I’d go as far as to say that Melbourne is my favourite city ever. Yes, even out of the grandeur of New York, the glamour of Paris and the chaoticness of Hanoi, there’s just something about this Australian city that ticks all the boxes for me.
After living and working here now for six months on my Working Holiday, I can vouch for the fact that two days isn’t nearly enough time to spend in Melbourne- I mean, in my opinion, half a year hasn’t been enough. However, if you’re only visiting for a long weekend, let me take the research and getting lost out of your Melbourne city break for you.
So, with everything from rooftop bars to street art and markets to choose from, it’s time to start exploring. Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Melbourne.
Eat dumplings in Chinatown for under $10
You touch down in Melbourne on a Friday night and there can only be one thing on the agenda: drinks. Well, food then drinks. First stop should be Chinatown which is primarily located on the eastern end of Little Bourke Street. There are loads of places to pick up a cheap, quick dinner here especially when it comes to a Melbournian favourite-dumplings.
See the city from a hidden rooftop bar
As you’re in the area, next head to the Rooftop bar on Swanston street. This fab bar is located in an unassuming building but it has great views once you get to the top, and it even doubles up as a rooftop cinema. My advice? Go for the Aperol Spritzes which are only an affordable $12.
If you fancy carrying on drinking, there are loads of great bars in the city. A few of my favourites are the Carlton Club rooftop, Garden State Hotel and Whitehart Bar.
Go ‘out out’ in Chapel Street
There are so many options when it comes to going out in Melbourne but for 20-somethings, Chapel Street is a firm favourite. You can get there by tram, or even easier by Uber, and there are loads of clubs and bars to choose from such as Lucky Coq and Melbourne Institution, Revs.
I hope you didn’t get too wasted last night because there’s a lot to explore.
Stop by Flinders Street Station
To orientate yourself, head to the architectural beautiful Flinders Street Station, the centre of the city.
Treat yourself to Brunch in Degraves Street or Centre Place
From here cross over Flinders Street and explore two of Melbourne’s best Laneway’s, Degraves Street and Centre Place. There are loads of cafes and brunch restaurants here so it’s the best place to fuel up for the day. Melbourne is famous for its coffee so don’t forget to order a Flat White while in the city.
Stop by Melbourne’s Victorian tea rooms in the Block Arcade
The next laneway up from Centre Place is Block Arcade. This beautiful arcade was build in the Victorian era and it gets its name after an old tradition that locals used to do before a football match, in which the men would ‘walk the block’ in one direction and the women in the other.
Make sure that you schedule some time to stop off at the Block Arcade’s Victorian Hopetoun Tea Rooms for cake at some point in your trip.
Enjoy Melbourne’s Famous Street Art
After this, it’s time to see one of the things Melbourne is most known for- street art. There is so much great street art around the city but the best laneways to spot it in are Hozier Lane and AC/DC Lane. Unlike in a lot of cities, in Melbourne, most of the street art is done by licensed graffiti artists meaning that the quality of work is very high. Because of this the streets kind of double up like an ever-changing art exhibition as new graffiti is added on top of the old constantly.
Walk to the Botanic Gardens
Now it’s time to relax so pick up some lunch and head back to Flinders Street Station. From here you can cross over the river and walk along it until you reach the Royal Botanic Gardens. The gardens are by far tone of the most beautiful green spaces in Melbourne to relax and enjoy the sun.
See the city skyline for free at the Shrine of Remembrance
When you’re done, cross over the road and stop by The Shrine of Remembrance for fantastic views of the city skyline. Then you can hop on the tram back to Federation Square/ Flinders Street Station.
Make it to Southbank for happy hour drinks
For the early evening, you have to head to Southbank for drinks. There are so many great bars here to choose from, with lots of them offering happy hours, so if it’s cocktails that you’re after then that’s the best bet. My favourite one is the Arbory Afloat, although this is only up in the warmer months, as well as Pony Fish Island.
Stop by Lygon Street for Melbourne’s best Italian food
When it comes to dinner, you have to go to Lygon Street in Carlton, Melbourne’s Little Italy. DOC PIzzeria boasts the best pizza in the city and it even has it’s own mozzarella bar however bear in mind that it’s only open for dinner. Other popular establishments on Lygon Street include Pidapipo for Melbourne’s best gelato and Brunetti, the best cakes.
Finish off at the Eureka tower for panoramic city views
If you’re still itching to see more of the city, head up to the Eureka Tower observation deck for views over the whole city.
Spend some money at the Queen Victoria Market
Sunday Mornings are made to spent at The Queen Victoria Market. Open 5 days a week, and also once weekly in the evening for the night market, the market is a Melbourne institution for foodies with everything from Turkish boreks, artisan chocolate, fresh fruit and all kind of nic nacks available. The market is great any day of the week but it stays open longer on a Sunday and has a lot more going on such as live music and giveaways.
Admire the State Library of Victoria
As you’re at that end of town, walk over to Lonsdale Steet and stop by the State Library of Victoria, one of the most beautiful libraries around.
Relax on the beach at St Kilda
No trip to Melbourne is complete without visiting the beach so from here hop on the tram to St Kilda. Melbourne’s most popular beach area, St Kilda boasts a long sandy beach, the historic Luna Park fairground and plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants to keep you entertained.
Treat yourself to a boozy brunch
Sundays are made for bottomless brunch and there are so many places along the beach esplanade or on nearby Ackland Street to choose from.
Or admire the art at The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
If the weather’s not good, then alternatively head to the NGV gallery and spend a few hours wandering around and enjoying the exhibitions there.
Useful things to know
- Melbourne’s city centre is very walkable and there are free trams in the city centre. If you want to get the tram further out of the city to places such as Lygon Street or St Kilda then you need to purchase a MYKI. You can get these from Seven Eleven, the train stations or alternatively just use the mobile app. Then once you’ve loaded this up, just tap on when you get on the tram.
- City Mapper and the PTV app are both useful apps when it comes to public transport.
- If you need internet then you can use the free Vic wifi which works in most of the CBD. Melbourne’s CBD follows a grid structure so it’s fairly easy to orientate yourself.
- There’s always another event or festival going on in Melbourne so if you want to be in the know, be sure to follow both Timeout and Concrete Playground on Facebook and Twitter.
- If you want to find happy hours, then you need the app, the Happiest Hour.
- The weather in Melbourne is changeable so bring layers and an umbrella.
More things to do
- There’s so much to do in the areas outside of the CBD. If you have time then places such as Brunswick, South Melbourne and Fitzroy are all worth exploring.
- Popular day trips from Melbourne include: The Great Ocean Road, The Grampians, Wine tasting in the Yarra Valley, Sorrento and Philip Island.
I hope that you have plenty of Melbourne related inspiration to help plan your city break. If you have any more Melbourne related questions then don’t hesitate to drop me a message or leave a comment below.