Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne (3.7 million people), is an extremely “liveable” city offering a plethora of activities, arts and a lively café culture. We experienced rain, extreme heat, humidity and cool breezes in a span of an hour – it is commonly said that if you don’t like the weather in Melbourne, just wait 5 minutes!
We could immediately see the diversity of the city streets lined with Greek, Indian, Thai, Lebanese, African, Italian, Chinese eateries and many more. Sports are highly prevalent in the city with many high profile teams and sportsmen competing in the Australian Open Tennis, Aussie Rules Football, MCG Cricket Arena and Grand Prix.
The free tourist trams and shuttle buses also made it a wonderful way to explore the city without breaking a sweat! Highlights from our visit include the following:
Federation Square: Be sure to check out the free activities offered each summer day (including juggling lessons, drum lessons and pilates) and take advantage of the free wireless hotspot!
Swanston Street / Collins Street / Chapel Street / Bourke Street / Spencer Street: Tons of shopping to be done in Melbourne – from Prada to Target, you will find all sorts of knick knacks, boutique clothing and designer duds on these streets, located in the CBD (Central Business District).
Queen Victoria Market: A foodie dream! Local, organic, fresh produce at low prices – never buy your veggies at the supermarket when you are in Melbourne! Also, definitely visit the night market on Wednesdays where you can witness the diversity of Melbourne first hand with the variety of food stalls – African, Jamaican, Indian, Lebanese, Chinese, Malay, Outback (we ate kangaroo burgers, they tasted like venison!) and Vietnamese all within the 25 meter space!
Australian Centre for the Moving Image: Located in Federation Square, this free museum is worth visiting and has some interesting artifacts. I couldn’t pry Terry away from the classic Commodore 64!
Royal Botanic Gardens: This vast park has it all – fountains, lakes full of black swans, unique flowers, distinctive plants and excellent picnic spots. You could easily spend a whole day here – and the best part about it is that it’s free to enter and the tram stops right outside the Shrine of Remembrance.
St Kilda Beach: An eclectic mix of yuppies and hippies can be found hanging out here, with the streets lined with café culture, record shops and beach bargains, similar to the beach holidays in Cumbria. The beach is not the best but doesn’t fail to be packed every weekend!
Carlton: Here you will find “Little Italy” full of authentic ‘Italian Stallions’, the best pizza and gelato in the city!
Melbourne Cricket Grounds: One of the most famous cricket venues in the world, MCG is also the largest stadium in Australia, and the eighth largest in the world, with a current capacity of just over 100,000. The tour takes you onto the field, as well as into the locker rooms.