Culture in Melbourne: By Melburnians!

In some respects Melbourne's culture is what sets it apart from other cities. Known as the sporting capital of the world, Melbourne plays host to a number of exciting sporting events (both local and international) that can be enjoyed at one of the many first class venues. Melbourne is also a very multi-cultural city and because of this, offers an amazing array of different cuisines from over the globe. To help plan your holiday to Melbourne, some HomeAway staff members provide you with some helpful information and excellent insight into the city's culture.

  1. Matt from Marketing

    Matt loves the MCG; Photo courtesy of Fraser Reid

    Why do you love living in Melbourne?

    I think it’s the best city in the world! I’ve been to plenty of cities around Europe in particular, but I don’t think anything compares to Melbourne. There is so much to see and do – you’re never short on things to do. I live in Richmond, which is really close to some great bars and pubs along Swan Street, plus the MCG is nearby. I’m a sports fanatic, so to live in the sporting capital of the world suits me right down to the ground.

     

    How would you describe Melbourne to someone who has never visited?

    I would describe Melbourne as a laidback city with a huge variety of things to do. If you’re someone who loves to be active, there is a massive variety of sights to see around the city – Eureka Tower, the Arts Centre, Southbank, the MCG, Botanical Gardens and The Shrine of Remembrance are all within walking distance of each other if you’re feeling ambitious!

     

    Then again, if you’re looking for a more relaxed type of holiday then I’d suggest checking out one of the many cafes and beer gardens that are dotted around Melbourne for a nice coffee or afternoon beer in the sun. The Belgian Bier Garden on St Kilda Road is a really good place for a beer – I would also recommend Pillar of Salt in Richmond for some great coffee.

     

    What is your ideal day out in Melbourne?

    Being a sports nut, my ideal day out would definitely involve heading to an AFL game at the MCG to barrack for my favourite team, the Melbourne Demons. If I was going to make a day of it, I would head to Swan Street in Richmond for a late breakfast at one of the cafés – Cheeky Monkey do a pretty good job of it. Then I might go one of the local bars for a pre-game drink; somewhere like the Post Office is a good place for that. After walking to the MCG to watch Melbourne play (and probably lose!) I’d then make my way back to Richmond for a meal and some drinks with friends. If I’m looking for a change from Swan Street, I’d head to Bridge Road which has heaps of great restaurants and bars – a personal favourite is Maedaya, which serves awesome Japanese food.

     

    What is your favourite time of year to be in Melbourne?

    I would say that my favourite time in Melbourne is Autumn, so between March and May. Melbourne is already such a beautiful city, but when the trees begin to change colour and their leaves turn golden brown, it just makes Melbourne feel even more special. The weather is usually pretty fine, cooler without being really cold, and you can enjoy going for bike rides along the Yarra or walking through the Botanical Gardens. Plus the AFL season is in full swing, which automatically makes it a great time of year for me.

     

    What is your favourite sporting event held in Melbourne?

     

    Definitely the AFL Grand Final! Melburnians make such a big day of it, it’s almost a tradition for everyone (regardless of whether you follow AFL or not) to get together and enjoy a BBQ with some drinks watching the game. You have to pick a team for the day too – just makes it that bit more exciting. Melbourne has so many great sporting events – the Australian Open in the summer months and the Melbourne Cup in November are two of my favourites as well.

  2. James from Sales

    James loves to take a daytrip to Daylesford, just 1 hour from Melbourne!

    Why do you love living in Melbourne?

    Melbourne is the best city in Australia! I actually like the weather – I don’t mind that it’s a bit up and down; it makes for a nice mix and I think it just adds to the culture of Melbourne. In comparison, Sydney has beautiful weather but as a result everyone just goes to the beach! Whereas in Melbourne, most of the year the water’s too cold to go the beach so you have to find something else to do. Sport is huge in Melbourne, with music, theatre, events – it’s a really active city but with this laidback, cool, fun and active vibe. It’s got everything you need. In summer, you’ve got the beautiful bay and the beaches down the coast. Melbourne is a really easy city to get around and have a good time – great bars, great restaurants, excellent food. The people are friendly too.

     

    How would you describe Melbourne to someone who has never visited?

    It depends where they’re from. If they’re visiting from say, America, I would say that you could liken it to San Francisco. It’s laid back but still a big city, with lots of cool stuff to see and do – without the attitude of say, Los Angeles. Then, if someone is visiting from Europe, I’d say Melbourne is a mixture of cities.

     

    It has some of the romantic streets and boulevards like Paris has, for example. Melbourne has some parts that are a bit like London – Fitzroy in particular with its bars and old terraces. Some parts are also a bit like Barcelona, where you have all these cobbled streets and laneways and different things going that are a bit hidden. It really is a mix of different places, and as a result it’s a very multicultural city. You can almost find anything and everything in Melbourne.

     

    What is your ideal day out in Melbourne?

    My ideal day out would be to go out for breakfast and if the weather is good – very conditional – maybe take a drive out of town, have lunch outside of Melbourne. Somewhere down on the Mornington Peninsula or the Bellarine Peninsula, either of them has some great spots. I’d love to go for a surf if the conditions permit and then come back to the city and go out for dinner and drinks with friends.

     

    What is your favourite restaurant in Melbourne and why?

    My favourite restaurant in Melbourne would have to be Arcadia on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy. They do the best scrambled eggs for breakfast – possibly the best breakfast in Melbourne. I may or may not have been there about 100 times! It’s a pretty laid back place with a cool vibe and good quality food – all in a great part of town.

     

    What is your favourite daytrip out of Melbourne?

     

    In the winter months, I’d say Daylesford. If it’s cold in Melbourne then it’s likely even colder in Daylesford but that’s the beauty of it. There are lots of natural springs that you can go to – the Hepburn Springs Spa Centre to get a massage and have a hot spa. Then you can have a nice dinner at one of the local restaurants looking out over the valley. Then retire to one of the great cottages available, with a blazing fire and a nice bottle of red wine. That’s a great weekend right there!

  3. Sam from Finance

    Sam loves a good bike ride in Melbourne

    Why do you love living in Melbourne?

    I think Melbourne is a very laidback city – and I have lots of family and friends here, which helps. It has good bars, restaurants, a really good music scene and you’re never lacking for things to do. I think that sums it up pretty well.

     

    How would you describe Melbourne to someone who has never visited?

    I’d say it’s a very relaxed city. If you compare Melbourne to Sydney, where Sydney is very much about hustle and bustle, glamour and is a very big city by area, Melbourne has a more laidback vibe to it. It’s a little more of an alternative type of culture. If you’re coming from the USA, Melbourne is more like a San Francisco or a Portland type of city rather than a New York.

     

    What is your ideal day out in Melbourne?

    My ideal day out would pretty much be what I do on the weekend. I like to go and have breakfast at a nice café, such as Minimo on Sydney Road in Brunswick. They do a killer bacon & steak rosti. Then I’d probably go to a beer garden or a park with friends, just to catch up and have a drink. I’d like to go for a bike ride too. Or maybe I would do all of the above – go for breakfast, then go for a bike ride to a beer garden or a park and go and see a band in the evening!

     

    You like to cycle, so what would be your favourite ride or trail in Melbourne?

    There are a couple of good ones. It depends on what sort of bike you have, but if you’re starting in the city, I like the Main Yarra Trail. If you have an off road bike, you ride along the Yarra River, past the Collingwood Children’s Farm, past the Convent, out to Fairfield. Quite often when I do that with friends, there are some good off-road cross country tracks which are good fun. You can also keep following the trail and ride all the way to Westerfolds Park in Templestowe, going through Ivanhoe. If you have a road bike, a nice relaxed cycle is the Merri Creek Trail. It’s very green – it’s a good trail to do with your girlfriend, as you can pull over and have a picnic in plenty of spots.

     

    What is your favourite thing to do at night in Melbourne?

     

    I would have to say going out with friends to one of the great precincts in Melbourne. High Street in Northcote or Sydney Road in Brunswick – even Smith Street in Fitzroy; they’re all great places to do a multitude of things. There are lots of neat little restaurants, cafés and bars in those places. You can start at one place, maybe enjoy their drink special or happy hour, and then walk a few buildings down and get some food. There are always live music venues in Melbourne, along with some great beer gardens that are good value. The Brunswick Green is good - I like their beer garden. The Wesley Anne in Northcote is also good.

  4. Ross from Sales

    Ross enjoys going to the Australian Open; Photo courtesy of Richard Fisher

    Why do you love living in Melbourne?

    There are lots of reasons I love living in Melbourne! It’s one of the sporting capitals of the world, with the Australian Open in January being a favourite of mine. The AFL is probably the biggest sport, per capita, in the world and Melbourne is the home of the football which is great. Probably the one thing I love about Melbourne is that there is always something to do, no matter which day of the week it is.

     

    How would you describe Melbourne to someone who has never visited?

    I would describe it as very unique. I would say it’s a musical culture hub, with bands, music and arts always playing around the city. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is the biggest festival of its kind in Australia, and any international superstars usually perform in Melbourne, so there are a range of different events that you’ll be able to see. One of the reasons it’s a unique city is because of its trams, which are a great way to get around. I’d also say that it’s a foodie’s paradise, with so much great food available.

     

    What is your ideal day out in Melbourne?

    There are a number of things I could do on a day out! I like to go to the South Melbourne Markets and experience the pleasure of eating a South Melbourne Dim-Sim. Melbourne has really become a city that prides itself on its coffee, so I would probably head to Pillar of Salt on Church Street in Richmond, which makes excellent coffee. Then in the afternoon, I would head to a cool pub like the Young & Jacksons in the city, or the Espy in St Kilda and maybe spend some time at the beach.

     

    What is the best place in Melbourne for a romantic dinner?

    I haven’t been there myself, but I’ve heard that the restaurant in the Eureka Tower is pretty romantic. I would imagine that the views as you eat would be pretty spectacular. Fenix has a good view, with excellent food and is reasonably priced. It used to be part owned by one of the hosts of MasterChef, Gary Mehigan. It’s on Victoria Street in Richmond – I would recommend going there. Otherwise, a pie at the footy never goes astray!

     

    Do you have any tips for travellers heading to Melbourne?

    I would recommend that anyone visiting Melbourne just explore the city as much they can, in particular the laneways. They are one of my favourite things about Melbourne. Laneways or dark alleys have this reputation of being ‘dark and scary’ with criminals lurking about, but Melbourne is not like that as we’ve turned our laneways into trendy cafés and bars – you could have the time of your life in a laneway in Melbourne, which is something you probably wouldn’t experience in any other city around the world. 

  5. Gareth from Customer Service

    Gareth thinks Melbourne is a beautiful city

    Why do you love living in Melbourne?

    Because I don’t know any better! I love living in Melbourne due to its laidback lifestyle and wide array of sporting activities – it’s the sporting capital of the world. I think Melbourne’s scenery is great and in general, it’s just a beautiful city. The standard of living is great too, compared to many other cities in Australia. It’s been voted the most liveable city in the world as well, so that proves it’s a great place to live!

     

    How would you describe Melbourne to someone who has never visited?

    I would say that it’s a beautiful city with a wide range of attractions to see and plenty of things to do. You’ve got Port Phillip Bay, you’ve got the Hills (the Dandenong Ranges), you’ve got sport everywhere, you’ve got world class wineries within easy reach – there really is something for everyone in Melbourne. It’s a very friendly city with plenty of open space and parks for picnics, which is good for families.

     

    What is your ideal day out in Melbourne?

    Other than going to watch the AFL, I’d love to go for a long bike ride making my way along the path that winds its way around Port Phillip Bay, all the way down to Sandringham. Along the way, I’d stop at Port Melbourne to take in the views and maybe grab some fish and chips in St Kilda. Elwood Beach is another great place to stop. You can also ride along the Yarra River, which is a great ride as well.

     

    What is your favourite drinking hole in Melbourne?

    I don’t think I have one particular favourite, but the Elephant and Wheelbarrow in St Kilda has drinks at affordable prices. There’s a nice bar on Little Collins Street called New Guernica, which has a really cool layout with lots of different nooks and crannies – plenty of different places to sit. They also do plenty of good drink specials and play good music.

     

    Where is your favourite place to watch sport in Melbourne and why?

    Definitely the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). It’s the home of sport in Australia, it’s nostalgic and it has a great atmosphere due to the amount of people that it holds. The facilities at the ground are pretty good and you get a good view of the action no matter where you’re sitting. It’s easy to get to, with plenty of public transport options. The Melbourne Demons also play there!

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