Travel Tips

Melbourne Visitors Guide

The Yarra River with the Melbourne skyline in the background The Yarra River with the Melbourne skyline in the background (Stock photo)

The City of Melbourne

The city of Melbourne is vibrant, sophisticated and culturally diverse. Melbourne features a blend of 19th century European charm and ultra modern design. The city of Melbourne includes numerous distinctive cultural and shopping precincts, each with its own flavor and charm. Some of these areas are just a lane or two; others stretch along a city street or the banks of the Yarra River.

Melbourne is also a thriving commercial centre, with world class infrastructure, striking public spaces, a fantastic café and restaurant culture along with a relaxed outdoor lifestyle.

When to go to Melbourne

There is no perfect time to go to Melbourne. Melbourne’s weather is rather unpredictable and Melbourne locals will often joke that it is possible to experience all 4 seasons in one day in Melbourne. However, the summertime, from December to February is the most popular time to visit Melbourne. You can expect great weather and packed attractions. The autumn months are nice and cool, providing the best weather of the year. Winter time in Melbourne is pretty mild while spring time indicates the beginning of Melbourne’s festivals season.

History of Melbourne

Melbourne rests on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. European settlers came in 1835 with the arrival of Tasmanian farmers John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner.

The town had several names before being officially called Melbourne in honor of the British Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, in March 1837.

In 1851 gold was discovered in Ballarat, about 120 km west of Melbourne. The wealth generated by the goldfields fuelled a 40 year boom and ushered in an era known as ‘marvelous Melbourne’. Many of Melbourne’s grand public buildings were constructed during this period including the University of Melbourne, the State Library of Victoria, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne Town Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral, leaving a significant architectural legacy.

Telephone Calls

Local calls from public telephones in Australia cost a fixed 50 cents, regardless of the time spent on the call. Calls to interstate, international and mobile numbers are charged by time. Most public telephones accept coins and Telstra prepaid phone cards, which can be purchased in post offices, newsagents, gift shops and other outlets in denominations of $5 to $20. They can be used for local, interstate and international calls. Pre-paid cards are also produced by a range of other companies, offering competitive rates within Australia and overseas.

International Phone Calls

To phone out of Australia, dial the International Access Code 0011 and then the country code (Japan’s, for example, is 81), followed by the relevant area code and the local number. For international directory assistance, phone 1225.

The following are the most frequently used international codes:
Canada – 1
China – 86
France – 33
Germany – 49
Hong Kong – 852
India – 91
Indonesia – 62
Italy – 39
Japan – 81
Malaysia – 60
New Zealand – 64
ingapore – 65
South Africa – 27
South Korea – 82
Taiwan – 886
Thailand – 66
UK – 44

Transportation in Melbourne

Because the city of Melbourne is in Australia, which happens to be located at the far end of the world, the only way to get to Melbourne from another country is by plane. Travelling between Melbourne and other Australian cities is also easier by plane since there is quite a lot of distance between the various Australian cities. Unlike Europe, Australia does not have a high-speed rail system so no rapid train service is available.

If you are planning to travel outside of Melbourne, you should consider Melbourne’s public transport system, which is operated by Metlink. The city of Melbourne’s public transportation system is very efficient and and ponctual. For more information check out our Melbourne Transportation section.

Banks and Foreign Exchange Outlets

Banks are open Monday to Thursday from 9.30am to 4pm, and Friday 9.30am to 5pm, although some branches in the central business district are open longer hours.Automatic teller machines are found throughout the city, and give cash advances on credit cards. Foreign currency and travelers’ checks can be exchanged at banks or dedicated exchanges including Thomas Cook, American Express, Travelex, The Change Group and other outlets.


Melbourne’s newspapers The Age and The Herald Sun and free ‘street press’ publications contain arts and entertainment listings, features and reviews. On Fridays The Age produces the ‘EG’ section which is a comprehensive entertainment guide. You will find news stands throughout the city selling local and national papers. McGills news agency at 187 Elizabeth Street has the city centre’s widest selection of interstate and international newspapers and magazines. Titles are flown in from countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong. Opening hours are Monday to Thursday 7.30am to 6pm, Friday 7.30am to 7pm, and Saturday 8am to 5pm. Phone: 9602 5566.

Post Offices

The city’s main post office, operated by Australia Post, can be found on the corner of Little Bourke and Elizabeth Streets. It is open weekdays 8.30am to 5.30pm, Saturdays 9am to 4pm, and Sundays 10am to 4pm. A number of other post offices can be found in the central area of Melbourne.

Internet Access and Wi-Fi Access

There are a number of internet cafes in the city centre. Some of them include: Elounge at 149 Swanston Street or 9 Elizabeth Street; Global Chat, 228 Flinders Street; Six Links, 228 Flinders Lane; or at the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square. Telstra provides wireless internet coverage across much of the central business district, and hotspots can also be found in various locations, including Collins Place, 45 Collins Street; Level 3, Melbourne Central; and the State Library, 328 Swanston Street. For a full list of locations, visit the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square.

Shopping Hours

In the city centre, shops are generally open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm, extending to 9pm on Fridays. On Sunday, many Melbourne retailers are open 10am to 5pm.


Tipping is not a custom in Australia, and is not expected. If you receive good service, however, you may choose to tip at cafes or restaurants; 10% of the bill would be reasonable. In taxis, you may also choose to round up the payment according to service received.

Cost of Living in Melbourne

In general, Melbourne is a pretty expensive city to visit. The cost of living in Melbourne is generally high, so you can expect e restaurant and bar prices to be quite high. Accommodation prices in Melbourne vary depending on the season, with accommodation prices being high during the summer festival months.

Tourist Information Services

To help get your bearings and learn what Melbourne has to offer, you can check out many of Melbourne’s tourism services run by the City of Melbourne:

The Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square
Located opposite Flinders Street railway station, the Melbourne Visitor Centre is a one-stop-shop for tourists. The centre offers information and services on Melbourne and Victoria including brochures and maps; ‘what’s on’ listings; internet and email facilities; souvenirs; and an accommodation, car and tour booking service. Open daily from 9am to 6pm (closed Good Friday and Christmas Day). Street-level lifts provide access for people with disabilities.

The Melbourne Visitor Booth in the Bourke Street Mall
Located in the heart of the Bourke Street Mall, friendly volunteers at the Melbourne Visitor Booth provide maps and information on shopping, attractions and events. Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm, and Sunday 10am to 5pm (closed Good Friday and Christmas Day).

City Ambassadors
For assistance with directions, event information and general questions about Melbourne, keep an eye out for our roving City Ambassadors in their distinctive red uniforms. Seven days 10am to 4pm, (excluding Good Friday and Christmas Day).

Melbourne Greeter Service
Free 2–4 hour orientation of the city conducted by a volunteer. Available in English 7 days a week at 9.30am departing from the Melbourne Visitor Centre. Languages available by arrangement. Bookings essential, visit greeter or call 03 9658 9658.

Other Melbourne Tourism Websites

The following are some of the most important websites that you should visit before planning your visit to Melbourne. These sites contain valuable information about the city of Melbourne and the state of Victoria:

  • Visit Melbourne: The official travel website for international visitors to Melbourne Australia. The site features excellent sections on festivals and events, accommodation, restaurants, tours and attractions.
  • visit The official travel website for Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The site features excellent sections on festivals and events, accommodation, restaurants, tours and attractions.
  • That’s Melbourne: Maintained by the city council of Melbourne, this site provides an excellent traveller’s guide to the city of Melbourne.


Melbourne has a population of 3.6 million people living in Greater Melbourne

Time Zone

Melbourne’s Time Zone is Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST time). The clocks change to Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT time) in the month of October. Daylight-saving time is between the last Sunday in October and last Sunday in March.


English is the official language but more than 100 languages are spoken in Melbourne. Almost one third of the population speaks a language other than English.


More than a quarter of Melbourne residents were born overseas. The top 10 countries of origin across Greater Melbourne are England, Italy, Vietnam, Greece, New Zealand, China, India, Sri Lanka, Scotland and Malaysia.


The World Health Organization (WHO) rates Melbourne as one of the healthiest cities of its size in the world.


Melbourne has four seasons, with no real extremes. In Australia, summer starts in December, autumn in March, winter in June and spring in September. In summer, the average temperatures range from a high of 26°C to a low of 14°C; in winter the average high is 13°C and the average low is 6°C; in spring and fall, the average highs and lows range from 20°C to 10°C. Average rainfall is 55mm per month.

Public Holidays

During public holidays, banks, offices, government buildings, large stores and post offices are closed. Melbourne and the state of Victoria observes the following public holidays:
New Year’s Day – January 1
Australia Day – January 26
Labour Day – First or second Monday in March
Easter (Good Friday and Easter Monday) – March or April
Anzac Day – April 25
Queen’s Birthday – Second Monday in June
Melbourne Cup Day – First Tuesday in November
Christmas Day – December 25
Boxing Day – December 26

Money & Currency

Australia uses the decimal dollar system, where 100 cents is a dollar. There are $100, $50, $20, $10 and 5$ bills as well as $2, 1$, 50 ¢, 20 ¢, 10 ¢ and 5 ¢ coins.

Passports & Visas

All visitors to Australia need a passport and visa. Visitors from New Zealand are issued with visas upon arrival but all other visitors must obtain visas in advance.

Driving Licenses

Foreign driving licenses are valid in Australia as long as they are in English or they have a translated accompanying document. An International Driving Permit is also required with your license.

Area Code

The area code for Melbourne and the state of Victoria is 03.

Important Numbers

The following are important numbers in Melbourne:
Directory assistance 1223
Emergency services 000
Reverse charge calls 12550


Voltage in Australia is 240V. Plugs are three-pin.

Weights and Measures

Australia uses the metric system.

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