While in Sydney, I heard that I would either be a “Melbourne girl” or a “Sydney girl.” Apparently, according to locals of both cities, you can’t love both. At least, you can’t love both equally. But I’m sorry to report to my Aussie readers, I did.
Sydney and Melbourne are in fact very different from one another. Sydney has all the major tourist attractions, beaches, and is admittedly a better option for tourists if you have to choose. However, Melbourne is definitely worth a visit too.
Here are my top reasons to fall in love with Melbourne:
1. The food
Melbourne is a very multicultural city, and this diversity is apparent in the plethora of restaurants lining the streets. From dumplings in Chinatown, to pasta in Carlton’s Little Italy, there is something for everyone. But it’s not just the variety; Melburnians take their food very seriously. Almost everything I ate during my five days was touted as organic or local, and was prepared in an open kitchen. The photo above is a breakfast I had at Little Big Sugar Salt, that may or may not have changed my life.
2. The café culture
I admit, this is similar to my “food” reason, but hear me out. The people of Melbourne are not just foodies; they are breakfast-and-brunch-obsessed foodies. This means the ability to get eggs at 2pm and coffee at all hours. And not just coffee. Really, really good coffee. There seemed to be a coffee shop or café on every corner throughout the city, and is one of the only places in the world where most Starbucks have gone out of business.
3. The trams
I hate driving. In fact, I haven’t owned a car in over five years. I don’t even like being in a car. So, for me, Melbourne has Sydney beat in this regard. Their public transportation system is not only efficient, but charming. Trams? Come on, just look at these things.
4. The street art
Throughout the city, especially in areas like the CBD (Central Business District) and trendy Fitzroy, graffiti adorns not only alleyways, but entire buildings. I wouldn’t even call it graffiti, as the word often has negative connotations. It’s art.
5. The laneways
One of my favorite things about Melbourne are the little alleyways, or “laneways” throughout the CBD. Narrow cobblestone streets, which were once reserve for horses and carts in the 19th century, are now lined with boutiques, popular lunch eateries, and of course, coffee shops. The most popular, and my personal favorites, are Centre Place and Degraves Street.
6. The buskers
Every few blocks in the CBD, and scattered throughout the city, are street performers of some sort. Good performers. From didgeridoo players to tap dancers, child singers to break dancers, these people are true entertainers. You could spend an entire day doing nothing but taking in free performances.
7. The rooftop bars
There are a lot of rooftop bars in Melbourne. I was only there for five days, but I managed to visit three. Good views, nice weather, inventive cocktails. What’s not to like? I would personally recommend Naked in the Sky in Fitzroy. Get there early though, as tables fill up fast.
8. The architecture
Victorian buildings from the 1800s stand next to modern art-inspired skyscrapers. Art Deco beside neoclassical. If architecture is your thing, you will enjoy simply walking the streets, looking up.
9. The sporting events
This is something I unfortunately did not get to experience, but I did hear a lot about. Melbourne is Australia’s “sporting capital,” hosting events like the Australia Open tennis championship and the FORMULA 1 Australian Grand Prix. There’s also Australian Rules Football (AFL), and of course, cricket. The above photo is a look at some of the football players, taken from www.melbournesportstours.com.au. Let’s be honest, this picture alone is a reason to love Melbourne.
10. The hipsters
I hear people complain a lot about “hipsters,” but I’m not sure why. For those who don’t know what this word means (i.e. my mother), it’s a term used to describe someone who is perpetually in front of the curve—at the height of fashion, eats locally and organic, has an iPod full of cutting edge independent artists. Hipsters abound in Melbourne–so much so that the state library is currently holding a free exhibit entitled “Bohemian Melbourne,” with the tagline, “Artist, rebel, hippie, hipster?”. The display uncovers Melbourne’s cultural bohemians from 1860 to today, and is part of a summer celebration of the city’s strong hipster vibe. The photo above is a picture from the exhibit, found on the library’s website.
Tell me: What do you love most about Melbourne?