You'll get a stunning view of Melbourne's skyline as you pull into Station Pier, the cruise terminal that's an easy hop from the city center. On land, Melbourne is a sophisticated mix of creative subcultures, prominent arts organizations, fashion leaders, and restaurateurs, both edgy and refined.
What We Love
Laneways and Arcades: These are what we’d call alleys and shopping malls in the U.S. — but way cooler. Enterprising creative types have set up shops around the city. In the underground Campbell Arcade, you'll find a zine store and a café that operates on the honor system.
Fitzroy: This neighborhood, an easy tram ride from the city center, is home to the best indie boutiques and restaurants, as well as the weekend Rose Street Artists' Market, a showplace for the Etsy set.
Best Known For
Street Art: The city doesn’t just look the other way on graffiti but recognizes its importance in what is called “a vibrant urban culture.” Sanctioned street art has become an international draw, especially along Union Lane.
Royal Botanic Gardens: Centrally situated, these 89 acres are a big part of life for locals. Along with all of the flora you'll find here, the popular Aboriginal Heritage Walk shows visitors the land through the eyes of its original owners.
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Who It's Best For
Foodies: Mod Oz has some of the best cuisine on Earth. Even at basic neighborhood places, flavors are elevated, and presentations are artful. At the high end, it’s the kind of dining people plan entire vacations around.
Culture Vultures: Melbourne is home to most of Australia's major museums and performing arts groups. In the Australian summer, it has nonstop festivals.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Expect Traffic Jams: Taxis aren’t too expensive, but with all of the festivals and events, streets can be closed and traffic slow. It’s better to use the easy public transit system.
Temperatures Are Extreme: This is a city of hot summers and some of the coldest winters in Australia.
Ann Abel is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Departures.