1. There is no Airport train.
It is not a great start when you arrive at the airport, fresh off a flight, and find there is no train into the city. I mean what sort of a city doesn’t have a train to the airport? Especially when they like to host world events and cater to tourists’ needs. Well, Melbourne doesn’t. In recent years there has been the implementation of SkyBus, which will transport you and all your luggage into the main train station in town with minimal struggle. It runs every ten minutes and costs $16 each way. Apart from SkyBus though, the options are VERY limited.
2. Check the location of the hotel/hostel you have booked. If it says it is in the suburbs, don’t expect to be close to the city.
Melbourne’s actual city centre is reasonably small. If your hotel is not listed as being in the city, it is likely be slightly more difficult to get to than you imagine. Sure, it might be on a train or a tram line, but that doesn’t mean it is anywhere near the actual city. Even if you want to stay in St Kilda, or somewhere a bit out of the city, you should expect a little more difficulty in getting to your accommodation. So do your research first, and think about what you want to see when you are there, and position your accommodation accordingly. Just a hint.
3. There is no beach like Bondi or Manly.
Sure, we call it St Kilda beach. And sure, there is sand and water. But if you are expecting a beach with waves and surfing and sunbaking girls in bikinis as far as the eye can see you are going to be sorely disappointed with Melbourne’s beaches.
4. If you look beyond the better known restaurants there are plenty of cheap (and tasty) options.
Almost surprisingly there are actually a lot of cheap and tasty options for food throughout the city. Due to it’s multi-cultural roots, Melbourne has plenty of variety on offer – most of which have a ‘no frills’ option. So if you are happy to be packed into a restaurant and to receive your food on plastic plates almost instantly after ordering while listening to waiters and cooks shout over the sound of customers, there are so many options in Melbourne. You just have to look, or ask your fellow travellers. Also, the markets are a brilliant money saving location.
5. Melbournians are sports crazy.
Melbournians are passionate about sports. If you really want to feel a part of it, visit the city in the winter months, and go to a game of Australian football (known locally as Aussie rules or AFL). You will not regret it. It is a regular occurrence for grown men to dress themselves in team colours (including a scarf and beanie) to go to the footy, and then if their team loses – cry.
If you are not a huge fan of sport, avoid the city in the winter – particularly on weekends. It is hard to get away from once you are there.
6. The city is much more about culture and less about actual tourist attractions.
Take a walk down some of the alley ways throughout the city and you will see what I mean. There are so many hidden bars and cafes, which really make the city so unique. So sit back and watch the world go by, it is what Melbourne is all about. Hours can be spent wandering many of the different art galleries on offer throughout the city, or enjoying the sunshine in one of the various gardens around town. My recommendation would be to head north into the fascinatingly eclectic suburb of Fitzroy – Brunswick Street will provide hours of entertainment without breaking the budget.
7. Unlike the Northern states and cities, Melbourne gets cold in winter (and often in summer).
There is only one word to describe Melbourne’s weather, unpredictable. It is not uncommon to get all four seasons in one day at any time of the year. Pack for all conditions, and don’t expect anything.
8. Never tell a Melbournian you liked Sydney, Adelaide or Brisbane more.
Melbournians are a passionate breed: Passionate about sports, passionate about food and passionate about their home town. Never ever say a bad word about the city to any local, unless your life is actually worth not living. They do not take kindly to criticism of any variety, especially when comparing with other cities of Australia.
9. Allow a couple of days to see other nearby attractions.
The city centre itself may not have all the tourist attractions of Sydney, or other world renowned cities, but venture only a couple of hours out of town and there is so much to see and do. Go East for a couple of hours and you will be in wine making country, or at Phillip Island and able to see fairy penguins walk up the beach at sunset. Go south west and you will find the Great Ocean road with its world renowned rock formations and stunning coastline. If you allow for them in your travel itinerary, you will not regret it.
10. If you stay too long you will never want to leave.
There is just something about this city that gets into your blood. Many a traveller has stopped here and found it hard to move on. The little sister to the bigger and more tourist friendly Sydney, Melbourne offers a sense of normalcy. It is an infectious city in which you find yourself truly embracing rather than taking a couple of photos before moving on.