The dark days of 2020 and 2021 only seem like yesterday. Australia as a nation was sealed tight, and the rest of us were wondering if we would ever get on a plane again, never mind take a long haul flight half way around the world.
Thankfully, those difficult times are behind us. Australia is open for business again, and that means welcoming tourists with open arms. If you’ve decided to at last tick Australia off your bucket list, congratulations. The next question is where to visit. Brisbane has the golden beaches, Sydney is the party city, Perth is cosmopolitan and closer to get to… But Melbourne is considered Australia’s cultural capital. What’s more, many who have spent time there are firmly convinced it is not just the best city in Australia but in the whole world.
A foodie’s heaven on earth
It’s not unusual for someone to return from Melbourne, be asked what they did and after a minute’s thought, reply “eat.” The café culture is everything you have heard about, and as for the infamous coffee snobbery – well, maybe Victorians are fussy about their coffee but they have every right and once you get immersed in it you are part of it.
More generally, though, Melbourne is a relatively young city built by an incredibly diverse migrant population. There are different types of eateries on every street corner, from steak houses to Indian to Vietnamese to Italian and not one of them looks out of place.
The home of the original Crown Casino
Australia’s mega casino group has now spread around the nation. But Melbourne is where it all started. Everything you have heard about casino gambling in Australia is true. The Aussies really enjoy a wager, and although the best online casinos also get plenty of attention in this online age, the Crown, with its amazing views across the Yarra is the place to go if you love playing the pokies the traditional Australian way.
There are 2,500 pokies plus 540 table games – including 100 poker tables. Whether you want to play the penny slots or you prefer to join the high rollers at the high stakes tables, there is certain to be something for every kind of player.
The most iconic sporting venues
Be warned now, if you love sport, you might never want to leave Melbourne. The world famous MCG has a 100,000 capacity, and if there’s no game on, it’s well worth a tour. The Rod Laver tennis arena is a five minute walk away, and then on the outskirts of town, we have Flemington and Albert Park, venues that horse racing and motor racing fans respectively will be desperate to glimpse.
As if that wasn’t enough, Melbourne is also the Australian headquarters for Aussie Rules Football and Rugby League. If there happens to be a big event on during your visit, such as a test match or a major horse race and you can’t get a ticket, don’t despair. Most of the city just hangs around Federation Square and watches on the big screen. There’s no better atmosphere and it is absolutely free.
An awesome arts scene magnificent Melbourne
Saving the best for last, Melbourne’s arts scene is out of this world. Hosier Lane is the at the center of Melbourne’s famous street at district and that’s where you can join any one of several street art tours. Alternatively, let your feet guide you, there is something new around every corner. AC/DC Lane is, of course, named after one of Australia’s most popular rock bands, but you’ll find tributes to the genre in general and to a host of rock stars from all over the world – and some from the pages of fiction. The Cherry Bar is located at the end of AC/DC lane and has regular rock gigs – the perfect place to stop for a break.
For more conventional art, the National Gallery of Victoria is now spread across two buildings while the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) contains dozens of thought-provoking pieces from some of Australia’s most exciting new artists. The ACCA building itself has to be seen to be believed and is without doubt a work of art and in its own right.
As for the performing arts, the Melbourne Arts Centre hosts in excess of 4,000 performances each year across three venues. There is also the Athenaeum Theatre, which specializes in Shakespeare and the world-famous Comedy Theatre on Exhibition Street.