Melbourne is a favourite by many who have travelled throughout Australia, or those who visited and never left. While many destinations in Australia offer you white sandy beaches and unbearable scorching hot weather, Melbourne offers a much more unique experience. It is definitely not your cliché beach town that you think of when you think of Australia as a whole. However, while the weather isn’t always promising, the laidback and feel-good vibe is unbeatable, and the bad weather days make the good ones all the more rewarding. You will have access to amazing food, an abundance of music events and cultural festivals, a variety of nightlife, and a more down to earth atmosphere in the heart of a city.
With every destination, there are sure to be some downfalls that come along with it. With horrendous traffic making your commute feel like an eternity and the expenses that come along with living in a major city, Melbourne is not perfect by any means. However, those who have stayed a while will vouch for how great the city is and how much it has to offer.
Whether you are staying for a few days or thinking about residing full time, there are a lot of pros and cons of the city to consider before visiting. But remember, every city has its pros and cons, and it’s up to you to make your experience in the city a memorable one. Either way, I guarantee you will love all that Melbourne has to offer, and it will become one of your favourite Australian destinations (like it did for me!).
20 (Love it) The vibe is awesome
Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia, known for its music, art centres and museums, and celebration and expression of art. It has been ranked, year after year, the most ‘livable city’ and it’s not hard to see why. It is the ultimate place for hipsters and those who appreciate a good trendy café or cocktail bar. Everyone is extremely laid back and there are always good vibes floating throughout the city.
Melburnians will insist that this is the only city in Australia worth living in, and I guarantee you will be hooked the minute you step foot in it!
19 (Love it) The coffee culture is next level
Calling all coffee lovers! Melbourne is a coffee addicts heaven, with trendy cafes around every corner you turn. It’s hard to walk a few steps without seeing a new café, or without seeing a passerby with a takeaway coffee cup in their hand. Melburnians take their coffee game extremely seriously, and they are known to make the absolute best cup of jo in all of Australia (and arguably, worldwide).
The first espresso machine in Australia was actually installed at Café Florentino on Burke Street. If you’re coming to Melbourne for a visit, or to live, you will have no shortage of coffee options to keep you energized throughout your time in this bustling city.
18 (Love it) The legendary street art
Melbourne is most widely known for their array of famous street art that can be found all over the city. Taking a stroll down the famous Hosier Lane, you will find street art that reaches to the top of buildings and all the way down to the cobblestone floors.
Melbourne is full of amazing artists, and people travel from all over the world to see the amazing artwork showcased throughout the city. This isn’t just messy graffiti—there are some crazy talented artists that have taken the time to craft such amazing artwork. Did I mention It’s the perfect spot for a cheeky Instagram photo?
17 (Love it) The music scene is rad
Along with the talented artists residing in Melbourne, there are a ton of amazing musicians throughout the city as well.
If you are an inspiring artist, or just love to hunt out live music, then Melbourne is the city for you.
You can find live music pretty much every day of the week, from blues, jazz, and rock venues to choose from. Along with that, don’t be surprised to find some brilliant artists busking in the streets on the daily. The street performers are what make the vibe of Melbourne so laid back, because how can you be in a bad mood when there are street performers singing along to an acoustic tune on your morning walk to work?
16 (Love it) The beauty and atmosphere of St. Kilda
Just a quick trip outside the city lies the beachside strip of St. Kilda, with fine dining restaurants, quirky cafes, a variety of window showing, and a ton of European cake shops (seriously, what more could you ask for?).
It’s a nice little oceanfront getaway, equipped with a pier to stroll or bike ride along, while watching the boats glide in and out of the harbour. It’s the perfect spot for a weekend afternoon, with markets held every Sunday that showcase locals artists and food trucks. It’s a favourite spot by both locals and tourists, and is definitely worth the trip to Melbourne alone.
15 (Love it) There are always a ton of events and festivals
Melbourne loves a good festival. Federation square is located in the heart of Melbourne, and truly showcases the city’s love and appreciation for the arts. It’s a venue that holds a ton of different cultural events and festivals throughout the year, including Melbourne Fashion Week. Melbourne Festival is another event held every year that showcases free events in theatre, music, visual arts, comedy, and more!
The city also holds a ton of different music festivals all year round, often around the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. So you will always have something to do on your weekends off. It truly is a buzzing city with so much going on all the time.
14 (Love it) Great Ocean Road proximity
If you know anything about Australia, you have likely seen a picture or two of the Great Ocean Road.
With the world-famous coastline located right outside the city, you can plan your road trip all the way to Adelaide, or perhaps just a day trip to witness the beauty of The Twelve Apostles.
There are a ton of camping sites and house rentals along the way, so you will have the chance to jet off for a weekend getaway. With more 200km of amazing coastal views, I guarantee you’ll discover something new about this spectacular road with every trip you take.
13 (Love it) The food scene will have you drooling
Melbourne doesn’t mess around with their foodie scene. They are extremely diverse with all of their dining selections, with cuisine from all over the world. If you are a true foodie who loves a good aesthetically pleasing meal, you will be in heaven exploring the food spots in Melbourne.
From beautiful pizza and pasta in Carlton (Melbourne's version of Little Italy), to amazing sushi spots with fresh seafood caught hours prior, and vegan friendly cafes, there is a ton of variety that will keep you on your toes.
The city takes its food culture very seriously and is constantly changing their menus to keep up with all the culinary trends. Melbourne truly doesn’t miss a beat!
12 (Love it) Chinatown. Enough said.
Calling all dumpling lovers! Chinatown truly deserves its own category. Located in central Melbourne, Chinatown is a haven for all foodies.
It truly feels like you are stepping into another world, with colourful traditional Chinese décor and unique building architecture throughout the streets.
While most major cities have some form of Chinatown, the Melbourne version is rich in culture and authenticity. It is definitely worth a trip if you are visiting, and if you become a local I’m sure you already have your favourite spot to grab some dim sums, a traditional noodle dish, or some sweet and sour pork.
11 (Love it) Sporting capital of the world
Melbourne has been named time and time again the sporting capital of the world, making it the perfect place for sports enthusiasts. Whether you are crazy about Aussie Rules Footy, cricket, rugby, soccer, tennis, or you just enjoy a sunny afternoon basking in the sun while sipping on a cold beverage, Melbourne is the place for you.
The horse races are also a popular event that a ton of people flock to every year to dress up to the nines and support their lucky numbered horse, all while enjoying a sunny summer’s afternoon. If you’re not particularly a sports lover, the sports-loving culture of the city will soon have you buzzing with the positive atmosphere that will convert you to join in on all the excitement.
10 (Love it) Layout of the city
Melbourne is one of the easiest cities to navigate thanks to the street’s layout and public transport system. The city trams (street cars) and trains are relatively easy to figure out, even as a newbie.
Within a few days in Melbourne, I was a pro at the tram system and was able to get around with ease. In Sydney, this is the complete opposite case, with windy roads that have no real organization present.
The city also offers free trams throughout the downtown core for those not wanting to go too far, perfect for tourists visiting and just wanting to see the main attractions.
9 (Love it) You can hit the slopes right outside the city
Yup, it’s true. You can actually ski in Australia. This is not a drill.
Because of Victoria’s less tropical climate, it is actually cold enough in the winter months to ski a couple of hours outside the city. For those who are looking for an Australia getaway but still have an itch to hit the slopes, Melbourne is the perfect place for you.
You can spend an afternoon in a winter wonderland and return to Melbourne in the late afternoon to enjoy an ice cream cone by the ocean. This city will truly give you the best of both worlds if you are a winter lover.
8 (Love it) The locals are pretty awesome
Melburnians are a different breed in Australia. They are dang proud of where they live, and will vouch for the city as the best place to be every chance they get. Because of this, they want to share their awesomeness with visitors and show them how great of a city it really is.
The locals are extremely laidback people, who seem to be in less of a rush to get places than those from Sydney, where everything is a lot more fast-paced. No one will hesitate to lend a helping hand if you’re lost, and everyone is generally very down to earth.
7 (Love it) Big backpacker hub
If you are a backpacker, Melbourne is an awesome place to meet fellow travellers. A lot of travellers begin their east coast trip here before heading up to Sydney. Most people who travel to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa will generally either end up in Sydney or Melbourne for a long-term stay, which means there are a ton of like-minded people in the same boat as you.
There is an fantastic community of travellers, so you are guaranteed to meet a ton of people if you are travelling alone. Melbourne was my first stop in Australia, and it is still my favourite spot to this date because of all the amazing people I met.
6 (Love it) The variety of nightlife
There are a ton of different nightlife options in the city depending on what you are looking for. From dance clubs, cocktail bars, jazz clubs, breweries, rock music venues, and rooftop patios, there is something for everyone! Whether you want to get your dance on, listen to a live band, grab a drink on a rooftop bar overlooking the city, or grab a late night espresso while listening to some acoustic jams—you won’t be disappointed with the selection the city has.
Melbourne truly offers a variety of nightlife that caters to every mood, so you will never be bored on a late night stroll through the city.
And now for the things that make Melbourne a little more, well, average.
5 (Letdown) The weather kind of sucks
One of the most complained about aspects of the city is, you guessed it, the not so great weather.
Melbourne is known for experiencing four seasons in one day, with very unpredictable and temperamental weather.
The weather can change drastically from one hour to the next, with your beach day quickly turning sour in a short amount of time. While summer can bring sunny, hot days, the winter can be quite rainy and cold. You may be wondering some days if you are even in Australian anymore.
So, if you are looking for a more tropical Australian getaway, this isn’t exactly the place for you.
4 (Letdown) The beaches aren’t amazing
Melbourne isn’t the place where you are going to find world-renowned white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. The city is home to a number of beaches, however, these are not considered as nice as places such as Perth and Sydney.
The central beaches of St. Kilda are sub-par, with the nicer ones being located farther outside the city.
Sunny beach days don’t come by as often compared to more northern areas where beach days can be enjoyed in not only summer months, but in winter as well. However, the locals of Melbourne insist that even if the beaches aren’t world-renowned, the city life makes up for it.
3 (Letdown) It’s quite expensive
While Sydney takes the cake for the most pricey city to live in, Melbourne comes in at a close second. The cost of living is one of the highest in the world, with items such as rent, housing, food, and everyday goods being quite expensive.
Cheap rent is possible to find, but you will likely be living farther outside of the downtown core. It’s not exactly easy to live on a budget in this city, although it is possible if you try hard enough. If you are wanting to live a lavish lifestyle in Melbourne, you better have the bucks for it.
2 (Letdown) The traffic is bad
With a bustling city such as Melbourne, comes the obvious pain of dealing with traffic on the regular. While most think that Sydney has the worst traffic, it is actually Melbourne that takes the cake for that one. Coming from outside suburbs, it’s quite a headache to get in and out of the city, especially during peak hours. Even if you try to avoid the CBD (downtown), the traffic throughout the surrounding areas can get quite congested.
If you are thinking of staying in the city short term, it’s best to snatch a hotel that is downtown. For long termers, taking public transport is probably your best bet.
1 (Letdown) Remote location
Melbourne is kind of in its own little world in the Land of Oz. With its location being at the bottom of the country, the city is quite far away from the rest of the hot spots on the east coast, as well as on the opposite side of the country from locations on the west coast.
It’s no wonder its climate is so different to the rest of Australia, since it is so far away! Travelling to a tropical spot such as Cairns will cost you a four hour flight from the bottom of the country to the very top, and it’s definitely not a quick drive to get to Sydney either (8 hours minimum).