Melbourne - Sightseeing
Melbourne’s shopping core is alive with edgy, funky fashions, cool department stores and historic arcades. Melbourne’s CBD district (the city centre) is a tight grid of streets lined with shops, arcades and malls - between Victoria Street to the north and Federation Square / the Yarra River to the south.
Little Collins Street is the city’s fashionable thoroughfare. Try the wonderful Block Arcade on Collins Street, or the glitzy stores - such as Louis Vuitton - clustered around its southern end. Docklands is a new development of waterside bars, gift shops and galleries, making for a pleasant environment to browse and refuel.
206 Bourke Street, on the cusp of Chinatown, is the city’s latest retail development - a colourful fusion of independent boutiques, gift shops, eateries and international chains. Close by, the Bourke Street Mall has venerable old department stores and the usual suspects, such as Gap, H&M and Body Shop.
Melbourne Central is another huge mall, with Armani, Calvin Klein, Footlocker and scores of Antipodean outlets to browse.
Cool kids tend towards the stores of Chapel Street, with their vintage styles, funky gifts, book and music stores and the like; while Elizabeth Street’s thrift stores, sportswear and camping stores tend to attract the city’s many backpackers.
Melbourne’s ‘laneways’ are a network of tiny, pedestrianised lanes, weaving through the city’s main shopping district - and are home to fabulous hidden gems, such as quirky stores and cafes. Seek them out, and you’ll find the ‘real’ Melbourne. Start at Flinders Quarter which is located between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets.
For full on retail therapy, Melbourne’s Chadstone is the largest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere - containing a whopping 523 stores!
Melbourne’s natural muster station, Federation Square is a strikingly modern, open space, bordered by galleries, stores, bars and - most importantly - the Melbourne Visitor Centre. It’s as good a place as any to take a map, grab a coffee and plan your city adventure. But, wherever your wanderings take you, we recommend the following:
Southgate is a handsome promenade on the south bank of the Yarra, and the ideal vantage point to take in the Melbourne city skyline on the opposite bank. At the weekends it’s a lively spot, with art and craft fairs, and street performers.
The Parliament House was the first seat of Australian Federal Government, and offers free guided tours - giving a fascinating glimpse of Australia’s early years.
Situated in pleasant parkland, Melbourne Zoo is a dependable day out for families, containing scores of southern hemisphere favourites (from wallabies to kangaroos), outdoor jazz concerts and plenty of picnic spots.
Melbourne’s terrific new Aquarium (Flinders Street) is a must-visit. Over four floors, you’ll come face to face with sharks, spider crabs and spine-tinglingly bizarre creatures of thedeep. Plus, in the caves and rainforest exhibits, plenty of creepy crawlies from above the waves too.
St Kilda is Melbourne’s breezy and pleasant beachside suburb, and is home to a string of great ocean-side bars, boutiques and restaurants - and a historic amusement park, as well as fine, clean sands. The Botanical Gardens found here, is excellent too.
Carlton is a historic neighbourhood, alive with museums, great Italian restaurants, leafy avenues and - at the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens - Melbourne’s UNESCO World Heritage Sight (Australia’s first), an ornate Victorian pile, home to flower shows, concerts and conventions.
The Eureka Skydeck, at Riverside Quay, has an 88th floor viewing platform - with a glass cube jutting out three meters, for the brave - offering great panoramas of the city.