What to do in Melbourne: Australia’s Most Beautiful City
Have you ever thought about flying to Australia? Of course, you have! For European backpackers especially, the “land down under” has remained one of the top travel destinations. Though, one city in particular seems to be the most popular: the metropolis of Melbourne. With its 4.3 million inhabitants, it has been voted the most livable city in the world four times in a row. So, curious as to why it’s so amazing for both its residents and visitors? Well, find out in this article, what actually makes Melbourne so livable and interesting!
An Ocean on the Doorstep
Starting with Melbourne’s enchanting location on the Indian Ocean, there are two spots we recommend: the Altona Pier and St. Kilda. Right on the sea, there’s a lot to experience.
For starters, the Altona Pier is located in a suburb of Melbourne known as Altona. It is a 100-meter-long wooden path that runs over the water. Built in 1888 for steamships to dock on the coast, this pier was neglected for a long time. Though, it was given new life in the 1950s.
Today, it is used by anglers, swimmers, and walkers. The pier is roofless, with only one railing on the side for safety. Definitely proceed with caution here when the sea is rough! But, during calm weather, you can enjoy Altona Pier: especially at night when illuminated by pier lamps. Not far from Altona Pier is the Flemings Pool. This is a path erected completely from large stones and is a popular starting point for kayak tours and diving.
If you are more interested in visiting Melbourne Beach than the suburb of Altona, then St. Kilda is the perfect place for you. St. Kilda is a district in the west of Melbourne, which used to be the seaside resort of the city’s rich and famous for years. But as the district became more cosmopolitan and modern, it became the center of many cultural festivals. Here, you also find many unique spots, such as one of Australia’s oldest live music stages, The Espy.
Of course, St. Kilda also has beaches for sun-bathing and swimming. It is also considered one of the city’s youngest districts, which makes it the party quarter. As such, the area has countless clubs and bars, as well as many backpacker hostels. Hungry? Then take a stroll to the promenade of Fitzroy Street, which is full of restaurants and cafés. As a bonus, you get a phenomenal view of Melbourne’s skyline from St. Kilda.
We can say for certain that one building in particular stands out on the Melbourne skyline – the Eureka Tower. This is Australia’s third-tallest building and is located on the South Bank Promenade along the Yarra River in the heart of the city. The building’s distinctive spire is decorated with a 24-karat gold plate and doesn’t fail to catch the eye. The Eureka Tower probably offers the best view of Melbourne.
On the 88th floor, there is a viewing platform that overlooks the promenade, the city center, and even up to St. Kilda beach. “The Edge” is also located on the same floor. This is a glass cube that protrudes from the side of the skyscraper.
When you enter the cube, the glass is opaque. Only when “The Edge” extends out from the building, will the glass get clear enough for you to enjoy the magnificent view. Standing 300 meters over Melbourne will not only give you amazing photos, but you will also get a bracelet that says “I survived the Edge” once your visit comes to an end.
Flinders Street Station
Not far from the Eureka Tower, you can spot another truly historic creation – the railway building of Flinders Street Station. For many years, residents were satisfied with the building’s face of corrugated iron. Though, at some point, Melbourne wanted to doll this station up and began to improve its architecture.
Therefore, starting in 1905, one of Melbourne’s famous landmarks was born. Today, the impressive Finders Street Station shines golden with its imposing dome. You will also encounter another special feature inside the station. That is, clocks that remain from the very first station. Instead of displaying the current time, they present the upcoming train departure times.
Melbourne’s Federation Square
Opposite of Flinders Street Station in Melbourne’s Business Central District is the Federation Square, or simply known as Fed Square to locals. It is the central square for arts, culture, and public events in downtown Melbourne. In fact, this square was built to be trendy and full of life because the city lacked such a central square for such a long time. In Fed Square, there is a huge screen that broadcasts major ongoing events. Plus, festivals such as the “Melbourne Food and Wine Festival” also take place here. Other highlights include the “National Gallery of Victoria” with over 20,000 exhibits, and the “Australian Centre for the Moving Image”. The latter is both a cinema and a video art museum.
On top of the cultural activities, there are a variety of bars, cafés, and restaurants and – not to forget – stalls of delicious street food! You can savor the street food on the massive stone stairs in Fed Square.
Chinatown in Melbourne
Chinatown, a word that provokes thoughts of the similar hot spot in New York. But the fact is that Melbourne also has such a district. Chinatown has been a very important place for the Chinese community in Australia for many years. Many Chinese people were able to create business opportunities for themselves in the form of restaurants and supermarkets here. This allowed for the settlement to grow and prosper with the livelihoods they made for themselves in the area.
Today, Chinatown is one of the most visited districts in Melbourne. You can eat more than just fantastic Chinese food here. When it comes to the cuisine, Chinatown is more like Asiatown as the selection ranges from Thai and Japanese cuisine to Malaysian and more!
Apart from the food, we want to recommend the Tianjin Garden in the eastern part of Chinatown. Thanks to its water features, the traditional Chinese pavilion, and many seating areas, this place is a perfect spot to relax. At night, Chinatown brightly shines with neon signs in the Chinese that create an unmistakable picture.
Shrine of Remembrance
The Shrine of Remembrance is one of Australia’s largest war memorials. It was completed in the 1930s and is dedicated to all who died in the First World War. The shrine is situated inside a building complex where marble stone recessed into the ground is commemorates the dead. To read the inscription, you will have to bow your head.
On the west side of the shrine is a staircase. If you walk up these stairs, you will reach a viewing platform. From there, you get a fantastic view of the city skyline, the avenue, and the surrounding park that houses the Shrine of Remembrance.
Melbourne Royal Botanic Garden
Another outstanding spot is Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Garden. This is one of the largest botanical gardens in the Southern Hemisphere. Opened in 1846, it offers a range of over 50,000 plants from 8,500 different species. It is so incredible, that even if you’re not head over heels for plants and flowers, you will be amazed by this botanical garden.
Guilfoyle’s Volcano is the highlight of the Royal Botanic Garden. Built in 1876, the “volcano” is a spiral structure with a “crater” in its top. This crater not only adds to the aesthetic, but also serves as a water reservoir. Along the spiral of the volcano, is a wooden walkway. This path and the rest of the area around the volcano is adorned with cacti, agave, and other plants that need little water. In this way, it is possible to use and store a lot of water. Additionally, the water is biologically filtered through the soil and since Guilfoyle’s Volcano is the highest point here, the water flows downward: thus supplying the rest of the garden with water.
Nature around Melbourne
What makes Melbourne so livable is not just what you find inside the metropolis, but also what the surrounding nature has to offer.
To start, a well-known spot is Cherry Lake. Not only an important habitat for local wildlife, especially pelicans and swans, the lake is also a popular recreational area. It is especially attractive for boaters, windsurfers, and anglers. If you don’t want to be out on the water, there is a 3.7-kilometer shared bike and pedestrian path around the lake.
If you want to get your steps in for the day, you should visit the “100 Steps of Federation”. This charming area features 100 steps decorated with small futuristic sculptures. This hidden gem is located along a hiking trail in Altona. Even unknown to many locals, this artsy wonderland is worth a visit!
While the rainforest in the state of Victoria has substantially declined over the last 100 years, if you drive a few hours from Melbourne, you will be able to find portions of the Australian rainforest. Depending on your personal preference, you can choose a small area, which has been set up for visitors. Here, the focus is on plants and trees of the rainforest. You may encounter some parrots or other critters of the animal world. However, you could also see Australia’s national symbol – the koala bear. To see these little guys in the wild, it’s better to take the path towards the Errinundra National Park, which is located further east of Melbourne.
In Melbourne, you will not only experience a modern metropolis but also get to judge for yourself why it is one of the most livable cities in the world. From koala bears to beaches and a rich cultural life with bountiful attractions, you can relax the Australian way in this city. Our point: is definitely this Australian city is worth a visit!