Melbourne's mix of classic Victorian and sleek modernism makes it the ideal Australian getaway. Australia specialist, Jenny Bouquet gives you the inside track…
Founded in 1835, Melbourne has enjoyed long periods of prosperity, initially brought about by the discovery of gold in the surrounding hills. Today, the city's many ornate Victorian buildings stand in stark contrast to the cutting-edge steel and glass architecture of contemporary structures.
It is easy to travel around Australia's second-largest city, with its extensive network of rail and bus routes, along with its iconic trams. Outside the city centre you can explore the beautiful sylvan Dandenong Hills to the north, and the beaches of St. Kilda to the south. Whatever your tastes and interests, Melbourne is a sophisticated, vibrant and dynamic city that offers plenty of attractions for all.
The Yarra River (1)
Meaning 'ever flowing' in Aboriginal, the Yarra River flows through the heart of Melbourne, acting as a natural barrier between the traditionally humble northern and western suburbs and the more affluent areas to the south and east. There are plenty of walking and cycling paths along its banks and, in the heart of'the city, it provides delightful views for diners at some of the city’s alfresco bars and restaurants.
Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) (2)
For Australian cricket aficionados this is hallowed territory. The 'G', as it is known locally, is one of the world's great sporting venues and is wonderfully atmospheric. The MCG was host to the first game of Australian Rules football in 1858 and the first cricket test match between Australia and England in 1877. Tours can be taken every day except on match days.
Royal Botanic Gardens (3)
The magnificent Royal Botanic Gardens extend over 38 hectares in a picturesque setting along the Yarra River and display more than 50,000 plants. The gardens, and the adjacent Kings Domain, showcase a diverse collection of plants from all over Australia and around the world, all set among vast lawns. Admission is free and guided tours are available for a fee. The gardens have earned a reputation as one of the world's finest, making them a top Melbourne attraction.
St. Kilda (4)
St. Kilda is situated on one of the most picturesque points of the coast, just a short distance from the centre of Melbourne. Back in the first half of the twentieth century, St Kilda was one of the most fashionable suburbs of Melbourne with grand homes and affluent residents. Today, its glorious beaches, busy cafés and restaurants, St. Kilda Botanic Gardens and the historic Luna Park funfair (complete with antique carousel and the world's oldest roller coaster), have ensured this seaside suburb is enjoying a resurgence of popularity.
Collins Street (5)
The city's main thoroughfare, Collins Street, is also one of its most elegant, with illuminated plane trees and smart European boutiques. Venerable Victorian buildings include the Scots' Church, the Athenaeum and Regent theatres and the flamboyant Gothic revival architecture of the Olderfleet Building. Block Arcade is a beautifully intact 19th-century shopping arcade while the Melbourne Observation Deck offers spectacular 360-degree views of the city. Nearby, Spring Street houses the Parliament House of Victoria while one of Melbourne’s iconic buildings, Flinders Street Station, remains the hub of the city’s extensive tram and rail network.
Southbank restaurants (6)
There are a great variety of restaurants and cuisines alongside the Yarra River at Southbank. This is a great spot to enjoy lunch with a glass of wine and watch the world go by.
Church Street Enoteca (7)
Located in the suburb of Richmond, this innovative restaurant offers honest modern Italian cuisine using the freshest local ingredients.
The Flower Drum, City Centre (8)
This award-winning Cantonese restaurant is renowned throughout Melbourne, and indeed all of Australia, for offering some of the country's finest Chinese cuisine.
Experience: The Hatton (9)
Constructed as the prestigious Melbourne Hotel in 1902, today the Hatton maintains charming original features juxtaposed with vibrant colours to create a contemporary mood alongside traditional antiques. Guest rooms are stylish, and facilities include a lounge bar and a roof terrace with panoramic views of Melbourne.
Clean & Comfortable: The Travelodge (10)
Yes, a Travelodge but fantastically located, ideally placed for exploring the Southbank areas as well as the city centre. All rooms come with a kitchenette, microwave, fridge, and tea and coffee-making facilities.
Splurge: The Langham (11)
The Langham is the centrepiece of Melbourne’s sophisticated and cultural heart, offering guests panoramic views of the Yarra River and city skyline. Rooms are lavishly appointed with every facility you could want.
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