24 Hours in Melbourne

Posted by Stephanie Mikkelsen on Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Famous for its graffiti-strewn laneways, its coffee clout and its love of a (mostly) all-black dress code, Melbourne is a city that offers its visitors, as well as its residents, something around every corner.

Whether you come to gawk at street art, work your way through the menus at the city's many acclaimed restaurants, or cheer for your AFL team while in the stands at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, your time spent is Melbourne is sure to leave any visitor with happy memories. Even those born and bred in Melbourne can discover something new by playing tourist in their home town. The one drawback to having so many options however (and it is only drawback) is knowing how to kickstart your Melbourne getaway. What is the best way to fit in as much as possible, and how do you take in the city's top sights and eats? Bookmarking our 24-hour Melbourne itinerary is your first step. Here, we break down your first day in Melbourne. You can follow our guide to the letter, or simply pick-and-choose the bits that catch your eye. 

Getting There

Flying into Melbourne from interstate? Travellers that touch down at Melbourne Airport in Tullamarine can jump into a taxi to be taken into the CBD. A fare for this journey can average between $50 and $70, depending on the time of your arrival and traffic conditions. There are limited public transport links to and from Melbourne Airport, but one option is to buy a ticket for the SkyBus. This shuttle service ferries travellers between some of the airport's terminals and Melbourne's Southern Cross Station. Tickets can be bought online or at the booth outside Terminal 3. A one-way adult ticket is $22. If you want to use pedal power to get around Melbourne once you've arrived, book a set of two wheels with Melbourne Bike Share to help you get around. There are a smattering of stations dotted around the city and rides can be returned at any dock once you are all pedalled-out. 

Beautiful Accommodation 24 Hours in Melbourne Itinerary

Image: City Skyline and Princes Bridge from Southbank. Josie Withers; Visit Victoria

In 24 Hours

Brewed Buzz | 8am

Melbourne loves smashed avocado almost as much as it does a caffeine fix, so embrace one of the city’s favourite rituals by starting your day with a serving of both. Beat the crowds by getting in early at Higher Ground to tuck into polenta porridge, a maple syrup-sloshed ricotta hotcake, or a Berkshire bacon sandwich. Savour the shakshouka at Cumulus Inc., or make for other CBD favourites such as Rustica Canteen, Manchester Press and the Grain Store. Keep your caffeinated buzz going strong by ordering another brew to go.

Market Mosey | 10am

The Queen Victoria Market is within walking distance of most breakfast spots mentioned above, and this meander provides the perfect opportunity to leisurely sip another coffee. However you can jump on to one of the trams rolling along William Street if you’d prefer a speedier journey. The QVM is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere and visitors can move between stalls pedalling fresh produce, street food, homewares, bric-a-brac and clothing. Book a place on one of the two-hour food tours to get the lay of the land or wander at your own pace. Those with a penchant for night markets should plan to make a return visit to either the Summer Night or Winter Night Markets to listen to live music, catch art performances and sample even more street fare.

Beautiful Accommodation 24 Hours in Melbourne Itinerary

Image: Queen Victoria Market. Mark Chew; Visit Victoria

Birds Eye View | 11:30am

From the market, take a tram or ride down Elizabeth Street towards Flinders Street Station. Once you reach the end of the line, follow the subway to walk beneath the station’s platforms and emerge on the other side on Flinders Walk. Cross the Yarra River on foot by taking the Southbank Pedestrian Bridge. Continue walking towards City Road before turning right on Riverside Quay until you arrive outside Eureka Skydeck. The Eureka Skydeck tower dominates Melbourne’s skyline and even those uncomfortable with heights will be hard-pressed not to admire the panoramic view across some of the city’s most famous landmarks. Those keen on amping up the thrill can book tickets for The Edge, a glass cube suspended from the tower’s 88th floor.

Pause for Lunch | 12:30pm

When your feet touch back down on terra firma and your stomach lets you know that it is time for lunch, take a seat at one of the eateries lining the Promenade – 400 Gradi, The Merrywell, Bistro Guillaume. Those not quite ready to eat could work up a healthier appetite by walking or cycling to Clarendon Street in South Melbourne, and stopping off at one of the restaurants or casual cafes surrounding this dining hub. Try South Melbourne Market for even more foodie options.

Beautiful Accommodation 24 Hours in Melbourne Itinerary

Image: Southbank. Josie Withers; Visit Victoria

Gawk at a Gallery | 2:00pm

Follow up lunch with an arty fix. The National Gallery of Victoria is a beacon along Melbourne’s Art Precinct along St Kilda Road, and is neighboured by the State Theatre, Melbourne Recital Centre and the home of The Australian Ballet. Pause for a moment to take a happysnap by the distinctive water feature at the gallery’s entrance before heading inside. NGV hosts a number of free entry and ticketed exhibitions throughout the year, and it is also home to a permanent collection filled with pieces from the likes of Rembrandt, Monet and Pissarro. Naturally, the gallery’s collection is bolstered with local works too, including some from Arthur Streeton, Sidney Nolan and Frederick McCubbin. Alternatively, the scrawls across ACDC Lane, Hosier Lane and Centre Place may be more up the alley of street art aficionados.

Garden-Goers | 4:00pm

Swap galleries for greenery by crossing St Kilda Road and exploring Queen Victoria Gardens. These gardens make up part of Domain Parklands, which also includes Alexandra Gardens, King’s Domain and the Royal Botanic Gardens. It would be easy to spend an entire day exploring the Parklands, swinging past The Floral Clock, the Grotto, LaTrobe’s Cottage and the Shrine of Remembrance along the way. This afternoon however, settle for meandering one of the winding walking paths, or find a particularly lush patch of lawn to rest your feet and people watch.

Beautiful Accommodation 24 Hours in Melbourne Itinerary

Image: Royal Botanic Gardens. Masaaki Aihara; Visit Victoria

Costume Change | 5:00pm

Those wanting to freshen up before the night’s activities can head back to their accommodation for a quick shower and an outfit change. Travellers keen to keep the good times rolling without a break can head straight for the next destination.

Cheers to Melbourne | 5:30pm

Quench your thirst from the day’s pursuits by grabbing a drink at one of Melbourne’s top watering holes. Order something shaken or stirred from the stellar cocktail list at Eau De Vie, or sit down to an Aperol Spritz while overlooking the Yarra River at Arbory Bar and Eatery. Fall for the Negronis at Heartbreaker, or opt to indulge in a classic cheese-and-wine combination at Kirk’s Wine Bar. Melbourne’s saloons deliver lip-smacking sips no matter what your taste in tipple, and other haunts to add to your list include Berlin Bar, Hihou, Bar Americano, Siglo and Lily Blacks.

On the Menu | 7pm

It would be easy to wax lyrical about Melbourne’s dining prowess, especially when names like Vue de Monde, Dinner by Heston, Ezard, The Press Club and Grossi Florentino are thrown into the mix. Travellers seeking white tablecloth-standard service and hatted fare should get in early to make a reservation at one of the institutions mentioned above, but those wanting an experience that is more hip-pocket friendly aren’t short of options either. Are you in the mood for platefuls of delicious dumplings? Head to China Town in Little Bourke Street. Seek out Tipo 00 for perfectly al dente pasta, or look to Tonka for an Indian-influenced menu. Sink your teeth into a stellar steak at the Argentinian-flavoured San Telmo, or order one of the fruit-spiked cocktails and servings of ceviche at Hana.

Beautiful Accommodation 24 Hours in Melbourne Itinerary

Image: China Town at night. Roberto Seba; Visit Victoria

Night Owls | 9pm

Where to from dinner? That will depend on what time your meal wraps. Those that went down the quick eats route may have time to book last-minute tickets for a stage production or show. Tixatsix is operated by Arts Centre Melbourne and is perfect for those that have a habit of leaving their plans to the eleventh hour. From 6pm every evening, tixatsix offers last-minute tickets to select performances across all Arts Centre Melbourne venues. The line starts to build from 6pm so factor that in to your dinner plans if need be. Drop by Halftix on Swanston Street for more options.

Those without a show to catch can take their time with dinner because Melbourne is a city that likes to stay up late and there are plenty of things to do for night owls. For a childish kick (and to practice your putt), head to Holey Moley to take on a round at one of their novelty indoor mini golf courses. In town in summer? Rooftop Cinema is exactly what you would expect: a roof-perched movie theatre atop Curtin House, screening a mix of old favourites and new releases.

Still have room for more of Melbourne’s fare? Indulge your sweet tooth at specialty dessert bar Om Nom. This is a dessert-devotee’s dream diner, especially if you skip the savoury courses all together and dive straight into the epic dessert degustation offering.

Cap The Night Off | 10:30pm

When you are ready to start winding down from your day’s explorations, a nightcap is one of the best ways to do so. Order a glass of natural wine at Embla, or nab a table at Bar Ampere for a cocktail and evening snack. Magic Mountain Bar slings drinks until late and has a more upbeat, buzzing atmosphere.

Hit the Hay | Midnight

Make your way back to your city hotel room or apartment, kicking off your shoes and beginning your nighttime routine. After the day's explorations, chances are you'll fall asleep like a light which is a good thing, because there is even more to see, eat and do in Melbourne tomorrow.

Hero Image: Flinders Walk, Melbourne. Josie Withers; Visit Victoria