Having my sisters visit Australia has been perfect for me to get my tourist groove back on by taking them to all my favourite places that I had previously visited during my travels to Melbourne over the last few years. Needless to say my sisters also loved all the hot spots and we covered a lot within a week! Quite a few places were in the city where public transport is more accessible and others we drove to, so a car is recommended to make the most out of Melbourne.
Melbourne is beautiful and I’m not sure why many travellers do not spend as much time here, from my experience. A good couple of weeks is required to explore the vast range of beaches, mountains , gardens and city sights but you can still cover Melbourne within a week
In this post I want to share ideas on how you can spend 3 days in the city if you dont have a car and still be able to get the best out of your trip. You have to start your days early and you will be out late to enjoy the best that Melbourne has to offer you.
Start off at Shrine of Remembrance with a bit of history through the world wars where the Australian Soldiers are commemorated. The building is beautiful and the view of the city skyline along St Kilda road is amazing. There is also a museum and crypts at the bottom of the shrine which is full of history and artifacts. Botanical gardens is across the road from the shrine, so you can walk over and wonder the grounds which surrounds a lake. The park is filled with palm trees, trees and Australian plants and there is a feel of serenity where you can just relax with a picnic and a book and enjoy your day.
Once you've taken in the beauty of the park, walk down towards the river ( or catch a tram down St Kilda Road) and check out the art galleries and the view of Southbank from the bridge . Enjoy a good coffee at Time Out Bar at Federation square, Coffee culture is big in Australia and Melbourne has some terrific places where they take pride in the coffee they serve. Flinders Street Station is across the road from feds square, it’s also recently been renovated so it’s looking fresh. Enjoy your coffee and watch the busy hustle of the city pass by. See if there is an exhibition at ACMI or visit their permanent exhibition rooms. Take a walk down to the river embankment before sunset , towards the Eureka Sky Deck. You can enjoy a 360 degree view of Melbourne and spot out all the famous landmarks and seeing as far as the Dandenong mountains and the ocean on a good clear day. The sunset is also epic from the Eureka which is currently the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. Once the sun has set, Southbank is buzzing with people, lights and the smell of amazing foods from the various restaurants. As soon as it’s 6pm, the 2-3 min spectacular Flame Throwers go off along the whole off Southbank and on a cold evening, the flames will keep you warm. This is my favourite part of Southbank with a coffee and chocolate strawberry calzone from Baci’s . Crown Casino complex is also situated on the Southbank with some amazing restaurants, bars, retail shops, cinema, arcade and a huge casino. The building and interior is beautiful and different through the complex so it’s a must even if you are walking through.
Start your day at Fed Square at the visitor information booth by picking up a map for the City Circle tram . The City Circle tram is free which takes you around the city and you can hop on and off wherever you like and then jump back on to continue the tour. The tram also has a voice over lady who gives you lots of information about the hot spots and their history. The tram itself is an old fashioned tram which makes it that more interesting to use and is ideal as it takes you to all the Melbourne Tourist destinations you would want to explore. If you start at Federation square go west on the tram and it will take you round pass the Immigration Museum( you can walk there too) and its a must. There is a fee to enter but its worth going in as you learn the history of how Australia was discovered and about how and when different countries started to migrate. The City Tram then continues on towards the Docklands and Etihad Stadium. You can go for lunch at the Wood Shed which is located at the pier and is lovely on a sunny day. The Melbourne Star is a short walk away and it is the 8th tallest observation wheel in the world. Not far from the observation wheel, there is an Art Gallery called the ArtVo, which has new immersive art and is fun thing to check out whilst there.
When you get back on the tram in the Docklands it will head east of the city towards the other side of the city. If you get off Swanston St , start of Melbourne Gaol as its shuts at 5. Its part of the earliest jails in the city and has a lot of history within the walls and you also get to learn about the notorious Ned Kelly.There is also reenactments of court proceedings and being in jail which is included in your ticket adds some fun to the visit. The State Library of Victoria is a short walk from the gaol and worth a visit too , head inside and get the lift to the furthest floor up to take in the breathtaking architect of the building. Melbourne Central Station is around the corner from the library and they have a whole array of different shops ( Bourke St mall is a 10 min walk away) and on a Thursday you have some late night shopping available to you. There is also a whole range of restaurants around too either in China Town, Lygon Street ( Italian Precinct), or in the laneways with their unique cafes and bars, if you want to stop over for a bite.
If you jump back on the tram it will then take you round towards the Melbourne Museum & the Royal Exhibition Centre. The Melbourne Museum is again full of history and culture about the country. The tram journey continues on pass Parliament House , Fitzroy Gardens where James Cook's cottage is located. The gardens are lovely during the day time to take a stroll and have a break. This is near the end of the tram when you will head back towards Federation square. The last thing you can check out is Hosier Lane, where street art is legal. The laneway is filled with beautiful work of others and if you're lucky you might just catch an artist at work!
These are just some of things you can do whilst using the City Circle Tram and you might not have time to do all the things Ive mentioned, so pick out the things that interests you and just go wonder and explore the city.
City Circle Tram Map
The last of the three days can be left to have a relaxed but fun day at the beaches and enjoying good food in Melbourne. You closest beaches from the CBD is St Kilda and Brighton Beach. Brighton Beach is the quiet of the two and further out. It is lined with 82 brightly painted Bathing Boxes which is what draws the tourists out there. The huts have been there since the early 1900's and is definitely the spot to get your camera out. St Kilda Beach is Melbourne's most famous beach, where there is an esplanade of restaurants and bars where you can relax with some amazing food and drinks and just take in the sounds of the waves and the feel of the cool breeze and watch joggers and rollerbladers past by. This beach gets very busy but its great to chill out at whether you are taking a dip in the sea, relaxing out on the sand on your beach towel or sipping on cocktails at the restaurants.
You can also have some fun at Luna Park which is a historic amusement park and is just a short walk from the beach. At the end of St Kilda Pier at the breakwater you can also go get a glimpse of the Penguins, as the make their way back home at sunset.
If you prefer the Food Culture, Arts & Crafts and Vintage stores there are many places around Melbourne which offer a variety of market types throughout the week, so depending on which day you choose to relax, I'm sure you will find something that will tickle your fancy.
Queen Victoria Market is open during the day except on Mondays and Wednesday. On Wednesday night it plays host to the either The Night Market ( in summer) or Winter Market ( in Winter) where you can get delicious tasty food from a whole host of independent and restaurant food trucks where your taste bud will be taken on an adventure. You can also find some art and craft stores.
On the weekend you can enjoy your Saturday at the South Melbourne Food Market where you can buy fresh produce, arts & craft, homeware , baked goods..the list can go on! I love the vibes at this market when I get there in the morning, buy myself a coffee from Padre's and then have a wonder around treating my self to goodies from throughout the market and then ending the trip with some lunch at one of the numerous restaurants or food stands.
Sundays can be spent in Fitzroy where there are sooo many cafes, second hand vintage store, lots of street art and a few markets. You can find Arts & Craft at The Rose Street Market where you can find perfect bits if you were looking for gifts or even just to treat yourself.
There are so many markets to enjoy in Melbourne, so I've included a link below with a recommend list.
The Best 10 Markets in Melbourne
Melbourne is so amazing. You can keep yourself busy every weekend and I do not recommended ever coming to Melbourne for 3 days, but if you are time poor, the above would be my favourite ways to spend 3 minimum days in the city area. Start the day early, put your walking shoes on and go an explore!