Melbourne is Australia’s second biggest city and has been Sydney’s biggest rival for years on end. When chatting amongst the locals here in Australia it’s easy to realise that most prefer one over the other. During one day in Melbourne, I also found myself comparing the two cities whom are both vastly different from one another. It’s no secret that I hold tremendous amounts of love for Sydney. As time goes on I wonder if perhaps the one day in Melbourne that we had just wasn’t enough to really understand what this city has to offer. But in our quick 24 hours in Melbourne, I most definitely enjoyed the places we explored, the food we drank and the street art I found myself ogling over!
Here’s how you can explore all of the best bits Melbourne City has to offer in one day!
Quick Warning! This one day guide to Melbourne is total tourist heaven! By that I mean we saw all the main ‘touristy’ sights with our 24 hours in Melbourne! So, if you’re after unique things to do in Melbourne this probably isn’t the place for you but we did visit an amazing Thai restaurant which I’m still dreaming about today so I still think you should read on! If you are looking for more extensive guides on Australia then my complete weekend guides to Sydney and Byron Bay are very popular.
Things to Do with just One Day in Melbourne
Morning in Melbourne
Breakfast in Brunswick Melbourne
After reading plenty of blogs about Melbourne and its surrounding suburbs it appeared that Brunswick was quite an up and coming area of the city. Between the city centre and the campsite where we stayed (find more on that further down the post) Brunswick was in the middle so we decided to try it out. Located on Union Street sits a delightful cafe nestled amongst the other grand buildings called Miss Marmalade.
Because it was a weekday it was quiet but it was obvious instantly that this place is loved by the locals. Though there were only two other tables filled in the cafe that morning they were both locals chatting away to the chaps working in the cafe. I love visiting cafes full of locals because you know the food will be good! In any travel guide, you read it always says ‘go where the locals go’ and in my travel so far I’ve found this to be true.
Dave and I ordered eggs Benedict which was served with Miss Marmalade’s take on a hash brown. They were probably the thickest hash brown I’ve ever seen might I just add! It was a taste sensation. Now I’m not a food blogger by all means but I know a good eggs benny when I taste one and this one was bloody good! Mum had a vegetable has which also had our tastebuds tingling. I would definitely recommend this place. Make sure you check them out on Instagram here!
Budget for Breakfast: $22 PP / 13 GBP for breakfast and a drink
Flinders Street Station
One of the most iconic photography spots in Melbourne has to be Flinders Street Station. If you’re staying in the city then you might be able to walk to the station. For us, we had to get a tram and train into the city. So if you’re like us and have to get transport in Melbourne then aim to get off and begin the day at Flinders Street Station.
It really is just a train station but the architecture is phenomenal. It gives the city a feel of culture and history from the moment you leave the platform. With the first station departing from Flinders Street Station, as it looks today, was back in 1919. This station is claimed to be the busiest in Australia and in 1926 was the busiest in the world. That was just seven years after the construction of this beautiful building.
I actually read an interesting fact on Culture Trip that this building was actually designed to be in Mumbai! Take a read of this blog post to find out some unique facts about Flinders Street Station!
Photography Tip: Stand on the opposite side of the road looking onto the station. Stand right on the corner and wait for all the traffic lights to go red – be quick and grab your shot with no cars in the frame!
Visit Melbourne’s Laneways
The laneways are probably my favourite part of Melbourne and really make you feel like a local. It’s clear to see that the food and drink industry is massive in Melbourne but the laneways show it off even more. From arcades to narrow cobbled lanes filled end to end with coffee shops, restaurants, doughnut stalls, pubs!
You name it if you can eat or drink it the laneways have it! There plenty of lanes to choose from in Melbourne but our favourites were Degraves Street and Centre Place. Both lanes are packed in tightly bursting at every seam with coffee shops and restaurants. Whatever food you fancy you’ll find it here. From cakes to 3-course meals, American to Asia style meals you are spoilt for choice!
The only aspect of these lanes I didn’t enjoy was a few of the local employees tried to entice you in. Sometimes this really puts me off a place but then again in some cultures it’s completely fine to do so – maybe I need to take a chill pill on this one?
Apart from that small factor, I loved the energy that both of these lanes gave off. I can totally see why people love this part of Melbourne. I could see myself happily cafe hopping over a period of months! Just one day in Melbourne is not enough to eat at all these delicious looking places – my mouth is watering just writing about it!
We had an amazing cake in one of the pubs in Centre Place. Of course, I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it – Budget for cake and a coffee: $12 PP / 7 GBP
Explore Street Art in Melbourne
You can’t spend 24 hours in Melbourne without visiting the famous street art! From laneways full of glorious food to laneways full of inspiration street art! The ACDC Lane and Hosier Lane are two brilliant spots for street art.
The ACDC lane is named after rock band ACDC, those who are into music will know that the band are in fact Australian but I did not until we visited this lane! You really do learn something new every day whilst travelling. It’s also home to the famous night club and music bar Cherry Bar. The lane is pretty cool with some great art pieces and tribute to the rock ’n’ roll scene.
If you’re looking for the ‘Melbourne’ graffiti as photographed above then you’ll want to head to ACDC lane and turn left as you reach the bottom onto Duckboard place and you won’t miss it!
Where to Eat Lunch in Melbourne
Okay, so we decided to choose cake over lunch because the cakes were huge and we couldn’t resist – at said pub mentioned above. But I highly recommend looping back to Centre Place or Degraves Lanes to grab some lunch on the laneways.
Afternoon in Melbourne
Visit The Royal Botanical Gardens
All of the Botanical Gardens in Australia are simply beautiful. The sun is always shining, flowers always blooming and they are so damn clean! Melbourne was no exception the gardens were gorgeous and the backdrop of the city is fantastic. As we walked from the city to the gardens the views and walkway beside the canal is stunning. We visited in April so the leaves were turning golden brown and it actually felt like Autumn in Australia. In the other cities, it kind of felt like seasons don’t exist down under so it was lovely to see a difference.
Photograph spot: Swan Bridge gives you lovely backdrop of the city.
As you wander over the bridge talk time in walking around the gardens. I found them to be so peaceful and full of gorgeous flowers boasting colours of yellow, purple, red and green. If you’re trying to save money then why not take a picnic to the Royal Botanical Gardens instead of buying it in the laneways.
Visit the Shrine of Remembrance
Anzac Day is extremely important in Australia and on January the 25th the country come together in order to pay tribute to those who in the wars. In every city, you’ll find tributes to the fallen. The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne is a great place to pay your respects and learn little more about Australian war history. The Shrine is located just above the Royal Botanical Gardens. The building is lovely and its position boasts incredible views of the city. Explore inside the building and head to the balcony for the great view of the city.
Photographs are allowed but always remember that this is a tribute and memorial so only take photographs that are respectful. For example, don’t try to stand on any of the statues.
Walk along South Bank
No, the walking doesn’t end there! And why should it? Walking is, in my opinion, the best way to explore a new city and one of the ways that I keep fit whilst travelling. My Fitbit always helps me keep on track by knowing how many steps I’ve done throughout the day. I can guarantee whilst travelling I always exceed my 10,000. Sometimes at home especially on my blogging days, I barely make 7000! To look into purchasing your own take a look at the table before. I’d be lost without being able to track my activity whilst travelling!
For the remainder of the 24 hours in Melbourne, I’d recommend taking a walk along South Bank. There’s nothing better than ending the day with a walk along the river. Find heaps of bars and restaurant along South Bank too where you can enjoy a beverage or two whilst watching the world go by! We went to Hopscotch and enjoyed their happy hour of $6 wine and beer! Hopscotch has a great vibe where you can go for a relaxing afternoon drink or dress up on an evening.
Another Melbourne favourite is the Arbory Afloat a floating bar and restaurant situated upon the Yarra River! As a stinker for motion sickness, I’m not sure how I would get on as you could see it bobbing on the river but it looked lovely. Check out more bars around Melbourne and the CBD in this blog post by Hidden City Secrets.
Where to Eat Dinner in Melbourne
As the short 24 hours in Melbourne draws to a close make sure to finish the evening off in style! Since arriving in Australia Dave and I have become obsessed with Asian cuisine so that’s exactly what was on the menu! After the end of a long day walking around exploring it’s safe to stay we were knackered and the last thing we wanted to do was try and find a decent restaurant.
So we hit up Trip Advisor and I am so glad we did. Red Spice Road is located in the heart of China Town and services the most amazing Asian cuisine. Set out a little different than other Asian restaurants I’ve been to but in a good way. Basically, their menu is made for sharing so choose four or five different plates from the set menu and enjoy! It made me try something different other than the standard Pad Thai dish. All of the food was stunning, the scallops were divine, lamb fell straight off the bone and duck curry sensational! You can find their website here and location on the map below!
Other Things to Do During One Day in Melbourne
- Kyak along the Yarra River
- Visit Queen Victoria Market
- Take a free walking tour
- Cafe Hop
- Visit the Melbourne Museum
- Go to St Kilda for Sunset
- Find Little Penguins in St Kilda
- Visit the Melbourne Harbour
- Go shopping in some of the Melbourne Outlets
Things to Do Near Melbourne
One day in Melbourne sure isn’t long enough to enjoy all has to offer but these are some of the highlights that you can enjoy in just one day. The great thing about Melbourne is that there are lots to do around the city. St. Kilda was my favourite part about Melbourne located just 15 minutes from the city centre.
Of course, The Great Ocean Road isn’t too far from Melbourne. In just three hours you can be on the sublime coastline of Victoria. For a complete two day itinerary for The Great Ocean Road take a look at my recent post here! I also wrote a post that shows off the Highlights of The Great Ocean Road which you can take a look at here!
Melbourne City Tours
I personally love exploring new cities with my own two feet but if you like to be guided around then Melbourne has plenty of day tours and city tours that you can take advantage of. Melbourne also has a hop on hop off bus where you can get on and off at popular locations around the city!
Transport in Melbourne
Free Tram in Melbourne CBD
To finish I wanted to share a few practical tips for visiting Melbourne! If you’ve research Melbourne well then you’ll know about the free tram service. In the Melbourne CBD the tram is free but only in the city. Once you leave the city you’ll need to pay for the service.
Myki Travel Card
To travel on public transport in Melbourne you’ll need to get a travel card called a Myki. For 24 hours in Melbourne, you still need one if you plan on travelling on the transport. Luckily, we got one from our campsite and topped it up for $15 for the full day. When you’ve booked accommodation in Melbourne find out if you’ll be needing to use the transport and decide if the travel card is worth it.
Where to Stay in Melbourne
If you’re visiting Melbourne as part of a road trip then your transport options may be limited. We stayed at Discovery Park campsite in Melbourne because we had a camper van and it seemed like the best choice. Expect to pay more in Melbourne than other campsites on the road just because of location.
Discovery Parks – Melbourne
The Melbourne park cost us $200 for three nights for three people to stay on a powered site, so it wasn’t cheap! But if there is only two of you then you’ll be able to grab it cheaper.
That said we paid for the price. This caravan park topped all the others that we’ve stayed at purely due to facilities. The toilets and showers are sparkling clean, with a brand new camp kitchen you can cook in a clean and friendly environment too. The pool is lovely as is the heated spa pool too so you get what you pay for which isn’t always the case. The only downside is the distance from the city. It takes around 45 minutes on public transport. You can check out the rest of the facilities available at this campsite here.
Hostels in Melbourne
Another popular way to stay over in Melbourne is in a hostel. So many travellers that I’ve met on the road stay in hostels and find it a great way to meet other travellers. This is the one regret I sometimes have about always staying in a campervan opposed to hostel accomadation! Some of the top rated and most recommended hostels in Melbourne as per Booking.com are:
- Landing Pads Brunswick
- United Backpackers in Melbourne CBD also recommended by Lonely Planet
- Melbourne Central YHA
- Space Hotel Melbourne CBD
In reflection, I wish that we had spent more time in the city of Melbourne. I feel like the CBD and the inner city has so much more on offer than what we got to explore. I preferred our day in St Kilda compared to the city centre. It didn’t give us the wow like Sydney but it was definitely less touristy and had a more local feel which I love.
Have you ever been to Melbourne? I would love to hear your personal experience and favourite things to do in this city! Let me know in the comments below & don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly newsletter to find out all about our travels!
Happy and Healthy Travels,