The vibrant city of Melbourne is said to be the world’s most liveable city, but what makes it so good? Irish Travel Trade News travel blogger, Lainey Quinn, aka Little Miss Sunray, checked out the tourist hotspots during a fleeting visit and shares her recommendations below on the top places to see in Melbourne.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the arty, cultural and laid-back city of Melbourne, and what a whirlwind trip it was. With only 24 hours to explore the world’s most liveable city, I set off with my travel buddy early one Saturday morning to check out the hotspots.
The Southern Australian winter weather lived up to its name and for the whole day I felt like I was in Ireland. Think pouring rain one minute and searing sunshine the next. But we refused to let it get the better of us and stop of from seeing anything.
With our cameras in hand and raincoats in the bag, we set off underneath a typical Melbourne raincloud to our first stop – the colourful Dendy St Beach Bathing Boxes in Brighton.
Brighton Beach, Melbourne
The 88 huts situated on the foot of the beach date back to the Victorian times and each one has different paintwork on the outside. They are all privately owned and can sell for up to $330,000.
They were first built to preserve dignity of swimmers back in the day when bikinis and budgie smugglers were worn by everyone, but it wasn’t socially accepted to be parading around in them (how times have changed!). To hide away from the prying eyes of the public, the rich would buy a beach hut to use as a changing room and have somewhere to leave their belongings.
Sadly, the vibrant huts aren’t used as much now, but I can imagine myself sitting outside one in a stripy deck-chair, toes in the sand, clinking a glass of Pinot Grigio with a loved one while watching the sun go down on the watery horizon!
St Kilda, Melbourne
Next stop on the list was St Kilda, a quaint beach town not too far from Brighton. It’s Melbourne’s favourite beachside suburb and I can see why. Fitzroy and Acland streets are full of hip little cafes, funky bars and cute and boutique clothes shops. I didn’t get the chance to experience the Sunday markets, but word is they are worth checking out along the Esplanade. More than 100 stalls showcase the work of Melbourne designers, jewellers and artists, many of whom are onsite selling their wares.
The dark raincloud that hovered dangerously over us during our visit to Brighton Beach had followed us the whole way to St Kilda and started spitting raindrops. Time to move. We hopped on to tram 96 and 20 minutes later we were in the CBD. The skies opened and poured about a year’s worth of rain but we evaded it by hiding in the train shelter.
Note: If you get an Uber from St Kilda to Melbourne’s city centre it will cost about AUD$20.
Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Once the rain eased off, we hurriedly made our way towards Hosier Lane, an amplified version of Windmill Lane in Dublin. The cobblestoned roads donned with graffiti are arguably the central point of the city’s street art scene. The quality of the intricate art pieces is astounding and it is hard to imagine how it was done at such heights too. You could stand there for hours craning your neck and always find a new, breathtaking colour-bomb of art to admire.
Nearby, there is a lane called the AC/DC Lane, which pays tribute to the Australian rock band. As you might expect, the street art on AC/DC lane features art of all kinds of musicians and it is also home to the legendary live music venue, Cherry Bar – which is well worth checking out.
It was after lunchtime on a Saturday when I got to explore the street art scene in Melbourne, which wasn’t the ideal time. I recommend going early morning if you want to beat the crowds and get good photos.
Exploring the city can be thirsty work and it would also be a sin to visit Melbourne and not try out some of the coolest bars you will find in the whole of Australia. There are plenty of unique spots to visit for funky cocktails and crazily-themed restaurants are dotted all around the city. Don’t miss out on Dans le Noir Restaurant (Dine in the Dark) and Mjølner, a retro-futurist dining hall restaurant with a Viking-themed menu.
More recommendations for top places to visit in Melbourne can be found below. If you would like to check out more travel recommendations for Australia, Cuba or Asia, visit Lainey Quinn’s Irish travel blog, Little Miss Sunray.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Melbourne
- Eureka Skydeck, 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank, Melbourne, Victoria 3006. Situated in the heart of Southbank in the iconic Eureka Tower, the Skydeck stands at a staggering 297 metres above the streets of Melbourne. Both locals and visitors regard the Skydeck as one of the best things to do in Melbourne.
- Botanical Gardens, Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria 3141. The Royal Botanical Gardens date back to 1846 and over the next 60 years the swampy site was transformed into the world-famous landscape it is today.
- Mjølner Restaurant, 106 Hardware Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. This Viking-themed restaurant has sumptuous food, a nice vibe, and offers a theatrical approach to dining.
- National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC 3006. Popularly known as the NGV, this is the oldest and most visited gallery in Australia. Situated over two magnificent buildings – NGV International and NGV Australia – the Gallery presents over 40 exhibitions a year.
- Brighton Bathing Huts, Esplanade, Brighton VIC 3186. Take a stroll along the beach and admire the inventive artwork.
- Queen Victoria Market, Queen Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. At around seven hectares, the Queen Victoria Market is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere – and the largest and most intact surviving 19th century market in the city.
- Dans le Noir Restaurant, 630 Chapel Street, South Yarra VIC 3141. Literally ‘In the Dark’, Dans le Noir is part of the international restaurant chain where guests dine in complete darkness served by unexpected guides for a totally innovative approach to tasting.
- Chinatown, Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. Chinatown, a distinctive and well-known area of Melbourne, dates back to the gold rush days of the 1850s and is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world. Chinatown’s essential character and main focus is along Little Bourke Street with alleys that link the area to Bourke Street and Lonsdale Street.
- Curtin House, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. Curtin House is a six-storey commercial Palazzo-style building in Melbourne city centre, known in the 2000s as a ‘vertical lane’, with a range of specialist retailing, dining, and entertainment spaces.
- Old Melbourne Gaol, 377 Russell Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. Once housing children next to hardened criminals, this historic jail once displayed Ned Kelly’s skull until it was stolen. Built in 1839 and closed as a jail in 1929, it is now a museum with attractions such as a mock trial for Ned Kelly, in which the whole family can re-enact sentencing the man to death, and his death mask.