Melbourne Travel Guide

Australia's second-largest city and capital of Victoria, Melbourne is the Land Down Under's most European in style, with trams rattling through streets past historic buildings, parks and outdoor cafes. The city centre is laid out in a simple grid pattern, with wide north-south streets gently sloping down to the Yarra River, crossed by a mix of narrow lanes, and the main shopping streets such as Bourke and Collins Streets. The Central Business District is easily navigable by foot, and if a rest is needed after a session of sightseeing or shopping there are numerous pretty parks to rest in, such as the Royal Botanical Gardens, Fitzroy Gardens and Carlton Gardens. The burgundy-coloured City Circle tram is free, and taking a ride is a good way to get your bearings upon arrival as well as explore the inner city.

Melbourne is a melting pot of different cultures, all brewed together to create a dynamic, stylish city which, though slick and modern, boasts a pleasantly sedate pace of life. Melbourne's residents proudly assert that the city offers an incredibly high standard of living and is wonderfully child-friendly.

A fierce rivalry exists between the cities of Melbourne and Sydney, but local residents bask in the satisfying knowledge that Melbourne beats Sydney hands-down on the cultural front, noted for its wide variety of high standard performing arts, as well as its sport. The city plays host to world-renowned sporting events like the Melbourne Cup, Australian Open Tennis and Qantas Australia Grand Prix.

Beyond the city, within an hour's drive, there are numerous places worth visiting, including the Macedon Ranges, which is Australia's spa capital and boasts world-renowned mineral springs. The spectacular Great Ocean Road winds along the coast, passing stunning rock formations such as the Twelve Apostles. One of the most popular self-drive routes for tourists to follow is the circular Great Southern Touring Route, which includes spectacular scenery and takes in some of Victoria's most beautiful, scenic and cultural attractions. Ultimately, the city is a lovely destination for family holidays, for active adventurers, and for culture vultures.

Best time to visit Melbourne

Peak seasons for holidays in Melbourne are dictated more by events than the weather, so it is wise to check what's on and book accommodation early to avoid disappointment. Busy times are late October, when the Spring Racing Carnival and International Festival take place, early March for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, and late January during the Australian Tennis Open. Weather-wise it is best not to travel to Melbourne in winter (June to August), when it is dull and grey. The best season to holiday in Melbourne weather-wise is autumn (March to May).

What to see in Melbourne

-Visit Cook's Cottage, a remarkable little piece of 18th-century England in Melbourne.

-Explore the creepy Old Melbourne Gaol, the oldest surviving prison in Victoria.

-Enjoy the galleries, museums, shops, and restaurants of Federation Square.

-Wander through the fascinating exhibitions of Melbourne Museum.

What to do in Melbourne

-Experience the thrill of being high above the city at Eureka Tower.

-Catch a game at the celebrated Melbourne Cricket Ground.

-Meet Australia's unique animals and many other exotic creatures at Melbourne Zoo.

-Shop at Queen Victoria Market, famous for its fresh produce.

Beyond Melbourne

Melbourne is the gateway to national parks like Dandenong Ranges National Park and Grampians National Park. The city is also the starting point for the spectacular Great Ocean Road, one of the most scenic drives in Australia. The wine regions of Victoria are just beyond Melbourne, and the historic gold rush town of Ballarat is nearby.

Getting there

International flights land at Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport, located 15 miles (25km) north of Melbourne's city centre. The airport is world-class and easily accessible from anywhere in Melbourne.

Did you know?

-Thanks to colonist John Batman, Melbourne was originally called Batmania.

-The car park of the Queen Victoria Market is built over a cemetery containing some 9,000 bodies.

-Melbourne is said to be home to more foxes than any other city in the world.