The capital of the Australian State of Victoria, Melbourne, is the second largest city in the country and continent with a population of five million, approximately one-fifth of the entire country. Tourists and locals alike will never get tired of trying to find something new to explore in the city; however there are a few must-dos around the city to truly feel like a local.
Having lived and worked in various cities and countries around the globe, Thomas Leen has had the opportunity to experience and learn from different cultures and traditions. Currently residing in Melbourne, Australia, he works as the Global Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for BHP, a multinational mining company. He knows that Melbourne has a lot to offer and tourists can get caught up in sorting through the myriads of travel suggestions. Thomas Leen provides his own personal guide to Melbourne.
Federation Square/Flinders Station
A fairly new addition to the city since 2002, Federation Square is the bustling hub of the city, always busy with tourists and with Flinders Station close by, people will find themselves here at some point during a trip says, Thomas Leen. There are always various events happening, especially during weekends, but it is also a great spot to grab some coffee and people watch as well. With the Yarra River, The Atrium, and St. Paul’s Cathedral all within a stone’s throw, the square always has something to offer everyone.
With over 80% of the population of Australia living within only 50km of the coastline, it is no surprise that Melbourne locals love to soak up the sun and enjoy a day out at the beach. Popular beaches in the area include Brighton Beach, St. Kilda Beach, or the more secluded Half Moon Bay.
Laneways and street art
Thomas Leen explains that another popular attraction in the city is the small intimate laneways lined with cafés and restaurants, with Centre Lane, and Hardware Lane being two that should not be missed. Many laneways are also noted to be famous for their street art and Hosier Lane is arguably one of the most popular, with locals knowing that if they want a picture there, early mornings are the best time to go. Blender Lane and Union Lane are two others that are worth a visit, with fewer crowds, but equally astonishing art.
Queen Victoria Market
As any local will tell you, a visit to the Queen Victoria Market is a must. As one of the largest 19th century markets, it provides goods, food, and an amazing atmosphere, and it is easily one of the favorites of the city. Thomas Leen says if visitors are lucky enough to be there in the summer months, the Night Market is one that should not be missed, providing an array of foods from around the world mixed with live music every Wednesday Night from November to March.
Wpcpey / CC BY-SA
Royal Botanic Gardens
Spanning 38 hectares, Thomas Leen and other locals enjoy visits to the garden as an escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown life, allowing the opportunity to enjoy this natural landscape. With over 8,500 different species of plants, visitors never tire of runs through these gardens.
Photographer: Adrian Vittorio [CC BY 4.0]
Having the world’s largest tram network, it is no surprise that Melbourne locals get around easily using this mode of transport. With 250km of track and almost 500 trams, transportation is made even easier with a simple fare system, allowing for free rides within the central business district, and a two-zone system. Payment can be done through Myki, a card system that can be loaded with a dollar amount, or with prepaid tickets or passes. Thomas Leen suggests taking the free City Circle route to kill a few hours and take in many of the major sights of downtown. Along with the tram system, over 300 bus routes supplement the public transport system helping locals and tourists get around.
Final Thoughts from Thomas Leen
Beyond the reasons already presented that Melbourne has become a location that tourists flock to, Thomas Leen also points out that Melbourne ranked as the world’s most liveable city for seven years in a row from 2011 to 2017. This is a ranking of cities based on an annual survey of living conditions, which analyze clean water and air, adequate food and shelter, sense of community, hospitable settings, and more. Adding Melbourne to your bucket list of travel destinations may be worthwhile to check out what has led Melbourne to gain such a positive reputation.