MelbourneOceaniaTravel Tips

Melbourne Travel Guide: What You Need to Know Before You Go

Planning a trip to Melbourne, Australia’s incredible Southeastern city? With its pleasant climate, diverse wildlife, and charming ‘European’ vibe, it’s no surprise that Melbourne is a haven for travelers worldwide. Enjoy a wonderful city that’s home to amazing architecture, vibrant art galleries, and world-famous sporting events!

Sorting out all the practical info can seem like a daunting task, so here’s our Melbourne city guide – it’s your cheat sheet to learn all the basics within a few minutes, from VISA applications and tax refunds to top attractions!

VISA Application

Before going to Australia, be sure to check what kind of tourist visa you’ll need (check out this efficient Visa Finder). Only Australian and New Zealand citizens can enter Australia visa-free.

If you hold a US visa, you may find it easier to get your Australian visa online. Are you from an Asian country like Singapore and the Philippines? Check your required supporting documents with your local embassy.

Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport (image via Simon_sees, Flickr)
Melbourne Airport (image via Simon_sees, Flickr)

As the airport to Australia’s second largest city (well on its way to becoming the largest!), expect Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport to be packed with people from all over the world. Stay on top of your schedule with the Melbourne Airport App.

Double check for changes, gate details, and walking distances so you’ll never miss your flight. It also features a map and estimate walking times, so you can go ahead and squeeze in some airport shopping!

Upon arrival, you can head to Terminal 3 and hop aboard the Skybus, the airport’s 24-hour bus service. Or take it easy and book your airport transfer to the city with KKday! Explore all modes of transportation from the airport with our detailed Melbourne Transportation Guide.

Weather

Think of Australia’s weather as opposite of what the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing; typical summer months are their winter months. Take note of low humidity levels and very dry indoor air. Just to be safe, bring layers (thermal shirt and pants, jacket, and gloves) and dress for your comfort levels.

Summer (December – February)

The driest and warmest months happen at the start of the year. Expect it to rise anywhere from 14°C up to a sizzling 25.3°C!

Autumn (March – May)

Experience sunny days and a pleasantly cool climate from around 10.9°C – 20.3°C.

Winter (June – August)

Brace yourself for chilly winds and foggy landscapes! Don’t worry, the weather is bearable with a cool range from 7 to 14°C. It will not be too cold unless the temperature drops further during cloudy days or (rarely) heavy rainfall. Bring a windproof jacket just in case

Spring (September – November)

Spring is the most fickle-minded season for the Land Down Under, with a variable of 9.6 – 19.6°C. Pack an umbrella to be prepared for hot sunny days or heavy rainfall!

Voltage for Devices

Expect these type of outlets (image via Maksym Kozlenko, Wikimedia Commons)
Expect these type of outlets (image via Maksym Kozlenko, Wikimedia Commons)

We know just how important all your gadgets and appliances are, from hair dryers and phone chargers to electric razors! Make sure to bring a Voltage Converter or Power Adaptor that fits a Type I socket.

Australia uses a three-hole socket that has a voltage of 230V and 50Hz. It’ll be easy to find converters from your local electronic shop within Asia, Africa, or Europe.

Where To Stay

Choosing the best place to stay will depend on your itinerary (and personality)! Book hotels and Airbnbs in neighborhoods listed below:

  • CBD (Central Business District): The name says it all. The most convenient travel zone for urban travelers who don’t mind spending a little bit more
  • St Kilda: Historic neighborhood and coastal suburb for beach bums
  • Fitzroy: Cool place for drinking, as well as vintage lovers and boutique shoppers
  • Carlton: For those looking for a taste of Italy (hello, gelato!). Revel in Italian inspired shops, restaurants, and cafes
  • Brunswick: For the laid-back family. This kid-friendly area boasts yummy eateries, grungy art galleries, and Victoria-era cottages

Tourist Refund Scheme

Australian dollars (image via Shutterstock)
Australian dollars (image via Shutterstock)

Good news for all tourists –  you can get a tax refund on the goods and services that you paid for! At around 10%, the TRS is a good excuse for travelers to stock up on bottles of wine and cool items to bring back home (read our recommended souvenirs below).

Head to the TRS facility in Melbourne Airport and follow the official procedure here before you leave Australia.

Wi-Fi and SIM Cards

Stay connected with your family and friends throughout your whole Aussie adventure! Free Wi-Fi is available all throughout Melbourne. No need for any kind of password, signup, login, or personal info input for these major tourist areas:

  • Melbourne Airport
  • NGV International (National Gallery of Victoria)
  • State Library Victoria
  • Federation Square
  • The Hub Docklands
  • CBD: Train stations, Bourke St Mall, Queen Victoria Market, South Wharf Promenade at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Choose a SIM card with an efficient data plan and have it delivered in your Taiwan, HK, Macau, or Malaysia address.

How to Get Around

Melbourne Tram (image via Matthew Paul Argall, Flickr)
Melbourne Tram (image via Matthew Paul Argall, Flickr)

It’s easy (and cheap!) to travel around Melbourne! All you need to purchase is a Myki Card (similar to HK’s Octopus Card and Sydney’s Opal Card). The transportation system is so well-developed that you can go anywhere around the city by Circle City Train, Melbourne Train or bus.

Best of all, the tram system is absolutely free within the Free Tram Zone in the Central Business District (CBD). Head over here for our full transportation guide.

Must-Try Food

Feast on savory Western food like burgers, pizzas and fried chicken. You must try Melbourne’s famous Italian-inspired cuisine (think scoglio or seafood pasta, calamari, and gnocchi) at ‘Little Italy’ Lygon Street, the place where Melbourne’s cafe culture started!

Click here for our delicious and cheap food recommendations.

Charming Souvenirs

Souvenirs (image via Shutterstock)
Souvenirs (image via Shutterstock)

Bring home a piece of Melbourne with you through printed bandanas, vintage posters, stuffed koalas, and city pendants! Browse these various trinkets at Queen Victoria Market and Melbourne Visitor Center.

Coffee enthusiasts should buy flavorful coffee beans from cafes around Little Italy. Skincare junkies will love a visit to Aesop, Australia’s renowned botanical line. For snacks, grab Arnott’s Shapes biscuits for your friends and family back home. Don’t forget honey and wine from Yarra Valley – these are staples since Australia is one of the top producers of these products worldwide.

Weekend Itinerary:

Day 1: Sightseeing Top City Attractions

8:00am: Breakfast at The Banff, St Kilda Start off your morning with a sweet french toast and coffee. Relax in the homey atmosphere of this locally-loved restaurant – the interior resembles a cozy mountain cabin.

Ride the Circle City Tram

Like we said, this iconic burgundy tram will take you whenever you need to go within CBD, for free!

10:00am: See the city from the Melbourne Observation Wheel

Delight in panoramic views of the city and scenic Philip Port Bay from over 120 feet high!

Lunch: You can easily find an option featuring our recommendations above. Check out our cheap eats food guide.

2:00pm – 5:00pm:

Visit the National Gallery of Victory (or NGV) to experience Melbourne’s thriving arts scene, as well as art collections from Pacific nations like Papua New Guinea. See masterpieces by renowned Claude Monet and Rene Magritte, special exhibits, and indigenous works.

Visit Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) if you’re more into sports history. This is one of the world’s most famous stadiums, where you can catch a game and learn all about legendary players behind the scenes. Here, you’ll also find the National Sports Museum and join a guided tour.

Visit Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium to discover underwater treasure and magical marine experiences. Meet thousands of colorful creatures, from Gentoo penguins to massive stingrays!

Evening: Shop at the Queen Victoria Market

It’s time to shop for the souvenirs we mentioned earlier! Immerse yourself in the thick of the city – have dinner and drinks here, accompanied by live music.

Day 2: Nature Day Tours

Great Ocean Road (image via Shutterstock)
Great Ocean Road (image via Shutterstock)

Take your pick from any of these picturesque day tours to fully appreciate Melbourne’s natural beauty. Animal lovers will adore the sight of adorable penguins at Phillip Island. Dedicate a whole day for one of these tours:

Reconnect with nature at the Grampians National Park

Catch the sunset by the Great Ocean Road

Meet the world’s smallest penguins: Phillip Island

Visit our Melbourne activities guide to read more about these captivating day tours.

Day 3: Yarra Valley

No visit to Melbourne is complete without Yarra Valley, the top food and wine destination. Laid-back travelers can go for a vineyard wine tasting experience at Yarra Valley, while adrenaline junkies can soar 14,000ft high above the vast fields!

Skydiving in Yarra Valley

Sip world-renowned Yarra Valley Wine

Melbourne’s Major Events

Melbourne Cricket Grounds (image via Shutterstock)
Melbourne Cricket Grounds (image via Shutterstock)

During the year, there’s always something exciting happening, whether it be for the arts or action-packed sports. Of course, plan your trip around these dates to join in the multicultural shows, games, and festivals that Melbourne is most famous for. Here are a few to watch out for:

Melbourne International Arts Festival (October 3 – 21, 2018)

Get ready to discover the best of local and international acts! Watch out for world-famous classical and contemporary performers like Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto.

Melbourne Music Week (November 17 – 25, 2018)

This massive 9-day celebration is the only one of its kind in Australia! Producers, creative musicians, and record labels can join in on the fun. Both artists and audiences get to create music with workshops and share knowledge with collaborative programs.

Moomba Festival 2019 (March 8 – 11, 2019)

This large community festival is held at Yarra River. Families can play games and challenging activities, hop aboard rides, enjoy live shows and watch fireworks together.

Domain Boxing Day: Australia vs India (December 26 – 30, 2018)

Cricket fans, this one’s for you! This year-ender event at MCG will showcase the much-awaited match between Australia and India, their biggest rival, in Test cricket – Test is the longest form of cricket, which can last for days.

Australian Open (January 14 – 27, 2019)

Tennis fans all over the world will be flocking to this yearly event in Melbourne Park! Witness as top-notch tennis players give their best shot for the Grand Slam title with fierce determination and superb skill.

Formula 1 (March 15 – 17, 2019)

As the highest-tech form of auto-racing, Formula 1 is not to be missed. Satisfy your need for speed by watching the world’s best drivers push their limit beyond 200 mph!

Now you’re ready! Plan your trip in a snap with our Melbourne city guide and make the most of your Aussie adventure. Need more advice on everything in this city? Get all your Melbourne travel guides here:

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