Australian Open: Top Tips for Enjoying Melbourne Like a Local
Melbourne, home of the Australian Open, is a fantastic city. In fact it has been named “World’s Most Liveable City” by the Economist Intelligence Unit for six straight years.
Visiting Melbourne for the Australian Open is a really enjoyable experience, as much for the entertaining tennis as for the opportunity to soak up the Melbourne 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. Melbourne also offers galleries, theatre shows and museums, as well as laneways to explore which are covered in amazing street art.
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, which is 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. Or ask the driver but not while the tram isn’t moving.
Also 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, and will 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. Tips are appreciated though so you can still feel free to tip if you enjoyed the meal and service, or even simply round up the bill to nearest $10 or $20 amount.
- Walk along the Yarra River and enjoy the sunset
Granted I’m biased but Melbourne has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, particularly if there are some clouds in the sky and 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 including Greek, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, Spanish, European, American, Australian and more.
If you follow tip number 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 alley ways 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, ask the concierge at your hotel, or get the Melbourne Bar Secrets app or deck of cards, which includes a map of how to find each place and photos of the locations.
- 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.
If you’d like to visit the 2017 AO we still have tickets/hospitality access available on our website. Otherwise, you should look towards the 2018 Australian Open and make sure your tennis vacation down under includes a visit to a tournament unlike any other.
**This is a guest post by Melinda Samson aka 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