieces and walls. But also the streets of Fitzroy are great to see some pretty street art. The cool thing is, that they change daily/weekly because artists make new sprays all the time.
Furthermore, Arcades are very popular in Melbourne and I recommend to walk through the beautiful Royale Arcade and Block Arcade for it’s amazing architecture and the Centreway Arcade to find cute book, vintage and soap shops.
To get a little bit outside the big city vibes I highly recommend to go to St. Kilda for one day. Especially when the weather is nice. The pier is only 25 minutes by tram away from the centre and you will find some vacation and beach vibes there. It’s great to stroll through the pedestrian zone and the not so busy streets, enjoy the peace in the Botanical Gardens or sit at the beach.
Behind the famous amusement park, I found a real oasis: VegOut an urban garden community that allows you to walk through the patches and forget that you are in a huge city.
Another great getaway that is even more quiet and peaceful is Brighton. A suburb of Melbourne about 25 minutes by train away from the city centre. The famous Brighton Bath Boxes are located there and you can enjoy some sunny time at the beach.
Where to eat
Melbourne and especially Fitzroy is full of amazing (vegan) food places. Literally, every pub offers vegetarian and even vegan dishes but you can also find hundreds of beautiful, hipster, chic cafés that all have avocado toast, granola and even acai on their menu. Many coffee shops sell raw slices and vegan cookies as well as delicious looking banana bread or carrot cake.
It would already be worth coming back to Melbourne just to try out more food places, as I obviously couldn’t (or wouldn’t want) to afford eating out every day for every meal – but I really wished to!
Degraves St is a pedestrian street where cafés, coffee shops and bakeries as well as restaurants and bistros are side by side and everyone can for sure find something to satisfy their taste buds.
I’ve been to Mock Turtle on Degraves St and…
…here I ate the best Avocado Toast of my life. I can not really imagine someone being able to top it. Sadly it wasn’t vegan and I forgot to ask for a vegan option, but it was amazing and so worth it… I mean look at the variety of toppings and the bread was just delicious (which isn’t always the case if you are used to the great German bread :P ) and the Avo smash perfectly ripe and creamy. The price was pretty high but I would still always come back!
Another great breakfast place that is located on Brunswick St. A super quiet café that has a small courtyard where you can sit peacefully and enjoy the sunshine. Their orange juice is fresh pressed and they have some amazing looking baked sweets. They also have a yummy lunch menu.
I ate buckwheat chocolate granola with coconut yogurt and cacao nibs, almond milk and canned peas which was amazing. The Avo Toast looked good, but by far not reach the one from Mock Turtle.
Lentils as Anything
I fell in love with the philosophy of this place and I am so lucky that they have one local in Sydney (and about 5 in Melbourne, even in St. Kilda). This place is run by volunteers and they offer a completely vegan buffet for lunch and four dishes to choose from every day for dinner, as well as a dessert. At the end you pay the amount you think the food was worth it – and I tell you, the food is amazing!
We tried all the dishes they had that evening and everything was super delicious and I am really sad that I only went there once in Melbourne. I’ll definitely go there lots in Sydney!
Lord of the Fries
If you crave some unhealthy food, go to Lord of the Fries! A completely vegan fast food burger chain that make amazing burgers and delicious fries. They don’t advertise to be completely vegan, to attract everyone and to amaze them with the vegan deliciousness. And it’s also fairly cheap!
I ate a “Fish-burger” and sweet potato fries with vegan aioli and tried the normal fries and the classic burger from a friend and everything was yummy. But I still wouldn’t want to go there every second day, because you can really taste that it’s not healthy at all :D
… is a better option when you want something healthy and cheap. This bistro makes great Asian dishes and they have vegan options on their menu. I tried the vegan noodle salad bowl with tofu and it was delicious, fresh, healthy and great for lunch while only costing 11$ (7€).
Zero Gradi Gelateria
A friend who has been living in Melbourne for a while crowned this place to the best Gelataria in town and they have vegan flavours too (and not only fruit sorbets). I combined vegan chocolate and coconut and it tasted amazing – creamy, chocolat-y and not too sweet.
More great (vegan/healthy) places that I sadly could not try this time:
- Fina’s Vegetarian Café
- Pina Chocolate Café
- Veggie time
- Smith & Daughter
- Veggie bar
- Nice Guy
- Urban Projuice
- Yong Green Food
- Radhey Chai Bar
- Tahina Bar
- Mantra Lounge
- Rue de Creperie
- Loving hut Richmond
And you will find a lot more by just walking through the streets (especially Brunswick St)!