Australia seems to be on the travel bucket list of everyone I talk to. So, when I had the chance to connect with Abby Lewtas of the Wanderluster’s Mind Podcast to find out the local secrets of Melbourne, Australia, I jumped at the chance. Abby educates us on what a “CBD” is, where to find delicious food, and why you won’t need a car when visiting Melbourne.
Melbourne is on the southern end of Australia. It has a diverse culture with a lot to offer. Melbourne is a gateway to world-class wineries, natural springs, picturesque coastline, and alpine villages.
Remember that Melbourne is in the Southern Hemisphere, so Christmas and New Year are in the summertime. It is common to see Santa wearing board shorts and flip-flops. And celebrating New Year’s Eve is quite a bit different without the usual winter clothes that we’re familiar with in the US.
Abby recommends visiting Melbourne in March because the weather is beautiful in the fall.
We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out Visit Melbourne, the local convention and visitor’s bureau. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests.
Best things to do in Melbourne
Here are some of the best things to do in Melbourne according to our local expert, Abby Lewtas. And I’ve added some additional options based on my research and places I’ve visited.
- Australian Open Tennis Courts (reviews) – Abby was able to attend the Australian Open and witness a professional tennis match.
- Eureka Skydeck 88 (reviews) – amazing 360-degree views 88 floors up as the Skydeck stands at a staggering 297 meters above the streets of Melbourne. Also check out the Edge, which is the world’s only moving glass structure.
- Federation Square (reviews) – the central hub of Melbourne, according to Abby.
- Luna Park/The Esplanade (reviews) – a historic amusement park that has been operating continuously since 1912.
- Melbourne Cricket Ground (reviews) – catch a cricket match from November to February or an Australian Football League game from March to September.
- Melbourne Star Observation Wheel (reviews) – a 30-minute ride to enjoy 360-degree views of Melbourne. Grab the Encore package to ride both during the day and again at night.
- Phillip Island (reviews) – see the penguin parade, take a picture with a koala, and learn about Australian heritage.
- Queen Victoria Market (reviews) – big marketplace, but is especially great for the summertime night markets with food and live music.
- Royal Botanic Gardens (reviews) – Abby says that this is the place to “get your fix” in the city.
- Saint Kilda (reviews) – so much to do here, including bars, the pier, the beach, summertime festivals, and Luna Park.
- Shrine of Remembrance (reviews) – pay your respects here for the 19,000 Victorians killed during World War I.
- State Library Victoria (reviews) – built in 1856, this library is a must-see attraction for bookworms and lovers of architecture and history.
- Twelve Apostles (reviews) – rock formations in the sea along the Great Ocean Road.
Looking for other things to do? Here are the top 10 sightseeing tickets and packages for Melbourne.
Or, you can buy one of the Lonely Planet books, which are another excellent resource. Their current promo offers 3 books for the price of two.
Best places to eat in Melbourne
Melbourne is a metropolitan city with a lot of Asian influence due to its location. There is an amazing variety of food when in Melbourne. You might even try a bit of kangaroo meat! With so many choices, Abby has some great suggestions of what should be on your list of the best places to eat in Melbourne, Australia.
- Beer DeLuxe Fed Square (reviews) – this is where Abby liked to spend her happy hours when she worked nearby.
- Bimbo Deluxe (reviews) – another great place for pizza with a variety of choices, each only $4 with a beer.
- Chinatown Melbourne (reviews) – great food, especially since Australia is so close to Asia.
- Hopetoun Tea Rooms (reviews) – inside an arcade. Traditional setting is like going into a time warp. Gorgeous cakes and amazing teas. Abby has a sweet tooth and absolutely adores the lemon tarts here.
- Lagonda Street – the best place for Italian food in Melbourne.
- Lucky Coq (reviews) – the best place for pizza. There are a variety of choices and each is only $4.
- Madame Brussels (reviews) – Abby loves their espresso martinis. The decor is that of a 1950s tennis parlour.
- Monarch Cakes – sample a kugelhopf (brioche cake swirled with melted chocolate). You won’t be disappointed. They’ve been using many of the same recipes since 1934. The original shop was in Poland.
- Sister of Soul (reviews) – vegetarian bean cafe. Abby’s favorite is a mushroom burger with a brioche bun and sweet potato chips.
- Victoria Street – Abby says there is fantastic Vietnamese food all along this street.
- Yarra Valley Wine Tasting Tours (reviews) – if you like Australian Shiraz wines as much as me, you’ll want to go on a wine tour and taste some of the local wineries.
Best places to stay in Melbourne
When you come to the “land down under” here are the best places to stay in Melbourne. Abby recommends staying near the CBD because that’s the heart of the city and it will be easy for you to walk around.
- Best Western Premier Hotel 115 Kew (reviews) – this Best Western category 7 hotel is 32,000 points per night.
- Hilton Melbourne South Wharf hotel (reviews) – this Hilton Honors category 8 property is 40,000 to 70,000 points per night.
- Intercontinental Melbourne The Rialto (reviews) – this IHG category 9 hotel is 50,000 points per night.
- Park Hyatt Melbourne (reviews) – this World of Hyatt category 5 property is 20,000 points per night. Park Hyatt properties are some of the nicest in the Hyatt collection.
- Radisson On Flagstaff Gardens, Melbourne (reviews) – this Radisson hotel category 5 hotel is 44,000 points per night.
- The Westin Melbourne (reviews) – this Marriott category 5 hotel is 30,000 to 40,000 points per night.
- Wyndham Hotel Melbourne (reviews) – with Wyndham Rewards, any hotel is available for a fixed 15,000 per night.
AirBnB is also a great option. Use our referral link to get $40 off your first AirBnB stay.
If you’d like to learn how to travel for free using airline miles and hotel points, check out my free 7-day email course.
Getting around Melbourne
The local airport is the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (MEL). It is about 30 minutes north of the Melbourne CBD (aka downtown). This airport is the second busiest airport in Australia.
Abby says that most visitors don’t need a car at all. The metro system of buses, trams, and trains get you to most everywhere you want to be. The City Circle Trams are free to ride and one of the most popular ways to get around the CBD.
The Final Countdown
2) Favorite memory of Melbourne – I can tell you one thing, when Abby puts her mind to it, she will follow through. She was riding her bike to a fun run for kids charity event, but halfway there, she got a flat. She pushed the bike the rest of the way, ran the race, then went into work!
That wasn’t the most memorable part. Abby loved the anticipation and thrill of running through her town and see the city from so many different vantage points while on the run. That it was for charity only enhanced the “runner’s high” that so many athletes get while running.
3) Happiest Happy Hour in Melbourne – when Abby is out for happy hour, she’ll usually pop into Beer DeLuxe Fed Square (reviews) because it’s convenient to work. But, her favorite happy spot is Madame Brussels (reviews). The feeling of being in a time warp that transports you to another time in history just adds a unique touch to the delicious drinks and food.
4) Best place for pepperoni pizza in Melbourne – Abby’s choices for the best pizza in Melbourne are between Lucky Coq (reviews) in Windsor or Bimbo Deluxe (reviews) in Brunswick. Both have tasty pizza in a variety of flavors for $4 with a beer.
Who is Abby Lewtas?
Abby Lewtas is life coach who works with travelers who have lived abroad or traveled extensively. They’re usually coming back from “a big adventure” and need some help with the “reverse culture shock” of coming back home.
Instead of looking at the career gap as a negative, Abby helps these travelers use their travel as inspiration to build their career and use those experiences in a positive way.
Abby also hosts the Wanderluster’s Mind Podcast that interviews people who are living abroad or have recently come back home.
Here are a couple of articles that she’s written:
- A change in mindset and stepping into digital nomad life with Messua Nanci
- Letting go of ‘things’, getting present and tuning into herself with Verity Brown
- Embracing life in a new country with Kate Reynolds
As you can tell, her writing is a valuable resource for people who are traveling abroad and planning to live in a new place.
Places we talked about on the podcast
Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Abby Lewtas about Melbourne, Australia. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.
- Red dots = best places to eat in Melbourne
- Green dots = best things to do in Melbourne
- Yellow dots = best places to stay in Melbourne
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Stay tuned for our next episode
Join us in the next episode when Dan McPherson of Leaders Must Lead shares his favorite trick to buying cheap college football tickets in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We hope to see you when We Travel There.
What’s your favorite part of Melbourne? Let us know in the comment section below or continue the discussion in our Facebook group!
To learn more about New Zealand and Australia, please listen to our other episodes from this region:
- Rainbow Falls, Te Ahurea & The Kemp House in Kerikeri, New Zealand
- Australia Zoo, Coastal Islands & Adventure World in Brisbane, Australia
- Swimming the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Australia with Tyson Franklin
- Best Things to Do in Sydney, Australia with Jennifer McDermott