• Meghan Bartok

Highlights of Melbourne

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

Ahh, Melbourne. This city is overlooked by many who instead visit Sydney, but has been known as the most livable city in the world, and has also been said to have enough charm and culture to rival some European cities. My best friend, Aili, coming to visit seemed like a great excuse to check out the city, and we both feel like it lives up to its wonderful reputation.

Melbourne caters to all audiences, but to me, it felt especially young, energetic, and slightly hipster. People here aren’t afraid to go against the grain, much like their city, especially compared with more mainstream Sydney (which I do love for its own reasons still!). We stayed in Fitzroy, a charming neighborhood on the outskirts of the Central Business District, or CBD in Aussie lingo. It was nice to be in a neighborhood instead of in the city center, but it was still close and convenient, not to mention how pretty all the houses were!

Five days in Melbourne left us thirsting for more – literally, there are so many rooftop bars that I would have loved to check out; but it was also enough to get a good taste of the city – as in all we did was eat, and it was great. But enough of the puns! Check out some of my favorite things we did in Melbs:

National Gallery of Victoria

This (free!!) art museum took us two hours to look through, and we didn’t even manage to see everything! They have art that caters to every interest – modern, European, and Asian are just some of what you can find at the NGV. I love art museums, and the NGV has a place on my list of favorites for sure. Definitely a good place to enjoy a rainy day or get out of the heat!

Royal Botanic Gardens

These are one of my favorite staples of Australian cities-it's a great place to enjoy nature without having to leave the city. If it hadn’t been for the sound of the Grand Prix cars practicing nearby, it would have been easy to picture yourself in the middle of the countryside somewhere. The gardens here had a great variety of plants from all over, and it’s crazy to me that they have ways to grow that many different plants in one place. My favorite part was Fern Gully, which transported me back to hikes in the Pacific Northwest.

Brighton Beach

Skip over the more popular beach at St. Kilda in favor of Brighton Beach, which is about 3 miles south. This beach seemed much quieter, and was linked with the colorful bathing boxes I’m sure you’ve seen on Instagram! Even though it was a beautiful and sunny Friday afternoon, there was still plenty of space to spread out and even though the water was chilly, it felt great after laying out in the sun!

Brunswick Street

This might have been our favorite part of Melbourne, and Aili and I agreed we could have spent all five days of our trip just in Fitzroy. Brunswick Street is lined with bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and vintage stores. Definitely quirky and hipster, and a great place to spend an afternoon poking through all the different shops. We had the best coffee we’ve ever tasted at Bon Ap, and Gutz Cafe had both yummy lattes and delicious sandwiches. Although we didn’t properly go out, the nightlife seemed really good in this neighborhood, albeit a bit pricy outside of happy hour.

Food and coffee

Building off of that, I would take a trip to Melbourne just for the food and coffee, both of which the city is known for. I felt like we spent the whole trip eating, which is typical of Meghan and Aili, but there were so many other restaurants and cafes I would have loved to check out. The foodie scene is definitely much better than Sydney, and Fitzroy caters especially well to vegans and vegetarians. We didn’t have a bad meal while we were there, and morning coffee was a daily routine.

City Circle Tram

Packed with tourists, yes, but it’s free, and who doesn’t love free? I’m pretty sure we took at least part of this tram route every day we were in Melbourne. It’s a great way to familiarise yourself with the city, and the pre-recorded message will give you ideas of what to do at each stop, which was also great! Once you’ve done this route once (or twice, or every day) then make use of the other free trams in the city center! This was a great change after the prices of public transport in Sydney!