The city centre of Melbourne represents the city's cultural, entertainment and financial heart. Locally called the Central Business District, the CBD or simply the City, it is where international and interstate visitors spend the bulk of their time. Most must-see attractions sit within the city's grid-planned centre, as is much of the accommodation and nightlife.
The main visitor information centre is in Federation Square, right near the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets. Another information centre exists near Cooks Cottage in Fitzroy Gardens, and a small information booth is in the Bourke Street Mall. Additionally, volunteer city ambassadors dressed in a distinctive red uniform are stationed along Swanston St to help tourists with enquiries and directions.
- Melbourne Visitor Centre, Federation Square, Cnr Swanston & Flinders Streets (Flinders Street Station, or any Swanston St tram: Stop 13; or any Flinders St tram: Stop 5). 9AM-6PM daily, closed Christmas Day. A good starting place if you're new in the city. Provides lots of information and tips about the city and the whole of Victoria, including itinerary advice, accommodation details, public transport information and hands out free maps and travel brochures. Also has a booking agency and souvenir shop, which sells myki packs and discounted show and attraction tickets. The centre also books for the Melbourne Greeter Service, a free, multilingual private tour by a volunteer for about 2-3 hours.
- Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre, Wellington Pde, East Melbourne (Tram routes 48 or 75: Stop 10). 9AM-6PM daily, closed Christmas Day. A newer visitor centre set amongst the heritage-listed Fitzroy Gardens. Provides information about the whole of Melbourne, but more detailed info about East Melbourne and the adjacent Cooks Cottage. Also sells tickets for Cooks Cottage.
- Southbank and South Wharf — This major entertainment precinct spans the southern bank of the Yarra River, opposite the CBD. The riverfront features a large number of fantastic, but generally expensive, restaurants. The area is a hub of activity and movement, complemented by its family-friendly landmark, the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex.
- Docklands — Just west of Spencer Street in the CBD, the old shipping yards have been redeveloped into a mixed-use residential, commercial and entertainment district perched upon the waterfront. A variety activities, sights and shopping facilities exist throughout the area. While originally a fairly stoic area, it has begun to shake its reputation to become a more lively and inviting waterfront precinct.
- Chinatown — Melbourne's Chinatown is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western world. It dates back to the times of the Victorian Gold Rush of the 1850s, which saw mass Chinese immigration. The locality has only grown since then and is still a mecca of activity and good food. Most of Chinatown is situated on the eastern part of Little Bourke Street.
- Greek Precinct — Famous for its good food and Hellenic architecture and culture, the precinct is located in the general area surrounding the intersection of Lonsdale and Russell Streets.
- Paris End — The eastern part of Collins Street, from Swanston Street to Spring Street, has long-been named after the French capital due to its generally strong European flavour. Grand plane trees, lit in pink at night, line the street famed for its historic connection to the city's rich and famous, grand European architecture and numerous designer labels such as Louis Vuitton, Emporio and Giorgio Armani, Prada and many others.
- Legal and banking precinct — A number of new and old court buildings are based around the intersection of William and Lonsdale Streets, traditionally known as the city's legal centre. Historically, the area around Collins Street further south, near William and Queen Streets, was known as a banking precinct, with a number of grand Victorian-era buildings remaining, including the Gothic-style ANZ Banking Museum.
- Government Precinct — The state's politicians and public servants frequent the area around Spring Street in the east, with major sights including Parliament House, the Old Treasury Building, the grand Windsor Hotel and a number of bars where various decision makers are known to have a drink during sitting weeks.
- Arts Precinct — The area of Southbank around St Kilda Road is home to many of the city's art institutions, including the iconic Arts Centre spire, the National Gallery of Victoria (International), the Melbourne Recital Centre and the Victorian College of the Arts (part of the University of Melbourne).
There are also a number of cultural precincts outside the city centre, including Melbourne's Little Italy in Lygon St (Inner north) and various others.
The City Centre is Melbourne's hub of public transport. Every train line and most tram routes pass through or terminate in the city. All suburban trains will stop at the city's busiest interchange, Flinders Street Station. Country trains terminate at Southern Cross Station. Trams mostly run east to west along Bourke and Collins Streets, and north to south along Swanston Street.
Much of Melbourne's freeway network is also designed around moving cars into the city, with the major citybound freeways being the Eastern, Monash, West Gate and CityLink. Most locals opt to leave the car at home and use public transport to reach the city centre, owing to often all-day congestion, very high parking rates and the ease of getting to the city by other means.
The simplest and most traditional way to get around the inner city is by tram. Most major thoroughfares are serviced by a tram. The north-south routes with trams are Spencer, William, Elizabeth, Swanston and Spring Streets. La Trobe, Bourke, Collins and Flinders Streets are the major east-west tram routes.
If travelling only within the central grid, there is often no need to work out what tram route or number you need to catch. Trams typically travel along the entire length of a street in the city centre, and do not turn (apart from the edges of the grid at Spencer, Spring, Flinders and La Trobe Streets). Therefore, simply get on a tram that is going in the direction you want to go, and get off at the stop you need.
Although the frequency of trams is high, they can be very slow for even a short distance. In busy periods, you may see pedestrians moving faster! Experiencing congestion inside a tram is more than likely; just make sure you hold on to the rails, as the trams often accelerate and brake suddenly.
Most of the City Centre sits within the Free Tram Zone, where you can catch trams for free and do not need to touch on your myki. The zone stretches to Docklands in the west, Spring St in the east, up to Queen Victoria Market in the north and only as far south as the Yarra River. Be cautious, as you must touch on your myki if you leave the zone, and many attractions such as Crown Casino, the Arts Centre and Cooks Cottage lie just outside the boundary.
Melbourne has an excellent network of footpaths and crossings, making it safe, simple and easy for people of all ages and abilities to walk around the city centre. Jaywalking is a major issue in the city, and you should only cross at marked crossings or risk an incident with a car or tram. The Melbourne Visitor Centre has seven self-guided walking tours which are useful to discover the city and its history.
Over the past five years, Melbourne has had a major shift towards becoming a bicycle friendly city. New bike lanes and infrastructure are constantly under construction in the inner city. The main bike routes in the CBD are:
- Swanston Street, north-south, lanes all the way down past St Kilda and up to Melbourne University in the inner north. Parts are segregated by concrete with right of way, others are on-road lanes right next to traffic and parked cars. In the centre of the city, remember to stop behind boarding trams at the new shared superstops.
- William Street, north-south, marked lanes
- La Trobe Street, east-west, segregated from parking and traffic
- Various bike lanes and routes in the Docklands precinct
- Trails including the Capital City trail along the Yarra and past Southbank
The Melbourne Bike Share scheme makes it fairly straight forward for visitors to borrow a bike to travel around the city with. There are just over 50 bike stations and 600 bicycles around the city centre, recognisable by their distinct blue branding.
To borrow a bike, you will need a valid credit/debit card; cash is not accepted. Simply follow the instructions at a station. You are also legally required to wear a helmet, sometimes available to share for free on the bikes, or else can be purchased for $5 from vending machines at Southern Cross Station or Melbourne University (can be returned for $3). Apps such as Spotcycle (iOS/Android/BlackBerry) and bcycl (Windows Phone) assist in finding the nearest bike stations.
There is an inescapable, base cost of $2.90 to subscribe for a day, or $8 for a week, along with a refundable $50 deposit. Then, there may be an additional cost depending on the time you use a bike between stations. If you hire and return a bike within 30 minutes, there is no additional fee. If you spend up to an hour, it is an extra $2; up to 90 minutes, $7, before it starts becoming fairly expensive. The cheapest option is to simply return the bike every 30 minutes, meaning you will only pay $2.90 for the day. After docking a bike, you are free to rehire a bike after waiting 2 minutes by reinserting your credit card at no extra base cost.
The City Loop forms the backbone of the entire Melbourne train network and serves the city centre. It runs around the edges of the grid layout, with a mix of sunken, elevated and underground sections. The iconic Flinders Street Station in the south serves as the hub of all suburban rail travel throughout Melbourne, while the also iconic Southern Cross Station in the west is the hub of rural rail and bus travel. Parliament, Melbourne Central and Flagstaff stations are all underground, located in the east, north-east and north-west respectively. Melbourne Central is built into a major shopping centre, while Flagstaff is closed on weekends and public holidays.
There is no single service that continually runs around the Loop, but rather a selection of suburban services which pass through. Each station in the CBD has a TV display of popular stations, including the next two train services and the platform they depart from. Trains are frequent enough that there isn't a need to plan inter-CBD travel and you won't have to wait more than 5 minutes.
The design of the city centre's roads may look straightforward on a map, but it is a fairly different situation on the ground. The abundance of trams means that at many intersections, vehicles have to make right-hand turns from the far left lane. Cars in the turning lane must wait until the traffic light of the street they are turning into changes to green before they can finish their turn. This infamous manoeuvre has come to be known as the hook turn, and is sometimes touted as a unique Melbourne experience.
Other important things to note are to stay clear of the centre tram lane, watch for wayward pedestrians and bikes, and that most of Swanston and Bourke Streets are permanently closed to car traffic in favour of trams, bikes and pedestrians. Parking is mostly provided through multi-storey or underground garages, with some on-street parking, but can be very expensive on weekdays. Parking in Docklands is more reasonable, with $10 parking all day at Harbour Town and the option to catch a free tram into the city from there.
- Flinders Street Station, Cnr Flinders and Swanston Streets, toll-free: 1800 800 007. Open 24 hours, daily. Arguably the defining landmark of Melbourne, this colonial-era railway station was designed in an 1899 competition. The station's front steps, below a row of clocks announcing train departure times, are a popular meeting point for locals. It is the busiest suburban station in the Southern Hemisphere. Although grand from the outside, the interior has become dilapidated over the years and many rooms including the ballroom are closed to the public. A 2013 design competition by the government hopes to bring it back to its former glory.
- Melbourne Town Hall, Cnr Swanston and Collins Streets (Any Collins St tram: Stop 6 or any Swanston St tram: Stop 11), ☎ +61 3 9658 9658, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tours: M-F 11am and 1pm. Built in 1870, the city's town hall can be describes as no less than grand and historic. 1 hour tours allow visitors to see the ornate Council chambers, the richly-carved Grand Organ and sit in the Lord Mayor's chair. Bookings recommended. Free.
- Old Melbourne Gaol, 377 Russell St (2 minute walk from Melbourne Central Station, or tram routes 24, 30 or 35 (City Circle)), ☎ +61 3 8663 7228, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 9:30am-5:30pm except Good Friday and Christmas Day. Night tours: M, W, F and Sa. Built in 1841, it is now a penal museum, with a watch house and magistrate's court also on-site. Bushranger Ned Kelly was hanged here in 1880. The scaffold on which he and many others were hanged is displayed, as is Kelly’s death mask. There are other displays in many of the cells. Allow an hour or so for your visit. $25 adult, $20 concession, $13.50 child (5-15yrs), family tickets available..
- Parliament House of Victoria, 110 Spring St (Parliament Station or tram routes 35 (City Circle), 86 or 96: Stop 9), ☎ +61 3 9651 8568, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9:30am-3:45pm. Tours: Sa-Su 9:30, 10:30, 11:30am, 1:30, 2:30 and 3:45pm; on sitting Tuesdays, 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30am. Built between 1856 and 1879, the Australian federal parliament sat in this impressive building from 1901 to 1927 while Canberra was built. The majestic façade can be seen right down Bourke St. Tours of the assembly halls and libraries are conducted when parliament is not in session. Visitors are also welcome to sit in the public gallery when parliament is in session. Free.
- Scots Church, Cnr Collins and Russell Streets (Any Collins St tram: Stop 7), ☎ +61 3 9650 9903, e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 11am-2:30pm; Sunday visits only for Mass services. Gothic church built in 1873, the first Presbyterian house of worship in the city. Free.
- State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston St (Melbourne Central Station, or tram routes 1, 3, 6, 8, 16, 67 or 72: Stop 8), ☎ +61 3 8664 7000. M-W 10am-9pm, Th-Su 10am-6pm, except public holidays. Built in stages beginning in 1854, it has an impressive classical revival façade. Includes a good newspaper reading room, genealogy room and an art collection, as well as the fantastic La Trobe Reading Room and its huge dome. Bushranger Ned Kelly's armour is stored permanently on display, along with a variety of galleries and exhibitions. Internet terminals are provided for research only, not email, and usually need to be booked because of high demand. Coin-operated lockers are available just off the lobby, where large bags must be deposited before entry. Free Wi-Fi and guided tours are also available. Free.
- St Michaels Uniting Church, Cnr Collins and Russell Streets (Any Collins St tram: Stop 7), ☎ +61 3 9654 5120, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10:30am-1:30pm. Romanesque-style church built in 1866. Free.
- St Patrick’s Cathedral, 2 Cathedral Pce, East Melbourne (2 minute walk from Parliament Station, or tram routes 11, 12 or 109: Stop 11), ☎ +61 3 9662 2332. M-F 9am-5pm. The original part of this Gothic Revival cathedral was built in the 1850s. It was consecrated in 1897 and the spires added in 1939. It is the largest and tallest church in Australia. Free.
- St Paul's Cathedral, 198 Flinders St (Flinders Street Station), ☎ +61 3 9653 4333, e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 8am-6pm, Sa 9am-4pm, Su 7:30am-7:30pm. Gothic-revival cathedral on the site of the colony's first church services in 1836. Free.
- Crown Entertainment Complex, 8 Whiteham St, Southbank (5 minute walk across river from Flinders Street Station), ☎ +61 3 9292 8888. 24h daily, closed 4AM-noon Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Anzac Day.. A Las Vegas-style gambling palace (including the Crown Casino), also containing restaurants, upmarket boutiques, nightclubs, two hotel towers, a cinema complex and floorshows. Free.
- Eureka Tower, 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank (5 minute walk across river from Flinders Street Station), ☎ +61 3 9693 8888, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10am-10pm. Contains the highest observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere on level 88, with panoramic views of the entirety of Melbourne. Only recommended in clear weather. Also offers an additional cost "Edge" experience whereby visitors are protruded outside of the building inside a glass-panelled cube. $18.50 adult, $14 concession, $10 child (4-16yrs) and various family tickets. Discounted price for additional same-day visit at nighttime..
- Federation Square, 2 Swanston St (Flinders Street Station), ☎ +61 3 9655 1900, e-mail: email@example.com. The city's most popular meeting place. The striking architecture of its buildings create a nice backdrop to this open plaza, directly opposite Flinders Street Station. There are usually live, free performances from various groups, along with coverage of major sporting and cultural events on the huge television. A number of museums and organisations call the site home, as well as Melbourne's major visitor information centre in the 'shard' building.
- Melbourne Aquarium, Cnr Flinders St and Kings Way (Tram routes 35 (City Circle), 70 or 75: Stop 2), ☎ +61 3 9923 5999, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 9:30am-6pm, last admission at 5pm. Home to over 10,000 aquatic creatures, there are four distinct areas of the aquarium dedicated to Antarctica, seahorses, the rainforest and the ocean, the latter of which includes a glass walk-through experience. Shark diving and animal feeding available. $35 adult, $21.50 child (4-15yrs), $29 concession, $92 family (2ad+2ch); discounts online.
Galleries and the arts
- Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), ☎ +61 3 8663 2200, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 10am-5pm, except Christmas Day. A museum, gallery and collection of cinemas dedicated to film, TV, video games, new media and art, both old and new. Regularly holds a number of interesting exhibitions. General entry free; charges apply for exhibitions.
- Hosier Lane (Across from Federation Square). If you want to sample street art, head for this little lane full of ever-evolving, colourful graffiti from end to end.
- The Ian Potter Centre (NGV Australia), Federation Square (At the back of Federation Square), ☎ +61 3 8620 2222, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tue-Sun 10:00-17:00, except Christmas Day and Good Friday; 13:00+ on ANZAC Day. Houses over 25,000 works of only Australian art, including paintings, sculptures, photography and fashion. Famous artists such as Frederick McCubbin and Sidney Nolan are on display, along with a fine collection of Indigenous art. Free for the permanent collection.
- National Gallery of Victoria (NGV International), 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, ☎ +61 3 8620 2222, e-mail: email@example.com. Wed-Mon 10:00-17:00, except Christmas Day and Good Friday; 13:00+ on ANZAC Day. The premier venue for international fine art exhibitions in Melbourne, with a permanent collection and international collections. A must-see for art lovers. Free for the permanent collection.
- ANZ Banking Museum, 380 Collins St (Any Collins St tram: Stop 4). M-F 10am-3pm except public holidays. Housed in the late-19th century Gothic Revival ANZ Bank building, it walks through the history of Australian banking from Indigenous bartering economies to finance of the future. Free.
- Chinese Museum, 22 Cohen Place, Chinatown (Just off Little Bourke St, near the plaza with the Chinese arches. Nearest trams at Cnr Russell and Bourke Streets), ☎ +61 3 9662 2888, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10am-5pm, closed Good Friday, Christmas and New Year's Day. Situated in the midst of Chinatown, it documents and explains the history of Chinese immigrants in Australia. The 'millennium dragon' is on display, the largest Chinese dragon in the world, along with an interactive underground exhibit highlighting the goldfields. Also on-site is a free visitor centre and a gift shop. The museum runs walking tours of Chinatown by appointment ($10 per person). $9 adult, $7 child/concession.
- Fire Services Museum, 39 Gisborne St, East Melbourne (Tram routes 11, 12, 30 or 109: Stop 12), ☎ +61 3 9662 2907, e-mail: email@example.com. Th-F 9am-3pm, Su 10am-4pm. A largely niche museum, it is the largest fire service-related collection in Australia. Houses historical uniforms, vehicles, photos and other memorabilia.
- Immigration Museum, 400 Flinders St (Tram routes 35 (City Circle), 70 or 75: Stop 3), ☎ +61 3 9927 2700. Daily 10am-5pm except Good Friday & Christmas Day. Located in the restored Old Customs House, it covers customs and immigration history over the past 200 years. Details the stories and experiences of immigrations to Australia, both past and present. $6 adult, children/concession free..
- Old Treasury Building and Gold Museum, 20 Spring St (Parliament Station or any Collins St tram or 35 (City Circle): Stop 8), ☎ +61 3 9651 2233, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-F 10am-4pm, closed Good Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day. Built in 1858 by a 19 year old architect, it was the city’s first Italian Renaissance building and many consider that its elegance has not been surpassed by anything in Melbourne since. Contains displays on the history of Melbourne as well as the history of gold in Victoria, including the original gold vaults. Fun activities for children, including the chance to earn a novelty gold license. The expansive Treasury Gardens behind the building are also worth a visit. Free.
- Polly Woodside Maritime Museum, 2A Clarendon St, South Wharf (Near the Exhibition Centre; tram routes 96, 109 or 12: Stop 124A), ☎ +61 3 9699 9760, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily in Summer, July school holidays and weekends in Winter: 10am-4pm. A maritime museum based aboard the restored 1885 sailing ship "Polly Woodside". Various kids activities available, including Pirate Sundays. $10 adult, $7 child.
- Victoria Police Museum, 637 Flinders St (Tram routes 35 (City Circle) or 70: Stop D6), ☎ +61 3 9247 6354, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10am-4pm. Displays with over 150 years of stories and of crime, justice, courage and forensic techniques. Includes some of the famous Kelly Gang's armour, the burnt out car used in the Russell Street Police HQ bombing and various records about famous gangland figures. Regular free exhibitions are on display. Free.
Parks and nature
- Captain Cook's Cottage and Fitzroy Gardens, 230 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne (Tram routes 48 and 75: Stop 10), e-mail: email@example.com. Cooks' Cottage: Daily 9am-5pm, closed Christmas Day. Features Captain Cook’s Cottage which is the cottage that belonged to Captain James Cook’s parents and was transported from Yorkshire to Melbourne in 1934. Cooks' Cottage: $5 adult, $3 concession, $2.50 child (5-15yrs).
- Queen Victoria Gardens. Features memorials to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, sculptures and a floral clock of 7000 plants.
- Royal Botanic Gardens. Recognised as one of the world’s finest botanic gardens, with over 10,000 species and 50,000 individual plants in the 38 hectare gardens.
- Medibank Icehouse, 105 Pearl River Road, Docklands (Tram routes 35 (City Circle), 70 and 86: Stop D11), ☎ 1300 756 699 (local rate), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10am-10pm daily. The largest ice recreation venue in the Southern Hemisphere, the Icehouse allows visitings to skate around a large ice rink. Free beginners classes on weekends and school holidays. Regularly holds public events such as dancing, games and music parties. $25 adult, $23 concession, $21 child (includes skates).
- Melbourne Star, 101 Waterfront Way, Docklands (Tram routes 35 (City Circle), 70 and 86: Stop D11), ☎ +61 3 8688 9688, e-mail: email@example.com. 10AM-10PM. Loathed by Melburnians for its exorbitant cost and constant delays, this observation wheel opened late to much fanfare in 2008, to only be closed 40 days later due to engineering faults and cracks. After complete reconstruction, the wheel is now safe and operational, and offers views over the city, suburbs, the bay and to hilly and mountainous districts in the distance, taking 30 minutes for a full ride/rotation. An "encore ticket" can also be purchased which gives the rider two trips; one at day and one at night. $32 adult, $19 child (5-15yrs), $26 concession, family prices available.
Melbourne’s vibrant retail scene thrives with alluring labels, products and shopping experiences. It's an eclectic mix of high end fashion, funky boutiques and mainstream stores, all of which have a home in the city’s laneways, retail centres and tree-lined streets.
- Bourke Street Mall (Any Bourke, Elizabeth or Swanston St tram). A popular pedestrian and tram-only mall in the city centre lined with both big-name fashion brands and start-up designers.
- Hussy, 338 Bourke St. A cult designer label that caters to a ultra chic and fashion forward clientèle.
- Fat, Shop G03, GPO, 350 Bourke St. Renowned for discovering some of Australia's most beloved labels; stocks emerging labels as well as the now established brands.
- David Jones, 350 Bourke St. Large, multi-level store of the higher-end department store chain.
- H&M (Melbourne GPO), 350 Bourke St, ☎ +61 3 9639 0039. Sa-W 9AM-7PM, Th-F 9AM-9PM. Famous Swedish retailer's first and only store in Australia, housed in the historic General Post Office building. Sells a variety of cheap, quality womens, mens and kids clothing, along with a variety of home furnishings.
- Myer, 314-336 Bourke St. The recently-renovated, flagship store of Australia's largest department store chain.
- Aesop, 35 Albert Coates Lane. QV A Melbourne born brand starting 17 years ago, Aesop is decked out in apothecary style and uses botanical extracts and natural preservatives where possible. Their products will definitely earn a prized rank in your bathroom.
- City Hatters, 211 Flinders St (beneath Flinders St Station), ☎ +61 3 9614 3294, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-F 9.30am-6pm, Sa 9am-5pm, Su 10am-4pm. A famous icon for many Melbournians, the City Hatters sits just beneath the main entrance to Flinders Street Station on the right. It has survived the test of time, opening at the location in 1910, and stocks a wide variety of accessories, mostly for men. The store also provides hat cleaning and measurement services.
Laneways and arcades
- Block Arcade, 280 Collins St through to Elizabeth St (Any Elizabeth St tram: Stop 2; or any Collins St tram: Stop 5), ☎ +61 3 9654 5244. M-W 8am-6pm, Th-F 8am-9pm, Sa 8am-5pm, Su 9am-5pm. A historic shopping arcade built in 1891, lined with boutiques and cafés, housed within carved stone and wood walls with a glass canopy above.
- Royal Arcade, 331 Bourke St Mall (Any Bourke St tram: Stop 5; or any Elizabeth St tram: Stop 3), ☎ +61 3 9670 7777, e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa 9am-5:30pm, Su 10am-5pm. Built in 1870, it is a historic shopping arcade that runs between Little Collins St, the Bourke Street Mall and Elizabeth St. The carved statues standing guard next to the iconic clock are worth a look, along with the numerous small shops.
Usually native to Melbourne's suburbs, a few new shopping centres (or malls) have been popping up in Melbourne's CBD. Emporium, Melbourne Central and QV are all located in the same area at the top end of Swanston St, connected by various walkways or crossings.
- Emporium Melbourne, 287 Lonsdale St (Walkways from Melbourne Central, Bourke Street Mall, or Swanston or Elizabeth St trams or buses along Lonsdale St), ☎ +613 8609 8221, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sa-W 10AM-7PM, Th-F 10AM-9PM. A recent arrival on the shopping centre scene, it is housed within the former Myer Emporium building. The centre has cemented itself in the high-end shopping scene, home to major international fashion brands in addition to flagship Japanese retailer Uniqlo.
- Harbour Town, 122 Studio Ln, Docklands (Tram routes 35 (City Circle), 70 and 86: Stop D11), ☎ +613 9328 8600, e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa 10AM-6PM, 10AM-5PM Su. An open-air shopping centre of factory outlet stores with a number of major brands. Prides itself on big bargains and discounts, although the prices are nothing spectacular.
- Melbourne Central, Cnr La Trobe & Swanston St (Melbourne Central station, any Swanston, Elizabeth or La Trobe St tram), ☎ +613 9922 1100. Sa-W 10AM-7PM, Th-F 10AM-9PM. Originally the only shopping centre in the CBD, it's recently began to face a lot of competition. Sits above the train station of the same name, and home to a large variety of stores and brands. An old shot tower sits within the centre's iconic glass cone roof, along with a small museum display about the tower's history.
- QV Melbourne, Cnr Swanston & Lonsdale St (Any Swanston or LaTrobe St tram or buses along Lonsdale St), ☎ +613 9207 9200. M-W Sa 10AM-6PM, Th 10AM-7PM, F 10AM-9PM, Su 10AM-5PM. Multi-storey shopping centre next to the State Library and opposite Melbourne Central, with a number of large supermarket and department stores such as Big W, Woolworths, Harvey Norman and Domayne Furniture.
- The Melbourne Shop by Lumbi, S2, 8 Driver Lane (behind the GPO), ☎ +61 3 9663 2233. M-Th 10.30am-5.30pm, F 10.30am-6pm, Sa 10am-5pm, S 12-4pm. A variety of high-quality wares such as mugs, cushions, phone cases, clocks and a Melbourne-style Snakes and Ladders rip-off. Items are assembled in Yarraville in the city's west.
- Outre Gallery, 211 Elizabeth St. For the art lover that doesn't have a lot to spend, Outre can get you started with originals for under $100.
- Arts Centre's Sunday Market, Between Hammer Hall and Arts Centre Melbourne (Just across the river from Federation Square). Sun 10am-4pm. Every Sunday, the small park between Hammer Hall and Arts Centre Melbourne is filled with stalls that sell arts and crafts locally made by the sellers. The place is animated with live performance at 12 noon. Free.
Between Degraves St and Centreplace (which link Flinders St to Collins St, between Swanston St and Elizabeth St), you will find several breakfast restaurants. Most open from 7AM and serve all kinds of breakfasts. Competition is strong and keeps quality up so the range of choice is impressive.
- Aix (Centreplace.). Has a huge selection of mouthwateringly good crepes.
Melbourne's Chinatown district centred on Little Bourke St is filled with cheap Chinese options and some well-hidden (but excellent) Japanese alternatives. Search Tattersall's Lane for deliciously cheap dumplings. The CBD is also suffused with postmodern Oriental restaurants catering to the large Asian student market.
- Camy Shanghai Dumplings, 25 Tattersalls Lane, ☎ +61 3 9663 8555. Chinese food in large servings, notable for its dumplings. Meals served with complimentary tea.
- White Lotus (Victoria St near Victoria Market.). Offering good vegetarian Chinese for those on a no meat diet.
- Gigi, 237 Swanston St, ☎ +61 3 9639 2233. This is the place for Japanese served fast and friendly.
- Gaylords, 4 Tattersalls Lane, ☎ +61 3 9663 3980. Kitschy ode to Bollywood in the heart of Chinatown.
- Crossways, 123 Swanston St.. M-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM. Tasty lunch cafe with a 2-course vegetarian all-you-can-eat meal. May be possible to work 30 minutes for your meal. $6.
- Gopal's Vegetarian Restaurant, 139 Swanston St., ☎ +61 3 9650 1578. M-Sa 11:30AM-8:30PM. Sister restaurant to Crossways
- Medallion, 209-211 Lonsdale St, ☎ +61 3 9663 4228, fax: +61 3-9484-6474. Serves gyros and other standard Greek lunch fare. $5-15.
- Stalactites, 177/183 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, ☎ +61 3 9663 3316. 24h. This Greek restaurant decorated with stalactites has delicious gyros and earthy meals.
- Melbourne Bar & Bistro, 168 Elizabeth St (Near Bourke St). Hungry budget travellers can eat all they want. $8.
- Mama’s Bưởi, Melbourne GPO, G25 Postal Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000. Set in the modernised historic building of the Melbourne General Post Office, this Vietnamese restaurant offers quality meals at reasonable prices. As an indication, a set menu meal costs $25 each and includes a drink, entree and main, with four choices in each. $25.
The CBD holds some hidden gems as far as coffee is concerned. Once again, Degraves Lane is the most popular destination while those seeking a little bit more style can head to the many malls for their fix.
- Degraves Espresso Bar, 23 Degraves Street, ☎ +61 3 9654 1245. Tucked into a bluestone laneway near Flinders St Station, this outlet has long-held the title of Melbourne's best coffee. Hours: Mon–Fri 6:30AM–7:30P, Sat–Sun 7:30AM-6:30PM.
- Laurent Bakery, 306 Little Collins St, ☎ +61 3 9654 1011. If Parisian pastries and good coffee are what you crave, then head here to a now franchised establishment with well-trained baristas.
- A typical Italian Wine Bar Wine Lane (24 Artemis Lane, ) dedicated to wine and cheese lovers. They have also a good selection of prosciutto and dried cured meat and a surprising range of truffles specialties, just something different.
- Serious cocktail aficionados should check out The Gin Palace (190 Little Collins St; 9654-0533), for a welcome mix of knowledgeable bartenders, funky bordello ambiance and a laid-back crowd.
- The Carlton Club, 193 Bourke St. Melbourne. Great late night joint on middle of the day, very functional with heaps of little spaces to get cosy and open areas to get your Sunday on. The rooftop bar in up there with the best in town. A must for people coming to Melbourne.
- A little more upmarket is Tony Starr's Kitten Club (267 Little Collins Street, tel 9650-2448 ) which offers a leopard-print throwback to the smooth cats and cool jazz of the 50's. The weekday crowd of funk loving twenty-something professionals sip on a range of cocktails blended and shaken by well-trained and attentive staff. The upstairs performance area hosts local and visiting funk, jazz and cabaret acts.
- The Croft Institute (21-25 Croft Alley, tel 9671-4399) epitomizes the kitschy-hidden-bar trend of the past few years. Tucked within the narrowest and smelliest alley in Melbourne, this place is somewhat charmingly fitted out like a high school laboratory; complete with beakers, test tubes and retorts. Check out the upstairs 'gymnasium' playing house and electro, and the hospital gurney (with stirrups) on display near the women's toilets.
- Arthur's Lounge (Corporation Lane, tel 9654 9744) is a decadent club / bar with prices and door policies to match. A crowd-friendly mix of house and electronica will keep you going, and the fun-loving (but sometimes pretentious) patrons are a pleasant mix of funky bohemia, city glamour and party people.
- For a taste of Fitzroy in the CBD, drop into the cheerful Rue Bebelons (267 Little Lonsdale Street, tel 9663-1700) for a reasonably priced coffee or beer. The Nepalese family behind the bar mix up great music and a friendly vibe to a crowd of laid back artists and students from nearby universities.
- Misty's (3-5 Hosier Ln, tel 9663 9202) hosts a smiliar crowd, but in slightly cooler retro-sci-fi surrounds. The staff are friendly, live DJs spin groovy tunes most nights and it makes a great launching pad for shows at the nearby Forum.
- Cookie (Swanston St between Lonsdale and Bourke opposite the Lounge). Excellent bar and cocktails with an upstyle crowd that likes to party hard. Has a restaurant upstairs for dinner serving excellent thai inspired meals.
- "Section 8" (27 - 29 Tatersalls Lane)bar in a car park made from shipping containers. 'nuff said?
- Bar Americano on Presgrove Pl serves up awesome cocktails and excellent coffee, but we warned, they don't serve skim or soy milk.
- Madame Brussels (63/59 Bourke Street PH:(03)9662 2775) This English Garden party themed bar is located on the roof and serves up excellent cocktails by staff in Tennis outfits. Cocktail jugs $30 and $50, 2+ and 4+ serves respectively
- The Workshop Bar (Upstairs Cnr Elizabeth and A'Beckett Sts)This relaxed bar is located in a former motorcycle workshop hence the name. The Workshop has reasonable priced drinks and an outside (roofless) smokers area. It's run by the same people who run e55.
- Nomads All Nations, 2 Spencer St, ☎ +61 3 9620 1022, toll-free: 1800 222 238, fax: +61 3 9620 1033, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 24-hour reception. Dorm beds from $19, single $38, double $48.
- Arthouse Hotel, 616 Elizabeth St, ☎ +61 3 9347 3917, e-mail: email@example.com. Also a live music venue so it may be rather noisy at night.
- Elephant Backpackers, 250 Flinders St (opposite Flinders St Station), ☎ +61 9654 2616, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers amenable facilities.
- Elizabeth Hostel, 490 Elizabeth St, ☎ +61 3 9663 1685, e-mail: email@example.com. Friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
- Flinders Station Hotel, 35 Elizabeth St (cnr Flinders Lane), ☎ +61 3 9620 5100, fax: +61 3 9620 5101, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 24-hour reception. Centrally located. Twins and doubles have TV. 4-bed dorm bed $27/night or $160/week, twin/double $672/night or $439/week, double ensuite $84/night or $499/week.
- The Friendly Backpacker, 197 King St (near Little Bourke St), ☎ +61 3 9670 1111, fax: +61 3 9670 9911, e-mail: email@example.com. Includes free internet and breakfast. Dorm bed $25, double $80.
- Greenhouse Backpacker, 228 Flinders Lane, ☎ +61 3 9639 6400, fax: +61 3 9639 6900, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Free internet and breakfast included Dorm bed $30, single $60, double $78.
- Melbourne Central YHA, 562 Flinders St, ☎ +61 3 9621 2523, e-mail: email@example.com. Centrally-located hostel in the backpacker hub of Melbourne. Shared room from $33.50, Double $78.50 (YHA members get $3.50 discount).
- Nomads Melbourne, 196 A'Beckett St, ☎ +61 3 9328 4383, toll-free: 1800 447 762. Shared dorm from $19, double room from $70.
- Toad Hall Hotel, 441 Elizabeth St (just north of Becket St), ☎ +61 3 9600 9010, fax: +61 3 9600 9013, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dorm beds from $25, single from $60, double from $70..
- Victoria Hotel, 215 Little Collins St, ☎ +61 3 9653 0441, toll-free: 1800 331 147, fax: +61 3 9650 9678, e-mail: email@example.com. Single $56-$155, twin/double $78-$155, triple $99-$165.
- Atlantis Hotel, 300 Spencer St, ☎ +61 3 9600 2900, fax: +61 3 9600 2700, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hour reception From $140, with cheaper specials online.
- Explorers Inn, 16 Spencer St, ☎ +61 3 9621 3333, toll-free: 1800 816 168, fax: +61 3 9621 1922, e-mail: email@example.com. 24 hour reception Twin/double from $118.
- Rydges Melbourne, 186 Exhibition Street, ☎ 1300 857 922 (local rate). Opposite Her Majesty’s Theatre, one block from The Comedy and Princess Theatres, and only a few more to other popular Melbourne theatres.
- Travelodge Southbank Melbourne, 9 Riverside Quay, Southbank, ☎ +61 3 8696 9600, fax: +61 3 9690 1160. Parking available
- The Westin Melbourne, 205 Collins Street, ☎ +61 3 9635 2222, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Modern, chic and elegantly understated.
- Park Hyatt, 1 Parliament Square (Near St Patrick's Cathedral), ☎ +61 9224 1234, fax: +61 3 9224 1200, e-mail: email@example.com. Superior service. With Italian marble bathrooms complete with a deep sunken bath with inset TV, twin basins, separate lavatory and therapeutic shower.
- Grand Hyatt Melbourne, 123 Collins Street, ☎ +61 3 9657 1234, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Acknowledged as one of Melbourne's finest hotels, it features Art Deco set against Veronese marble, highlighted by art commissioned from around the world. All rooms receive access to the Regency Health Club, open daily from 6AM.
- Hotel Windsor, 111 Spring Street, ☎ +61 3 9633 6000, fax: +61 3 9633 6001, e-mail: email@example.com. Built in 1883, the Hotel Windsor bills itself as Australia’s only remaining grand hotel. It possesses old world charm with modern luxuries and is opposite Parliament at the top end of Collins St.
Wi-Fi is plentiful throughout the CBD. Federation Square and the Melbourne Visitor Centre have free Wi-Fi, as does Flinders Street Station, the Crown Casino Complex, City Library and the State Library of Victoria. McDonalds outlets throughout the city will also offer free Wi-Fi with some moderate censoring. Local bars, cafés and restaurants sometimes offer their own password-protected Wi-Fi, which can be accessed on request (if you're a paying customer, of course). The City of Melbourne keeps a list of retailers with Wi-Fi access.
The State Library of Victoria has a number of internet-connected computers available that can be used for free without registration. Some may be used on-the-spot for up to 15 minutes, while it is also possible to book a computer for up to an hour in advance.