I’ve travelled throughout Europe, America and South-East Asia, and I may be a little biased, but for sheer coolness it’s hard to go past my home town of Melbourne. This city has everything you could ever dream of, it’s impossible to be bored here.
There are ridiculous sporting options on a local and international scale – AFL, NRL, Super 15, A-League, F1 Grand Prix, Australian Open, Boxing Day Test, Melbourne Cup – I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it!
The number and variety of festivals is staggering; flower shows, comedy, music, food and wine, film, even Sexpo! Then there’s our world class theatre district, an incredible restaurant and café scene, the country’s fashion capital, art galleries, museums, the list goes on and on.
The most recent study has Melbourne as the sixth most expensive city in the world, so it’s not cheap! But it’s also been voted the world’s most liveable city for the past three years in a row as well, so as the old saying goes, ‘you get what you pay for’. Anyway, this post is all about my five favourite places in Melbourne, so here goes:
1. St Kilda
For me this is home, Sarah and I own an apartment here and I love everything about this suburb. It has everything you need – beach; Luna Park; great cafes, restaurants and bars; bike and running paths; and a great buzz about the place because of the eclectic mix of people who call this place home. If you’re coming to Melbourne and are wondering where to stay, this is the place for you.
2. World class sports stadiums
I’m going to lump the MCG, Etihad Stadium, AAMI Park and Melbourne Park all in one here otherwise my top five would be over. Melbourne is a sports mad city, and the stadiums here reflect that. They are all, in their own way, unbelievable places to watch world class sport. The MCG is the jewel in Melbourne’s crown, and can accommodate just over 100,000 people. It’s without doubt amongst the best handful of stadiums in the world. Etihad Stadium is an amazing 55,000 seater with a retractable roof that’s used for both sport and international music acts. AAMI Park is a fantastic boutique 31,000 capacity stadium that doesn’t have a bad seat. You’re so close it’s almost like you’re in amongst the action and can hear what the athletes are saying to each other. Then there’s Melbourne Park, the home of the Australian Open tennis tournament. According to the players themselves it’s the best Open tournament on the international tennis circuit, so that tells you everything you need to know. If sport’s your thing, Melbourne’s the place to be.
Running along the edge of the Yarra River through the heart of the city, Southbank is a great place for a stroll, dinner in one of the many amazing restaurants, or exploring the Crown Casino complex. My personal favourite place is Pony Fish Island, a great café at the base of a pylon holding up one of the footbridges in the middle of the Yarra River. Great place to have a drink and bite to eat and watch the world go by.
If St Kilda is the eclectic epicentre south of the river, Brunswick Street takes it up a notch in the north. A heady mix of alternative fashion outlets, cafes, bars and restaurants, it’s the hipsters and uni students who call this part of town home. If looking cool by working hard not to look cool is for you, this is the place to be.
An oasis in the middle of the bustling city, the ‘Bot’ is a great place to go and unwind in a beautiful and picturesque setting. If you want peace and quiet while surrounded by the best nature has to offer, this is the place for you. There are so many different features to the Gardens it would literally take you weeks to explore the whole area. It’s also a very popular place to go for a run with the track around the outside populated by hundreds of runners every day. Some people run for exercise, others for the ‘scenery’ if you know what I mean.
Melbourne is a city for experiences, not necessarily for stunning beauty, although it’s no ugly duckling. As you can see from my list, the top four are all about what the city has to offer, not what you can look at. In fact, my number five was a real toss up between the Royal Botanical Gardens and Chapel Street, but I went with RBG because I wanted to include something pretty.
So there you have it my top five. What do you think? Is there anything you would have included that I’ve left off? Leave your suggestions in the comment section below.