Top tips for enjoying Melbourne like a local
Melbourne, the home of the Australian Open, is a fantastic city. In fact, it was named the “World’s Most Liveable City” by the Economist Intelligence Unit for seven straight years.
Visiting Melbourne for the Australian Open is a very enjoyable experience, as much for the entertaining tennis as for the opportunity to soak up the local culture. Melbourne locals are incredibly friendly and always happy to help tourists with directions or advice. The city is clean and tidy, and regardless of your food preference, there are a myriad of bars, restaurants, and cafes that offer delicious choices and great atmosphere. The city also offers galleries, theatre shows, and museums, as well as its famous, street art-covered laneways to explore.
Here are some key tips to help you enjoy your visit to Melbourne.
Trams in the Central Business District (CBD) are free
All trams in central Melbourne are free. You’ll know which ones are free as you’ll see “Free Tram Zone” marked on the relevant tram stops. This means that even if you have a Myki card—the Melbourne public transport ticket—you don’t need to tap on or tap off within the Free Zone. The tram driver will also announce when you’re entering or leaving the Free Zone. The streets in Central Melbourne run on a grid, so if your legs are tired from walking and you’re walking straight ahead, simply jump on the next tram and then jump off near your destination. As mentioned above, locals are friendly and helpful, so you can feel comfortable asking someone if you’re not sure which stop you need to get off at. You can also ask the driver at stops.
Do note that although the Australian Open is outside the free zone, all trams between Melbourne Park and the city are free for ticket holders.
Melbourne also has a free City Circle tourist tram that travels around central Melbourne. If you take it early in your visit, it will help you get oriented in terms of what is located where. It can also give you ideas for places you may want to visit and can get to easily.
Tipping is not compulsory
Unlike the USA, in Australia you don’t ever need to tip unless you choose to. And unlike some other countries, a service charge isn’t regularly added to your bill in restaurants, cafes, and bars. Hoewever, tips are appreciated, so you can still feel free to tip if you enjoyed the meal and service, or even simply round up the bill.
Walk along the Yarra River and enjoy the sunset
Melbourne has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, particularly if there are some clouds in the sky at the end of a clear, sunny day. I never get tired of walking along the river watching the sunset and seeing the reflection in the buildings and the water.
The best places to eat and drink can be hard to find
Melbourne has a huge number of high quality restaurants, cafes, and bars offering authentic food experiences from every culture.
If you follow tip three to walk along the river, you’ll see places to eat and drink everywhere, and they are really good options. But note that many of the best places in Melbourne are hard to find, hidden down laneways, down stairs or alleyways and past rubbish skip bins, with no obvious signage to help you find them. If you’d prefer to try these places rather than those that are easy to find, ask a local or the concierge at your hotel.
Get out of the city and take day trips
As fabulous as Melbourne is, there are equally fabulous places to experience and sights to see that you can get to within a few hours drive. If you have time when you’re not watching tennis, consider these day trips:
- Fairy penguins at Phillip Island
- Yarra Valley Wineries
- Great Ocean Road including the Twelve Apostles
- See more excursions on our Australian Open Planned Experiences page!
This is guest post was written by Melinda Samson, also known as Grand Slam Gal. Melinda loves living in Melbourne, particularly because it hosts the Australian Open. In 2012 she achieved a life goal by attending the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open in the same year to complete the ‘fan slam’. Read more articles about the tennis fan experience at tournaments around the world at www.grandslamgal.com. This article has been edited and updated.