A guide of what to do in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city.
Melbourne feels like a mix of Tokyo and San Francisco. Its busy downtown with its narrow laneways filled with bars and restaurants reminded me of Tokyo. The hipster vibe of the Fitzroy neighborhood reminded me of San Francisco. Melbourne is a city with many personalities and something for everyone. I liked Melbourne more than Sydney, and I would love to know if anyone else feels the same way.
I didn’t get to spend enough time in Melbourne, but here are the things that I did during my three days in the city.
What to do in Melbourne:
Visit the Laneway Bars and Restaurants
One of the things that makes Melbourne so unique is the city has lots of tiny lanes that are bursting with activity. I found a tour of secret laneway bars on Airbnb Experiences and I loved the variety of places we visited. One bar was in an old parking garage, another was accessible only via the fire escape (pictured above), and one was through a secret door at a pizza place.
Beneath Driver Lane was my favorite, it’s in a basement in a shopping complex. It’s candlelit speakeasy with live music, and their cocktail list is extensive and creative. If you don’t see something you want on the menu the mixologists will make something just for you.
If you want to seek out secret bars on your own, look for a bicycle hanging over a doorway.
See the Graffiti on Hosier Lane
Graffiti is only permitted on designated streets in Melbourne and this is one of the best places to see it. The artwork on the street is constantly changing and a few people were working when I visited.
Join a Bike Tour
I did a four-hour bike tour with Freddy’s Bike Tours and it was a nice way to see a lot of the city and learn a bit of its history while getting some exercise.
Watch the Penguins at St. Kilda
When a breakwater was built to protect sailboats in the harbor, a colony of Little Penguins moved in. Spectators gather at dusk to watch as the penguins return to their home at night. The night I visited the penguins didn’t arrive until it was almost completely dark. First, you hear them calling, then you will see their heads popping out of the water (as you can see the in photo), and then they will climb onto the rocks. They arrive a handful at a time and keep coming.
It does get chilly while you wait on the windy breakwater for the penguins to make their appearance, so bring an extra layer.
Brunswick Street is the main street in this hipster neighborhood. You will find a wide variety of coffee shops, restaurants, and bars with lots of ethnic diversity and vegetarian options. Plus there are independently owned boutiques and alleyways with street art to wander through.
Dine at Chinchin
Several people recommended this Asian fusion restaurant, and I loved it. I had Pad Seuw with Wagyu Beef and it’s been on my mind ever since. There was a long line to get in, but it moved very very quickly, and it’s worth the wait.
Have a Coffee
Coffee is a BIG DEAL in Melbourne, and it’s delicious. Make a point to visit the coffee houses.
Shrine of Remembrance
This is a memorial to Australians who have served in wars. It was completed in 1934 to honor the men and women who served in World War I, but know honors all who have served in war.
I know that I just got a taste of Melbourne and that there is so much more to see and do – I am hoping to get back to Australia next year.