Car Hire Melbourne - Downtown, Australia
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First time visiting Melbourne? We want you to make the most out of your car rental Melbourne experience. For this reason, we've enlisted the assistance of a local travel expert to help get you on your way. Follow these important travel tips and enjoy the best that Melbourne is offering.
See: Melbourne isn’t a city for sightseeing. There’s no glittering harbour or opera house as there is in Sydney and the city’s beaches aren’t anything to write home about, however, it more than makes up for it with oodles of culture and style. This is a city of artists, shoppers, foodies, and drinkers. Visit the free National Gallery of Victoria for the art masters and the nearby Australian Centre for Contemporary Art for more edgy offerings. At Federation Square, the Ian Potter Centre specializes in local art with a wonderful Aboriginal art collection, while the Australian Centre for the Moving Image has permanent and travelling exhibitions on the film industry and there’s an art house cinema on site. You don’t have to go to a museum to see art, however – there are many small commercial galleries in South Melbourne, Port Melbourne and St Kilda, such as Linden Gallery and Gaswork’s Art Park, while many of Melbourne’s narrow city laneways, such as Hosier, Caledonian and Union Lanes, are covered with vibrant street art from Australian and international street artists.
Shop: Melbourne’s city centre boasts a handful of historic shopping arcades filled with fascinating stores and fashion boutiques, such as the Royal Arcade and The Block Arcade, as well as the renovated GPO (General Post Office;, now an upmarket shopping centre that is home to boutiques by Australian designers such as Leona Edmiston and Sass & Bide. In the inner-city suburbs, a handful of shopping streets are fun to browse, but leave the heels at the hotel. The three kilometers of Chapel Street, South Yarra, are lined with hip boutiques owned by independent designers, Toorak Road, Toorak, is home to exclusive international designer brands, while High Street, Annandale is dotted with art galleries, boutiques, furniture and interior décor stores. Melbourne is also beloved by locals for its vibrant markets, such as the Prahran Market and the historic Queen Victoria Market and South Melbourne Market (see Walk).
Eat: Melbourne takes its food seriously – and it’s seriously good. From its renowned fine dining scene to its delicious pub grub, Melbourne is a real foodie destination. With its unique industrial-chic style, Cutler & Co. is one of the most revered of the fine dining establishments, serving artfully presented plates of seasonal produce. Just as innovative is the decor and cuisine of chef Shannon Bennett’s Vue de Monde, while French-Australian chef Jacques Reymond is home to the best service and technically perfect modern Australian cuisine. Unashamedly French is the cuisine at Bistro Guillaume, where simple dishes such as roast chicken are prepared beautifully, while at the neighbouring Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne, the house-aged steaks are a treat. The same owners also run Spice Temple, where the Bang Bang Chicken is sublime. Another popular modern Asian restaurant is Chin Chin, where the Thai-focused food is as fantastic as the buzzy atmosphere.
The pub scene is just as dynamic, with Circa, The Prince delivering the best food you’ll ever have in a pub. At the Middle Park Hotel, unashamedly old-fashioned fare (with a modern twist) is served at the bar, while the dining room hums with diners ordering up comfort food. This is also the case at The European, where homely classics are supported by a stellar wine list. Seafood is the star at the Albert Park Hotel, while ‘Cal-Mex’ is what locals pack the Newmarket Hotel for, especially on weekends.
Drink: Melbourne is famous for its coffee, and the best cafés in the city are Brother Baba Budan and Market Lane Coffee. If you’re a tea drinker, afternoon tea has been a Melbourne tradition at the historic Hotel Windsor since 1883, and starts with flutes of Louis Perdrier champagne, followed by a three-tiered silver stand of finger sandwiches, leek quiches, bacon muffins, mini beef pies, freshly baked scones with jam and cream, and a choice of pots of the Windsor’s own fine blends of tea. The city’s bar scene is one of the best in the country. My favourite bar for a glass of vino is Melbourne City Wine Shop, which has the city’s best cellar of wines by small producers, and seating inside and out, while upstairs, the Melbourne Supper Club has plenty of comfy Chesterfields to sink into, while upstairs again, the rooftop bar, Siglo is lovely over summer. Longrain and Gingerboy Upstairs mix some of the cities most delicious (and spicy!) cocktails.
Stay: In the heart of Melbourne, the swanky Grand Hyatt has stunning views over city and is in a superb spot for exploring Melbourne’s fascinating laneways and lining up for popular eateries such as Chin Chin and Izakaya Den. The grand old Hotel Windsor, opposite Parliament House, is Melbourne’s most historic hotel, and you won’t have to go far after afternoon tea. An affordable city centre hotel is The Jasper, adjacent to Queen Victoria Market, and located in the student area, so there are plenty of cheap eats around.
Across the Yarra River, the stylish Crown Metropol is an excellent location to base yourself, especially if you’re a foodie, as there are dozens of excellent restaurants here, including Rockpool Bar and Grill, Spice Temple, Bistro Guillaume, and The Atlantic. For something different, the renovated Middle Park Hotel http://www.middleparkhotel.com.au, a 10-minute tram ride from the city centre, offers a quintessentially Aussie pub experience and is not far from St. Kilda.
Walk: Melbourne is a city that’s made for walking and while you could explore the colourful laneways on your own, Hidden Secrets offers hugely popular walking tours, including a three-hour Lanes and Arcades tour, along with bar-hops and vintage shopping tours. You can also visit Melbourne’s bustling markets on walking tours. At the city’s oldest – and the largest in the southern hemisphere – the sprawling Queen Victoria Market, dating to 1869, you can do a Foodie’s Dream Tour, which will introduce you to dozens of specialist producers and charming shops in the Art Deco-era Dairy Hall. Look out for The Dainty (cheese specialists), Diane’s Delights (home-made fresh dips), and the Seafood and Oyster Spot (for fresh oysters in season). At South Melbourne Market, established in 1886, you can do a Small Footprint Tour that will take you to the best foodie shops, including Kalaparee Olive Shop for locally made organic olive oils, and Emerald Deli which stocks over 200 cheeses.
Get Out: Everyone who visits Melbourne seems to hire a car and do the drive along the Great Ocean Road, famous for its striking 12 Apostles rock formation (although it’s missing a few apostles now due to erosion). While the route does boast spectacular coastal scenery, I recommend heading inland and driving north for a couple of hours to Victoria’s historic gold mining cities, Ballarat, Bendigo , and Castlemaine. They boast beautiful historic buildings with wrought iron decoration, big old Aussie pubs with wide verandahs, excellent art galleries, old cinemas, a Chinese heritage evident in temples, and superb cafés, restaurants and bars. The streets of nearby Daylesford are lined with antique shops, galleries and cafés, while the adjacent village of Hepburn Springs, Australia’s spa capital, has a hot natural mineral springs.
Listen: Melbourne is home to Australia’s best music scene and gave rise to performers as diverse as Olivia Newton-John, The Seekers, Hunters & Collectors, Nick Cave, and Kylie Minogue, and The Avalanches, so make sure you see some live music while you’re in town. The best venues are the Esplanade Hotel. St Kilda, known locally as ‘The Espy’, The Old Bar at Fitzroy, and The Tote Hotel at Collingwood.
Avoid: Paying for transport around the centre of the city. Melbourne has a free City Circle tram that does a loop of the centre, travelling along Harbour Esplanade, Latrobe, Spring and Flinders Streets throughout the day. If you’re heading out of the city and have to pay for a tram, then buy tickets in advance at shops displaying ‘Metcard’ or ‘myki’ signs.