I was hanging out in Melbourne with some locals having some amazing food, drinks, and being shown the local sites. It took me a little while to realize that I had not paid for anything. I tried at every place we went to, but it was impossible. Taking me around the city and giving me a true local experience was enough, but taking care of every bill was too much! I felt immediately accepted into their local group. It almost felt like we had known each other forever. Conversations flowed among the food and cold beverages.
This is what I love about Australia. The people are so incredibly kind and friendly. They will give their left arm for someone close to them. Once you get in their inner circle, the experience is like being family. The close knit groups you experience are nothing like friend groups in the US. I had the great luck of staying with a local couple in Melbourne. It was an incredible experience that soon became my favorite part of my trip. Connecting with locals is one of the main reasons I travel. Melbourne gave me a chance to do this!
This is part 3 of 3 of my Australia Travel Guide. This part covers the retro and hip Melbourne. Part 2 lends an insider perspective to the beautiful city of Cairns. Part 1 of the series focused on the nature, beaches, and people of Northern Queensland.
Finding your Spot in Melbourne
Melbourne is a huge city with multiple locations across the city where you can stay. It depends on your preference. You can get anywhere with public transit, so it’s really a matter of how far you want to be from the action. I stayed with some friends in the suburbs so it took me an hour to get into the city. Keep in mind there are two airports in Melbourne. MEL is much closer to the city so try to fly in there.
One of the many cool alleyways in Melbourne
It can be a bit seasonal in Melbourne, but it still will not get below freezing in the winter. There is also no snow. It can get quite hot in the summer. Their weather is known to be super variable.
Melbourne: Hip, Trendy, and Happening
I really liked Melbourne from first stepping off the plane. The vibe is super laid back, yet trendy. There seems to always be something going on. The city itself is incredibly beautiful. All the architecture is super pretty. I spent a lot of time marveling at all the buildings. The central train terminal is beautiful. There is a huge tower that erupts out of the center surrounded by 4 floors of shops and restaurants. Every corner houses a new sculpture or piece of art. There is something to see no matter where you look.
I spent the first day wandering around the city and checking out the local sites. There was a lot going on even on a Sunday. There were so many people milling about giving the city a great vibe. Trams connect all parts of the city and easy and efficient to ride. Grab yourself a myki card to get around the city. There is also a great bike path that you can take into and out of the city.
All the Coffee, Beer, and Food your Heart Desires
Melbourne is known for its coffee and it doesn’t disappoint. The Fitzroy neighborhood is the perfect place to start your coffee adventures. This is the hipster neighborhood, so it expectedly has the best coffee. Fitzroy also has some amazing food especially of the Asian variety. I had some amazing Vietnamese food at Viet Rose. We shared platters of all the good stuff. Check it out while you’re in the area.
A visit to Melbourne would be incomplete without visiting the many rooftop and outdoor bars. You can get excellent beer and food while basking in the sun. It can get hot there in the summer and fall (it was 90 degrees during the day when I was there in March). The rooftop bars are a great place to stop and cool down. They also have a massive amount of bars right on the river. Stop, enjoy the scenery, and have a beer. Melburnians are also all about beers. You are sure to have a few Aussies buy you a round.
View from rooftop bar
The food in Melbourne is great. They have food from all over and it’s all delectable. Check out the local cuisine at some of the pubs and the Asian influenced food. Gelato is also huge in Melbourne just like the rest of Australia.
Catch a Footie Match
Melbourne loves footie. Footie is Australian Rules football where they run at each other and kick a rugby ball back and forth. The goal is to get the ball through two posts at the end of the pitch. The players never stop running and constantly tackle each other. I managed to catch a girl’s game. I was impressed at the intensity and ferocity these girls exhibited. Any conversation I had involved sport (as Australians call it). Melburnians are obsessed with footie. I was shown some intense videos of hits and great plays. You definitely need to catch a game if you can. The stadium is massive and all the games are packed.
Melbourne also has a strong cricket following. It’s a great place to learn about the sport. Any sporting event in general will be a lot of fun. It all revolves around having a good time with your mates over a beer. Melbournians also know a lot about American sports. I had some in depth conversations about American Football, basketball, and even baseball. This is a great way to connect with locals. They will be happy to talk your ear off.
I had a local experience playing lawn bowling. This involves rolling a ball (weighted so it curves) down the lawn and trying to get closest to the small white ball. You have to take off your shoes when you play. Having a beer in hand is a requirement. It is a lot like bocce ball and incredibly fun.
Explore the Art and Culture!
Melbourne is a great place to wander around. The river runs right through the center of the city creating incredible views. All the buildings are styled beautifully. There is a graffiti alley right in the central business district that is a must see. It is a living piece of art as it is constantly being modified. Some of the pieces are incredible. There was a girl painting as I walked by!
Also check out all the pedestrian alleys. These have the best coffee and food. You can wander around and find awesome spot after awesome spot. Fed Square is also a must do. There is always something going on there and it is a great place to people watch. Taxi Kitchen is a fun rooftop bar to hang out at in the area.
After Fed Square walk down along the river and check out all the food and drink options. You can get anything you want. From there you want to walk north into the city and check out the State Library of Victoria. The place is a free art museum. I spent a solid 20 minutes marveling at the layout inside.
Make Sure You Know Where You’re Going BEFORE You Go Running
I decided to go for a run at 4 am to stretch out my legs before my long flight back home. Since I was staying up all night to try to get back on US time, I thought why not go for a run. I headed out from my Melbourne suburb base without my phone (I was charging it). The suburb was filled with houses that all looked alike. I made a couple of turns and wandered around as I usually do. Quickly, I realized I had no idea how to get back. Everything looked the same! I had totally forgot where I had come from.
Luckily, I had my Garmin watch to sort of track back towards where I came from. However, my starting point was not the most accurate. I ended up wandering around for an extra 20 minutes trying to find the house. I started freaking out a bit, thinking I was going to miss my flight. FINALLY, I found the house and stumbled back in. My friends laughed at me and there was no harm done.
This could have been a huge travel mishap, but I was glad I made it back. I thought I was going to be stuck in Melbourne forever (which would not have been such a bad thing). Don’t be stupid like me and get lost!
The Local Vibe and Hospitality Made My Trip
My hosts were so amazing in Melbourne. I can’t thank them enough for everything they did for me. They picked me up from the airport, dropped me off, toured me around the city, and paid for so much of my food and drink. The hospitality was above and beyond anything I had ever experienced. I felt like family even after the first day. The generosity and kindness was incredible. I felt so at home with them and I was so glad to have met them.
My incredible Aussie hosts and now close friends
This is why I love Australia. People really care about you. They want to show that their country is different. People don’t live to work. They work so they can live. I had so many great in depth conversations about everything. Australians are so easy to relate to and be with. I did not want to leave Melbourne; I was just starting to feel like I was part of a group.
When you visit Australia, make every attempt to connect with locals. They will do everything to make you feel at home. When you get in with a group, it’s like family.
Are You Booking Your Trip to Australia Yet?
Melbourne is a must visit in any Australian itinerary. It has a great diversity of things to do and see. There is something for everyone from art to sports fanatics. Make sure you check it all out. To do Melbourne right:
- Check out the amazing coffee
- Grab some local food
- Have a beer and watch a footie match
- Check out all the rooftop and waterside bars
- Explore the local art and culture
- Connect with the locals to get an inside scoop
Since I stayed with locals, I am a little light in my recommendations. I did what they told me to do without any research. If you need anything email me and I can connect with you locals in Melbourne. They were so gracious and even offered up their spare room for any of my friends.
I hope this Australian Travel Guide has inspired you to book a trip to the land down under.My time was amazing there. I enjoyed the variety of landscapes, food, people, and sites. It was incredible from day one. I did not want to leave. I hope you are heading to Google Flights to book your flight now!
Anyone who compares Australia to the US is crazy. It is a unique country with an incredible diversity of sites. There is something for everyone. It is a country that you cannot miss!
This is part 3 of 3 of my Australia Travel Guide. This part covers the retro and hip Melbourne.Part 2 lends an insider perspective to the beautiful city of Cairns. Part 1 of the series focused on the nature, beaches, and people of Northern Queensland.
Have you been Melbourne? Have you traveled anywhere in Australia? What are your top recommendations? Let me know in the comments! As always email me with any questions.
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