Australia has always been on my bucket list but the plan to go always seemed a little out of reach (as most bucket list items seem in life!) So when my husband was invited to play five nights at a new jazz venue in Melbourne, I jumped at the opportunity to go on a trip of a lifetime. It truly was one of the best experiences of my life. The flight from the United States is long and the jet lag is no joke (Victoria is 14 hours ahead of Ohio), but we fought through it and enjoyed every second of this trip.
I'm usually a somewhat spontaneous traveler but being so far away, I knew I wanted to have at least a plan or a list of things to see and do in Melbourne so I did a lot of research during my sleepless nights. We were there for ten days, which was the perfect amount of time to recover from jet lag and see all of the things on our list. The food is fantastic and there's something for every craving you could possibly have. If you have questions or need suggestions for restaurants, feel free to leave them in the comments and I'll share some of our favorite spots.
This is a snapshot of some of the things we did. If you have plans to travel to Melbourne someday, bookmark this for later!
Book a tour of the Great Ocean Road.
This was hands down the highlight of our trip. At only $100 a person, we went on a day long tour of the breathtaking Great Ocean Road a few hours outside of the city. This was worth every dime. We got to see the Twelve Apostles, caves, national parks, swamp wallaby, koalas, a pod of breaching whales, and parrots. I'll never, ever forget this experience!
Go to St. Kilda BeachSt. Kilda is a charming beach easily accessible from Melbourne's Central Business District (CDB). If you go at sundown you will be able to catch the penguins on the pier. I don't care how tough you are, the penguins will make anyone feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Luna ParkWhile you're at St. Kilda, be sure to check out one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, Luna Park. If you happen to go on a day when it's closed, it's still worth it for the experience and photo!
Check out one of Melbourne's Laneways.This was some of the most fun we've had. Melbourne has a lot of laneways or alleys packed with cafes, restaurants, and shops. Duck into one in the CBD and spend an afternoon eating or people watching! Degraves and Centre Place were our favorites.
Catch a ride on the Melbourne Star at the Docklands.
This is a heavily touristy area but well worth it. The Melbourne Star is not your typical Ferris Wheel. It's fully enclosed, air conditioned or heated, and gives you a full view of the city in all directions. Great way to get your bearings! I highly recommend this at night or sunset.
Visit other neighborhoods like Fitzroy, Flinder's Quarter or Prahran.These artsy neighborhoods are a sight to see. They are a nice break from the bustling CBD and the shops and cafes are plentiful. I loved Prahran.
Visit the Chapel Street BazaarA friend of mine who lives in Melbourne recommended this place knowing how much I love to thrift. Of all the antique and vintage places I've visited over the years, I've never experienced a place like Chapel Street Bazaar. Clear an entire afternoon for this place.
State Library of VictoriaPrepare for your mind to be blown. This library should be a must on any visitor's list. It's free for hours of discovery and a breathtaking view.
Melbourne is expensive but has a fantastic thrifting scene. Be sure to check out one of their op shops.
Visit the Queen Victoria MarketOur hotel was right next door to this market so I visited this market quite a bit. From food to souvenirs, this market has you covered. I picked up the best gifts here, including spices, teas, and soaps.
Lastly, a few quick cultural tips we had picked up along the way: people in Melbourne walk on the left side as opposed to the right side like the U.S. We kept wondering why we were bumping into people on the sidewalk until we quickly realized we were on the wrong side! Also, no need to tip at restaurants.