I currently live with my partner in Melbourne, the best city in Australia. I’m originally from the UK and grew up in a village not far from Nottingham.
Although I grew up in a village and went to a small primary school, I was lucky to have parents who embraced travel. They took me and my younger brother to amazing places. But to do that, we did it on a budget. I would spend summer holidays backpacking at the age of 10, 11 and 12.
When I was 11, we spent six weeks camping and backpacking in Australia. I learnt how to camp, how to cook on a fire and how to travel on a budget. That trip when I was 11 was the only other time I had visited Australia before I moved there. It was enough to convince me to come back.
We saw a lot of the east coast on that trip. Since arriving this time, we’ve seen more of the south – in particular Victoria and South Australia. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 and the border closers in Australia, we’ve had to cancel all of our interstate travel plans for the time being.
Although, when we arrived in Australia, we actually flew into Darwin in the Northern Territory. We then drove 3000km through the Outback and saw a lot of the Northern Territory, the Red Centre, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Coober Pedy and reached Adelaide two weeks later.
I’m so glad we had the chance to experience the Outback before the Covid-19 restrictions came into place. We haven’t made it to Western Australia yet but we definitely plan to go as soon as the borders reopen.
Melbourne: The Best City in the World
To me, Melbourne is the best city in Australia. It’s such a vibrant, open and welcoming place. While it might not have the warm tropical climate associated with Queensland or the iconic landmarks like Sydney, I love living here for the culture and distinct character of the suburbs.
The added bonus is that you’ve got tropical beaches, snowy mountains, world-famous wineries, incredible hiking trails, rainforests and waterfalls, all just a couple of hours drive from Melbourne city in the state of Victoria.
If you’re looking for culture and you’re an outdoor, adventurous person then Melbourne and the surrounding Victoria region are a must-visit in Australia. Plus the coffee is amazing too! Let’s not forget about that.
Amazing Culture and People of Melbourne
Melbourne is young, progressive and definitely lives up to its hip, alternative reputation. The culture makes Melbourne the best city in Australia. There is always something going on – whether that’s a local artisan market, a rooftop cinema or a free music festival happening on the beach in St Kilda.
Despite the Lockdown for the last three months, we have made some great friends since arriving in Australia. My partner is American and we met in a hostel whilst travelling in Japan. We’re both similar in that we like to be sociable and make friends wherever we are in the world.
We made the decision to move into a house with housemates for this reason and we’ve become great friends with them and some of their friends too. I’ve also met up with a few friends who are based here that I met via Instagram.
The key to making friends anywhere is to just say yes. You’ll be amazed at the connections you make. We saw our neighbours struggling to move a couch into their apartment so we helped them. As a thanks they gave us some beers and now we see them for drinks every other week!
Best Photography Spots in Melbourne City
I’ve enjoyed the challenge of photographing Melbourne. The city doesn’t have many iconic landmarks and typical ‘Instagrammable locations’ like other cities in Australia. So that made me determined to showcase Melbourne and everything it has to offer, through my Instagram and blog.
Since I love colourful photography and researching photography locations, I’ve especially enjoyed finding colourful locations to photograph in the city. This has led to so many messages from people, often locals, asking where a location is because even they didn’t know about it!
My favourite place to photograph is the vibrant temples in Melbourne like the Heavenly Queen Temple. The colour and detail always reveals a new way to photograph. I also love the city view from St Kilda Pier.
Further afield, the Yarra Valley waterfalls, Redwood Forest and scenic drives are my favourite outdoor areas to photograph in the state of Victoria.
10 Things To Do in Melbourne that Make it the Best City in Australia
I always recommend doing a free walking tour for first time visitors. It’s a fantastic way to get your bearings and get a feel for the city. Once you’ve done the walking tour then I recommend the following experiences that showcases why Melbourne is the best city in Australia.
1. Visit the La Trobe Reading Room at Victoria Library
Not only is this library stunning, but it’s also free to visit and so are the exhibitions in the galleries. The Victoria Library is the perfect place to get some peace and quiet while you plan your travels in Melbourne.
2. Go for a Drink at a Laneway Bar
The laneway bars of Melbourne are famous for their street art. They also have some amazing little bars tucked away in small spaces. I recommend checking out Whitehart Bar, Chuckle Park Bar and Section 8 open-air bar.
3. Shop and Eat at the South Melbourne Market
QV is the most famous market in Melbourne but I much prefer the South Melbourne Market. It’s a lot more authentic without the tourist prices and you can find some incredible products from local businesses. The food here is phenomenal. Make sure you try the oysters and fresh seafood.
4. Explore the Royal Botanic Gardens
The 36 hectares at the Royal Botanic Gardens are beautiful. Head to the Shrine of Remembrance at sunset for beautiful views of the city. You can also go inside and climb to the top for free. The views are spectacular.
5. Attend a Sports Match, Music Concert or Festival
Check the City of Melbourne website for events when you visit. There are often festivals along the Yarra River in the centre of the city like Moomba Festival, the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the Australian Open. Melbourne is also one of the hot spots for sports like the NRL, cricket and golf. So get some merchandise from an NRL shop and go and attend a match. Going to these events shows you why Melbourne is the best city in Australia.
6. Check out an Aussie Rules Football Game
I’m still trying to understand the AFL rules but it is a fun game to watch, especially when everyone in the crowd yells “ball”! Melbourne is also a sports hub and the footie season runs from February for the women’s football all the way through to the men’s Grand Finale in September.
The ticket prices for the men’s games are reasonable but the tickets for the women’s games are free. So go along and experience Aussie Rules football and be sure to visit an AFL shop beforehand to buy some merch!
7. Ride around the City on the Circle Tram
The trams make Melbourne the best city in the world for public transport. Trams within the Melbourne CBD are free. The city circle tram is the only heritage tram still running and it runs in a circle around the city. This is a great free way to see a lot of the main sites in the downtown area.
8. Get Breakfast and a Famous Melbourne Coffee
Melbourne is famous for its coffee and it’s brilliant brunch scene. You have to experience it at least once before you leave. The coffee in Melbourne city is said to be some of the best in the world and it’s hard to argue with that!
9. See the Penguins at St Kilda Pier
Most people know about Penguin Parade on Phillip Island but a lot of people don’t know there is a penguin colony around St Kilda too. You can see these cute little animals for free. Head to the bottom of the pier around dusk with your camera to see the penguins come out of the water.
10. Head over to Fitzroy and Collingwood Suburbs
Fitzroy and Collingwood are only a 10-15 minute tram ride from the city. Here you’ll see the real, local and alternative scene in Melbourne. The areas are a hub for artisan markets, amazing coffee and brunch spots, unique restaurants, vegan/vegetarian options, local breweries and street art.
Best Places to Eat in Melbourne City
I’m a big fan of Japanese food and Melbourne has fantastic options when it comes to this cuisine. Hakata Gensuke Ramen is my favourite place in the CBD. I also love CIBI for their Japanese take on brunch.
Cafe Vicolino is a great place for cafe meals and it’s located in the famous Centre Place laneway. For brunch I love Bentwood in Fitzroy, Three Bags Full in Abbotsford and Espresso Room in Northcote. For a unique brunch, head to White Mojo for unicorn candy floss and edible flowers.
My partner and I are also huge craft beers fans so we like to visit breweries for their range of beers and food. Our favourites are Stomping Ground, Molly Rose, The Mill Brewery, Moon Dog and Mountain Goat.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
Most people will know that Australia isn’t a cheap destination to travel to and Melbourne is no exception. So for people travelling here for a vacation, I recommend widening your accommodation search to surrounding suburbs. Accommodation in the CBD can be pricey.
Rather than searching for ‘Melbourne accommodation’ – search for ‘Richmond accommodation’ or ‘Fitzroy accommodation’ or even further afield like ‘Brunswick East’. You will find places much cheaper, especially on Airbnb. These suburbs are just a short, direct tram ride from the city.
Bring clothes for all weather! I made this mistake and so do many people who assume the whole of Australia is hot. In Melbourne and the southern states, that is not the case. During autumn and winter (March – August), temperatures can drop to 5 degrees celsius or even below 0.
Pack layers for those cool evenings and be prepared for three seasons in a day! No matter the weather though, you will fall in love with this city. To me, Melbourne is the best city in Australia and it makes for a fantastic visit.