Melbourne was one of my favourite cities when we visited Australia and actually one of my favourite cities of all time. The city is Australia’s cultural capital encompassing museums, cool street art and theatres. What I also loved about it was that it’s such a walkable city and I found it so easy to explore the little laneways, coffee shops and restaurants. The city is also the perfect base for amazing excursions that allow you to see the fantastic nature and wildlife in Australia.
As I was only there for six days and we included three full days trips whilst in the throws of jet lag, this list is by no means complete but a good start for anyone visiting Australia’s second most populous city.
1. Wine-tasting in the Yarra Valley
Mr S and I had a full day sampling wine in the stunning Yarra Valley and visiting four gorgeous vineyards including our favourite, the Domaine Chandon Vineyard owned by Moet and Chandon. There are over 70 wineries around the region and the cool climate allows for delicious and fantastic quality chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wine. To get the most out of a day in the Yarra Valley I really recommend a tour, we used Australian Wine Tour Co. who gave us a small group tour including the visit to the wine estates, tastings and lunch.
2. Beautiful Beaches
Living somewhere as densely populated as the UK, I’m used to seeing our beaches crammed with people. Come summer, deck chairs, sun burnt legs and 99 cones are out in force amongst the Brits. Even in exotic places like Thailand I’ve seen over crowded beaches, littered, polluted and full of people trying to sell you stuff but in Melbourne they’re clean and unspoilt… simply stunning.
From Melbourne you can travel the Great Ocean Road, one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. We saw beautiful beaches, stunning coastlines and a forest full of Koalas!
One of the most interesting sights is the Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone rocks near the Port Campbell National Park. The huge rocks tower 45 metres above sea level and make for a very awe-inspiring formation.
Apologies for the photo quality we went to Melbourne long before I had a decent camera and any photography skills!
A word of warning don’t expect to always feel the hot Australian sun on your skin. Melbourne and the surrounding area is know for having ‘four seasons in one day.’ What started as a warm day turned into a storm! We were of course under prepared for this and I had to wear the tour guide’s jacket while Mr S had to purchase a hoodie! Mr S and I took a bus tour of the Great Ocean Road, which I booked via Viator, it’s perfectly possible to do the drive in a day though some people may want to stay along the way.
I’d definitely recommend a tour of Phillip Island and the wildlife, the highlight being the Penguin Parade at the end. Once again I booked a tour through Viator. I booked us on the Ultimate Penguin tour which allowed us to get even closer to the little guys.
Doing the Philip Island Tour also gave us the opportunity to feed wallabies, which I think could be almost as adorable as Koalas!
When we were about to go to Australia a particular brutal series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here was showing and I was nervous of the potential spiders / snakes / cockroaches that we might see but actually I didn’t see many scary things just a lot of cute cuddly animals.
6. Vue de Monde
Vue de Monde, located on the 55th floor of the Rialto tower in Melbourne, is easily one of the best restaurants that I’ve ever been to. The view out to the city lights is amazing and the chic, minimalist decor is just stunning but it was the food that totally blew me away.
Chef Shannon Bennett has created a tasting menu of surprises using local and sustainable ingredients to create mind-blowing dishes that appeal to all the senses.
7. Actually…All the Food!!
I didn’t have a bad meal whilst I was in Melbourne and I found the restaurants to be diverse with a firm commitment to fresh and local ingredients. Being a seafood lover I tried so many different fish indigenous to Australia such as Barramundi, kingfish and Moreton Bay Bug, some of which I’d never even heard of before.
Sadly our limited time meant I tried very few places but aside from Vue de Monde, I would also recommend Chin Chin for Asian food and Rock Pool for seafood. There’s also a Nobu, serving Nobu classics as well as specials using local ingredients. For more foodie recommendations in Melbourne check out Lisa’s fabulous blog, Lisa Eats World.
Melbourne is also know for it’s coffee culture with many specialist cafe hotspots with carefully sourced coffee beans and perfected brewing methods. My limited experience means I don’t have any personal recommendations but check out Jayne’s ideas of where to have the perfect cuppa in Melbourne on her blog Girl Tweets World.
8. The Casino
While we were in Melbourne, Mr S and I stayed in the Langham Hotel, which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend as it was a little dated. However, the location on the South Bank promenade by the Yarra River was great and the Casino was pretty much next door to the Langham. If I returned to Melbourne I’d stay at The Crown Towers or a more local neighbourhood boutique hotel.
9. Roof Top Bars
I love roof top bars, they’re the perfect place to take in a view of the city and enjoy the sun with a cool glass of sparkling wine.
We visited a fab one called Madame Brussels which was an eclectic garden themed terrace with a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party type feel to it. Melbourne has plenty of great bars with stunning terraces and a fun relaxed vibe check out this article on Concrete Playground for more fab rooftop tips.
10. The People
I love living in London but the fast pace of life and the competitive nature of many Londoners can get so stressful. One of the things I loved most about being in Melbourne was the chilled out and friendly attitudes of the people living there. Melbourne has been consistently voted one of the safest places to live, one of the best cities to live in and the residents have some of the highest life expectancy in the world.
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Have you been to Melbourne? What were your favourite things about it?