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A Quick Guide: 5 Best Things to Do in Melbourne

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27th Jan 2020

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If you look at the places where a famous musical band plays on their “world tour,” you’ll realize that Melbourne has the biggest chances of ending up on this list out of all Australian cities. Add the Australian Open that takes place in January each year and you’ll realize that Melbourne has it all! 

Even tourists arrive outside any of the big events, they still have plenty to see. It might not be as large as Sydney but it has a lot to offer to the average visitor. In order not to wander aimlessly through the streets of Melbourne, we’ve compiled a list of 5 things to do while in the city. Mind you, there are a couple of venues that would surprise you!

Royal Botanic Gardens

You might not think much of a garden, even when it spans 36 hectares as Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria does. They are actually so large that they span two municipalities: Melbourne and Cranbourne. Located south of the Yarra River, the Gardens were established back in 1846 and are home to more than 8,500 species of plants. Some of the plant species living here are endemic and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

If you are visiting with children, then you can hop to the Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden where the next generation of your family will have a chance to learn everything they need to know about gardening. As far as adults are concerned, the Aboriginal Heritage Walk will help you get to know the indigenous people of Australia better. The best thing is that the Garden is free to visit and the best time to do is summer when you can attend open-air concerts or have a picnic in designated areas.

Arcades and laneways

Since mass tourism has swept the globe, visitors are on a constant lookout for unique cultural features in the places they are visiting. In terms of architecture, Melbourne has to offer its lanes and arcades. They are located in Melbourne’s central business district around Flinders, Bourke, and Collins streets, forming a labyrinth a tourist can get lost in spiritually.

These lanes, often referred to as laneways, date back to the Victorian era, marking the latter half of the 19th century. Basically, they were street service corridors for horses and carts but gained popularity when shop owners start turning the area into a financial and trade district. At the end of the 20th century, the laneways became heavily gentrified which helped preserve them for future generations. Guided tours are offered by several local travel agencies and guides.

Multiculturality in South Melbourne

South Melbourne, historically known as Emerald Hill, is one of the city’s oldest suburbs that tourists mostly flock to because of Victorian-era streetscapes. However, recent years have seen a number of restaurants with respective national cuisines of all migrant communities open for business.

As part of this “globalization,” there is even an Asian brothel in Melbourne opening soon, just 2 minutes away from the Crown Casino. The area is famous for ease of access so visitors can experience local restaurants, clubs, and theater pubs (nightlife in general), if a brothel, “Melbourne’s best-kept secret,” is not to their liking after all.

A circular tram tour of Melbourne

We’ve already commended Melbourne’s public transit system but there is one line that stands out from others. 35 City Circle is a free tourist tram line that operates within (or better to say, around) the aforementioned central business district.

Melbourne is, in this aspect, no different than major European cities who have similar circular lines mostly used by tourists. The 35 passes major tourist attractions and it is well-linked with other tram, bus, and train routes that will transport you to any part of the city in no time.

If you have plans to visit the entire city quickly, then forget about walking, as the City Circle Tram can be used for sightseeing. On it, trams run in both directions from 10 AM to 9 PM on most of the days. 

This “hop-on, hop-off” heritage route was designed to pass near all of the grand historic buildings, like Parliament House, the Old Treasury Building (complete with a museum), Windsor Hotel, and Princess Theatre. You can catch the 35 tram every 12 minutes and you’ll be back where you started your sightseeing tour from in less than an hour.

Melbourne Zoo

On Elliott Avenue in Parkville, the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens have been welcoming visitors since 1862. Located some 4 kilometers north of the city center, Melbourne Zoo is home to over 320 animal species from around the world.

If you are aiming for an active vacation, then rent a bike and cycle to the Zoo (although you can ride the bike on the premises) or take a train/tram to Royal Park Station. Once in, you’ll be able to see elephants, tigers, lions, orangutans, gorillas, and more than 5,000 other individual animals. Complete with an aquarium. If you’re in love with Mother Nature, then the Royal Botanical Gardens and Melbourne Zoo should be mandatory stops on the tour to experience Australia’s second-largest city.

Now that you know the top 5 things you shouldn’t miss in Melbourne, it is time to book your flight tickets. Melbourne Airport welcomes flights from all the major air hubs, like Singapore, Dubai, and Los Angeles.