Are you ready to head Down Under? Melbourne, Australia, is a beautiful seaside metropolis and the capital of the state of Victoria. The city’s center is very developed and offers lots for tourists and locals alike to do. Tons of restaurants, shopping destinations, bars, and other entertainment venues are clustered within walking distance. Interspersed throughout are gorgeous gardens and parks, perfect when you want to take a bit of a rest from being a tourist. The population is more than 4.5 million, so expect crowds and bustle when you visit.

Morning: Break Your Fast

If you want to eat where the locals do, hit up the Hardware Societe in the morning when it’s time for breakfast. It’s a bit of a squeeze inside, but the spot has a lovely outdoor eating space, too, so you’ll find a table somewhere. The food itself changes all the time, but you can expect a variety of sweets and savories. Things like tarts, empanadas, biscuits, and croissants are all par for the course. A staple menu item is the baked eggs with chorizo, which is definitely worth a try! It opens at 7:30 a.m., and you can find it at 120 Hardware St.

The Kettle Black is a culinary adventure, with Australian dishes that will seem exotic to foreigners and a menu of carefully selected ingredients. Try the burrata and heirloom tomato on toast, or the polenta porridge with burnt maple and textures of strawberry and basil. The building is Victorian, and the inside is bright and modern. The restaurant opens at 7 a.m. and you’ll find it at 50 Albert Rd.

Check out the Grain Store at 517 Flinders Ln for another delectable breakfast option. The spot opens its doors at 7 a.m., giving you plenty of time to arrive before the rush and enjoy some top menu items. This is the kind of place where you can get regular breakfast items with a grand twist, like toffee pumpkin porridge and cured bacon. Try the poached eggs with hazelnut hollandaise. You won’t be sorry you did.

Brighton Beach
Brighton Beach in Melbourne.

Midmorning: Hit the Beach

Visit the beach before the crowds become too plentiful. If you’re visiting in the summer months, from December to February, this is the perfect time to lay down towels, get a tan, or take a swim. Beaches will be more crowded during the warmest days, which is why you want to show up a little early. In the winter months you’ll probably find the weather too enjoyable for a swim, but the beach is still worth a visit. Take a walk along the sand, stick your feet in the ocean, and enjoy being near the water.

Brighton Beach is a popular spot for fishers, surfers, and swimmers. The beach itself is adorable, with a long line of little changing shacks painted in all different colors. If you’re a surfer, put Brighton Beach on your list for sure. Even if you’re not, the little changing shacks make for great pictures.

Williamstown Beach is a small beach just a few kilometers away from Melbourne. The views from this beach are spectacular, and on shore is a historical town worth exploring. Williamstown Beach is a good choice if you’re in Melbourne for the winter because you can walk around the town if it’s too cold to spend a few hours at the water only.

St Kilda Beach deserves a mention because it’s so popular. If you want to hang with the other tourists and get views of surfers and other water adventurers, definitely head to St Kilda. The beach is fewer than 10 kilometers from most parts of Melbourne, giving you an easy journey to and from the shore.

Shrine of Remembrance
Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

Noon: Explore the Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance is one of Melbourne’s top tourist attractions. This shrine has been open since 1934, and it’s a memorial to all who have died during war and peacekeeping efforts. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the Shrine of Remembrance offers free admission to all visitors. It has a variety of permanent and rotating exhibits, so every visit you make to the shrine will be a little different.

Visiting a shrine might not sound fun at first, but this is a major spot in Melbourne, and you’ll be sorry if you miss it. For one thing, the building’s exterior and interior are both breathtaking. For another, this is an intriguing substitute for the typical museum visits everyone makes while overseas. The building itself is a gorgeous testament to modern architecture, with majestic columns and a wide staircase showcasing the entrance. It sits within the King’s Domain Garden, giving the spot a backdrop of beautiful foliage and quiet nature.

Visit the Galleries of Remembrance, which are underground in a space built like a cathedral. These galleries weave in and out of columns, and the space’s vaulted ceiling creates a sense of majesty, while many of the exhibits are startlingly intimate. Medals, uniforms, pieces of art, and other items are on display. Some of these exhibits are always there, while others change with the seasons. The shrine’s galleries pay tribute to soldiers and other people who have served Australia from the 1850s onward.

At 12:45 p.m., you can take a guided shrine tour. The tour goes for about 75 minutes, and you can reserve your spot at the Shrine Visitor Center. If you know you want a tour before you get there, call ahead or book online to ensure you get to enjoy the history and facts each tour presents.

Afternoon: Halt and Grab Lunch

Visit Cumulus Inc when it’s time to stop for lunch. This eatery is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., so you could stop by any time if you desired. Lunch is a great idea because you can sit back and enjoy the urban interior’s exposed brick walls and high ceilings. This cafe, located at 45 Flinders Ln, offers dishes like sweet and sour fried broccoli, chorizo stuffed dates and cider onions, and tuna tartare with crushed green pea salad. The menu truly doesn’t have a bad choice on it.

Head a little farther up Flinders Ln to find Chin Chin, a lunch and dinner spot which opens up at 11 a.m. It gets busy quick, but a lunch stop in the middle of the afternoon shouldn’t have you waiting too long for a table. This Asian fusion restaurant features delectable items like egg noodle stir-fry, green cabbage, and chargrilled pork chops. Go to 125 Flinders Ln or call first to see if you need a reservation.

Royal Botanical Garderns
Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne.

Late Afternoon: Visit Botanical Gardens

Melbourne’s botanical gardens constantly make “top attractions” lists for tourists visiting Melbourne. Explore the Royal Botanic Gardens, a 94-acre paradise of exotic flora. The gardens open at 7:30 a.m. and close at sunset every day, so depending on the time of year you visit, you might get to see some beautiful colors in the sky streaked over the gorgeous trees in the garden.

The Royal Botanic Gardens opened in 1846. You’ll find it on Birchwood Ave near the Yarra River. This visit is perfect for the middle of the afternoon, when you might be getting a little tired. Stroll through the garden or sit down and watch beautiful plants and animals in this wholly green space.

The Fitzroy Gardens are also worth a visit, if botanical gardens aren’t to your taste. You’ll find gems and curiosities galore while walking through the Fitzroy Gardens, which are more like a public city park than they are like botanical gardens. A tree covered with fairy designs, a quaint little cottage, and a model Tudor village all exist within the garden’s 64 acres.

Families with kids will probably love a visit to the Melbourne Zoo. This 55-acre park has hundreds of species of animals and lots of demonstrations. Visit live talks by different animal keepers to learn all about caring for these exotic animals within a zoo. Keep in mind: the zoo closes at 5 p.m., so if you decide to put this on your itinerary, cut your lunch short and head to the zoo at 3 instead of 4 so you can enjoy your time there.

Evening: Walk Southbank Promenade

On the Yarra River’s south bank is the Southbank Promenade, a cultural street full of stuff for you to do. The street is lined with shops and restaurants, and festivals happen in this area throughout the year. This is a great spot to stock up on souvenirs, or to find a cafe and sit down to rest your feet for a while. Check the local Melbourne calendar while you’re planning your trip to see if a festival will be happening on the promenade during your visit.

While you’re walking the Promenade, stop to watch the street performers who frequent this area. If it strikes your fancy, you can hop on a river cruise and tour part of the Yarra River while you’re visiting. Head to Hopscotch next, an eclectic drinkery with a big craft beer selection. The interior boasts high ceilings and an urban industrial design, with strategic plants adding accents of green. You’ll find it at 2, 4 Riverside Quay.

By the way, the Southbank Pedestrian Bridge is worth taking a walk across. You’ll find some fantastic picture opportunities while you traverse over the water.

Rialto Skyscraper
Rialto Skyscraper in Melbourne.

Dinnertime: Sit Down and Dine

Vue de Monde sits on the 55th floor of Melbourne’s Rialto skyscraper. This fine dining establishment gives you beautiful views of the city as you sit up high and enjoy wonderful cuisine. Both the menu and the interior are contemporary, but without any over-the-top elements that might seem like too much show and not enough taste.

Vue du Monde is an expensive experience, so reserve one night of truly spectacular eating and be willing to splurge here. This is the kind of place with no prices on the menu, so if you can’t make it, don’t feel bad. Melbourne has plenty more to offer. If you can afford to spend $200 on dinner, be prepared for a tasting menu that will truly delight your senses.

For a delicious meal that fits more easily into a smaller budget, try Punch Lane at 43 Little Bourke St. You’ll still get an upscale dining experience in a bespoke atmosphere. Punch Lane features cool elements like a huge alcohol selection on display and a big chalkboard boasting the drink specials. Delicious dishes like Gruyère souffle, venison tartare, and pan roasted scallops are the stars of the Punch Lane menu.

Want dinner on the cheap? Do the Waiters Restaurant at 20 Meyers Pl. This Italian spot offers big servings of traditional Italian fare. Expect extras like homemade gnocchi and big wine servings, too! Gluten-free and vegetarian options are available to cater to various dietary needs. The restaurant opens at 5:30 p.m. for dinner and stays open until 11 p.m. As a bonus, you’ll find a kid-friendly atmosphere, so if you’re a traveling family this might be the easiest and most delicious dinner option for you.

Airport Guide

Melbourne Airport
Melbourne Airport in Melbourne.

Melbourne Airport

If you’re flying to Melbourne, chances are you’ll be headed to the Melbourne Airport. It also goes by the name the Tullamarine Airport. This is one of Australia’s busiest airports, second only to the Sydney Airport. In fact, the path between Melbourne and Sydney is one of the most popular air travel pathways in the entire world.

Four main terminals serve the Melbourne airport. Between them, they offer 40 domestic gates and 16 international gates. If you’re flying into Melbourne from overseas, you’ll be flying into and out of terminal two. United Airways, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, and Etihad Airways are a few of the airlines that fly in and out of terminal two. If you’ll be flying to other spots in Australia via budget airlines, then you’ll be headed to terminal 4. This is where you catch flights for airlines like Jetstar and Virgin Airways.

The Tullamarine Freeway is the best way to get from the airport to central Melbourne. The journey is about 23 kilometers, depending on where you’re headed. The Melbourne Airport offers six car rental companies: Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty, and Redspot. All of them have desks within the airport, on the ground floor of the car park. You can also find information desks for all car rental services within the terminals.

To travel from the airport to the city, you do not need a rental car. Just hop a ride on the Skybus Super Shuttle, which travels from the airport to Melbourne’s business district. Other bus routes also go to the airport, but for tourists unfamiliar with Melbourne, the Skybus Super Shuttle is the easiest one to handle. Taxis are also available to take you directly to your hotel, but they’re the more expensive option. Head to the Transport Hub to find your bus.

The Melbourne Airport has scores of restaurants, snack spots, and shopping options spread throughout its four terminals. Several of the stores and eateries have more than one terminal location, making them convenient to locate no matter where your gate is. If your luggage breaks, visit one of the luggage shops. Duty-free souvenirs are also available within the airport.

Avalon Airport

Just 50 kilometers away from Melbourne, you’ll find the Avalon Airport. Avalon serves Melbourne and Geelong, which means you can catch regional flights from some of the Avalon Airport gates. The only airline that flies to Avalon is Jetstar Airways.

If you fly into Avalon from another part of Australia, use public transportation to cover the distance to Melbourne. Though the Avalon Airport Shuttle will only take you to Geelong, you can get to Melbourne via Sita Coaches. The coach will drop you off at Southern Cross Station in the center of the city.

Essendon Airport & Moorabbin Airport

The Essendon Airport is closer than the Melbourne Airport to Melbourne’s center. However, it only serves three airlines with a small list of possible destinations. JETGO flies to Brisbane, Port Macquarie, and Dubbo. Sharp Airlines connects with Flinders Island, Kings Island, Warrnambool, and Portland. Free Spirit Airlines takes you to Merimbula. If you happen to be traveling via charter jet, Essendon is where you’ll land.

The Moorabbin Airport is for light aircraft only, and sits in the Melbourne suburbs. It’s about 30 kilometers away from central Melbourne. Moorabbin serves a limited number of passenger flights, but it has a huge general aviation operation, and as such is one of Australia’s busiest airports when measured by flight activity.

Hopefully your Melbourne visit is longer than a single day. Even if it’s not, this itinerary will help guide you to the best spots in Melbourne. If you see something intriguing while you’re traveling from A to B, don’t be afraid to stop. Melbourne has lots more to offer than what appears on this list, and you’ll never be sorry for doing some extra exploration. Visit the sea, see the sights, and experience Melbourne’s rich life and culture during your trip. Bon voyage, mate!