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26 October, 2018

[TRAVEL] 7D6N Melbourne Itinerary: Central Business District - Part 1

Hello, we are in Melbourne City!

After 3 full days of driving around the countryside full of mountains, beaches and sea, it is time to bid adieu to the nature's beauty and explore the vibrant, colorful city of Melbourne. Out of our 7 days in Melbourne, we spend the last 4 days in the Melbourne CBD (Central Business District) area meaning we don't need to drive around anymore because everywhere in the city is so accessible with public trams and trains.

Here's a summary of our 7D6N Melbourne itinerary, you can find more details in separate blog posts linked below:

7D6N Itinerary in Melbourne
Day 0: KL - Melbourne
Day 1: Melbourne - Yarra Valley - Phillip Island (Blog)
Day 2Phillip Island Natural Parks - Brighton Beach - St. Kilda (Blog)
Day 3: Great Ocean Road (Blog) 
Day 4: Sightseeing in Melbourne CBD - Flinders Station, St Paul Cathedral,
State Library of Victoria, Block Arcade, Docklands (Blog / Blog)
Day 5: Yarra River, Queen Victoria Gardens, NGV Australia, Shrine of Remembrance (Blog)
Day 6: Hosier Lane, Queen Victoria Market, Richmond, Southbank (Blog)
Day 7: Melbourne - KL

Greenhouse Backpackers
6/228 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia.
Contact: 1800 249 207

A 3-hour drive from Peterborough, our last stop along Great Ocean Road, leads us to the city where we quickly return our rented car to Hertz Flinders Lane office and check in to our budget crib, Greenhouse Backpackers located along the same lane.

Greenhouse Backpackers @ AUD365 for 3 nights (for 4 beds in a 6 bunk bed sharing room) (=RM95 per person per night)
*Basic daily breakfast (Toast, jam and milk) is provided
*Self-service laundry and cooking area are included too

To be honest, the room condition would at most garner an average rating based on my personal experience - old mattress, dusty room and filthy shared bathroom.

Verdict: 6/10
Well, if you are looking for something value for money (since all you do in the hostel is just to shower and sleep), then this is a good bargain since the Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne's busiest (and Australia's oldest) suburban railway station is just across the street. Location wise, Greenhouse Backpackers is an excellent place to stay.

Meet the glorious facade of Flinders Street, with its famous row of clocks
at the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets.

And look how it transforms into a magnificent historical landmark when the evening comes.

Just a stroll down the street, we arrive at Flinders Street tram stop, where we can hop onto the Free Tourist Tram (Look for Route 35 - City Circle) and explore Melbourne CBD for free. It passes all the major tourist attractions (you can choose to walk too), and links with other tram, train and bus routes in and around Melbourne.

City Circle Tram
Frequency: Every 12 minutes
Operating Hours:
Sun - Wed: 10am - 6pm
Thurs - Sat: 10am - 9pm

The route for clockwise service:
1. Flinders Street
2. Harbour Esplanade
3. Docklands Drive
4. La Trobe Street
5. Victoria Street
6. Nicholson Street
7. Spring Street
8. Flinders Street

Anyway, this post will be focusing on the must-visit places in Melbourne CBD. It's a lot of sight-seeing and shopping while immersing myself into the strong coffee culture here. But for first timers like myself, there are a couple of places that we just can't miss. 

Here's the list which I have arranged based on priority (1: my top favourite, 12: my least favourite):

1. St Paul Cathedral
 2. State Library of Victoria
 3. Riverside Quay in Southbank
 4. Block Arcade (and many more shopping arcades)
 5. Queen Victoria Market
 6. Hosier Lane
 7. Chinatown (Bourke St)
 8. Alexander Gardens & Queen Victoria Gardens
 9. Shrine of Remembrance
 10. National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Australia
 11. Federation Square & Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
 12. Docklands

Actually, the list should go longer than that because there are so many things worth exploring in Melbourne CBD, apart from the amazing cafes and international cuisines such as Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese and even Malaysian mamak! 

But in Melbourne, shops generally close early (5-6pm) except for Fridays (till 9pm). So, in order to maximise my time there (especially during winter), it is important to wake up early in the morning, leave the hostel by 7am and start exploring the city. Hahaha, yes you're right, I'm that kind of person who hates wasting time.

Now, let's focus on places we visit during the limited day hours....

1. St. Paul Cathedral
Flinders Ln & Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Visiting Hours: 8am - 6pm daily

Entrance fee is AUD5 per group (irrespective of the number of people in your group)

Built between 1880 and 1931, this beautiful century-old Anglican cathedral has been an iconic landmark in Melbourne. It is probably the No.1 tourist attraction point in town I'd say, but to my surprise, there are only few visitors during my Tuesday afternoon trip there. Otherwise, I'd need to be more patient to get those Instagram-worthy shots while avoiding photo-bombers.

Travelling Tips:
Don't get overwhelmed by photo-taking. Slow down the pace and admire every piece of glass put onto the window frames, carvings on every pillar and little notes on the background of this culture-rich space.

2. State Library of Victoria
328 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia.

Visiting Hours:
Mon - Thurs: 10am - 9pm
Fri - Sun: 10am - 6pm

Frankly, I haven't been to the national library in Malaysia but here in Melbourne I am excited to visit the world-famous state library. There is a huge difference between the two, okay? :P Although somehow part of me feels paiseh to disturb those in serious business there, part of me can't wait to admire the beauty of the architecture from the observatory corridor.

With such perfect weather in the beginning of spring, I don't mind coming here to study and chill with friends at the park outside everyday!

3. Shopping Arcades

Shopping in Melbourne is pretty unique as there are many arcades that criss-cross the city centre and link with the laneways and ‘little’ streets. From fashionable goods to delectable eats, this unique shopping district has gotten you covered.

Constructed in glamorous Victorian style and French Renaissance style in the 19th century respectively, Block Arcade and Royal Arcade are among the most beautiful aged architectures in town.

 Royal Arcade
335 Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia.

Business Hours:
Mon - Thurs: 7am - 7pm
Fri: 7am - 9pm
Sat: 8am - 7pm
Sun: 9am - 7pm

Block Arcade
282 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Business Hours:
Mon - Thurs: 8am - 6pm
Fri: 8am - 8pm
Sat - Sun: 8am - 5pm

Similarly, the Block Arcade impresses us with the elegant plate glass shop windows, glorious mosaic tiled floor and a great dome taking the centrestage.

Most if not all the paraphernalia displayed behind the arched windows of each shop are tagged with shocking prices, so we just stick to our budget and enjoy our window shopping there.

4. Queen Victoria Market
Queen St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia.
Instagram: @vicmarket

Business Hours:
Tues, Thurs: 6am - 2pm
Fri: 6am - 5pm
Sat: 6am - 3pm
Sun: 6am - 4pm
*Closed on Mondays and Wednesdays

Another place suitable for early risers is the popular Queen Victoria Market, which not only lures the locals with a wide array of fresh food and crafts but also brings together thousands of travellers each day.

We have seen enough wet markets in Malaysia, but the one in Melbourne is more organized and structured. On the ground floor of the indoor market hall, we see rows of food stalls offering mainly cheese, wine, bread and pastry, as well as coffee.

Market Lane Coffee
Long black @ AUD4.30 per cup
Highly recommended for its rich smoothness and aroma of coffee!

American Doughnut Kitchen
AUD1.20 per doughnut

These sweet jam-filled delights sell like hot cakes for the entire morning! You gotta try them hot, right from the original 1950s van in front of the market.

The outdoor market focuses more on fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs and handcrafted souvenirs. But what attracts me there is the serenading voice and music that lighten the mood.

Outside the main market area, there are many more F&B and souvenir shops to explore around this area. Although it is only the month of September, plenty of shops have brought in loads of Christmas decors....and that staggering amount of varieties is just eye-opening! 

The Borek Bakehouse
481 Elizabeth St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia.
Business Hours: 7am - 5.15pm daily

Along the popular Elizabeth Street, we come across this must-try Turkish baked pastry house. Come grab the famous borek for breakfast! 

Cheese and Spinach Borek @ AUD4
Alternatively, try the Spicy Lamb Borek which is equally popular.

Travelling Tips:
Queen Victoria Night Market is held every Wednesday evening from 7pm onwards, but it does take a break every bi-monthly or so. And it is closed right on the only Wednesday we spend in Melbourne, how unlucky. Hope to come back for this next time. Anyway, do keep stalking their social media for the latest updates to avoid disappointment.

 5. Cafehopping in White Mojo
115 Hardware St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia.
Contact: +61 3 9078 8119
Instagram: @whitemojo

Business Hours:
Mon - Fri: 7am - 4pm
Sat - Sun: 8am - 5pm

Well, if market is not your thing, then you may want to sleep in a little and enjoy a lazy brunch at your own pace. But do take note of the time, as I notice most cafes here close by 3-4pm. White Mojo is among the top coffee roasters in Melbourne CBD which my friend recommends, but I have to skip the coffee there as I have met my daily coffee quota on that particular day of visit.

Big Breakfast @ AUD21.50
Smashed Pumpkin @ AUD17.50

So here's our brunch scene - Big Breakfast and Smashed Pumpkin. Excellent presentation, delicious toast, perfectly poached eggs, and excellent vibes although it can get a tad noisy during peak hours.

Overall, it is a decent Melbourne-style brunch on a relaxing day.
How I'd wish to have more mornings like this for amazing, hearty food!

AUD20 - AUD30 per person

Travelling Tips:
Food and ambiance wise, cafes in Melbourne CBD are still lacking as compared to those in Fitzroy and Richmond. You may hop onto a tram / take a Grab ride there but charges are applicable beyond the CBD circle.

Alright, I gotta stop writing now before it gets too long-winded. Will be introducing more places in Melbourne CBD on my next post, so stay tuned!

More about my Melbourne travelogue:

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