It’s now been over a month since I first arrived in Melbourne! Time has flown but I’ve completely adjusted to living in this vibrant city. From hostel life with 11 other people in my room to my private space in my apartment, it’s been an electrifying whirlwind. I have an immense amount of gratitude for the people I’ve met and befriended, and the opportunity to spend time with friends from here.
Melbourne is a special city. There is always something to do, an amazing restaurant to check out, or a mind-blowing coffee to drink on any given day. You can eat cuisine from any country in the world. The streets are full of people with different heritages and it’s a haven for traveling backpackers.
While I still have a lot of experiences I want to have while living here, I thought I’d round up the highlights of my first month in a post.
The best part? Most of these are completely free.
National Gallery of Victoria
This museum is the perfect rainy day activity in Melbourne. It’s free to visit most of the exhibits, and you can spend hours wandering the different art and artifact displays. The collection has a huge variety – everything from Renaissance to modern art is available to see.
St. Kilda Sunsets & Pier
While St. Kilda Beach is known for having contaminated water and greasy backpackers, it’s a top-notch spot for watching the sunset. The orange glow consumes the sky as the sun goes down over the watery horizon every night. I’ve enjoyed spending time sitting and watching as well as taking walks on the pier while it’s sinking in the sky. Bonus – stick around after sunset to watch penguins swim up on the St. Kilda Pier! It’s a completely free way to see these cute creatures in their natural habitat!
Biking the Central Business District (CBD)
The Central Business District (or CBD) is the part of Melbourne with all the skyscrapers. People still laugh at me when I say “downtown,” but that’s really what it is. Exploring this city on a bike was a thrilling way to get some exercise. There are plenty of well-marked bike paths, but I will say it was difficult to switch my brain into biking on the opposite side of the road. I was on high alert to the traffic and thankfully managed to not get mauled by a car. Biking along the river and around the Botanic Gardens is a must!
The Shrine of Remembrance
This classical-style architecture building is the National War Memorial of Victoria. It’s dedicated to all Australians who have served in both conflicts and peacekeeping operations. It’s free to enter, and you can check out the documents and other memorabilia within the museum part, and then walk up the stairs to an outdoor rooftop. The rooftop provides a great view of the skyline of the city.
The Royal Botanical Gardens & Moonlight Cinema
This is one of the best features of the city. A massive outdoor green space with ponds, flowers, and diverse species of trees and plants. It’s free to enter, and you could spend hours wandering on the footpaths.
In the evenings, there is a Moonlight Outdoor Cinema that plays a different showing every night in the Botanic gardens. We went and saw Disney Pixar’s Coco. It’s about a young Mexican boy who wants to follow his dream of becoming a musician, despite his family’s qualms about his choices. It was such an incredible experience; I’ve never been to an outdoor movie before. Animated children’s movies are never my first choice if I am spending money at a theater, but Coco was fantastic. The vivid colors, the storyline, and the fact that I caught the subliminal jokes (knowing Spanish has its advantages!) made it a special experience.
A quick train ride away from where I’ve been living in Melbourne is Brighton Beach. It’s a nice beach lined with colorful bathing boxes – each one a unique color and design. We walked here from Elwood beach and then took the train back to the Balaclava station. There are showers so you can rinse off after swimming. Tourist and local crowds flock here on sunny days, so I’d like to visit it on a cold, non-beach day to get some more photos.
Queen Victoria Market
On Wednesday nights – this is the place you want to go to for dinner. In this covered, outdoor commercial space, dozens of vendors sizzle and fry up delicious foods from across the globe. There is plenty of seating and live music, as well as artisans selling crafts and clothing.
To put it simply, the coffee culture of Melbourne is out of control. When I first arrived, I considered taking on a part-time barista job to make some extra money and meet people. I soon learned that being a barista is no joke in Melbourne. Every coffee I’ve had is delicious and perfectly crafted with latte art. Some notable places to try are Duke’s Coffee Roasters in the CBD, the St. Kilda Dispensary, and Sister of Soul. To be honest, everywhere is good, but these are the places that I’ve been more than once.
When I first arrived in Melbourne, I stayed at Base Hostel St. Kilda for the first 2 weeks. It was a great place to stay to meet friends and get acquainted with the city, but as a hostel, it is definitely lacking in a lot of amenities. I don’t regret my stay there at all, but I wouldn’t do it again. If you’re a social traveler and love partying, it’s a fantastic place. If you’re more into a quiet place to sleep – look elsewhere.
Melbourne has been a wonderful place to be the past month. The summer weather has been spectacular – with very few days of rain. I can see how people fall in love and never want to leave. I do plan on moving on once the weather starts to get cold as we come out of summer and into late autumn, but I am not quite sure what my first stop will be!
Thanks so much for reading as always, and if you have any suggestions on things I must do while I am here, please leave a comment!