Melbourne has so much to offer, and in 48 hours you won’t see it all. So here is a cheat’s guide to ensure you don’t miss the best bits.
Melbourne is one of the best cities in Australia for architecture, the arts, food, wine and shopping and it has a great winter vibe. The highlight is the food, and Melbourne has incredible food for every budget, age, taste and appetite.
There has never been a better time to go to Melbourne. At the time of writing, return flights from Sydney on Virgin are just $153.00. Wow.
Melbourne is a very well designed city and a stroll around the streets is a must, as there is so much to see.
Wear walking shoes and kick off a 48 hour stay with a walk around the city.
Melbourne has an exceptional tram system, which is free in the city, so don’t hesitate to jump on and off when you are tired or just want a break.
Koko Black; This is chocolate and hot chocolate at its best and there are several stores around the city. There are delicious boxed chocolates to take home as well as rich Belgium hot chocolates including chilli, as well as milk and dark versions. All are decadent and sensational. There are samples given out in some of the stores.
Lunch; Chinatown in Melbourne has to be seen to be believed. There are hundreds of Restaurants packed with fresh, sizzling, steaming and fried Asian food, and Asian supermarkets with delicacies to take home. There is an assortment of yum cha (the first opens daily at 11am), food courts, right up to the best of Cantonese at Flower Drum.
The laneways including Flinders Lane and Little Collins Street have many more upmarket lunch restaurants, and Degraves Street is full of cafe style restaurants and food, and excellent coffee.
For shopping, the Paris end of Collins Street ( at the top heading towards Spring Street) is home to the luxury European brands, and well worth a slow stroll even to window shop.
Bourke Street Mall is an obvious choice, and there are laneways and shopping malls off it, so explore away and don’t forget to go up to higher levels within the malls.
Shopping Malls including Melbourne Central and GPO and Emporium are gorgeous places to invest some time. Chadstone is a 25 minute uber ride away, but a fabulous place to find everything you could ever want.
Queen Victoria Markets: These markets are a popular tourist spot and have loads of knick knacks as well as outstanding food from fresh food and vegetables to raw and cooked meats, and plenty of snacks to buy on the go. A pleasant way to pass an hour or two. Check opening hours online as it is not open every day.
If you need a break and the sun is out, head to the nearest rooftop bar to see and celebrate all that Melbourne has to offer. Level 7, Curtin House at 52 Swanson Street has great drinks and great tunes, and even better views.
Farmer’s Daughters at 95 Exhibition Street has a conservatory stye rooftop with plants and a gorgeous bar ( the restaurant downstairs is also an upscale lunch venue).
The five star gracious, Colonial Style Windsor Hotel has exceptional, classic High Tea, as does The Westin.
After a day in the city, a quick tram ride to South Yarra at the end of the day is a good idea for a change of scenery, and to see a bit more of Melbourne whilst on the journey.
Happy Hour; The Botanical Hotel in The Domain is a fabulously trendy drinking spot with a well heeled crowd, an open fire for winter and plenty of people watching .From 5-7 there is an excellent happy hour that includes $15 Negronis, $15 French champagne and $6 wines, as well as $5 snacks.
Dinner; You can have a fabulous meal at The Botanical Hotel. In addition, there are a selection of restaurants on Domain Road next to The Botanical Hotel which are all good. Entrecôte Parisian Steak House and Cafe is the most elegant and decadent, but I love the Bistro Gilson with excellent well priced wood fired pizza, calamari and steaks.
If you want to head back into town to eat, exceptional CBD restaurants with modern, first class dining experiences include: Cumulus Inc, Supernormal, Ginger Boy, Il Solito Posto, Il Baccaro, Sunda, Becco and Longrain.
Night Owls: Melbourne has great late night eats. There are the obvious Cantonse classics throughout China town and the surrounding streets including Supper Inn and many more, but the New York style Gimlet restaurant has a fab supper menu from 10pm and their Bar Margaux has a brilliant burger.
Sleep tight as your second day will be busier than your first.
Coffee: Axil Coffee Roasters is a personal favourite, and there are various outlets all over Melbourne, but you would be seriously unlucky to get a bad coffee anywhere in the city. Code Black Coffee, Sensory Lab, and Market Lane Coffee are all good.
Lune; This cult croissant shop is a must visit, especially if you have children with you. Prepare to line up for at least 15 minutes and pay a minimum of $6 for a basic croissant but it’s worth it, as these are the most gourmet pastries in the country. Sweet, flakey, delicious.
South Bank; This is a pretty spot for a walk along the river. Start with a wander around Federation Square and head slowly up to the upscale Crown Casino and Crown Towers Hotel. Buskers will keep you entertained, as will stunning city and river views. There are markets on weekends.
Lunch: The Crown has some sensational dining experiences on offer including The Conservatory, which is a five star buffet experience, as well as Rockpool Bar & Grill, Koko Japanese, Mesh and Silks. There is a gourmet food court with everything from simple sushi to curries and salads.
Smith Street: Another option for lunch is to catch the tram to Smith Street for a wander amongst the fabulous shops and duck into one of the cafes for lunch.
Port Melbourne: A quick tram ride will take you to Port Melbourne, where you can stroll along Bay street to the sea. Pubs including The Railway Club Hotel, and The Prince Alfred have great counter meals, as well as gourmet menus and coffees or wines.
The city has some excellent wine bars. One of the newest is Bijou Bottle Store, in Little Collins which is a wine shop where you can either buy a bottle and sip it along the way ordering by the glass. It’s every European in style, as guests sit at high tables. Embla is another terrific local spot with great snacks and wines by the glass as is Trinket Bar which serves great pizzas. A night can be happily spent bar hopping and eating small bites along the way.
Another fantastic dining experience can be had at Chef David, a huge hot with teenagers due o their massive Tik Tok following which shows the experience there is more theatre than food.
With so many suggestions above, your last day can be spent squeezing in what you have missed. If you want something left field, try ice skating. The facility is excellent and it is in the city.