Ah Melbourne. It’s Australia’s second largest city well known for it’s grungy charm and cafe culture. But just how long do you need to explore the city? It’s up to you, but here’s my itinerary for a three, four or five day guide to exploring Victoria’s Capital.
There are plenty of things to do in Melbourne’s CBD so you’ll want to move quickly to see it all. My recommendation is to hop on one of Melbourne’s free trams. Everywhere in the CBD is in the free tram zone which means you don’t have to pay a penny. Don’t make the same mistake I did and think if you tap your Myki card you won’t be charged. You will, so keep your Myki far far away from the tapping station and you’ll be good.Morning: Start your morning by hitting Federation Square. It’s the cultural hub of Melbourne’s city centre and home to some of the city’s most iconic buildings. Here you’ll see Flinders Street Station, St Paul’s Cathedral, the ACMI Building and the National Gallery of Victoria.Afternoon: It’s time to explore Melbourne’s laneways. Hoiser Lane and ACDC lane are two of the most well-known. These are great spots to see some of the graffiti the city is famous for. I’d recommend getting a coffee in one of the hole in the wall spots. My personal favourite is Union Kiosk which serves many flavours of vegan jaffles, both sweet and savoury. It’s a perfect place to stop for lunch.
After you’ve eaten, head to the State Library of Victoria then get a tour of the Old Melbourne Gaol for a chance to learn about Ned Kelly and his legacy.Evening: The city comes alive at night. I’d recommend dinner at the veggie fast food joint, Lord of the Fries that is located in several spots all over Melbourne. Lord of the Fries’ success rivals Maccas and in Australia, that’s saying a lot, especially for an all-vegan venue.
Day Two: Brighton & St Kilda
Morning: St Kilda is one of Melbourne’s best loved neighbourhoods by the coast. I’d recommend the Matcha Mylkbar for brunch as their plant based menu and colourful lattes are unbeatable.
Once you’re fed and caffeinated, head inland to explore the St Kilda botanical garden. After this walk back towards the beach to see Luna Park and the Palais Theatre in all their colourful glory.Afternoon: I recommend the 5k walk from St Kilda to Brighton’s Bathing Boxes. It’s a scenic walk with gorgeous beaches on one side and fancy beachfront houses on the other. Stop on Elwood Beach if you fancy a break or take the tram if you’d prefer.
Once you reach Brighton, stop to admire the colourful bathing boxes. Maybe take a selfie in front of the one decorated like the Australian flag then stop for lunch in Brighton’s city centre.
Evening: You can either walk or catch the train or tram back to St Kilda for sunset and try to see the penguin parade along the St Kilda pier. From here you can see Melbourne city centre from a distance too and it will look very pretty all lit up in the dark.
Morning: Start the day by heading to Smith and Deli, the world famous vegan deli with a wide range of sandwich, brunch and sweet options. People queue for hours for this stuff, so make sure you’re here on a weekday (not Monday, because they’re closed), to avoid waiting in line and wasting your day. I’ve managed to get lucky during off-peak hours and had no queue at all. Trust me, the food is worth the wait, no matter what.
Fitzroy is a great place to shop with plenty of independent, sustainable businesses located all along the high street. All of them are quirky, all of them are unashamedly hipster. There are unbeatable coffee shops here too, so make sure to sample some of Melbourne’s world famous coffee if you haven’t already.Afternoon: Just a short walk from Fitzroy is Carlton, Melbourne’s upscale neighbourhood where the Exhibition Centre and the Melbourne Museum are located. I’d recommend visiting them both before heading to Queen Victoria Market and Carlton gardens.
Evening: This is your opportunity to dine at one of Fitzroy’s hippest restaurants. I’d recommend Trippy Taco (tacos!), Neko Neko (ramen!) or Red Sparrow (pizza!), depending on what kind of cuisine you’re after. They’re all vegan and all incredible.
Morning: If you have a fourth day in Melbourne, I would start in Hawthorne to have brunch at Ubuntu, a vegan restaurant with realistic looking eggs. Only in Melbourne! After that, it’s time to return to the CBD to do all the things you missed out on last time. Start with a stroll along the Southbank of the Yarra river and journey up to the Eureka Skydeck, Australia’s tallest observation deck, for magnificent views of the city.
Afternoon: Next, head to the arts precinct to see the MOMA. From here, catch a free tram or walk to the botanical gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance, another great spot for city views.Evening: Finally, return to the CBD to explore Chinatown. There are great restaurants in this area. Alternatively, head back to Fitzroy to try one of the other vegan restaurants I mentioned last time. You won’t be disappointed.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Melbourne for five days, I’d recommend a daytrip for at least one of them. This requires either hiring a car or booking a tour. One of the most famous daytrips you can do is the Great Ocean Road to see gems such as the Twelve Apostles and the Loch Ard Gorge.
If nature’s your thing, head to the Grampians or Wilson’s Promontory where you can go on a hiking trail and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to spot some of the famous Aussie wildlife like kangaroos, emus, wombats and koalas.
For a more chilled out daytrip, I’d recommend Phillip Island or the Mornington Peninsula, my favourite being the latter. I’ve written up stories for what I did in each place if you’d like to check them out.
If hiring a car or booking a tour sounds too much like hard work, no fear! There’s still plenty of things to do in the city that you’ve not done yet. Day five would be a great opportunity for you to explore the lesser known Northern suburbs.
Morning: One of my favourite brunch spots in Melbourne is the Merri Clan, home of the dutch pancake mountain. Afterwards, you’ll need to walk off this diabetic coma along the Merri Creek trail towards Northcote.
Afternoon: Northcote is a suburb that rivals Fitzroy with it’s hipster charm. The high street is a beautiful hub of independent shops with sustainable, fair trade stores, vegan lunch spots and coffee shops. You won’t be able to resist dipping in and out of knick-knack shops and seeing the gorgeous trinkets these boutiques have to offer.
Evening: After you’re done shopping, catch the bus towards Brunswick, one of Melbourne’s coolest neighbourhoods with a variety of alternative shops and restaurants. I’d recommend dining at The Cornish Arms for a classic pub meal. There is a separate vegan menu! Next, I’d head upstairs to the rooftop bar for gorgeous views of the city by night.
And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed my list. Comment below if you have any more recommendations and let me know if I missed your favourite place. Thanks for reading.