47030252 - view of melbourne skyline at dusk australia

Every tip on this guide can be found in one easy to download Google Maps link, here. We’d say you’re welcome, but we get a few cents from you being here, so we’ll call it even.

Some cities are what we’d call “48 hour cities”, which are essentially places where 48 hours is plenty of time to enjoy yourself, and then that’s probably enough. Melbourne is basically the exact opposite of that.

Often unfairly overlooked for buzzy Sydney, Melbourne is a destination which offers foodie heaven, beachfront glory and bustling city all wrapped up in one package that can only really be described as  caffeinated, curated hip living heaven.

Here’s what to do, where to eat and how to get around in Melbourne, which if you ask us, is easily one of the ten best cities in the world. In fact, probably top five…

a building with a dome and a street with people and carsGetting Into Melbourne From The Airport

With the clock ticking on your 48 hours, you’ve got options when it comes to getting from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport into town. Most journeys take between 25-35 minutes and the main choices are to either grab the SkyBus or take a ride sharing service, like Uber.

The SkyBus is a popular choice which offers service from MEL Airport to St. Kilda, the Central Business District (CBD) and other areas as well. The bus stops directly outside the terminal and if you book online, it’s about $14USD or £10 per person each way.

Ride share services from Melbourne Airport directly to wherever you’re going really aren’t that bad, especially if you’re splitting.

A ride will typically fetch around $55 Australian Dollars, which is around $40USD or £28 British Pounds. If you’re splitting, it’s effectively just double the price of the SkyBus.

a street sign on a street with cars and buildings in the background

Where to Stay In Melbourne

One obvious reason to spend more than 48 hours in Melbourne is simple geography. Like London and other exciting cities around the world, Melbourne is widely spread and each neighbourhood offers a totally unique and different vibe, with gems worth discovering.

If it’s your first time and you like easy access, the CBD and Southbank area is a popular choice, with major hotel chains galore and quick access to well known central shops, museums and cool nearby neighbourhoods like Fitzroy. You can’t go wrong with the Westin, The Langham or Treasury on Collins.

For something a little more unique, St. Kilda and Windsor are a really fun way to go. The areas are similar to the way Brooklyn sits near Manhattan and if you’re into food, boutiques and nightlife, this is probably where you want to be.

Renting an Airbnb in either neighbourhood and seeking out Chapel St as a point of reference will lead to serious enjoyment, with fantastic access to the city via the 6 Tram.

Fitzroy is another solid choice slightly closer into the city and here you’ll find great boutiques as well as Airbnb options. If you’re looking for Santa Monica, California kind of vibes, Brighton further east of the city is high end beachfront living.

Getting Around Melbourne

In Melbourne CBD, walking is your friend, but so is public transport. The above ground trams are super easy to use and will save you a fortune. Know this: they’re not free. The city is very liberal in enforcing that people actually pay, but don’t be a terrible tourist and ditch.

You can grab a MYKI card at any major stop, or 7/11 store and tap on/tap off whenever you get on. Google Maps has the full grid laid out, so whenever you’re on wifi just plug in your destination and then take screenshots for when you’re offline.

If Uber is your style, it’s everywhere in Melbourne and relatively cheap too. Bolt (Taxify) is a more popular local option as well, which may save you a few bucks.

a building with a roof over a walkway

Day One: Let The 48 Hours In Melbourne Begin

Ask any Victorian, and they’ll proudly tell you they are coffee snobs.

If not, they’re tea drinkers. No morning in Melbourne is complete without an amazing pastry which may knock Paris off the map, or a cup of coffee which likely beats any Colombian cafe. It really is that good.

For Morning Coffee In Melbourne

Dukes Coffee Roasters (CBD), Kinfolk (now Sibling) (CBD), Bonnie Coffee (CBD), Slowpoke (Fitzroy), Journeyman (Windsor) or The Tamper Trap (Brighton) will definitely have you covered.

Expect good pastry and muffins in any of the above, with full blown outstanding breakfast options a la eggs and etcetera at Tamper Trap or Journeyman. And yes, Journeyman is worth the journey – it’s a personal fave.

a cup of coffee with a swirl in the foam

Where To?

Once caffeinated and croissant’ed the Melbourne CBD is a perfect place to kick things off, especially if it’s your first trip.

A walk along Southbank will take you weaving along the gorgeous Yarra River and you can wind your way through famous graffiti streets like Hozier Lane and cool things to see along Flinders Lane.

You can then transition through Chinatown and toward nearby Fitzroy, via the Melbourne Museum.

The impressive structure is the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere and combines science, culture, nature and photography in an impressive package. The gift shop is a gem for picking up cool trinkets from your trip too.

At this point, it’s probably time for some shopping, or a quick bite to eat. The good news is, across the street from the museum, the Fitzroy neighbourhood is off the charts for both.

Simply wander up and down Gertrude, Brunswick or Smith Streets for boutique shopping both high end and low, and diverse restaurants at every turn. This is the perfect place to spend the afternoon.

For Great Lunch In Melbourne, Hit These Spots

Marios (Fitzroy), Marion (Fitzroy), Archie’s All Day (Fitzroy) Tokyo Tina (Windsor), Chin Chin (CBD), Cafe Di Stasio (St Kilda) or David’s (Prahran) will set you off right, from eccentric Japanese food (you can guess which one) to refined Italian (you can guess that one too).

Basically, you can’t go wrong. Keep in mind, these places are great on either day.

What’s Next?

Whether you’re a “boutique shopper” or not, the Fitzroy area is worth a gander. There are small art galleries, unique jewellery stores only offering local designers and clothing shops offering the same. Since you’ve worked so hard all day, it’s also home to one of Melbourne’s very best gelato spots, Gelato Messina.

After wandering through Fitzroy and Carlton and peeking into a few shops, the day should be mostly behind you. With that in mind, it’s probably time for a drink.

Best Cocktail Bars In Melbourne

For pretty spectacular views of the city as the sun sets, Naked For Satan has an awesome rooftop bar worth checking out for low key beer and wine. If more bespoke cocktails and speakeasy vibes are your scene, check out Loch and Key, Eau De Vie or The Attic in Black Pearl.

a large rock cliff on a beachSide Trip: Time Out To See Victoria’s Amazing Terrain

Melbourne is part of Victoria, which makes up a part of Australia which will cause your jaw to drop if you head even just a couple hours away. If you do have more than 48 hours, which we hope you do, a trip to the 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road or anything of the sort is basically mandatory.

For an affordable, small group tour, we highly recommend Hike and Seek Tours, which offers neat excursions to a variety of “wow” worthy places, all with friendly guides and no more than 9 people. It’s basically the anti “tour”, tour.

a row of colorful beach hutsDay Two: Time To Branch Out

If someone says they didn’t quite “get” Melbourne, it’s because they’re one of the dumb tourists who walked the five blocks near their central hotel, couldn’t find a Starbucks and decided to turn around. Buh-bye, idiots. Aside from the endless nightlife, world class food and friendly vibes, it’s the huge mix of neighbourhoods which makes this place so exciting. For day two, you’re ticking them all off.

If you’re staying in the CBD, it’s the 6 Tram from Town Hall/Collins St to Chapel Street which will put you in prime position. Ultimately, you’re going to go further out to Brighton, so if you’re someone who likes to work out to in, you could just go all the way to Brighton first.

Chapel St is a as vibrant as life gets and it’s the perfect place to cruise up and down enjoying local cafes, shops and eateries; all while getting a sense of actual local Melbourne life. People live here.

Once you’ve had your fill of Prahran and the Chapel St area, you can fill the most insatiable of sweet tooth’s at Glacé. This is the insane super Michelin star style chef meets all your munchies dreams in one spot dessert bar, headed by Christy Tania. The honeycomb ice cream with salted caramel may be the greatest thing on earth, maybe.

Brighton, St Kilda And Beyond

The other major stop of the day is Brighton, and yes, you’ll be seeing the Instagram worthy Brighton Bathing Boxes, amongst other fun things. Bring your best camera, or at least a phone capable of doing them some justice.


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Going into Friday night like it’s sunshine all day. #brighton #wanderlust #travelgram

A post shared by Gilbert Ott | GSTP (@godsavethepoints) on

This high end neighbourhood offers uncanny beach and city views, great walking and really funky spots to eat and drink. Figure out the most logical way to get from wherever you are to the Bathing Boxes, walk the beach and then plan on heading inland to peep the local spots.

Note: if you end up on the wrong street, it can feel a bit like old rich one percenters with too much of your grandmas perfume on. Just turn a corner and it’ll all work out.

If you’re a walker (not the Game Of Thrones kind), you’re in luck. Glacé is quite near Fitzroy St, not to be confused with the neighbourhood, which will take you down to the St Kilda Pier. This is a beautiful stretch of pier which is a clever place to perch for sunset.


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Melbourne by night. Even with the crowds, St. Kilda Pier is a pretty place to watch the sun go down over the water.

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Which now brings things to the big moment on any trip. After sunset, maybe some cocktails and probably some sweets, there really just aren’t many ways to toast a big trip quite like dinner. In Melbs, which is short for Melbourne, there are so many shades of wonderful.

Where To Eat Dinner In Melbourne

For a special $120 USD (ish) per person style meal, Cutler and Co is worth every penny. It was easily the highlight of our most recent Aussie culinary journey and all done without pretentiousness. From there, down, head to Babu Ji (St Kilda), Coda (CBD), Amok (Prahran), Cumulus Inc (CBD) Supernormal (CBD) or Cafe Di Stasio (St Kilda), all of which will bring a smile to your face.

That’s it!

Your 48 hours are up and it’s time to go home. If you have extra time, it’s worth making time for Melbourne Park where you’ll find the Australian Open Tennis and Melbourne Cricket Ground, or if you’re a big wine fan, maybe heading to the Yarra Valley to scout some great juice. Melbourne is a city like the greatest of onions, so it may take you a couple trips to fully peel it back, but you’ll fall in love from minute one.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Just got back from Melbourne on Tuesday am. Completely agree with your review. Loved Melbourne — so easy to get around in the City and from the airport. Would highly recommend two restaurants. Naked for Satan in Fitzroy (in particular the upstairs dining room) is exceptional for lunch and dinner. Can dine inside our outside. Food SOOO good. In St Kilda, we loved Miss Jackson for breakfast. Food was fantastic, but the service was slow.

    For drinks and sunset, check out the Esplanade Hotel aka The Espy in St Kilda and then walk out on the pier to check out the penguins. Amazing to see penguins a 10 minute walk from shore.

  2. and at the moment (as of last night) BA have released hundreds of business/first award seats from LON to SYD… pretty good excuse to burn 2for1

  3. It is worth noting (as a Melburnian) that above ground trams are free to travel on without needing a Myki card within the CBD. But you’re right – walking is a good friend…

  4. I can’t imagine returning to Australia anytime soon. To spend a lot of time and money to fly all the way there and the slightest uptick could have the government expelling foreigners — at best — or arbitrarily locking them in a quarantine camp — at worst. I used to love Australia and all things Australian, but now think of it as an illiberal and unfree country. I hope my fears remain unfounded, but the past year suggests maybe not and the way people capitulated and largely defended government actions was completely shocking to me and has left me thinking that we share fewer common values than I had previously presumed.

  5. Australia is paradise and is a great Nation, with ScoMo having done an awesome job protecting the economy, jobs and the spread of COVID.

  6. This review influenced me not to waste my time on a trip to Melbourne.

    But this may be more of a reflection on the writer. Calling people “dumb” and “idiots” poisons an article and suggests the author is narcisstic and arrogant. Therapy is indicated.

    I look for beauty, adventure, and variety. This article highlights coffee, shopping, and dining, which are available in most cities and are not sufficient motivations to choose Melbourne over any other place on Earth.

  7. After seeing how the OZ gov treated its own people throughout Covid, I’m no longer in any big hurry to make the long haul down under.

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