The Culture Capital – The First-Time Guide to Visiting Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne, Australia is one of those cities that just inspires romance and adventure, in the most unique fashion. This city’s great bounty of designer and independent boutiques, traditional European architecture and eclectic array of neat eats and sweet treats, makes it a decadent cornucopia of culture. For this reason, it can be genuinely difficult to decide where to start! So let us do it for you.

Photo by Shi Min Teh

Shopping

Shopping in the Melbourne CBD is a hoot and a half, so long as your accommodation is close enough to offload all your bags, mostly because there is guaranteed to be a lot of them! We opted to stay in serviced accommodation in the city centre simply to make walking through the city as effortless as possible. Melbourne is very pedestrian-friendly, so it’s more than easy to get around without a car if you’re staying in the heart of the city. With free trams running through every major intersection, you’ll also be able to move quickly between Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne Emporium, QV, and Queen Victoria Market, which are the four most iconic shopping destinations of the many that Melbourne has to offer. Come prepared to redefine your sense of style, because Melbourne really delivers the designer goods at crazy prices, especially during Melbourne Fashion Week

Photo by Weyne Yew

Dining

From the Italian joints on Lygon Street and Hardware Lane, the gourmet seafood restaurants that dot Melbourne Docklands, to the vegan havens that pepper Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs, there’s no shortage of fine dining options in Australia’s cultural capital. But there are definitely some must-try restaurants that offer dishes you will certainly not be able to try anywhere else in the world. We’re talking Japanese fusion at Mr. Miyagi, or Middle Eastern degustation at Maha in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. And if you’re after something small, you absolutely need to visit Lune Croissanterie and try what has been deemed the world’s best croissant. It’s recommended that you add signature restaurants to your itinerary by booking tables for specific nights well in advance. This way, you’ll be sure to skip the lengthy queues every night and will be guaranteed a table at a timely hour.

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco

Art

In a city as artistic as Melbourne, you better believe that there’s no shortage of magically artsy places to visit. It’s just about making sure you’re spending your valuable time in the right places. Your very first day in Melbourne should absolutely involve a trip to Hosier Lane, an internationally recognised canvas for the world’s best graffiti and street artists. Melbourne hosts a lot of signature laneways, so much so that the city actually holds a Laneway Festival annually, a music festival that originated with some small-scale gigs in laneways across Melbourne and Adelaide.

Photo by James Garman

If music and street art aren’t your thing, then it’s also well worth checking out the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), an impressive art gallery that’s only a short walk (or an even shorter tram trip) from the city’s iconic Flinders Street Railway Station. The NGV has a great collection of European art alongside some fascinating pieces from South Asia and the Pacific region, with the bulk of the gallery being free to visit year-round. But it’s the NGV’s ground floor that often steals the show, as it hosts a wide variety of different exhibitions throughout the year. The NGV is currently showcasing an immersive exhibition on Keith Haring and Basquiat that’s well worth checking out.

Photo by Fabian Mardi

In a city centre as vibrant as Melbourne’s, you’ll be sure to find that there’s a little something for everyone. Be sure to leave plenty of room in your itinerary for general exploring, as you’ll be bound to stumble across a hidden gem or two in this city’s many laneways and breathtaking buildings.If you like to read more tips on Melbourne’s must see places, dining, and neighborhoods, you can also read our Melbourne Expert Guide: What to Visit, Where to Eat, How to Enjoy.

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