Summer weeks in Melbourne – cheap tips and bike tours
December and January in the most liveable city in the world – Melbourne! Multicultural food, galleries full of modern art, quiet beaches, botanical gardens, amazing bicycle paths and so much more. Melbourne is a hip city and not too expensive, but also busy with traffic and construction. I don’t think it’s as beautiful as Sydney and it might be stressful to visit it for a short trip because everything is spread over the big area of the city, but living there must be amazing! I had a great time in Melbourne, jobbing, cycling and discovering all the parts of this metropolis.
My tips for a cheap stay in Melbourne:
Brunswick and Fitzroy
I didn’t take many pictures there, because I have always been riding my bike. I really enjoyed living and spending time in Brunswick, it felt a bit like home in Europe, like Berlin or Cologne. I love multicultural districts, small shops and international supermarkets, lots of OP shops or 1$ stores. I had a supermarket in my neighbourhood, where they sold ripe fruit for half the price, nothing packed in plastic and I got to know the people working there, not just the usual “How are you today..”, they were curious about me and seem to know most of their custumers. Upfield bike path along the Upfield Metro line is amazing, often I was faster than the train and had so many beautiful moments on this trail along the industrial old halls in Brunswick. Fitzroy is a hip part of Melbourne with lots of cafés, shops, bars and nice, little streets. By the way, it can be a good idea to check Airbnb rooms in Melbourne, especially if you are two people, I was super lucky to find a cheap, beautiful room and didn’t have to stay in a hostel.
Graffiti and China Town
I heard a lot about Melbourne’s graffiti scene before coming there, I wish I had joined a led tour with a guide.. All over the city you will find some small or huge art works on walls, it’s definitly part of the city image and Hosier Lane is full of it! China Town (at Little Bourke Street) isn’t huge but worth having a look and going for lunch, I also remember some nice graffiti there. There are many skyscrapers in Melbourne city and it can be super busy with people, construction and traffic!
One afternoon I wanted to buy a tent, so I went to all the OP shops in Brunswick and Fitzroy and there are many all over Melbourne. My favorite ones: Brotherhood of St Laurence, 109 Brunswick Rd; Savers, 330 Sydney Rd; Salvos Stores Fitzroy, 427 Smith St. I really love the OP shop culture in Australia! Whether in small towns or big cities, it’s alway lovely to shop second hand and scan the stores from time to time for new stuff. As a tourist or backpacker you don’t need to bring too many things, better leave some space in your luggage! I travel with hand luggage and buy stuff if I need more (mostly second hand) and give old things to the OP shops.
The National Gallery of Victoria is definitly a must see and it doesn’t cost anything. They have beautiful changing exhibitions inside and in the garden, it is huge. If you want to see everything, I’d recommend to spend two days.
Looking for the beachy part of Melbourne, in St Kilda you find palmtrees along the promenade and long beaches with beautiful sunsets. I really liked the quiet botanical garden there, had lunch at Lentils as Anything (donation based restaurant) and enjoyed the fast wifi in the library. On a clear night it’s a must to walk along the pier at St Kilda beach towards the sunset and maybe wait for the little penguins to appear, it’s crowded but really beautiful with the skyscrapers of the city reflecting in the sun behind you.
I never really go out to eat but two places were lovely: Lucky Coq (179 Chapel St) in Windsor, the bar offers nice pizzas and salads for only 4$ during happy hour (Mo-Fr 11:30am-4:00pm, Mo-Thur 7-11pm, Fr 7-9pm, Sun all day) and I really loved the food, I had a vegan pumkin pizza and a tasty salad for 8$. If you get their app, you can even save more money.
I knew the donation based restaurant Lentils as Anything (41 Blessington St, St Kilda) already from Sydney and in Melbourne there are a few of them. The one in St Kilda is close to the pretty botanical garden and food and staff are really nice! Pay what you can.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
I spent a beautiful sunny afternoon in this huge park. You can go for a long walk and relax on the grass for a break. I found the cactus stone garden really special! Anyway I was suprised how tropical the trees and flowers in Melbourne still are.
State Library of Victoria
What a nice library! First I only went for the (super fast) free wifi and to cool down inside. You can also relax on the grass outside if you need a break from the busy city. They have lots of working spaces inside, just take your laptop and spend a productive afternoon in the quiet building. I really loved the exhibitions in there, you can learn so much about the history of Melbourne and the state Victoria, it’s very interesting! All for free of course.
More art and ACMI
Ian Potter Centre is another part of the NGV at Federation Square where you can visit even more free amazing art exhibitions, it’s another big building and I was deeply inspired by the art works, when I was there. Next to it is the ACMI, which I highly recommend as well for a hot, rainy or cold day. They show a collection of movies, shows, computer games, virtual reality and so on, very interactive, super interesting and again mostly by donation.
Bike city and free tram zone
Oh yes! After selling my bike in Sydney for the same price I bought it, I couldn’t wait to get another one here in Melbourne. I paid 50$ on gumtree.com.au (helmet and lock included) and repaired a few little things at one of the free repair stations near Upfield bike path in Brunswick, not having to buy any tools is just amazing!! Melbourne is a bike city. There are several bike routes, but also on pretty much every road you can feel very safe and you’re often faster in the traffic. It’s so much fun to ride along with the crowd, the city is quite flat and if you ever have to take the bike in the train it doesn’t cost extra. I went all over the city and felt free like a bird. One day I did a longer tour down from Brunswick to St Kilda Beach, I recommend this route. Another nice and interesting tour is the way to Williamstown Beach, about 15km one way, this way was nice. I easiliy sold my bike in the end again for 50$. Public transport in Melbourne never costs more than 8$ a day and is quite good, the city center has a free tram zone in the city center, which is amazing and I think it should be bigger, because traffic is annoying.
Melbourne is great
So yeah, Melbourne is a city worth living in. Most people told me they love Sydney, but would rather live in Melbourne!1