Coffee. Beaches. Coffee. The three main things I was told about Melbourne before visiting this February. Seriously, everyone was really insistent on the coffee.
Because of the nature of my trip to Melbourne which totalled 4 days split into two parts, I thought it’d be best to round up what we did that’s perfect for a shorter stay. We didn’t get the chance to go on the ‘big’ excursions out to the Great Ocean Road or the Peninsula Hot Springs – which I hear are fab by the way, but we did enough exploring of the city and surrounding beaches.
So if you find yourself in Melbourne city anytime soon and don’t have enough time for the big ones then read on for my recommendations!
One of the synonymous things associated with Melbourne has to be it’s coffee culture, and I can see why. I’m unsure how or what is involved in making their coffee different but I massively enjoyed every cup I devoured whilst there.
You’re certainly not short of coffee stops around the city, but take a trip down to Hosier lane to check out the street art (if that’s your thing, but personally it was just a graffiti-d street to me) and the surrounding lanes in the city to explore the city’s coffee culture.
Victoria Night Markets
Whereas the night markets only run on Wednesday evenings in the Summer, they’re definitely worth a visit if you’re in the city at this time. We stopped by to look for dinner and were overwhelmed with choice. We did a few laps of the market to explore all of the food stalls before settling on seafood paella with a pint of sangria to wash it down (and then some).
We also decided to treat ourselves to a ice-cream filled doughnut for pudding, and just like savoury choices, there’s a overload of sugar if you’re in the need for something sweet. However, bear in mind that if you visit most vendors only accept cash!
State Library of Victoria
Surely one of the most photogenic libraries you can find? I’d seen the State Library of Victoria appear several times in my search for things to do in Melbourne and it confused me as to why so many people would stop by a library on a holiday. Then I went to visit and can confirm it’s certainly worth a look!
Not only does the library look impressive, it also has several free exhibitions that are worth a look to understand the history of the city. They also happen to have chess boards, so if you find yourself with little else to do on a rainy day then that’s a great way to pass the time.
I mean, I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it again – never pay for a viewpoint if you can find a rooftop bar with an equally worthy view…
In Melbourne we stopped by Naked for Satan for lunch – and even though it was cloudy we still had a view of the city. The interiors were also really nice both on the ground floor and on top, so it would be great even on a rainy day.
The menu was mainly tapas and they do a great happy hour deal on both drinks and food that we were luckily in time for. It also had Vino Tinto on the menu – red wine, aperol and lemon juice, which is my new favourite holiday beverage.
So good we went to visit twice – and it’s a slight distance from the city, but so so worth it! Located right next to the Abbotsfield convent (which hosts it’s own farmers markets every other Saturday in summer) and a working farm, the cafe was an absolute hit with my fiance and I.
I can’t quite pinpoint what made the food standout so much, but each time the bacon was big and hearty, the eggs the perfect level of poached-ness and the avocados were honestly the best I’ve ever had. The atmosphere is also really nice, and it seems to sit right in the middle of a bike trail as most of our other patrons were cyclists having a pit stop. So if you fancy hiring bikes during your stay then what better place to stop!
St Kilda Beach
A gorgeous stretch of beach not too far from the city centre, St Kilda beach was our top spot to revisit when we were in Melbourne. Particularly the restaurant there, Captain Baxter, where we dined on mussels doused in curry sauce and watched the sun set.
The bar below, Republica, has volleyball on the beach from Tuesday-Thursday in the evenings if you fancy a go. If you just fancy relaxing and kicking back it’s worth grabbing an ice cream and watching the kite-surfers in the bay.
In addition, if you get there early enough – and on a calm day – you can spot the penguins at the bottom of the St Kilda pier. Or if you’re after some thrills and an iconic staple, Luna Park is also open Thursday-Sunday evenings.
It’s a great beach to visit and it’s only a short tram ride away, or even bike. which leads me on to…
Something I’d recommend in any city (if you’ve read about my experiences in Copenhagen or in Paris) as hiring a bike is certainly an alternative and cost effective way to see any destination. In Melbourne we made use of their Melbourne Bike share service whereby you could have a 24 hour pass for $3, and could ride 45-minute-at-a-time journey as much as you liked across the city.
This worked perfect for us, and we used the bikes to get to the Farm cafe, and even down to St Kilda beach. As a self-proclaimed nervous cyclist I think the cycle lanes in Melbourne were perfect for cycling in the city, and I didn’t feel at all in danger cycling around the city.
One thing to note is that in Victoria it is illegal to cycle without a helmet, and their Melbourne share bikes come with helmets, but you might not be able to find them at your chosen pick-up point. Luckily there are docking stations all around the city that aren’t too far apart, but something bearing in mind if you fancy a cycle!
Drinks By The River
If you’ve tried all of the above – cycling, sunbathing at the beach and gorging on coffee and brunch, the perfect way to round off a day is by indulging in drinks by the river.
When we were in Melbourne there were two spots I’d recommend for great views and also great drinks selections! Ponyfish island is located right in the middle of a bridge across the main river, so you can get really good 360 views from around the bar. Or on the other side you can find the Arbory Bar & Eatery, which you can’t miss for their orange striped parasols along the water.
Well, there we have it, a pretty jam-packed weekend in Melbourne if I say so myself.
I hope if you’re visiting the city soon that any of the above recommendations come in handy. Let me know in the comments if there’s anything glaringly missing.
More Australia posts will be coming to the blog every week, but in the meantime my holiday snaps can be found on my instagram @GrundyTravels.