48 hours in Melbourne
48 hours in Melbourne... can that be enough you ask? Well no, of course not! But it’s all the time I had, so I decided to make the most of it….
I finally did it, quit my job, said goodbye (more like see you later) to my friends and family and flew to the other side of the world to start my adventure. Since my best friend was already in Melbourne, I decided to start there and we planned to head up the east coast together. We only had enough time for 2 days in this cultural capital, so I am just sharing a snippet of what this amazing city has to offer…
The heart of Melbourne is its central business district. Impressively tall glass buildings lined the skyline with many more being constructed all the time. The beauty of this city is hidden in its smaller lane ways in between the grid-like design. You could spend most of your time here but there is so much more to offer in all the suburbs surrounding.
How I got around
I arrived in Melbourne at 5am, with my huge backpack, rucksack and sleepy head full of jet lagged thoughts. It is so easy to get from the airport to the city centre, you just hop on the skybus which drops you right at Southern Cross station, which is home to the bus and train depot, with numerous tram stops close by.
You can also, as sleepy me did, take an Uber to your final destination (yes, it works here!) or you can make use of Melbourne’s free (yes, it really is free!) tram network within the city centre, anything outside of this is chargeable and you just buy a ‘Mikey’ pass from the station, top it up, then tap it on and off when you make your journey. Another great way to see the city is to walk; the streets are safe and you get to see so much more of the city, but if you are on a time restriction this could be difficult.
What I did
Whenever my friend and I visit a new city together, we like to do a free walking tour. Technically, these are not free as you tip at the end, but this is discretional and can depend on your means. Melbourne offered one in its CBD so we decided to check it out. They take you to several different spots over two hours and offer you some historic background about Australia and lots of fun facts about Melbourne. We even stopped off for the most amazing almond milk flat white at an independent, hole in the wall cafe that offers positions to those who need to get back into the workforce.
We also saw the famous Hosier Lane, Central Station, Freedom Square and were recommended a few bars and restaurants.
Melbourne has numerous art and cultural exhibitions and depending on your budget you can pick and chose what you’d like to see. We chose two: the first was the National Gallery of Victoria. This exhibition is surprisingly free of charge. I loved it because it was interactive for both adults and children and was art without pretension.
The second exhibition was down in the Docklands area and called Artvo. This is slightly pricier at 28 AUD each but you can spend a long time here just taking pictures. I won’t share too much of the art with you as this needs to be seen and experienced first hand but here are a few examples.
Next stop, Chinatown. You have probably seen one in every city, but due to the large immigrant population, it is worth coming to see this one and eat some of the amazing food.
Another activity that’s a must is penguin watching at St Kilda beach. Arrive anytime after sunset taking the 86 tram and walk down the pier to see the penguins at the very end. Flash photography is not allowed, as this hurts the penguins eyes, but there are aids shining red lights on them to make them more visible. This is a adorable and memorable experience and on top of it, a great view of Melbourne’s skyline.
What I ate
Due to my persistant stomach problems, eating out has been severely limited for me. Luckily I was able to find a few great options in Melbourne …
Breakfast – Matcha Mylkbar
I have followed this cute vegan cafe on Instagram for years and finally got the chance to check them out. Everything is dairy free, and they label the menu with gluten free options, and on top of that, garlic and onion free dishes!! Since I am currently seemingly intolerant, this was a dream come true.
My friend and I decided to share the ‘Matcha Pancakes made in heaven’ and the ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ fruit smoothie bowl. Both were incredible and it was nice to taste a few dishes. My mate went for a standard iced matcha and I got the rainbow latte, which I see has now been removed from the menu, but had beautiful presentation.
Website – http://www.matchamylkbar.com/
Lunch – Sushi on the Go
Everywhere you go in Melbourne, there seems to be a fast food style stall selling fresh sushi. I adore sushi; not only is it delicious but it tends to fit my dietary requirements perfectly. For a few dollars each you can pick different and surprisingly substantial rolls and pieces. I got a sushi sandwich and California roll, but there are so many tasty choices. For the price and taste I definitely recommend this option.
Dinner – @Tease Thai
We met up with a group of Taiwanese friends for a girls farewell dinner. She suggested Chinatown, but as we were wandering around I discovered this Thai restaurant and thought it looked like a pretty cool place to eat. Thankfully, the place catered to my dietary requirements, and I got the ‘Streets of Bangkok’ which was tamarind chicken, papaya salad and sticky rice. Delicious! My friends went for the pad Thai and the red curry and both enjoyed them immensely.
Suggestions I did not manage to eat at but worth checking out…
- Fourth Chapter
- The Kettle Black
- Miss Alex & Co
- Girls and Boys
- Green Cup
- Urban Projuice
Where I stayed
For the first time in my life I am actually traveling like a backpacker. This means hostels and little luxury. Although Melbourne has many great hotels, we decided to stay in hostels on this trip for two reasons. 1. Price – of course you can travel for longer the less you spend each day (logical, right?), hostels are the cheapest way of doing this and also you can meet so many more people.
How many other times in your life do you spend sleeping, eating and hanging out in the same space as numerous other people, whether you are traveling alone or with a friend? This is a great way to meet new people from around the world! If sharing a room is not for you, or you are in a couple, many hostels have private rooms for a slightly higher cost.
My first hostel in Australia was ‘All Nations Backpackers’. When I first walked in with my huge backpack and saw the stairs I was slightly daunted, but once I settled in the place was pretty great.
All Nations Melbourne
– Had female only bathrooms for privacy
– Electric card entry to rooms for safety
– Secure baggage storage
– Kitchen well equipped
– TV room, nice kitchen areas and bar for socialising downstairs
– Diverse mix of people from different places
– Reasonable price
– Had locked storage but very limited and not in the room
– Kitchen was busy
– Plug socket not near every bed
– Heard rumours of mice but I did not see any
Tips and advice
Melbourne is known for its coffee; they dislike Starbucks and have so many independent cafes. If you are craving some of the strong stuff, avoid the chains and try one of the small vendors. You won’t be disappointed!
The weather is temperamental; you can experience all seasons in one day, so wear layers and pack a light rain coat.
It might be tempting to not use your Mikey pass on the tram network, but this could result in a fine.. be careful!
I did not have time to make it here but my friend offered a few other tips of where to see
– Phillip island for the penguin parade
– Great ocean road
– Peninsula hot springs
– Grotto lighthouse