Planning a solo trip to Melbourne? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital city of the state of Victoria, with a population of 5.1 million.
- The second most populous city in Australia, Melbourne is a major centre for traditional and contemporary Australian culture.
- The Victorian gold rush of the 1850’s helped propel the city’s growth, eventually transforming it into one of the world’s wealthiest cities.
- Melbourne is the birthplace of Australian film, dance, music and television.
- Melbourne also claims to be the Sporting Capital of Australia – it’s the home of Australian Rules football, the Australian Open tennis grand slam, the Boxing Day cricket test and the Melbourne Cup Carnival (a horse race that captivates the nation).
- Nicknames: The Second City, Garden City, Melbs, Melbin.
- Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD).
- Spoken languages: Australian English.
- Best time to visit: any time of the year! Every season has something to offer, from the heat of summer to the crisp of spring and even the wonderful holiday season in winter.
- Arriving via airport: Melbourne Airport (MEL) is served by Skybus with express rides to the city centre for tickets priced at $20 one-way ($40 return) and by public bus route #901 departing from Terminal 1. Taxis charge around 60 AUD.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers: Space Melbourne. It’s expensive (for a hostel), and the rooms are tiny. But the central location, great facilities, and rooftop garden (with hot tub) more than make up for it. Unless you’re willing to splash out for a hotel or Airbnb, this is the one. Book ahead!
- The CBD or Inner City has a superb selection of accommodation for all price ranges. Perfect for first time visitors.
- South Bank and South Wharf are home to some upper market options.
- Budget options abound in St. Kilda.
- The city fringes and Southbank make an excellent break from the bustle of the city centre.
- Myki is the reusable payment smart card used aboard trains, trams and buses. Stored value is used to pay for the fare which is calculated based on zone travelled (tap when you get on and off). A single ticket for the inner city valid for 2-hours costs $4.50 (day passes are $9.00, and a weekly pass costs $55).
- You can refill your myki card at any 7/11, along with over a 1,000 other locations. More information on the official site.
- Taxis can be hailed from taxi ranks or directly from the street. Dial 131 008 or 132 227 to book. Alternatively, try the popular 13cabs app (locals are increasingly preferring it to Uber, which can be hit or miss in Melbourne).
- Melbourne Visitor Shuttle: a free hop on, hop off shuttle bus that runs daily from 9.30 AM until 4.30 PM stopping at key city destinations.
- City Circle Tram: a free service that travels around the city centre.
- Drinking age is 18, and last call is 3 AM.
- Acland Street is full of vibrant bars that attract the young crowd.
- The CBD is home to the biggest variety of lounges and nightclubs that stay open late to entertain the weekend set. Docklands sets the party mood with cocktail bars and stylish clubs.
- Head to Brunswick, Fitzroy or Richmond for a hip alternative vibe and a vibrant live music scene.
- Head to St Kilda to meet backpackers and beach goers.
- Great bars for solo travelers: Heartbreaker, The Elysian Whisky Bar, The Old Bar (Johnston Street), 1806 ($$$), GG EZ Bar (esports bar), Fortress Melbourne (video arcade), Top Yard Rooftop, and Section 8.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Shrine of Remembrance is a wonderful memorial for all the soldiers who fought for the country located beside the picturesque Royal Botanical Gardens.
- National Gallery of Victoria opened in 1861 and is Australia’s oldest art gallery with fantastic exhibits on European and Australasian fine arts.
- National Sports Museum is dedicated to Australian sports and houses interactive displays on the country’s favourite events such as cricket, tennis, rugby, football and soccer.
- Melbourne Museum explores the history of the state of Victoria, from its environment to its culture with exhibits from dinosaurs to modern digital wonders.
- Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is Australia’s largest and oldest sporting arena with capacity of more than 100,000 people.
- Queen Victoria Market: buy everything from fresh fruit, meat and seafood to UGG boots, gold fish, and tacky souvenirs at this historic market.
- Yarra River Trail provides instant relief from the city with a pleasant bushland trail starting from Southbank all the way to Templestowe.
- Federation Square is Melbourne’s centre of cultural activity, located at its busiest intersection across from Flinders Street Station.
- Princes Bridge traverses the Yarra River and is a wonderful sight at night when lit up.
- Southbank Promenade is an attractive stretch of restaurants, shops and hotels that provides easy viewing of the city’s contemporary skyline.
- Stroll through Fitzroy Gardens and pass by the cottage of the man who discovered Australia, Captain James Cook.
- Walk along the beach, past Luna Park and enjoy some of fabulous cafes and bars in St Kilda.
- Walk along the banks of the Yarra River through South Bank to South Wharf.
- Discover the quirky, arty and cosy atmosphere of Melbourne’s CBD lane ways. It’s easy to get lost in a world of art, good food and odd shops as you wander down these side streets.
- Melbourne is the fox capital of the world, with between 6 and 23 foxes per square km.
- Australian football is a major sport in the city, with tickets priced at $20. Tip: the gates are opened three quarters in to allow the losing side’s supporters to exit and the persistent fans on a budget to watch the final.
- Be prepared for all weather conditions. Melbourne is known for experiencing four seasons in one day – it can be hot and sunny one minute, then bucketing down rain and freezing the next. Bring along an umbrella!
- Pick up a free copy of Beat Magazine for your gig guide to live music and all that is happening around town.
- Great vegan options: Red Sparrow Pizza, Vegie Bar, Vegie Mum Fitzroy, Crossways Restaurant (budget vegan).
- Where to find good cheap eats: Queen Victoria Market has a deli hall with excellent fresh made sandwiches and pasta meals. Great budget eats: Udon Yasan, Don Don (multiple locations), Om Vegetarian (Indian), Universal Restaurant (Italian).
- Dangerous areas: just like any major city, Melbourne has its share of petty theft so always be vigilant when in public.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days