72 Hours in Melbourne, Australia | Travel and Food Guide


Photo: The Langham

With its varied and vibrant art circuit, eclectic neighbourhoods, and a buzzing restaurant scene, Melbourne is a treat for any traveller. Whether you’re looking for world-class museums or groovy street art or upscale shopping and dining options, you will be spoilt for choice. Here’s how you can make the most of your time in Australia’s cultural capital.

What To See and Do

Soak in the culture

Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) is the city’s cultural heart. Founded in 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria (free entry) is Australia’s oldest museum that houses a stellar collection of over 70,000 artworks spanning Australian, Asian, and international art. The museum’s annual Melbourne Winter Masterpieces, which are large thematic exhibitions usually held between June and October, are unmissable. The museum’s second wing located at Federation Square is called The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia (free entry) and is home to contemporary and indigenous art. Next door, ACMI (free entry but some exhibitions may be ticketed) showcases exhibits centred around film, television and gaming. But Melbourne’s art is not confined to its museums; take a walk around CBD’s Laneways — tiny alleys choc-a-bloc with boutiques, cafés, restaurants, and bars. From giant murals and spray-painted graffiti to stencil art and paste-ups, the streets (particularly Hosier Lane) are a vibrant urban art gallery.

Visit Victoria
Clockwise from left to right: National Gallery of Victoria; The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia; ACMI; and CBD’s Laneways. ©Visit Victoria

Grab a coffee (and croissant)

Melbourne is inarguably Australia’s coffee capital and if you like your cuppa Joe, you have a plethora of options. While you will find great coffee almost everywhere in the city, a few of our favourites include Axil Coffee Roasters (direct-trade, hand-roasted coffee at several locations), Market Lane Coffee (ethically sourced, carbon-neutral coffee at several locations), ST. ALi  (the OG café at Yarra Place that popularised locally roasted beans), Dukes at Ross House (takeaway-focussed café in the laneways), and Patricia (a tiny, European-style coffee bar on Little Bourke St). And if you want a croissant to go with your coffee, get ready to stand in a queue outside Lune on Collins St (and other locations) for their perfectly flaky bakes (we recommend the almond croissant). Or head down to Baker Bleu in suburban Caulfield for fabulous sourdough, pastries, and more.

Lune-Croissanterie. ©-Visit-Victoria

Take a day trip

Melbourne’s location makes it the perfect base from which to explore nature and you can easily add a day trip to your itinerary. Phillip Island is just 90 minutes (125 km) southeast of Melbourne but offers incredible wildlife experiences like the famous Penguin Parade at dusk when the island’s native little penguins come waddling back ashore. Or take a cruise out to see Australia’s largest fur seal colony. If you’re a driving enthusiast, hit the Great Ocean Road, a 240-km scenic drive along the coast where you can stop by to see spectacular limestone stack formations ((like the 12 Apostles), get some beach time, immerse yourself in the rainforests of Otway National Park, and even stop to taste local produce ranging from cheese and chocolate to whisky, gin, and wine. Speaking of wine, Yarra Valley makes for a great day trip, giving you a chance to taste some exceptional wines at multiple winery cellar doors.

Stones of the Yarra Valley cellar door wine tasting
Stones of the Yarra Valley cellar door wine tasting. ©-Visit-Victoria

Where To Eat and Drink

Melbourne’s dining scene is hands-down one of the best in the world — it’s the classic case of too many great restaurants and not enough time! Here are five restaurants that stand out.

Attica: Often featured on Australia’s top restaurants lists, Attica in suburban Melbourne is known for its boundary-pushing tasting menu that reimagines native ingredients such as finger limes, bunya nuts, honey ants, emu liver, and more. Reservations open three months in advance and are much sought-after, so plan accordingly (and be prepared for a hefty bill).

Address: 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea. attica.com.au

ARU: Southeast Asian cooking techniques of preserving, fermenting, dry-aging, and curing are on full display at ARU’s open kitchen, not to mention the red gum wood-fired hearth. Expect a playful take on traditional meals using native bush foods on your plate — try the leatherwood honey-glazed duck sausage sanga or perhaps the Moreton Bay bug cooked with bush tomato, aniseed myrtle, pepperberry, and more.

Address: 268 Little Collins St, Melbourne. aru.net.au

Gimlet at Cavendish House: Housed on the ground floor of a 1920s building, Gimlet at Cavendish House is suitably glamorous with its soaring ceiling, art deco columns, and leather booths. The polished black-and-gold marble is a centrepiece for its excellent cocktails programme. The menu is a mix of French bistro, NYC grill, and modern Australian, so you will find everything from oysters and caviar to T-bone steak to house-made gelato — all done to perfection.

Address: 33 Russell St, Melbourne. gimlet.melbourne

Visit Victoria
Clockwise from left to right: © QT Melbourne; © ARU; © Gimlet; and © Tonka

Tonka: If you’re missing the taste of home, head to Tonka, which takes Indian fine dining to another level while imaginatively using very Aussie ingredients — think pink oyster mushroom pakora with tamarind raita, Crystal Bay prawn moilee, Aylesbury duck breast rogan josh, and the like. The bar offers an extensive wine list and an eclectic cocktail menu that highlights Indian aromatics.

Address: 20 Duckboard Pl, Melbourne. tonkarestaurant.com.au

Tulum: Suburban Balaclava bustles with excellent restaurants and cafes, and amongst them Tulum rules the roost. This one-hat restaurant serves refined modern Turkish food in a relaxed, exposed-brick atmosphere. Expect textured plates of assorted mezzes and mains like black truffle and aged cheese-stuffed borek, manti (dumplings) with garlic yoghurt and Aleppo chilli, braised lamb shoulder, etc. Or you can just go for the 7-course degustation menu.

Address: 217 Carlisle St, Balaclava. tulumrestaurant.com.au

Where To Stay

View of Southbank from The Langham © The Langham
View of Southbank from The Langham © The Langham

From boutique stays to luxury digs, Melbourne’s hotel scene is diverse and buzzy. Right in the heart of the city, Laneways by Ovolo is a cool design hotel that’s as colourful as the street art-splashed streets around it. Don’t miss the perks like welcome goodies, complimentary mini bar, social hour with one free drink, etc. Another boutique hotel worth checking into is the lively QT Melbourne, which is housed in a former cinema and is kitted out with neon sculptures, flashing screens, and chatty elevators. If you’re drawn towards old-fashioned luxury, The Langham in the Southbank precinct or Sofitel Melbourne on Collins are solid choices. Art lovers will find The Cullen right up their alley — located in Prahran (20 minutes from the city centre), the hotel sports late artist Adam Cullen’s splashy bold wall prints, not to mention two restaurants and Prahran Market across the road.

How To Get There

Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and others have daily one-stop connections to Melbourne from major Indian metro cities.

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