No trip “down under” is complete without a quick stop in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital city in Australia. Home to over 4 million “Melbournians” you will be stunned by the eclectic art scene that surrounds the city. Melbourne is a multicultural city and this really reflects in the dining options and the general interactions you will have there. It’s not uncommon to hear people greeting each other in Italian, Greek, or Arabic in the City, and you are only a block away from the best Moroccan, Malaysian, Japanese, or Lebanese restaurant. It is such a diverse and cosmopolitan destination. You name it, Melbourne has it all, and it might be hard to decide on the best things to do in Melbourne if you only have 5 days. This is why after living for over two years in Melbourne, I put together for you this local guide with the perfect Melbourne Itinerary for 5 days. Your own 5 days in Melbourne adventure. Let’s get started!
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What to pack for Melbourne?
Melbourne also have four seasons in one day, so expect to pack an umbrella and carry a jumper (sweater) even in the height of summer.
Flights are easy, with Tullamarine Airport operating international and domestic carriers. You have a choice of airlines too with 5-star full-service flights from Qantas to the low cost carriers such as Scoot and Tiger Air.
The airport is located 30 minutes from the CBD of Melbourne and there are frequent shuttle buses each way. Or pick up a hire car to ensure total freedom. It is a great way to easily go on Melbourne getaways.
Getting Around Melbourne
Suburbs of Melbourne are easily accessible by the local train network. Explore the inner suburbs for just a few dollars and see the ever-changing art scene.
Head to Brunswick for a grungy live band, second-hand clothing cafe hipster type vibe for a few hours, or head to a more refined art gallery in the city. The beauty of Melbourne lies in its diversity. Let’s explore it together.
Where to stay in Melbourne
Melbourne CBD plays host to all of the big name hotels chains. Ibis, Hyatt, Mercure, Breakfree and Novotel can all be found here. My favourite is easily the Pan Pacific for it stunning sweeping views for the city and location next to the convention centre and outlet centre. There are several great budget accommodation options in downtown Melbourne too, notably, Flinders Backpackers which is consistently a number 1 hostel. In addition, there are always new hotels opening in Melbourne such as Shadow Play by Peppers.
What to do in 5 days in Melbourne, Australia
Arrive in Melbourne and settle into your hotel. Today is a great day to orientate yourself with the city and scratch the surface.
I would suggest catching a tram through the city up to Queen Victoria Markets. Here you will find plenty of casual dining options and European food. Melbourne is home to residents from 200 countries and territories, with a sizeable Italian and Greek population. So, expect to find fresh handmade pasta and gyros in the markets next to a stand selling French cheese and Cypriot wines. Queen Victoria markets are truly a foodie haven for anyone craving authentic European foods. It’s a great place to walk and snack for lunch.
They also sell fresh produce and meats and seafood. Hopefully, you are in Melbourne on a weekend, as the weekend markets are much larger and stock local fashion designers, jewelry designers and other knick knacks.
In the afternoon walk along Bourke Street mall and browse the high street stores. You will find international brands here such as Zara, H&M and Mango. These are also plenty of homegrown Australian businesses such as department stores Myer and David Jones.
Shop till you drop, but save some money because Melbourne is home to several amazing shopping areas, and also boasts Australias largest mall in Chadstone.
For dinner and drinks, Chinatown is only a block away. One of my favourite restaurants here is Hutong, a Chinese restaurant that specialises in delicious dumplings. Their steamed dumplings in black vinegar and chilli sauce are to die for!
Today you should take the train out to St Kilda, a fashionable and hip suburb on the outskirts of the City. Chapel Street St Kilda is where you will find plenty of local designers and boutique stores. It attracts hipsters and the young and the beautiful, so dress appropriately!
Stroll the length of Chapel Street window shopping, or max out the credit card. Make sure you stop by Journeyman cafe for a flat white. Melbournians take their coffee very seriously, and their avocado toast, so act like a local and opt for a late lunch, brunch. Served every day of the week in Australia, but note, it’s rarely a boozy affair as brunch sometimes is in Dubai, Singapore and Miami.
Lime scooters have launched in Melbourne, so grab one and whizz down the road to St Kilda beach. The promenade of St Kilda is active with plenty of activities to do. The local council usually have free events down by the beach on weekends, so expect crowds, especially in summer.
There are historic sea baths to visit, or lay on the beach if the sun is out.
Luna Park is an infamous theme park located a short walk away from the esplanade. For only $5 you can enter the park and walk around. They operate on a pay for play system, so you only have to pay for the rides you want to go on. And it’s not just for children! Make sure you jump aboard the oldest, continually operating roller coaster in the world – The Scenic Railway.
The Hotel Esplanade, or The Espy as the locals call it, is a live music venue in St Kilda. They serve great Aussie pub food and fresh seafood throughout the evening. Catch the sunset from the balcony with a local brewed beer or cider. Bliss.
It is also well worth a look if you are planning a later evening, as many Australian bands often headline there.
Hopefully, you haven’t woken up with too much of a hangover. Because today, you are heading out of the city and driving down to The 12 Apostles. These famous limestone stacks are located just off the beach about 4 hours west of Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. Sure the drive is long, but it’s ok, there are a few great little places to stop on the way.
Surfers rejoice! The first stop on your way to the 12 apostles is the infamous Bells beach. Rent your longboards here, or bring your own. The waves can get big and the rips can be strong, so exercise caution. It’s a good spot to stop and stretch your legs and check out the surfer’s moves.
Continue on and you reach the small vacation town of Lorne. There are a handful of lovely little family owned cafes lining the beachfront here, and it’s a great spot to fill up before the main event.
You will have seen the images of the 12 apostles while travelling in Australia. It is Victoria’s greatest tourism drawcard for natural scenery, and it is well deserved. The entry is free! Don’t forget to charge your cameras because you will be taking plenty of selfies and I’m sure you will be a pro landscape photographer at the end of it.
Bonus tip: Drive to Kennett River on the Great Ocean Road. Turn into Grey River Road and about one and a half kilometres along the road you will be guaranteed to spot koalas in the gum trees. You’re welcome.
If you are absolutely shattered after that day out, I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s ok, tomorrow is a relaxed day.
With your time in Melbourne drawing to a close, we had better have a look around Southbank and the outlet mall. Start your morning on Flinders Lane at a cafe for a smashed avo and poached eggs on toast, and the obligatory flat white coffee.
Walking to Southbank is easy from the CBD, just cross the river and follow the crowds.
The Southbank precinct is full of casual dining restaurants and swanky cocktail lounges. But during the day time, it is quiet and easy to walk around. Keep heading along the river banks towards Crown Casino. If you are feeling lucky duck in to play the roulette or poker tables, or try your hand at the slot machines. It’s worth checking out what shows are on because sometimes you strike it lucky with a fantastic comedy gig or concert. The Melbourne Crown Casino hosts many big events throughout the year with headlines acts such as comedian Arj Barker and Tribute band The Doors Alive playing recently.
The DFO Southwharf outlet centre at the far end of Southbank has plenty of budget shopping options, from brand name apparel, accessories and more at heavily discounted prices. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere it’s the perfect place to shop, as everything will be last season for Melbourne, but a current season for you!
Ponyfish Island is one of my favourite spots to grab a sunset wine in Melbourne. Pull up a seat in the middle of the river and watch the commuters scurry home. They do serve food, but you are better off making reservations at Vue Du Monde, Attica or Brae for something a bit more special.
Tip: Melbourne is beautiful during the cherry blossom season. I recommend you to visit during this time and check out the best spots for Cherry blossoms.
Your final day in Melbourne should be spent as a day trip outside of the city. Load up the car or book a day trip down to Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island.
The drive to Philip Island takes around 2 hours. You will absolutely love doing the Penguin parade where hundreds of little fairy penguins roam the beach. Again, your camera will be getting a work out as you try your hand at being a wildlife photographer. Other wildlife you may capture include wallabies and seals.
For a wildlife boost, check out the Maru wildlife park. There you can see dingos, emus, wombats and more. It’s worth the stop if you aren’t planning any other zoos of wildlife parks on your Australia vacation.
For any petrol heads out there, the Moto GP travel is also done in Philip Island, so you can stop in there to check out the track, even if it isn’t racing season.
As you make your way back to Melbourne, you should plan to stop in at Mornington Peninsula for a spot of wine tasting and oyster platters. Mornington Peninsula has a cool climate making wine growing ideal and focuses on Pinot noir production but has had success with other varietals including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Tempranillo.
I would suggest the Brass Razu Bar for its extensive wine list and fun tapas style menu. They have over 25 wines available by the glass and boast many local vineyards as well as French, Italian and other New World wines by the bottle.
I wish you the best time in Melbourne, I lived there for over 2 years and worked as a travel agent in that time helping hundreds of international tourists with itineraries, fabulous day trips and giving them tons of insider tips for Melbourne. I hope this Melbourne itinerary helped you to plan your trip and you have the best possible 5 days in Melbourne.
This is a guest post by Rachel from the blog Roundtheworldrachel.com
Author’s bio: Rachel from Roundtheworldrachel.com is a superyacht chef and world traveller with over under 100 countries under her belt. She has essentially been countryless for the past 5 years while travelling on yachts. She blogs about food and adventures and likes to show the local side of the destinations she travels. You can follow her adventures on Facebook.
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