Melbourne is a melting pot of culture. The inner city of Melbourne is mostly European while the eastern section of Collins Street is Parisian. Melbourne also has a bit of New York thanks to the city's well-ordered grid and scattering of art deco high-rises. But what makes Melbourne truly unique is its more than 230 laneways that penetrate the heart of the city blocks. It is here that the city's true spirit can be appreciated. These narrow lively lanes are home to superb restaurants, bars and street art. From the tangible excitement of sporting events to the relaxed atmosphere of laid-back dining and outdoor shows, the city is vibrant with live music and shows at its four mid-sized venues.
When to Go
Autumn (March to May) and spring (September to November) are the best seasons to visit the city. The climate is pleasant and allows for the city to be explored either by foot or bicycle.
Celebrity sightings are at their apex during the Australian Open Tennis Tournament in January and the Formula 1 Grand Prix in March that marks the start of the F1 season. The spring racing Carnival in October and November not only has the longest horse race in the world at 3.1 kilometers but is also the fashion event to kick off the summer season. The iconic Boxing Day test match is also a crowd puller. The city celebrates food and wine every year in March during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival where people from across the globe come together to share their common love for food.
What to Eat
The café capital of the world, Melbourne is also Australia's culinary capital and home to some funky cafes hosting a variety of international cuisines. A mix of cultures is reflected within its numerous restaurants, cafes and bars. Whether the choice is modern, traditional, exotic or homespun food—Melbourne's extensive dining scene offers a delicious array of the world's great cuisines. Snack on high-end tapas in an eatery tucked away in a lane or visit Chinatown in the main Central Business District (CBD) known as the place for authentic South East Asian delights. Of course, beyond the CBD there are more culinary delights to discover—Richmond for Vietnamese, Carlton that is known as Little Italy, Fitzroy for Spanish and Brunswick for Lebanese.
Souvenir to Take Home
A number of souvenir shops sell stylish artifacts and a lot of Aboriginal art. A popular souvenir is a key chain or a bottle opener made out of a real kangaroo scrotum, however this might be distasteful or offensive to some.
Sustainable Travel Tip
The best way to see the main city area is by the city circle tram—a free service that circumnavigates the city. There are a lot of bicycles for hire and dedicated bicycle lanes. Melbourne also has the largest urban tram network.
Take a hot air balloon ride from the banks of the Yarra River at dawn for a spectacular shot of the sun rising over beautiful Melbourne. The city has managed to retain a lot of greenery in spite of its urbanity. The Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton and the Botanical gardens in the city are also very picturesque. But, nothing tops the view of the entire city from the Edge at the Eureka Towers on the 88th floor where one is put in a glass box and extended out of the building. If one can survive the initial shock of being suspended mid-air in a glass box, the Instagram pic to follow will definitely be worth it.