By Bethany Kinner
With a city so exciting and diverse as Melbourne to explore, a short visit here may seem a bit overwhelming to plan because there are just too many options. So to help you out with the perfect 48 hours in this amazing city, we’ve put together a guide to how to spend two days in Australia’s culture capital. You’ll hit some of the top destinations as well as some lesser-known jewels so you’ll leave feeling like you’ve seen a little bit of everything. So pack your day bag and head out for a two day escapade, Melbourne style!
9:00 - Breakfast at Ground Yourself
Start your day right, by heading to Ground Yourself Cafe, one of the best in St. Kilda for a dose of wholesome foods paired with the warmest service around. I suggest their single origin long black which is rotated regularly and never disappoints. Prepare for the long, active day ahead and go all in with their Big Breakfast, you won’t regret it.
10:00 - St. Kilda Botanical Gardens
Luckily for you, it’s just a five minute stroll to your next stop, the St. Kilda Botanical Gardens. Turn right out of the cafe onto Barkly Street and then left onto Blessington Street and you’ll soon reach the garden’s green lands, mature shady trees, and enchanting walking paths. The small, but picturesque pond is a nice spot to take photos of wildlife. In spring visit the colourful rose garden and in any season visit the conservatory along Herbert Street which is open weekdays from 10:30-15:30 and weekends from dawn to dusk. The gardens open 7 days a week from sunrise to sunset.
12:00 - St Kilda Beach
Take Blessington St west and walk for 10 minutes, straight into St. Kilda Beach. Once a down trodden seafront area, it has now become a highlight for many. Stroll north to Luna Park, where an entry fee of just $2 will instantly take you back to the romantic early 20th century. And for you adventurous souls, add an extra hour to ride rides. Adult single trips are $10.95 and unlimited rides are $49.95.
13:00 - The Local Taphouse
Head east on Carlisle Street for 15 minutes until you get to the Taphouse, as the locals say. It’s an American/European inspired craft brew-only pub with a superb rooftop. I recommend mains like the chicken parma and mushroom and goats cheese burger. Wet your whistle with the absolute best craft brews available in the city. This award-winning venue stocks 400 of the best Aussie and foreign small-batch brews each year!
15:30 - Chapel Street Bazaar
Walk left and turn left onto Chapel St heading north into Prahran - it’s a 25 minute walk so if your legs need a break, hop in an uber. This long-running market is your golden opportunity to purchase vintage antiques and collectibles from many decades and locations around the world. To spend but a few hours here will summon many conversations of yesteryear and delight your senses as each stall is owned individually. Tip: Walk north on Chapel St for a few minutes to Dan Murphy’s and pick up a bottle of wine for the next activity. The bazaar is open daily from 10:00-18:00.
19:00- Cork & Canvas
Catch the 6 tram at the High St/Chapel St stop and disembark at the Shrine of Remembrance station and walk westward to Clarendon St. This night’s activity is an Aussie favourite and taps into your inner artists. Cork & Canvas is a 2 or 3-hour long guided painting night where you paint your own personal souvenir. It’s vital to pre-book this event, which takes place every night from 7 pm- 9/10 pm. Check your specific date’s timeframe ahead of time.
21:00 - Florentino
Take the 12 tram from York/Clarendon Streets for 15 minutes and get off at stop 7. Walk straight down Collins to Exhibition St and go right onto Bourke Street. Florentino is an elegant and transformative fine dining experience showcasing raw produce with Italian components. From the impeccable service to the ornate and decor and exquisite wine, it all comes together to support the once in a lifetime quality meal. If time allows go for the gran tour menu, a 7-course experience like none other. Bookings are essential and they are closed on Sundays.
8:00 - Queen Victoria Market
Another jam-packed day begins at the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere, Queen Victoria Market. Use this time to eat brekkie from a cafe and discover local produce, hand-crafted goods, and souvenirs a plenty! It can be intimidating and crowded at times, especially on a weekends, but that’s only because the QVM is a Melbourne institution that’s been around for 140 years. The market is closed Mondays and Wednesdays, and doesn’t open until 9 am on Sundays.
11:00 - State Library Victoria
Fuelled by your delicious brekkie, walk south on Elizabeth St and turn left onto La Trobe St. The State Library of Victoria is indeed a stately library, and its Neoclassical architecture has been well-kept with the grand reading room stealing the show. The rest of the building is worthy of a look around too with its endless nooks and crannies just waiting to be discovered. Open daily from 10am until at least 6 pm.
12:00 - the National Gallery of Victoria
Exit towards Swanston St heading south over the Yarra River to another national landmark, the NGV. Attracting critically acclaimed international exhibitions such as MoMA, the NGV has rightfully become the most visited museum in the entire country. And no matter how much of the 70,000 pieces of work you’re able to view it will surely be a highlight of your trip. Free general entry and open daily 10am- 5pm.
13:30 - Shakahari Too
Take tram 1 from Sturt St/Southbank Bvd 6 stops to Clarendon St. Walk north 500 metres. This vegetarian restaurant wows even the meatiest of carnivores with its innovative take on modern Asian cuisine. My favourites are the Wan Mei Tom Yum and Curry Enak Enak. But please leave room for dessert because the tofu caramel dish is simply out of this world! Lunch served 12-3pm. Dinner 6-10pm closed Monday.
15:00 - Alfred Park Lake
Walk off that dessert with a half an hour stroll to Alfred Park Lake, heading south down Clarendon Street to the north edge of the park. The 5k walking track traces the makes the same path as the Formula One loop. I also recommend calling ahead to The Boatshed to book your very own sailing adventure! No matter your level of expertise, the experienced and patient staff will be thrilled to get onto the water with you.
19:00 - Federation Square
Spend some leisurely time at dusk or early nightfall at this modern architectural wonder. Street performers and free exhibitions are often found here as are sport events and concerts broadcast on the big screen. All in all, it’s a lively space conveniently located at a tram hub and also directly across from the infamous Flinders Street Station. In fact, these two buildings themselves are a stunning juxtaposition in their own right worthy of a picture, or twenty.
20:00 - The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
Walk north away from the river and board the 12 or 109 tram at Town Hall stop 6. Get off just past the river and walk south another 3 minutes. Tonight you’ll end your Melbourne adventure by dinning in a moving tramcar decorated in gaudy/chic decor fit for a royal. Your 5-course meal will showcase the brilliance of Australian cuisine and is inclusive of all alcohol. This magical experience must be booked well in advance and you must arrive absolutely no later than 20:20 so arrive early if possible.
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