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!) Even looking into the voco Hunter Valley Hotel in Australia, for example, didn’t seem real, as I was never sure when visiting this country would become a reality. 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! Also I should probably share what my friend told me. Before we traveled, my friend suggested hiring a car from the airport for our stay. She said this would allow us to manage our time as we wanted. Whilst there are buses and tour operators who offer trips, they can be expensive and can take all day. For some, that might be ideal. However, because there are so many things to see in Melbourne, it’s sometimes easier to drive yourself to these attractions. The concern I had was where I was going to park this vehicle in a country that we didn’t know well at all. However, she was also able to recommend looking at Parkhound Melbourne, a parking app that she said would come in handy. Eventually, we decided it was easier for us to use the public transport, but this is worth keeping in mind if you’re hiring a car in Melbourne.
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 Beach
St. 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.
Go to Luna Park
While 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 some 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 of 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 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.
Shop the Chapel Street Bazaar
A 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.
Visit the State Library of Victoria
Prepare 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.
Go op shopping
Melbourne is expensive but has a fantastic thrifting scene. Be sure to check out one of their op shops.
Visit the Queen Victoria Market
Our 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, tipping is not required at restaurants.