By Chris Wyness an editor who moved to Melbourne to pursue journalism in the 80s, fell in love with the city’s beautiful green spaces, craft beer and music scene, and never left!
Edited by Jessica Wright
Melbourne, with its sprawling skyline and beautiful green spaces, is a vibrantly multicultural city that combines a passion for the arts with an equal passion for sports, coffee and great music. A diverse and dynamic travel destination where, as Melbournians love to say, you can experience four seasons in one day. It’s a testament to the charms of the place that I arrived here from Canada in the 80s, and simply never left. I fell in love with Melbourne on a solo backpacking trip and just never looked back. While the pull of the city remains as strong, a lot has changed and in a city this size – the second largest in the country – exploring Melbourne alone can be somewhat daunting. Not to fear, I’ve learnt a thing or two in my time, and while hitchhiking across the country is no longer the best means of travel, I can certainly tell you what is, as well as giving you some other tips and things to do in Melbourne by yourself in this Melbourne solo traveller guide
Getting around Melbourne on your own is easy and convenient thanks to an affordable and ever-expanding train system and trams which are liberally scattered across Melbourne – and free in the business district. While Uber and taxis are reliable, they can be pricey depending on the time of day, particularly for someone travelling solo, and with so many people travelling by car the roads get pretty full you’ll want to be smart about the way you get around.
Set Up a Home Base
Melbourne CBD and surrounds really form the heart of it all, and staying in any one of these areas will set you up for easy and accessible travels around Melbourne. The quirky, alternative suburbs Fitzroy and Carlton make for a trendy home base, ensuring that you never have far to go to find laneways lined with street art and myriad bars serving a cold brew. These suburbs are packed so full of fun things to do in Melbourne alone (see a detailed guide here) that you might not want to wander from them! South Yarra offers a picturesque and central stay, bordered on one side by the botanical gardens, and the banks of the Yarra River on another – the perfect place to kick-off your adventures – and nearby Southbank covers a wide budget range, with some seriously stunning postcard views. For a solitary traveller looking for a seaside stay, St Kilda is a perfect match; slightly further away, the beachside suburb offers the chance for relaxing daytime excursions such as stroll along the Esplanade or a visit to Luna park, a fun outing for the kiddy-at-heart. The Docklands, South Melbourne and Southbank are a few other stellar options, and if you need more details here's a guide.
There are so many different things to do in Melbourne alone that it’s almost hard to choose where to start. My advice? Start with a coffee; with a plethora of delicious roasts, which many Melbournians would argue are the best in the world. Once energised, take your pick of day-time activities; I love to check out the new exhibits at the National Gallery of Victoria; the first National gallery in Aus. If you enjoy that, you’ll probably enjoy the State Library Victoria, a keeper of regional history and stately exhibitions. If something vintage tickles your fancy you could visit the Rooftop Bar with a retro rooftop cinema and some of the best views of the city. For more fantastic views pop up to Naked In The Sky, or The Lui Bar where you can sip on a cocktail while scanning the city skyline. Add a touch of history to your photo-op at the Shrine of Remembrance and finish off the day with an easy stroll up to and around Carlton Gardens, or along one of the busy strips such as Brunswick Street in Fitzroy and Chapel St in South Yarra, where you can stop off for a gelato or craft-beer. Bar-hopping, taking in a theatrical production, or simply sitting by the Yarra watching the the reflection of the city lights are just a few of the things to do in Melbourne by yourself at night.
Indulge Your Taste-buds
Travelling alone is hungry work, but isn’t that the best kind of work there is? With coffee as good as it is in Melbourne, there is always room for a second (and third). Start your flavour explorations at Dukes Coffee Roasters to have a preliminary coffee and pastry, followed up by breakfast at Hardware Societe, with a lazy read of The Age over a second flat white. For lunch I’d walk to Shujinko Elizabeth, for ramen enticing enough to travel continents for and if you’re still in the mood for something oriental, be sure to visit Flower Drum in Chinatown, an institution considered by many as a foodie must. After a dinner at any of these delightful establishments it’s almost unthinkable that you will have room for more; but that doesn’t account for your dessert stomach! Finish off a day of culinary delights with a gelato from Pidapipo or, for those with a more sophisticated palette a single-malt at Whisky at Alement might be the ultimate night cap. The food scene in Melbourne is in full flourish; an exciting global mix, with influences from around the world and an ever-evolving rotation of restaurants to try; it would be ambitious to sample everything Melbourne offers in a lifetime, let alone a few days. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t try!
Make Some Friends (or don’t!)
Australians are generally friendly and well-travelled, and quite receptive to new people, so don’t be shy – they will likely be very happy to help answer questions or give guidance. To really meet people or make friends, if the inclination strikes, why not tap into one of the many sporting events that Melbournians are passionate about. The Australian Open tennis tournament is hosted in Melbourne over the last fortnight of January each year, and the Australian Rules Football (or the AFL to those in the know) was first developed in Melbourne. Now a national sport, it has a massive following in Melbourne. The annual Formula 1 grand prix is held in March, and for those into horse-racing there is the Melbourne Cup in November each year – an event so well-loved, there is a national holiday dedicated to it! One thing is for sure, you don’t need to be with friends to enjoy the camaraderie and spirit of a good sporting event.
Make Some Friends (or don’t!)
If however, horse-racing, cricket, or any sport for that matter are not quite your cup of tea, perhaps some whiskey or craft-beer tastings will be. Melbourne has a thriving craft-beer and bar culture, with many laneways offering niche and trendy pubs to explore. Heartbreaker has some tasty craft beer, and a jukebox loaded with classic rock, an ideal place to get in a game or two of pool, while enjoying a beer and a chat with new friends. The truly solitary traveller craving the great outdoors might consider things to do in South East Melbourne. Take a day trip out of city centre and to destinations beyond such as the Mornington Peninsula, the Dandenong Ranges and the Great Ocean Road–breath-taking spaces so characteristic of the Land Down Under, with natural beauty and serenity perfect for quiet solo travels.
Hello, curious traveler!
Embark on a unique experience with Hello, curious traveler!
Embark on a unique experience with Our personalized, private tours, led by local hosts, make you feel like you’re exploring the city with a knowledgeable friend. We’ll take you to well-known sights and reveal Melbourne’s hidden gems, unveiling stories typically missed by traditional tours. So unscript your journey, and see Melbourne through the eyes of our local hosts!
Top private experiences in Melbourne
We’ll pair you with the perfect host
There is no better way to see a city than with a friend who lives there. This is why we carefully match guests with their perfect host based on interested, personality and type of experience so they can discover a city beyond the tourist trail.
Make your inbox happy with our travel tips and inspiration as well as exclusive offers and first access to new services.