When is the best time to fly?
Melbourne is busiest in summer and winter. The Australian Open is last two weeks of January, and the Australian Formula One Grand Prix is held in early March. From the end of March through April, you can catch the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and the Melbourne International Film Festival is mid-July into August. Flights must be booked in advance during this period.
The Melbourne Fringe Festival takes place in the first three weeks in October, and the Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November. October through March is cricket season, and winter skiing is just a three-hour drive from the city.
The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are excellent times to book cheap flights to Melbourne. In spring the gardens are blooming and in autumn the foliage is glorious. Melbourne’s Food and Wine Festival takes place over 17 days in March and gathers greatest culinary minds from around the world.
Keep in mind though that Melbourne is busy year-round with international festivals and events, so always check the city’s event schedule before looking for a deal.
Although Sydney and Melbourne may battle it out over who is Australia's unofficial capital city after the actual capital Canberra, Melbourne certainly wins out as nation's cultural centre. With its beautiful architecture, rich cultural heritage and lively art and music scenes, Melbourne attracts visitors not only from across Australia but from around the world.
Tourists can visit the famous Melbourne Museum, the largest museum in Southern Hemisphere. Other cultural destinations in the city include the historic Royal Exhibition Building, the Victorian architecture of the University of Melbourne and the Parliament House of Victoria. No trip to Melbourne would be complete without a visit to Flinders Street Railway Station, arguably the city's most famous landmark.
The Yarra River flows through the centre of the city, and its banks are home to some of the city's most beautiful views, although the distinctive brown colour of the water can be startling at first. Boat trips leave from the new Docklands development, while the more traditional Southgate promenade on the south bank is home to shops, bars and restaurants. Visitors who go to Southgate on Sunday can also enjoy the weekly art and craft market.
The bayside area, particularly around Brighton, is popular both with locals and travellers. Brighton Beach is famous for the colourful, old-fashioned “bathing boxes” that dot the water's edge. The St Kilda region is famous for its piers and amusement parks, together with the lush and relaxing St Kilda Botanical Gardens.
In the summer, Melbourne temperatures can reach 40°C or higher. Spring and autumn weather is highly changeable. Spring is the best time to visit – but remember, Melbourne's spring is from September to November so make sure you book flights accordingly. Getting to the cityOnce your flight lands reaching Melbourne Airport (MEL) from the airport is relatively simple. In addition to car rentals and taxis, a shuttle bus service links the airport and Melbourne's Southern Cross Station, which connects travellers to local rail and bus services. Local bus services also run to and from the airport.
Getting around Melbourne
Although Melbourne is very spread out, most of the sights visitors will want to see are in the city centre, connected by a network of trams. Locations further out are connected to the centre by trains and buses. As a result, it's relatively easy to get around the city despite its large size. The Yarra River, which runs through the middle of the city, offers cruises for those who want to spend their time floating through town
Melbourne insider information
- Visit Captain James Cook’s family home in the Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne. The cottage was shipped from Yorkshire in 1933 in 253 packing cases. The assembled cottage, restored twice, sits in the shade of large European trees in the park.
- St Kilda has been a popular seaside area since the 19th century. It is just 20 minutes by tram from central. Fitzroy Street and Acland Street Precinct, two buzzy, vibrant areas, are two great draws. Not least for the patisseries.
- The Queen Victoria market, located on the corner of Elizabeth and Victoria Streets, is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere. It covers seven hectares and has been going for more than 125 years.
- Take a wine tour in the Yarra Valley.
- Go to Philip Island in the evening. The best thing about this nature reserve is seeing the penguins returning “home” to the island after a day’s fishing.
- Melbourne Zoo opened in 1862 and has more than 350 species of animals, many of them native to the Southern Hemisphere. In residence are wombats, koala bears, kangaroos and wallabies among many others. There’s a fabulous butterfly house there with 12 species of Australian butterflies. There are approximately 800 butterflies in the house at any time.
- The Royal Botanic Gardens are one of the finest in Australia.
- Birrarung Marr, a riverside park that is almost a continuous green belt around Melbourne and Carlton Gardens extend around the Royal Exhibition Building which dates from 1880.