Melbourne guide: Top tips for Melbourne food and places to see

by Leanne Ward

You may or may not be aware that I’m a bit of a travel bug. Most recently I took my partner to Melbourne for his birthday. We were only there for 4 days and made it our mission to pack as much of Melbourne as possible into that limited time. So without further ado, here is my Melbourne guide featuring my tips for the best Melbourne food and Melbourne’s must see places/ things to do.

Melbourne Guide Day 1 – Our search for the Best Melbourne Food

The arrival

Our first day in Melbourne started early… and I mean REALLY EARLY! We flew in to Tullamarine Airport at midnight and didn’t make it to our accommodation until 1AM. Luckily we choose wisely with our accommodation. We stayed at Platinum City Serviced Apartments on La Trobe Street in the city. Even though we arrived very early in the morning, getting into the apartment was a breeze and, given how exhausted we were, we breathed a sigh of relief when we found the accommodation was modern and centrally located. 7 hours later we were ready to explore Melbourne!

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

The first place we stopped for brunch was Rustica, nestled in the lane ways around the corner from our hotel. We had heard good things and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a little hard to find as it’s not signed well but it’s well worth the treasure hunt! The coffee was amazing (I’d expect nothing less in Melbourne) and the meals we ordered were super tasty too! I ordered the breakfast salad-trio which was a fresh mix of quinoa, wild rice, kale, rocket, baby spinach, smoked almonds, currants, hummus with sesame dressing and a poached egg. I  also got a side of haloumi because… haloumi is life. David got the vanilla yoghurt pannacotta which was 100% #instaworthy. It came with crunchy house granola, blueberries, peaches and blood orange dust. Hot tip – ask for a side of milk so you can enjoy the rest of the granola after you devour the pannacotta. We decided to share our meals between us so we got a great balance of sweet/savoury and healthy/ indulgent.

Exploring

After our breakfast, we walked up to Old Melbourne Gaol but decided not to go in as the lines were super long. We continued to wonder down Lygon Street for some sightseeing then jumped in a taxi to head to St Kilda.

At St Kilda we explored the beach, the jetty and the local shops. Of course we stopped for an ice-cream and watched the waves roll into the shore.We then made our way down to Brighton to see the bathing boxes. This was one of our favourite sights in the whole of Melbourne. These colourful bathing houses are a highlight on the Brighton Beach front and depending on how many tourists are there, you may even need to line up to get your photo taken outside of one. The wooden beach huts are an iconic & much loved group of 82 coloured huts from the early 1900s. If you have a limited amount of time in Melbourne, add this to the top of your list.

We caught a tram back to the CBD and explored a few of the lane ways. We stopped for lunch at Shanghai Dumpling HOuse and wandered down Tattersalls Lane. We explored China Town before heading to Melbournes most famous lane way – Hosier Lane – remember to pack your camera as this lane way has some pretty epic art work.

Dinner

From the lane ways, we also wondered down a few more lane ways before having dinner at Mamasita. We booked a table (recommended) and tried lots of little dishes on the menu including; the corn chips and guac, tacos,  ceviche, tostaditas and quesadillas.

Day 1 had us nearly crawling back to our room with a full belly and aching feet.

Melbourne Guide Day 2 – Our search for the Best Melbourne Food, coffee and sights continues

Breakfast

A few minutes walk from our hotel was a delicious little cafe called Hash Specialty Coffee (113 Hardware St, Melbourne). If you venture there, you NEED to try their signature Hash Hot Chocolate. It’s Mork even darker 85% chocolate served with fairy floss or their Matcha flossy – a matcha latte served with fairy floss! For breakfast David ordered the French Toasted Bacon Croissant with a peanut butter parfait and I had the smashed avocado on sourdough with haloumi!

Markets

Just a short walk from our breakfast cafe/ hotel was Queen Victoria Markets (note: closed on a Wednesday). My favourite part of these markets is the fresh produce section. Our first stop was for coffee at the best place named ‘Market Place Coffee’ (in the corner of the market place). I was a bit sad we were so full from lunch as there was SO much delicious food in the hall. If you come around lunch, pack a picnic rug and buy lots of beautiful fresh produce to make a delicious picnic (meats, cheeses, olives, bread, fruit etc).

Shopping

After the markets we jumped into a taxi and went down to Chapel Street. We spent a few hours shopping (David is so nice to me!) and after we wondered for what seems like kilometers up and down Chapel Street – we finally stopped for lunch at our next destination – Darling Cafe (2 Darling St, South Yarra). I had seen this place on Instagram and was SO excited to try their delicious food. The juices were delicious – I had a green smoothie and David had the Thomas Edison (served in a lightbulb! ) which was Guava, mango and strawberry juice. For a late lunch, I ordered the shredded kale salad with quinoa, haloumi (do you see a trend?), a poached egg, cherry tomatoes nd sweet potato crisps. David had the peanut butter waffles with smashed banana mousse, berries and golden syrup. YUM!

We probably ate a little too much and decided we needed to walk it off so decided to wonder up to the Royal Botanic Gardens. If you visit the gardens, I highly recommend a quick stop in at the The Shrine of Remembrance which is Victoria’s national war memorial. Make sure you climb right to the top for a stunning 360 view of Melbourne CBD (See below). We jumped back into a taxi after this and went back to our hotel to relax for an hour before meeting some friends for dinner and drinks. We had an amazing Japanese feast at Sash Japanese (try the sushi pizza!) followed by drinks at Two Wrongs.

Melbourne Guide Day 3 – Great Ocean Road

We checked out of our hotel and went to pick up our hire car before scooting off to breakfast. We made a quick pit stop at Phat Milk Cafe which had some amazing food on the menu! I had the vegetarian option which had flat bread and avocado, poached eggs, haloumi, quinoa and beetroot hummus David had the breakfast board with smashed avo on sourdough, croissant, falafel with beetroot hummus and chia pudding.

After breaky, we hit the road driving from the CBD right through to Port Campbell. We took quite a few stops along the way including Bells Beach, the Great Ocean road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, Lorne and Apollo Bay. We rate the fish and chips for lunch if you stop in Lorne plus make sure you wonder around this cute little sea side town. We were lucky enough to arrive at the 12 apostles just before sunset. There were hundreds of tourists with us but it was worth the hustle and bustle to see the sun setting over the apostles. Our apartment in Port Campbell was only a 10 minute drive from the apostles so we highly recommend staying here (and eating at Nico’s Italian for dinner!)

The next morning we went to visit the apostles again then started our long drive back to Melbourne airport! If you have time – the brown tourist signs show you amazing natural wonders along the great ocean road. Some of our favourites were the Gibson steps, Loch Ard Gorge, the blow hole, London Bridge, the grotto (my absolute fav) and The Bay of Islands. Ps… we highly recommend the scenic (ocean) road for at least one way of the trip- the GPS tries to take you in land which is quicker but if you have the time – stick to the ocean highway … it’s 100% amazing views the whole way 😍 We did that on the way there as we had more time then went in land on the way home as we had a flight to catch! Allow plenty of time for flights as well as there are quite a few road works which can add 30-60 mins extra to your trip!

Leanne at The Grotto
Loch Ard Gorge

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