My Do-It-Yourself Tour in Melbourne for Two Days
After spending my first two days in Melbourne joining group tours to sightsee some of the region’s greatest tourist spots, I spent my remaining days in the city by touring it myself. Getting around Melbourne and some other important attractions nearby the city is actually easy. By choosing the most interesting tourist spots that I’ve wanted to visit and plotting the best route to get to these places, I was able to make my own version of how to tour Melbourne by DIY.
In two days, I was able to visit several important landmarks, beautiful parks and gardens, and some nice beaches.
Buy a myki Card for Tram and Train
First thing to secure when you wanted to explore Melbourne by your own is to have a myki card. The myki card is the ticket to travel on Melbourne’s public transportation like trains, trams and buses. This card is reusable and is easy to use.
This card is available at several retailers in Melbourne. I bought one in one of the convenience stores nearby my hotel. The card costs AU$6 and I topped it up with AU$14 load, which is enough for me to spend in my last two days in the city.
What I’ve found very convenient about transportation in Australia is that they have this daily cap. In Melbourne, the full fare daily cap for using the myki Card during weekdays is AU$7.52 while during weekends is AU$6. When you reached the daily cap, all your transportation after till the end of the day are already free. Nice, isn’t it? But what is even nicer is that they also have this free tram zone in the city proper wherein you don’t have to use your myki Card when riding the trams. Well, if I have few more days I think I will get to overuse that privilege. Who doesn’t want a free ride after all?
To use the myki Card, simply top up before your journey and then touch on and touch off at a myki reader as you travel. There’s no need to touch on and touch off at free tram zones.
You may also plan your journey and know the estimated time of arrival and departure of trains, trams and buses by visiting the journey planner of Public Transport Victoria. This had been a really useful tool for me when navigating the city and knowing the trams and trains to ride and determining the stations to hop on and off.
What to Do when in Melbourne?
There are a lot of things to do and see in Melbourne. The city has many remarkable attractions to visit and exciting things to do that two or three days are actually not enough to cover them all. Since I only had few days to spend, I only had visited those places that I’ve felt interested – from parks to beaches to landmarks to shopping precincts.
I began my DIY journey by riding a tram from a tram station nearby my hotel at St. Kilda Road going to Flinders Street. My agenda was to explore the city center first and visit the places nearby Melbourne the next day.
Begin at Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Railway Station is situated at the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets. This station is the oldest station in Australia. It is a very busy station because it serves the entire metropolitan rail network in Melbourne.
Follow the Street Arts at Hosier Lane
Melbourne is an interesting place for art, class and style. You’ll certainly find something artistic and interesting in every corner of the city, just like the street arts at the Hosier Lane. This famous lane is situated 5-minute walk away from Flinders Station. It is also across Federation Square.
The laneway was already busy with tourists checking out the street arts when I arrived. It was full of graffiti – and it was incredible. The combination of colors, arts and styles were such a great view. I walked around and was also able to chance upon some people painting the walls. After wandering around for a couple of minutes, I left the laneway and made an exit through Collins Street.
Find Chinatown in Melbourne
You know what they say that there’s always a Chinatown in any major city around the world. Melbourne also has one. The Chinatown in Melbourne is a special and well-known part of the city, which dates back to the gold-rush times of the 1850s. It is said to be the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world.
The area is situated within the Melbourne city center and is centered at the eastern end of Little Bourke Street. From the Hosier Lane, I walked for about 10 minutes through Collins Street and Russell Street to get to this area.
Today, the Chinatown is a major tourist attraction filled with many restaurants, cafes, businesses and places of worship.
Pass by Parliament House and St. Patrick’s Cathedral
From Chinatown, I exited on the way to Bourke Street and walked towards east to get to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
I was able to pass by the Parliament House on my way. This building has been the seat of the Parliament of Victoria, Australia, since 1855. The Parliament House is open to the public. I would love to visit but I might run out of time to spend for the next spots that I would be visiting; hence I didn’t stop by anymore and just continued my walk.
Just situated at the back of the Parliament House, there I’ve found the St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
St Patrick’s is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. It is the tallest and largest church building in Australia. It was built in stages between 1858 and 1940. The church was built from bluestone and sandstone and is a leading example of Gothic-revival architecture.
Have a Quick Break at Carlton Gardens
Going to Carlton Gardens from St. Patrick’s Cathedral only took me a 10-minute walk by passing through Albert Street and Nicholson Street. This garden is a popular picnic area for locals and museum visitors.
But Carlton Gardens is not just your ordinary park. It is a World Heritage Site. It contains great environment, majestic landscaping and ornamental features. The gardens take in the Royal Exhibition Building, the Melbourne Museum, the Carlton Gardens Tennis Courts, a children’s playground and several others.
Since I’ve already had done a lot of walking since I alighted from that tram at Flinders Street, I made a quick break and rested for a while at the gardens. I thought it was a perfect venue to stay for a moment. I sat in one of the benches and took some cookies from my bag – and there I had a picnic by myself.
Get Fond of Libraries at State Library of Victoria
When I noticed that it was already getting late in the afternoon, I left the Carlton Gardens and began my city exploration again. From the Carlton Gardens, I went to La Trobe Street, and there I rode the free tram going to Swanston Street.
My next stop was the State Library of Victoria. I’ve got interested in visiting the state library because of a beautiful library photo that I’ve seen online. Pardon if it was my reason why I was going to the state library but it seems like this library has already become a popular tourist spot in Melbourne because of its structure and interior.
The State Library of Victoria is the central library of the state. The library holds over millions of books and thousands of serials. It also houses several galleries, collections, journals, databases and photographs. I couldn’t remember when was the last time that I went to a library prior to my visit to the State Library of Victoria but it was nice that I was able to have a chance again to visit one.
The state library was really impressive. In fact, it was the most beautiful and interactive library that I’ve seen in my life. I was in awe as I walked around and as I explored the different areas of the library. But what was truly impressive among all the areas inside the building was the La Trobe Reading Room.
This area is a dome that soars in the center of the state library. The dome has already become a tourist attraction because of its stunning architecture and remarkable design.
The state library opens from 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM. Free Wi-Fi can also be accessed while inside. Drinking fountain and charging outlets are also available to use by library goers. It was nearing closing time when I left the area.
Shop at Queen Victoria Market
It was unfortunate that the Queen Victoria Market was already closed when I went there. It was already nearing nighttime when I arrived at the area and it was too bad that the market is only open until 5:00 PM.
I alighted from the Queen Street / La Trobe Station then walked for about 10 minutes to reach the said market. This popular shopping mecca in Melbourne sells a variety of fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood, gourmet, delicatessen foods and specialty delicacies. The market also sells a diverse range of clothing, shoes, jewelry and arts.
Catch the Sunset at Victoria Harbour Docklands
Since my visit to Queen Victoria Market was a fail, I left the area and decided to just go to Victoria Harbour. I went to the nearest tram station, which is the Queen Victoria / Elizabeth Street Station, and there I rode the free tram going to Flinders Street Station. To get to Victoria Harbour, I transferred to another that goes to Bourke Street / Harbour Esplanade Station. The tram rides combined took me about half an hour until I finally reached Victoria Harbour.
The timing was actually perfect because it was already sunset when I arrived. I didn’t know that this place was a perfect spot to capture the sunset. So when I saw the majestic sun setting to the horizon already, I took my camera from my bag and started shooting.
Checkout the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
After watching the sunset at the pier, I’ve decided to go to the observation wheel that I’ve seen peering through the rising towers. I walked the pathway that I’ve assumed that leads to the observation wheel. I was peeking through the buildings if I was on the right path and luckily I was. The walk took me half an hour. I passed through the New Quay Promenade and Harbour Town Shopping Center to reach the observational wheel, which is named as the Melbourne Star.
The Melbourne Star is a giant Ferris wheel. It is 120 meters tall and has seven spokes, which reflects the seven-pointed star of the Australian flag. A ride at the Ferris wheel takes 30 minutes. It offers unobstructed views of the Docklands, Melbourne’s Central Business District, and Port Phillip Bay and as far as Mount Macedon, Arthur’s Seat and the Dandenong Range.
A single flight per person costs AU$35. Melbourne Star is open daily from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM with the last flight departure at 9:30 PM.
Since it wasn’t part of my budget, I didn’t ride the Ferris wheel and just had my dinner in one of the fast food restaurants in the vicinity. I didn’t spend much longer in the area. I left after dinner. I rode the free tram at the Waterfront City / Docklands Drive Station going to Flinders Street.
Brighten Up your Day at Brighton Beach
Next day had arrived, and it was my last day in Melbourne. I still have few more hours to spend so I’ve decided to explore some important destinations that are out of the central district. First on my list was the Brighton Beach.
Since the Brighton Beach was the farthest of all the destinations that I had that day, I put it first on my list to visit. I decided to start from the farthest so that it will be easier for me to get back to my hotel when I arrived at the latter part of my tour.
Going to Brighton Beach was easy by tram ride to Balaclava Station/Carlisle Street and train ride from Balaclava Railway Station to Brighton Beach Railway Station. Travel time takes about 40 minutes.
Truthfully, it wasn’t the beach that interested me to visit Brighton Beach. But it was the colorful bathing boxes. The sky was gloomy when I made a visit at the beach but seeing the colorful boxes after having a long walk from the station to get to this area actually brighten up my day. It was nice seeing the vibrant boxes lining up at the stretch of the coast of Brighton. It added up color to the gloomy surrounding of the beach that day.
I spent about an hour in the beach having leisurely walk – and capturing some photos.
Get Wet at St. Kilda Beach
Another beach that I’ve visited was the St. Kilda Beach. This beach is Melbourne’s most famous beach. While usually we go to the beach to get wet by swimming or taking a dip, I went to St. Kilda Beach just to get wet by rain. Eh!!!
The rain poured so hard when I arrived at St. Kilda. It was hassle that it was raining; thus, I wasn’t able fully explore the area. My friend from Sydney actually recommended a café or some sort for me to try but I wasn’t able to find it because it was raining.
When the rain stopped for some time, I made a quick stroll along the beach side and took some photos. I saw a pier but I didn’t go farther anymore because I wouldn’t want to get caught in the rain.
St. Kilda Beach is just a walking distance from several tram stations in the area. I alighted at Acland Street/Carlisle Street Station when I arrived at St. Kilda. The station is near Luna Park. And when I left the area, I hopped in to a tram at Robe St/The Esplanade Station.
Learn Some History at Shrine of Remembrance
It was after having my lunch when I went to the Shrine of Remembrance. I was on my way to Royal Botanic Gardens but was able to pass by this war memorial. Since it was just near the gardens, I’ve thought of checking it out.
The Shrine of Remembrance is Melbourne’s most recognized landmark. It is the largest and most visited war memorial of National Significance in the state of Victoria. The shrine was made in remembrance of those who served and those who died in the Great War of 1914-1918 and armed conflicts and peacekeeping duties since.
A crypt, interesting galleries and some commemoratives are can be found inside. Take a time to spend inside the war memorial and learn some noteworthy information about the Shrine of Remembrance and its history.
This historical landmark is located along St Kilda Road. Take a pleasant 10-minute walk from Flinders Street and you’ll reach this place or you may ride any tram that passes by the Domain Road intersection, and then take a short walk from there to get to this place.
Go for a Walk at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Just across the Shrine of Remembrance is where the Royal Botanic Gardens is. The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is 38 hectares of landscaped gardens consisting of an assortment of native and exotic vegetation including over thousands of individual species. It is internationally renowned botanical gardens. It is a picturesque haven for recreation and a vital resource for education, conservation, science and horticulture.
Admission to the gardens is free. It is open daily from 7:30 AM until sunset.
The environmental complex was too big for me to explore with a limited period of time. I only did a quick walk around the gardens and after an hour, I already left the area and moved on to my next destination. The highlights inside the Royal Botanic Gardens are the National Herbarium, Tropical Hothouse, Plant Craft Cottage and the Guilfoyle’s Volcano water reservoir.
Take a Stroll at Southbank Promenade
I went to Southbank Promenade and decided to spend my late afternoon there. I took the tram again and alighted at Flinders Street Station. I crossed the Princes Bridge and headed towards St. Kilda Road. I passed by several important buildings like State Theater and National Gallery of Victoria. I attempted to get inside the National Gallery but too bad that it was already closed that time. So I just continued my walk until I get to the Southbank Promenade.
The Southbank Promenade stretches along the south side of the Yarra River. It is filled with restaurants, cafes and shops. Also, you’ll find here some of the high-class hotels, major offices, public art and classy new apartments in Melbourne. The variety and fabulous city views make this place perfect to hangout, stroll and watch some occasional street performer.
It was great to end my DIY tour at Southbank Promenade. It was relaxing walking in a slow pace and with such great views alongside. I crossed the Southbank Pedestrian Bridge going to Flinders Walk. I continued strolling until I reached the Flinders Street Station again. My leisure walk at the Southbank ended there. I then rode a tram at the nearest station going to my hotel in St. Kilda Road.
Leaving Melbourne – How to Go to Melbourne Airport the Cheapest Way?
The most convenient way to go and leave the airport is by riding the Skybus Express. This bus service operates daily and offers an express bus service from the airport to the city center and vice versa. Bus ticket costs AU$18 per adult one way.
But since I was on a budget and still have a few more hours to spare before my flight, I’ve thought of going to the airport the long way via train and public bus. From Flinders Railway Station, I rode a train along the Craigieburn Line and alighted at Broadmeadows Station. Travel time was 45 minutes. After which, just outside the station, I rode a 901 bus bound to Melbourne Airport. The bus leaves every 15 minutes from 5:00 AM to midnight. The bus ride to airport took me 15 minutes. I was able to get to airport successfully. I was still hours ahead of my flight.
I used my myki card to pay for my journey and since I already reached the cap for the day before I hopped on to that train to airport, my journey was free! Now, that’s the cheapest way to get to the airport. I was glad that I’ve opted to get to the airport through this way because it saved me from spending a hefty amount.
There’s still no better way to explore one’s place than by taking a walk and by discovering it yourself. In two days of walking around and riding trains and buses, I was able to discover Melbourne’s hidden secrets filled with lovely gardens, stunning architecture and impressive artworks. It is truly a vibrant and beautiful city. It is packed with city sights, historical landmarks and gorgeous beaches. Melbourne is indeed a great place to visit when in Australia, easy, friendly and lively.