Guide to Melbourne
Me and my wife are aften asked for what to do around Melbourne when people are visiting from the UK. This is a fairly opionated guide aimed at brits abroad.
There is a bunch to do out in the Mornington Peninsula area which is about an hour from Melbourne.
- Red Hill
- Red hill is a lovely wine growing area that is covered in these huge red gums
- Wineries - if you fancy a tour, check out Manna Gum tours. They can do pickup from Melbourne (or anywhere in the Peninsula)
- Very innovative winemakers (aging wines in amphorae) and absolutely lovely people - kinda bonkers
- Red Hill Estate
- Mainly go for the dining room looking out across the vineyards to the sea
- Paringa Estate
- Beautiful wine
- Mont Rogue
- Nice spot for lunch.
- Red Gum BBQ
- Excellent BBQ in a huge laidback warehouse
- Red Gum BBQ
- Sorrento and Surrounds
- Just Fine Food - the best vanilla slice in Victoria
- The high street is quite nice for a wander
- Sorrento Back Beach nearby is also scenic - fairly choppy
- Peninsula Hot Springs
- A number of bathing pools fed by local hot springs, lovely way to spend a few hours. You can get massages and treatments as well.
- Try and go mid-week or at off-peak times, as otherwise it can get quite busy
Split Point Lighthouse
Where they filmed Round the Twist. About 2 hours out of melbourne just along the great ocean road. Scenic outlook and quite nice coast nearby. If you carry on along the great ocean road there are a bunch of little towns and beaches that you can stop off at. There is also some good walking near Lorne - not too far away.
About 1 ½ hours out of melbourne. You can go see fairy penguins come up on to the beach which is pretty awesome and there is a koala sanctuary out there so you can see some drop bears, and maybe a wallaby or two.
Mountaintop gum forest (that meets tropical rainforest vibes) down in some of the valleys about an hour out of melbourne. Nice place for some walking, and some of the towns nearby are worth a wander.
Big mountainous ridge. You probably have do some walking to get the most out of it, but if you get up onto the main ridge there are great views across the plains.
Another famous wine region, still lots of Chardonnay, slightly less pinot and a bit more cool climate Syrah. If you had a day then go to Healesville, check out the nearby animal sanctuary and the Four Pillars distillery and check out a winery on the way back.
- 400 Gradi at Rochford is good for a casual pizza. Go in the evening and watch the sun set across their lake.
- Pizzini Wines is a great spot for some wine tasting and a nibble.
Eating & Drinking
|8 Bit||🍔||They do burgers right. Meltingly soft buns, juicy and delicious patties, not too much faffing about with extras.||CBD|
|Arbory||🍷, 🍸, 🍺, 🍽️||Very central bar just off Flinders Street Station. Big space that is great in either winter (they have a lot of heaters and mulled cider) or summer (they erect Arbory Afloat just out the front on the river, which is a floating bar). Can get quite busy. Good food, excellent charcuterie board.||CBD|
|Baby PIzza||🍕, 🍽️||Probably our favourite pizza spot in the City - trendy crowd and reasonable wine by the glass. The rest of their menu is also excellent (their beef tartare is one of the best I have had in Australia). They also do takeaway.||Richmond|
|Bar Lourinha||🍽️||Lovely friendly, buzzy tapas bar. One of our favourite spots in the city.||CBD|
|Bartronica||🍺, 🕹️||Fairly dingy basement bar that has a bunch of oldschool arcade games. You will definitely spend more than you want to by having just 1 more go on Time Crisis.||CBD|
|Chin Chin||🍸, 🍽️||Higher end thai/pan-asian. Absolutely delicious with good cocktails. You can’t book so get there early or put your name down and have a drink nearby (or at their bar downstairs). Get the goat curry or the beef rendang if you want to give your tastebuds a treat.||CBD|
|College Lawn||🍺, 🍽️||Nice pub with a good outdoor area for sunnier days. Filled with a young crowd and there are normally ~400 dogs milling about. Do an excellent parma and their chips are off the chain.||Prahran|
|Cutler & Co||🍽️||Probably the best restaurant we have been to in Australia (beating Attica, reputedly the best restaurant in Australia, and on the world's best restaurant list). Lovely staff, excellent food, good drinks list, incredible bread, nice surrounds. You can have a drink at their bar before if you like, but your best bet is to go to the Everleigh nearby.||Fitzroy|
|Double Happiness||🍸||Awesome little bar covered in Mao era chinese propaganda posters. Get the alcoholic bubble tea.||CBD|
|Eau De Vie||🍸||Extravagent cocktail joint (fire, dry ice etc.) Enter via unmarked door near the top of a set of stairs on Malthouse lane.||CBD|
|Embla||🍷, 🍽️||Nice wine bar with good selection of small plates. Lesa, their sister restaurant upstairs, is also worth a look in.||CBD|
|Galah||🍸||Lovely buzzy cocktail bar. Very delicious charcuterie board.||Prahran|
|Gami Chicken and Beer||🍗||Korean Fried chicken and pitchers of beer. Delicious. Get the spicy sauce (though fair warning, it is quite spicy). There are a few around but the best is the original one of Little Lonsdale Street.||CBD, Fitzroy|
|Harley & Rose||🍕||Great laid back spot for pizza. Stick to the more classic pizza toppings, some of the others are a bit rogue.||West Footcray|
|Just Chinatown in General||🥟||Most places you pop into you will be able to get pretty decent dumplings and chinese food. Heads up, most cheaper places will put a flask of green tea on the table so help yourself.Shanghai Dragon Dumpling House is fairly cheap and cheerful but does some good fried pork dumplings.Tim Ho Wan -just outside of chinatown, marginally more slick. The dumplings are good. Get the Steamed Egg Cake. Trust me.||CBD|
|Kisumé||🍣||High end Japanese. Decent priced tasting menu (~$90) and very delicious.||CBD|
|Lanzhou Beef Noodle Bar||🍽️||A couple spots around the city. Very delicious (and fairly cheap) hand pulled noodles in soup or otherwise.||CBD, South Yarra|
|Messina & Pidapippo||🍦||Two excellent ice cream shops, both with multiple spots around the city. Messina has a greater variety of nuts flavours. Pidapippo is arguably better gelato, but a more traditional selection.||CBD, Fitzroy, South Yarra|
|Milk the Cow||🍷, 🧀||Cheese and wine bar - there are a few spots across the city. Excellent range of both. Get one of their tasting platters.||Carlton, St Kilda|
|Mr West||🍺||Great bar with ~20 beers on tap. Pro-tip, you can get pizza from the slice shop across the road and eat it in there.||Footscray|
|Ponyfish Island||🍷, 🍸, 🍺||Small bar in the middle of the river under one of the bridges crossing the Yarra river. Nice spot in summer. Do a nice selection of rotating cocktails and some bar snacks which are adequate.||CBD|
|Royal Stacks||🍔||There are about a million burger places in town, but this is definitely one of the better ones. They do pretty good frozen custard and shakes as well.||CBD|
|Saint Urban||🍷, 🍽️||Come for the raclette, stay for the creme brulee.||Richmond|
|The Everleigh||🍸||Prohibition style cocktail bar. Knowledgeable and friendly staff.||Fitzroy|
A few notes on food
- If you want to try a classic Melbourne dish you have to have a parma (chicken schnitzel with ham, tomato sauce and melted cheese on top). College Lawn in Prahran does a good one, but a classic joint is Mrs Parmas in the city.
- A bacon sarnie is a foreign concept. It will always contain egg and it blows people’s minds that you might want just bacon. Same with a sausage sarnie. Oh, and a sarnie is a sanga.
A few notes on Drinks
- Melbourne is one of the best places in the world of coffee drinkers - if not the best.
- To be peak Melbourne, a flat white is the way to go (if you are unfamiliar, just think a latte, but smaller).
- To transcend even the most Melbourne Melbonian you can order a Magic (a double shot espresso with 3/4 milk).
- If you order a beer there are three key sizes.
- A Pot - 285ml
- A Schooner - 425ml
- A Pint - 568ml
- To make it more confusing, some of these terms are state dependent, but you will always be able to get a pint.
- A stubby is a small bottle of beer, a tinnie is a can.
- There are some good local breweries so check out Two Birds, Future Mountain or Hop Nation.
- If you order a beer there are three key sizes.
- Chardonnay is more likely to be oaked, so ask if you mind.
- Riesling is more likely to be sweet, so ask if you mind.
- Locally produced stuff tends to be Pinot Noir (Mornington Peninsula) and Chardonnay (Yarra Valley)
- Our favorite local gin is Melbourne Gin Company (you may see it listed just as MGC)
Lovely old convent with nice gardens. Selection of nice cafes. Walk along the yarra nearby or checkout the community farm nearby (especially if they have a market on).
NGV is the national gallery for Victoria. Fantastic selection of art and design plus rotating exhibitions. They also host late nights on a Friday during summer with music etc. which are worth checking out.
Great permanent exhibitions about the history of moving image
Good temporary exhibitions but its about $20 to get in normally
St Kilda, Luna Park and Acland Street
Brighton vibes, check out he seafront and the pier (you might be able to spot penguins and starfish in the rocks)
Go ride the oldest working wooden roller coaster in the world at Luna Park
Checkout the shops on Acland street and marvel at the cakes (though they generally look better than they taste)
Lovely big gardens to wander round with a huge variety of plant life. Free to get in.
Check out the outdoor cinema that runs over summer - Moonlight Cinema
You can walk up from the botanical gardens and climb to the top of the war memorial. Good view back towards the city.
Fitzroy & Carlton
Fitzroy is very much East London vibes - lots of little designer shops, bars and quirky places. Definitely somewhere you can wander around for a few hours.
The top end of Carlton nearby is also nice, so if you are in the area wander across. Cinema Nova is a great little cinema and Readings is probably the best bookshop in the city.
Great food market. Butchers, bakers, fishmongers, grocers, a mushroom specialist, a cheese specialist, deli’s - you name it, it’s here. Check out the amazing cooks shop The Essential Ingredient.
Good food market and some nice little shops. A little bit of tat thrown in. Go to Bibelot nearby for Macaron and ice cream in a cone they fill with molten chocolate.
Biggest market in the city and worth a wander. Food market is interesting but the rest of it tends to be a lot of tourist rubbish. If you want to get some cheap gifts, quite a good spot. Check out the Cooks Bookshop for cookery book heaven.
Arcades & Laneways
There are bunch of arcades and laneways in the city of varying interest. My favourite is the Royal Arcade.
- You will need a MyKi card to travel round on public transport. You can pick one up from almost any station or from a 7-eleven.
- There are no trains from the airport to the city, so you can get a bus or a taxi
- The bus is about $27 to Southern Cross station
- An Uber will be $45-70
- A local friend will be $0, so hit me up.
- Get the Lonely Planet app on your phone - good coverage of the city.
- Eating and drinking out are generally more casual than the UK - feel free to dress up and don’t feel put off if the guys on the next table are in t-shirts.
- The weather here is VERY changeable so probably pack an umbrella, sunscreen, sunglasses, a jacket and a wooly hat regardless of what the forecast says. The UV is also intense.
- The city is pretty small, so you can walk most places but the trams and trains are pretty frequent. Trams within the CBD are free.
- They stand on the other side of the escalator.
- Jaywalking is a thing, so don’t come crying to me if you get a fine.