Whether you have a lengthy layover in Melbourne, or you have a day in between tours to spend in this great city, there’s a lot that the city has to offer. Follow my guide to make the most of your day! FYI – you can take an Uber to get around the city easily, but there is a well laid-out public transit option in Yarra Trams (Route Map), which also offer Free Tram Zones where you can simply hop on and off without needing a ticket!
If you are in Melbourne on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, then you’re in luck – South Melbourne Market should be open (Market Hours)!
The market is structured into two parts: 1) shopping area with various vendors selling both food and crafts/trinkets, and 2) large food hall with a lot of picnic tables and eateries. We were starving so headed straight to the latter and enjoyed made-to-order artisan sandwiches + fresh green smoothies.
One warning – the portions are HUGE so feel free to share if you aren’t too hungry. To work off our meal, we walked around the maze of shops, browsing through leather goods stores and even a dog-treat heaven. There are some booths here selling Australia’s famous meat pies and gourmet coffees, so definitely check them out too!
A brisk 15-minute walk away is the Shrine of Remembrance, and next to it the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The Shrine was built to honor the soldiers who served in World War I, and the beautiful architecture is definitely worth a visit, with panoramic views of Melbourne (generally open 10:00am – 4:30pm Shrine Hours). The Botanic Gardens is quite large and a must for any nature-lover (generally open 9:30am – 5:00pm Botanic Garden Hours).
Melbourne is home to some great food/drink options, and here, I try to offer a few choices and suggestions of what I liked, but there are certainly more than meets the eye!
To kick off your evening, start walking down Flinders Street, where you can feel the city gearing up for the evening. We followed the energy through the Flinders Station down to the waters of Ponyfish Island, which is a small pub built right on the Yarra River. This place had a great selection of local microbrews, which was a great way to start the night.
Continuing down the Southbank Pedestrian Bridge, we came to Southgate Melbourne, which is a 2-3 story plaza building with multiple options for food/drinks.
There are some great options here, but after walking past the crowded balconies, we instead doubled back across the river to Arbory Bar & Eatery.
A few things to note about this place. If you’re looking to drink and meet people in a lively, music-filled alfresco venue, you can’t go wrong here. If you want something more relaxing or subdued, you should go elsewhere. Seating is first come, first serve, and ordering is done at the metal shacks further inside the establishment, past the throngs of people crowding the bar. The cuisine is reasonably priced, upscaled bar food affair, and in my opinion, quite well done!