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Visiting Melbourne City: A Guide For Newbies

Home > Australia > Weekend Escapes | Long Weekend | Lists
by Linda Moon (subscribe)
... a dreamer, writer, naturopath, mother & former social work student based in the Blue Mountains. Continue the journey with me-
Published June 18th 2013
From catching a tram to what to do and where to go
what to do in Melbourne, Victoria
Melbourne's CBD. You're here. Now, what to do.

For a newbie, the pleasure of visiting the Southern State of Australia can be fraught with mild anxiety. How does one catch a tram? Are those rumours of perpetual grey skies true? How does one get to the hotel from the airport? And, so on?

For those who are new voyagers to Melbourne, this article is your first port of call. Providing lists of things to do, transport information and more, reading on is a must if you want to avoid the hiccups and time-wasting that often befall tourists.

Melbourne CBD, Victoria
City bench at Southbank, Melbourne - looking out to the city over the Yarra.

Getting from the airport to your hotel and back.

Skybus, hotel transfer service, Melbourne Victoria
Skybus - has a hotel transfer service
Most people of moderate financial means catch the Airport SkyBus. This is an efficient, clean service, operating 24 hours a day including public holidays. During the day the SkyBus runs every ten minutes. The SkyBus departs from the kerbside of international and domestic "arrivals" at Tullamarine Airport. The excursion from the airport to the city centre takes approximately twenty minutes and is an express, single route trip to Southern Cross Station. You can get a return express trip back to Tullamarine Airport from Southern Cross Station.

Purchase your tickets online or pay (by credit card, cash or EFTPOS) at the SkyBus booths located where the buses depart.

At the time of writing this article, a single one-way adult fare on SkyBus cost $17 and a return $28. There are also family fares available.

SkyBus also offer a complimentary hotel transfer service. This applies to select CBD hotels and is inclusive of your ticket price. To check the list of hotels serviced, check the Skybus website. If you want to use the hotel transfer service, check in at the Hotel Transfer Service Booth at Southern Cross Station. The driver can point it out to you. A SkyBus mini-bus will then take you to your hotel.

Both SkyBus and the hotel transfer minibus are wheelchair accessible.

Another idea is to pick up your hire car from the airport. If you are taking this option, check in advance about parking in your hotel. Not many CBD hotels seem to have complimentary parking. Expect to pay extra for this. The inside advice is that parking on the street overnight in the CBD isn't an option, with ticket inspectors regularly doing the rounds.

For prices on rental cars visit Melbourne Airport Car Hire. This handy website has prices on cars available for rent from Melbourne Airport including those from Hertz, Budget, Europcar, Bargain, Thrifty, Cruisin' oz, Honk and other car hire companies.

Catching a cab is a further option. Melbourne Airport is 23 kilometres away from Melbourne CBD. Estimations on the driving time seem to range from a short fifteen minutes to a much longer hour, depending on traffic conditions. The World Taxi Meter website provides a rough quote of about $50 in cab fare for a trip from the airport to the city centre.

Things to do in Melbourne

Street art in the small lane-ways of Melbourne CBD Victoria
Street art in the small lane-ways of Melbourne's CBD.

Sample the culture in eclectic Melbourne by exploring the vibrant restaurant / cafe scene, jazz clubs, comedy clubs, museums and cool bars. Check out Melbourne's creative under-belly and view street-art in the small lane-ways of the CBD. Markets and shopping will appeal to the inner shopaholic while the Royal Botanic Garden and the Yarra River provide scenic repose from the concrete of the city.

Incorporating all the above and more, here's a list of fab things to do in Melbourne:

- Street art, various locations in the CBD
- Top gourmet streets including the Italian quarter in Carlton, the Chinatown district (Little Bourke Street), High Street in Prahran, Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, Docklands and the Queen Victoria Markets
- St Kilda
- Melbournes laneways - culture, hidden bars and cafe's.
- Catch the free City Circle Tram service (route number 35)
- Shopping – Melbourne has excellent winter clothing, with a far greater range than I've seen in Sydney. Try Bourke Street Mall and Collins Street.
- Luna Park, St Kilda
- Southbank (dining, shopping and Crown Casino by the lake)
- The Royal Botanic Garden
- Westgate Bridge (city views)
- Fitzroy Gardens and Captain Cook's Cottage
- Queen Victoria Markets (the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere)
- Take a cruise of the Yarra River - up river or towards the Port Phillip Bay at Williamstown.
- Walk along the Yarra River
- Visit St Kilda
- The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
- Federation Square - piazza containing restaurants, bars, shops, and site of events, cultural attractions and tourism experiences.
- Melbourne Museum
- Museum Victoria
- National Gallery of Victoria
- Chill on Ice Bar - enjoy your drink surrounded by 50 tonnes of ice in this antarctic lounge.
- The Comics Lounge
- Paris Cat Jazz Club
- Dracula's - (theatre restaurant)

St Kilda, Melbourne Victoria
St Kilda

Best day trips from Melbourne

If you have the cash, time and will, I thoroughly recommend you leave the CBD and see the country and sea-side scenery. This is where your trip truly begins.

Click on this link to my article "Best Day Trips from Melbourne" to see my list of recommended day excursions, tours and places to visit.

Bathing boxes, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Beach boxes at Mornington on the Mornington Peninsula

Getting around Melbourne

I've dedicated significant time to this section as checking out the city and manoeuvring the transport system go hand in hand.

Using one's own legs and a map is an easy enough means for circumnavigating the CBD. Request a map of the CBD from your hotel. This will show you the main sections of the city, recommended places to go, tram routes, where the station is and other helpful information.

If you don't want to walk, catch the tram, train or bus. Which leads onto the complicated public transport ticketing system in Melbourne.

In Melbourne you cannot catch public transport without a special card, called Myki. This is essentially a reusable smart card read by a 'myki' reader, which one tops up with fare money. You can buy these at select retailers (apparently 800 or so) including 7-Eleven stores, the ticket office window at Premium Stations (those with customer service centres & staffed all day), from a myki machine (full fare myki cards only) located at all train stations and major tram and bus interchanges, online at Public Transport Victoria or by calling the latter on 1800 800 007 6am - midnight daily.

The myki card allows one to travel on trains, trams and buses in Zones 1 and 2 including V/Line services to Melton and Sunbury.

A myki Visitor Pack costs $14 and includes the smartcard and $8 worth of myki travel money - enough to cover you for a day of tram travel in Zone 1. Fares for trams, buses and trains are divided into two zones. Zone 1 covers the Melbourne CBD and inner suburbs and Zone 2 the outlying middle and outer suburbs.

tram, melbourne Victoria
catching the tram - you need a myki smartcard.

In order to board a tram, you need to find a tram station. A map will help you locate these. Look out for what looks like a mini-station platform or bus depot in the middle of the road, with commuters waiting upon it. Before you board, make sure you have your myki sorted out. Be aware that public transport doesn't go all night. To check out operating times, see the Public Transport Victoria website.

The trams, buses and trains have stops all over the CBD and metropolitan area. For a complete list of stops, see the Public Transport Victoria website.

Packing for your trip to Melbourne:

Unless your trip is in the summer months, forget the shorts and midriff tops. I was there in late March (autumn) and the shorts in my backpack never actually made it onto my body. Shed the summery stuff and yes, think layers, jacket, leggings and do pack a coat. If the weather turns overcast you will need it. This is Melbourne after all. And, yes, (LOL) the rumours about that Melbournian weather are true.

For average seasonal temperatures in melbourne, check out the info on Weatherzone.

Melbourne Victoria
Melbourne weather is generally mild but often overcast.
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Your Comment
Nice range of activities there. Dracula's Restaurant sounds intriguing.
by Bastion Harrison (score: 4|12643) 3656 days ago
Draculas is closing down soon or has done already. Also just for the record in Melbourne we call them tram stops. Add the Zoo to the list if you have kids and if you want a trip further out of town Healesville Sanctuary specialises in SE Australian native animals so is especially great for overseas tourists and Werribee open range zoo has mostly African animals with an Aussie section as well. A good chunk is seen by safari bus and the rest via walking trails.
by Angelene (score: 0|7) 1985 days ago
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