The following is a guest post about Melbourne Solo Travel by Hayley Simpson from Hayley on Holiday. Based in Australia, she has visited over 40 countries and is a big advocate for solo travel. Her blog features solo guides to cities around the world, as well as budget travel tips and working abroad advice.
I lived in Melbourne for about three years, and it’s hands down one of my favourite cities. Fortunately, it’s also a fantastic city to visit as a solo traveller.
There are so many things to do in Melbourne alone, plus it has a great public transport network.
Here’s my solo travel guide to Melbourne.
Solo Travel Melbourne: Top Things To Do in Melbourne Alone
Have a Coffee
No trip to Melbourne is complete without having a coffee or five. That is unless you’re like me and don’t enjoy coffee (I know, I’m crazy).
Anyway, the city is saturated with cafes – they’re literally everywhere. However, some of Melbourne’s most popular coffee spots include Industry Beans, Seven Seeds, Duke’s Coffee Roasters, St Ali and Patricia Coffee Brewers.
Go up the Eureka Tower
One of the best things to do in Melbourne around sunset is to head up the Eureka Tower to the Eureka Skydeck on its 88th floor. At 285 metres above sea level, from the observation deck you can see just how big Melbourne is on a clear day.
I visited just before sunset so that I could take photos of the city during the golden hour and once the sun had set, and it was the best decision.
Spend Time in Fitzroy
Fitzroy is one of my favourite Melbourne neighbourhoods. It’s often compared to Brooklyn in New York, thanks to its plethora of independent boutiques, vintage stores, and cafes and restaurants.
One of my favourite spots in Fitzroy is Rose Street, as it’s home to The Rose St. Artists’ Market and some awesome street art.
Here are my foodie recommendations: Gelato Messina for creative gelato flavours; Rustica Sourdough for brunch; Belles Hot Chicken for chicken and waffles on the weekend; Vegie Bar for vegan and vegetarian dishes; and Lune Croissanterie for the best croissants in Melbourne (and possibly Australia).
Visit the Melbourne Museum
So, I actually worked at the Melbourne Museum. It’s massive and includes an interesting combination of natural history, science, and Australian history exhibits. The museum has a really cool Melbourne gallery, an actual live forest and the biggest IMAX in the Southern Hemisphere as well.
Spend the Day in St Kilda
St Kilda is another one of my favourite Melbourne suburbs. You can easily get a tram directly to St Kilda from the CBD.
Some of the best things to do here include swimming at St Kilda Beach, dining along Acland Street, going on a ride or two at Luna Park, and walking along the St Kilda Pier.
You can take awesome skyline views from the pier. Plus, it’s home to a colony of penguins, who live in the rocks at the end.
At night you can stop by and see the penguins. I’ve visited multiple times and it’s seriously one of my favourite things to do in Melbourne.
Check out Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market is the biggest and most popular market in Melbourne. Hundreds of stalls sell baked goods, fresh produce, meat, clothing, and accessories.
For a cheap lunch, check out the Borek Shop.
Melbourne is seriously overflowing with shops. In the city centre, multiple shopping centres and the shops lining Bourke Street Mall.
Then you have the fashion outlets at DFO South Wharf, Chadstone Shopping Centre (the biggest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere), and Chapel Street. Basically, you could literally shop until you drop in Melbourne.
Take Photos At the Brighton Bathing Boxes
You may have seen a photo of the colourful Brighton Bathing Boxes, as they’re iconic to both Melbourne and Australia.
I’ve visited by myself before, and once you get off the train, there are signposts directing you towards the beach. As I was taking photos, someone offered to take one for me, which was perfect!
The beach here is also really calm with clear water if you happen to visit on a sunny summer’s day.
Go to the Theatre
This may just be me, but I’ve been to the theatre by myself on quite a few occasions (including in London).
If you’re like me and don’t mind a solo theatre experience, Melbourne hosts the best theatre performances in Australia.
From Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to The Book of Mormon, check out TodayTix for affordable tickets and to see what is on during your visit.
Dine in Chinatown
If you haven’t already realised, Melbourne is most definitely a foodie city. I like to dine in Chinatown because it’s cheap and delicious, and there are always other people eating alone, so I never feel out of place.
My favourite places to eat in Chinatown include Shanghai Street, Shanghai Village and ShanDong MaMa.
Get Lost in Melbourne’s Laneways
Melbourne’s CBD is filled with small laneways, and many of them are covered in street art. This is a really good map highlighting the city’s best street art.
I recommend visiting both AC/DC Lane and Hosier Lane. Other laneways to visit include Degraves Street for food (Pidapipo ice cream is the best) and the historic Block Arcade, which is home to the best cakes at Hopetoun Tea Rooms.
NGV is the National Gallery of Victoria. It’s Australia’s largest and most visited art gallery. It’s also free to visit NGV, although there are always some paid exhibits. If you enjoy art, I highly recommend checking it out.
Solo Day Trip Recommendations
There are two day trips I recommend doing while visiting Melbourne. Firstly, there are several companies that organize day trips along the Great Ocean Road. I didn’t know if it was going to be worth the hype, but trust me, it is.
The road hugs the coastline and the beaches along the way are honestly breathtaking. The Twelve Apostles are an iconic Australian landmark, but I personally loved Loch Ard Gorge so much more.
My other day trip recommendation is Phillip Island. It’s well-known for two things: being the hometown of the Hemsworth brothers and its Penguin Parade.
The latter is amazing – you sit on a raised platform at sunset and watch penguins return home from the ocean. Who knew watching penguins is one of the cutest things you’ll ever see? Not me!
How to Get Around Melbourne Solo
To be honest, Melbourne’s public transport network is good, but it can be confusing for first-time visitors. You will need a Myki card (like London’s Oyster card) to use all public transport, which you can purchase at major train stations like Flinders Street and Southern Cross Stations. Melbourne has trains, trams and buses.
Now, here’s the annoying part. You have to touch-on and touch-off your Myki card at the machines inside buses and at the train stations. However, you only touch-on when you enter a tram – you don’t need to touch-off.
Melbourne also has an awesome Free Tram Zone. This means all travel within the city centre and around Docklands is free, and you don’t have to touch-on your Myki card at all. Don’t worry, there are announcements on the tram as you leave the zone, asking you to touch-on your card.
I relied solely on public transport when I lived in Melbourne, and it’s the easiest way to get around as a solo traveller.
However, Melbourne also has several ridesharing services, including Uber, Bolt, DiDi and Ola. I personally used them to get home late at night, if I wasn’t near my tram line.
Finally, to get from the airport to the CBD, the most affordable option is to hop on the SkyBus, which will drop you at Southern Cross Station.
Where to Stay in Melbourne for Solo Travellers
Melbourne accommodation is frankly not the cheapest.
However, I personally recommend staying at Space Hotel. I’ve stayed there in both a single private room and a four-bed female dorm. It’s in a central location, it has an awesome rooftop area, and the rooms are really comfortable and modern.
I’ve also heard good things about United Backpackers, which is in the perfect location. They host regular events too, so this is a great option for social solo travellers.
Otherwise, an affordable hotel option is the Atlantis Hotel, which my friend tells me has the most comfortable beds ever.
You can also find quite a few reasonably-priced private rooms on Airbnb. I’d recommend looking for rooms in the CBD and Fitzroy.
I hope this post helps you plan your own solo trip to Melbourne.
But basically, the formula for a perfect Melbourne day is coffee + brunch + a cultural experience + street art spotting.
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