23 Feb 2018
Leave the car at home and beat the city peak hour traffic with a relaxing trip into Melbourne on a V/Line train or coach. Glide into Southern Cross Station and hail a cab or take advantage of Melbourne’s Free Tram Zone to get to one of the many hotels and serviced apartments the city centre has to offer. For suggestions catering to all tastes and budgets, visit our Stay page.
A late-night drink should always be enjoyed in a classy atmosphere, and from Wednesday to Sunday nights there’s none classier than the Paris Cat Jazz Club [6 Goldie Place (north of Little Bourke Street between Elizabeth and Queen Streets)]. A wide selection of drinks and light tasting dishes compliment the live music on stage, in a setting unbeknownst to even many Melburnians (despite its reputation as one of the city’s best live music venues).
For a classic Melbourne start to your day, forego the hotel breakfast buffet and explore the streets and laneways around your accommodation for the all-important sustenance you’ll need today. From 9am on weekends (7am during the week), Manchester Press [8 Rankins Lane] is always a popular choice, serving up specialty coffee and everything from bagels to burgers.
After breakfast, wander down to the Yarra River and hop on board a scenic cruise with Melbourne River Cruises [main departure point at Southgate, Berth 5, Lower Promenade, Southbank]. With one- and two-hour cruises taking in Melbourne’s picturesque gardens and parklands, the port and Docklands precincts or the Williamstown area, it’s a relaxing experience that gives a unique perspective of the city. Tickets are available at the departure point and morning cruises start at 10:30am. Afternoon cruise times can change due to the Port Phillip Bay tides, so if that's your preference, you’re best to call 9654 9599 between 10am-3pm on the day of your intended cruise to confirm exact departure times.
Disembarking back at Southgate after your cruise is complete, there are plenty of lunch options for you to enjoy. The staff at Ludlow Bar & Dining Room [6 Riverside Quay, Southbank] won’t worry about your arrival time; they’ve got a menu that caters for any time of the day, with their terrace a great place to people-watch.
After lunch, catch any southbound tram down St Kilda Road or find your way on foot to the Shrine of Remembrance [Birdwood Avenue], the iconic Melbourne building that stands proudly over the city’s south. Pay your respects to Australian war heroes past and present, and explore the permanent and touring exhibitions on site.
From the Shrine, head into the serene Royal Botanic Gardens [Birdwood Avenue], and enjoy the peace and quiet that the historic surroundings provide. A treasured part of Melbourne’s landscape for more than 165 years, the Gardens have been preserved by generations of Melburnians and loved by generations of locals and visitors alike. You might not cover the entire 38 hectares in a single afternoon, but a walk through the lush surrounds is a splendid way to pass the time.
For a different route back to the city, cross the Yarra at either Swan Street or Morell Bridge (at the north-easternmost point of the gardens) and stroll along the north side of the river until you reach Birrarung Marr and Federation Square. Then continue on to your hotel to freshen up for dinner.
If you’re in town to see a show, enjoy an early dinner at The European [161 Spring Street], a laid-back establishment close to a number of Melbourne’s most popular theatres. Reservations are recommended (especially on a weekend), and with a menu that reads like a map of Europe plus a wine list to match, a fine meal is assured.
If, however, you’ve got nowhere in particular to be, enjoy a pre-dinner drink at one of the city’s most sophisticated bars with the best view in town, The Lui Bar [Level 55, 525 Collins Street]. Perched high on the 55th floor of the Rialto building, you don’t have to be eating at neighbouring Vue de Monde to appreciate the art of a fine cocktail and a vintage vista. Instead, take the elevator back to ground level and enjoy dinner at Merchant [InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, 495 Collins Street], a Venetian restaurant in the forecourt of the Rialto. With fresh seafood playing a major role and a fine array of cheeses to finish the evening, it’s a luxurious dining experience reminiscent of that much-loved trip to Venice.
Melbourne on a Sunday morning is no slower out of the blocks than it was yesterday, so it’s time for another laneway exploration session for coffee and breakfast. If your not sure where to start, your hotel concierge might have some suggestions.
Afterwards, pop over to Federation Square and meet the host of your Golden Mile Heritage Walk from one of Melbourne’s original walking tour companies, Hidden Secrets Tours. Departing every day at 10am (bookings essential), the two-hour tour will open your eyes to the important historical elements of the city. You’ll take in the regal buildings of Collins Street as well as the interiors of a number of beautiful buildings like the ANZ Bank building, Athenaeum Theatre and Melbourne Town Hall.
That walk should have piqued your appetite, so it’s time for an indulgent afternoon tea at The Hotel Windsor [111 Spring Street]. Serving traditional afternoon tea since 1886, no matter which sitting time you opt for (bookings essential, each sitting lasts two hours), you’ll be astounded by the exquisite pastries, sandwiches and freshly baked scones on offer.
Depending on the time of your afternoon tea sitting, you’ll have some time before or after to explore the eastern end of the city. During the week, free tours of Parliament House [Spring Street, East Melbourne] run regularly (no booking required), but if you want to enjoy the fresh air, the Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens opposite The Windsor offer peaceful, tree-lined avenues to wander.
After swapping your walking shoes for your dining shoes (surely everyone has a favourite pair of shoes to eat in, right?) and freshening up at the hotel, dive head-first into Melbourne’s historic Chinatown district. Running through the two blocks of Little Bourke Street between Swanston and Exhibition Streets, the area spills out into surrounding laneways and streets in all directions. For an elegant, high-class Cantonese dining experience you can’t go past Flower Drum [17 Market Lane]. Over 40 years it has established itself as one of Melbourne’s premier restaurants, and with a sumptuous array of options for all tastebuds, it’s guaranteed to be a delicious evening.
Before your train or coach departs, leave your luggage at the hotel and visit Melbourne Museum [Nicholson Street, Carlton Gardens]. Discover the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, a permanent exhibition that shines a spotlight on Victoria’s First Peoples, and immerse yourself in science and history with a series of exhibits investigating Victoria’s past and present.
If you don’t have quite as much time to spare, drop your bags at Southern Cross Station and head for the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel [101 Waterfront Way, Docklands]. Soar 120 metres into the air during the 30 minute flight in the only giant observation wheel in the Southern Hemisphere. Depending on your departure time you might even be able to slip into a few of the new retail stores at The District Docklands [1/122 Studio Lane, Docklands] before you go.
Once you’re ready to make your way home, pick up your bags and catch your train or coach. On your way home you can start thinking about your next weekend in Melbourne.
Need some help getting from A to B so you can discover Melbourne?
Just pop your starting point and where you want to go into the PTV Journey Planner, as well as your ideal departure or arrival time.
The Planner will find the easiest way for you to get where you want to go, plus give you easy-to-follow instructions on how to get there.
For more information, visit ptv.vic.gov.au