Melbourne hadn't struck me as a must-visit destination before, but since moving here I've come to appreciate what a badass city it really is. When I try explain it to people I find it hard because it's not just one place or attraction that makes it so great, it's all the wonderful things that Melbourne has to offer. I really think Kiwis should put this city on their bucket list, here are 10 of the many reasons why:
Have breakfast that looks like a dessert
Any cafe experience in Melbourne is something else! The coffees are better (I don't drink it but I'm constantly being told so), the food is always impeccable and seriously, I swear they only employ models. Brunch is particularly delightful here in Melbourne, some of my brunchs have been too pretty to eat. Not that it stops me...
Go to an AFL game at the MCG
Even if you're not a sports person, it's one of those things that you should try. The games are only $25, so if you don't spend too much on booze, it's a pretty cheap day out. It's a great way to meet the locals and if you can't go to the actual game, a local pub will be your next best bet. Victorians are as devoted to their AFL as we are to our rugby so it's a real sight to behold; watching thousands of Aussies singing along to their team's theme song.
Take a selfie in front of a graffiti art wall
We have plenty of graffiti back home, but it's not the kind that you want to take photos with. Here though, there are so many walls around that are skilfully decorated in graffiti, the most famous being Hosier Lane. There are heaps more around the place, I've seen some in Prahran, Cremorne, Richmond and other parts of the city.
Visit the Brighton Bathing Boxes
Melbourne isn't known for its great beaches, which I'm silently freaking out about; I live at the beach in Summer. Because it's in a protected harbour there aren't any surf beaches unless you journey further away, like down to Geelong for Bells Beach. Brighton makes up for its lack of waves with its gorgeous, colourful bathing boxes. You can head there any time of year, as you can see in my other post about them here. It was a pretty average day but the boxes still looked great.
Pick a market, any market!
Seriously, there are a plethora of markets here in Melbourne, and they're pretty next level. I went to the biannual Finders Keepers market recently and it was amazing, but there are so many more that are here in Melbourne all year round. You should definitely check out the Queen Victoria market or the South Melbourne market, each have a huge variety of shops and stalls to suit everyone.
GO OP-SHOPPING, OUTLET SHOPPING AND HIGH-END DESIGNER/BOUTIQUE SHOPPING ALL IN ONE DAY
I moved here with two suitcases to my name, and have since doubled my wardrobe without even blinking. I live and work near Chapel Street, which is kind of like Ponsonby Road, K Road and Newmarket all rolled into one. There's a plethora of op-shops and antique stores down the Prahran end, heaps of chain stores like Sportsgirl, Witchery and Dotti as you go further north, then right up the top in South Yarra are Australian designers like Alice McCall, Gorman and Sass & Bide. There's also the DFO in Docklands, Emporium and Melbourne Central in the CBD and if you take a trip out to the suburbs you can visit Australia's largest mall, Chadstone. Visit with an empty suitcase and leave with a full one (or two).
Go to St Kilda for the sunrise and spot the penguins
We do have penguins in NZ, I am aware, and I've even seen a couple of little blue penguins float past me in Auckland waters. But every day in Melbourne you can pop down to St Kilda, an already popular destination, and watch the little blue penguins (called Fairy penguins here in Oz) swim home for the night at sunset. They're there every night from around 7pm and you can watch them swim into the breakwater and climb up the rocks to their roosts. Once we were about to leave when we saw them walking around behind the restaurant on the pier!
experience some culture in one of the many art galleries and museums
We have a few back home, but if you want to spend days looking through art galleries and museums then Melbourne has you covered. I've only been to the NGV so far, there are two with the same name and I'm a little foggy on the difference, but the NGV International is absolutely incredible. It took me back to exploring the Victoria & Albert in London, so much history in one building. I need to go back, we didn't even do the whole thing and we were there all day. Check out more options here.
Royal Botanic Gardens
These are a real hidden gem (although not very well hidden), just east of the city. It only takes 20 minutes to walk there and you'll find yourself immersed in nature, even though the city and inner suburbs are right outside. You can also see the impressive Shrine of Remembrance, dedicated to soldiers fallen in the World Wars.
Discover all the laneways and arcades around the city
Strolling through the city will put you in contact with so many of these! I've heard Wellington has quite a few nice little laneways, but Auckland is seriously lacking. There are laneways and arcades with shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and so much more. Whether it's the historic Block Arcade from the late 1800s or the Degraves street with it's lingering scent of coffee from all the cafes and restaurants, you can find so many gems simply by wandering around the city for a few hours. I only recently found out about AC/DC Lane, named after the iconic Aussie rockers in 2004, and home to the rock 'n roll nightclub, Cherry Bar which I need to visit!