When you go on holiday, it’s tempting to do a lot of tourist things. You will see the main sights, take the tours, and go home with lots of satisfying photographs. But there’s more to Melbourne than just the tourist attractions. Visit the city like a local and you will find a much more interesting and worthwhile experience. Here’s how to do it.
Meet at Flinders Street
The Flinders Street station is an important part of Melbourne history. There’s a saying in the area of “I’ll meet you under the clocks”. This refers to the clocks on the front of the station, which tell the time of the next departing trains. It’s a big part of the local culture, and you should definitely give it a visit. While you are there, you can catch a train to the other side of the city or head out on a day trip to one of the local attractions.
Try the Coffee
The Melbourne CBD is the hub of coffee in Australia. When Starbucks tried to open stores here, they ended up being forced to close most of them down, because Australians really know their coffee. Brunswick Street in Fitzroy is where you will find most of the best eats and coffee houses. If you want to do it like a local, just make sure that you head for an independent store rather than a chain, and explore some of their more exotic menu items.
Use the Tram
Getting around Melbourne is easy enough, as the tram system here is very extensive. You can get a ticket or card using the Myki system at any station or booth. Make sure that you don’t tap your card if you get on within the CBD. There is a free tram zone here which allows you to travel at no cost. This is perfect if you manage to get a hotel within the zone, as you can reach many of the closest attractions without having to pay. The trains and buses use the same ticket system, so getting around should be simple.
Rest at Brunetti
One of the most popular cafes in the city, Brunetti can be found on Lygon Street, where it is famous amongst locals. They have a couple of other branches too if you want to visit elsewhere, but this is the one that locals really prefer. It’s a great place to grab a coffee and a bite to eat in the afternoon while you take a break from the sight-seeing. Pastries and cakes must be sampled for the full experience.
Wander the Botanic Gardens
Known to locals as The Tan, these gardens are a beautiful sight at any time of year. Enter through the Observatory Gate and pick up a map so that you can find your way around. There is a children’s garden for little ones to explore, as well as a café and the observatory itself. Parking is limited, so take the tram. If you’re lucky enough to visit at the right time of year, you can catch a play or moonlight cinema showing in the gardens too.
Where do Melbournians meet of an evening? Fed Square is the place to be. You will find galleries, shops, and restaurants here, and it’s something of a cultural hub. Live entertainment often fills the square, such as big screens or markets. It’s a good place for wandering around without a particular purpose until you see something that takes your fancy.
While you are in Melbourne, make a friend or two amongst the locals and they will be able to give you even better recommendations about where to go!