East Coast Australia Trip – Melbourne
Australia is a favourite location for travel, work and study. Jess has written a series of blogs about her East Coast trip, highlighting some of the best things to do, top bars, eateries and places to stay, plus plenty of travel tips. The first stop on her journey was the vibrant, colourful city of Melbourne.
If you’re planning a trip down under, we recommend reading our blog 10 Things to Know Before Travelling to Australia, which provides key information that you will need ahead of booking any part of your trip.
My travel guide suggests how to travel along the East Coast, saving as much money as possible, whilst also having a fun time. I travelled from Melbourne to Cairns (Melbourne > Sydney > Byron Bay > Gold Coast > Brisbane > Noosa > Fraser Island > Airlie Beach & Whitsundays > Magnetic Island > Cairns); but you can do the East Coast in whichever direction suits you best, just be cautious of the weather at either end.
Recommended time: 4 – 5 days, especially if you are planning to do day tours.
Melbourne is consistently regarded as one of the world’s most liveable cities, offering a high quality of life. Considered to be the ‘sporting capital of the world’, it is also famous for its graffiti street art and galleries, great coffee, and cultural diversity. Melbourne has plenty to offer and is a popular destination to begin or end the classic East-Coast tour of Australia. We would recommend spending between 3 – 5 days in Melbourne, opting for additional time if you are plannning any day trips away from the city centre.
Coffee is serious business
The citizens of Melbourne take their caffeine very seriously and some believe you haven’t really tried good coffee before visiting here. The city boasts more than 2000 cafés! Here are some of our favourites:
This industrial-chic café serves a cracking house espresso, as well as amazing brunch and sandwiches. It is located between plenty of green spaces where you can enjoy your coffee, or sit inside for a spot of people watching on Berkeley Street.
This trendy café grounds their own artisanal beans on-site and offers up some delicious treats to accompany their excellent coffee. The interior is unique and one not to miss.
Lune is known for the ‘best croissant in Melbourne’, and you just have to sample this buttery goodness. Arrive early, as there is often a queue, and the croissants sell out quickly, especially at the weekend!
The Great Ocean Road
This 240km stretch of road hugs the south-eastern coast of Australia and is a must do when visiting Melbourne. If your budget allows, a hire car could be an option, especially if you’re splitting the cost with other likeminded travellers, or alternatively you can do a guided tour. The Great Ocean Road is a very scenic drive, cutting through the rainforest and pretty towns. It is possible to drive it in one day, or take your time over two or three, stopping off for action-packed adventures and activities along the way. You will undoubtedly stop to marvel at the Twelve Apostles, which is a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of Port Campbell National Park; it’s a popular tourist attraction due to the sheer beauty of these giant rocks rising out of the ocean.
St Kilda Beach
Located 6km south from the city centre of Melbourne, St Kilda is an inner seaside suburb with a chilled vibe. Melbourne is not as well-known for its beaches, especially in comparison to Sydney, but St Kilda is well worth a visit. One of the main reasons is the chance to spot penguins from St Kilda Pier, which is home to a little colony!
This Skydeck offers a fantastic view of the skyline, day or night. Tickets start at $28, and there is an option to enjoy a cocktail at the top. There is also a very fancy Michelin-star restaurant, although this will probably be beyond the budget for a typical backpacker!
Places to visit
This eclectic suburb with its rich history is, for many people, their favourite part of Melbourne. Linked closely with the hippie-esque feel of Byron Bay, it is a popular spot for young professionals, tourists, and students. Street art decorates the narrow backstreets, where you’ll find small galleries and pubs alongside the terrace houses. Brunswick Street is the heart of Fitzroy, with its trendy retail outlets and buzzing nightlife.
Whilst visiting Fitzroy, why not rent a bike for a scenic cycle along the beach down to Brighton, with its colourful beach huts. It’s a 15km ride, with plenty of great cafes and bars to stop off along the way.
Open on Saturday and Sunday between 10am-4pm, Rose Street Artist’s market is the place to find Melbourne’s best creative talent. Browse art, fashion and accessories, photography, unique handmade goods, and enjoy the artisan coffee and tasty baked goods.
Built in 1854, this building is the oldest public library in Australia, and one of the first free libraries in the world. It is a popular place to visit during the colder, wetter weather, not least because of its impressive architecture.
Queen Victoria Market
Open 5 days a week, this market is a major Melbourne landmark, offering a variety of fresh, quality produce and speciality shopping. It is a great place to explore or to grab some lunch after lots of sightseeing.
This lively, snug pizzeria is like stepping back in time, with its rustic dining room, whitewashed walls, and old-school feel. Be sure to visit this charming spot for the best pizza in Melbourne!
Brunch is an important aspect of Australian culture, especially their love of avocado toast and fresh juice! This artisanal bakery is located in South Yarra and Melbourne Central. It serves up great dishes in a fun, upbeat environment. A great place to go with friends, and somewhere to enjoy the morning after a busy night-out!
As Melbourne is a major city, accommodation can be pricey. We would recommend staying in hostels if you want to keep the costs down, as even Airbnb can be equivalent to the cost of a hotel. We particularly liked Space Hotel, which is a prime hostel with good facilities, located right in the heart of Melbourne.
Note: Prices and information are correct at the time of publication.
Find out more:
10 Things to Know Before Travelling to Australia
Essential tips for planning your trip
Guide to Melbourne – Visit Australia