Local resident and writer LC Hunter of Birdgehls shares her expertise to give you the best information for where to stay in Melbourne and a guide to its neighborhoods. From activities, tours, and accommodations in the city, this complete guide will give you all the tools you need to enjoy your stay.
Choosing where to stay in Melbourne can be difficult. Especially when there are so many different neighborhoods.
Where to Stay in Melbourne, Australia
As the most liveable city in the world (seven years in a row, but who’s counting?) it can be hard to decide exactly where you should base yourself when visiting Melbourne, Australia. But this guide is here to help you out.
The city is a little too hip – there are many wonderful neighborhoods to stay in Melbourne in and for a newcomer, it can be difficult knowing which one will suit your tastes best.
Do you want to be in the thick of things, with easy access to all the sights and free transport? Or would you rather experience life as the locals do – shopping in local boutique stores, having cocktails in hip bars, or drinking the city’s renowned coffee in tiny, intimate cafes?
Suggested Melbourne Neighborhoods
Here are 8 neighborhoods you can choose from in Melbourne, each with their own individual vibe and attractions. Use the following guide to decide which one is best for you.
If you want to skip directly to any of the neighborhoods in Melbourne, click on the links below.
- The CBD (Central Business District) – Right in the action.
- St Kilda – a historic suburb, close to beaches.
- Richmond – a cool, hip suburb not far from the city.
- Fitzroy – Great for a night out, or boutique shopping.
- Hawthorn – Live as the locals do.
- Prahran and Windsor – Close to cool bars and trendy restaurants.
- Brunswick – a grungy neighborhood, with neat urban art.
- Collingwood – Inner-city cool, with excellent coffee.
If you are in Melbourne for more than one day, the Hop on Hop Off bus tour is a great option for getting around to all the sights. Tickets can be purchased in advanced Melbourne 1,2, or 3-Day Hop on Hop off Bus Pass
1. The Central Business District
Melbourne’s CBD is home to its most renowned sights, such as Flinders Street Station, Eureka Tower, Federation Square and the National Gallery of Victoria. The CBD is a mecca for artists.The city is known for its sprawling laneways, covered in graffiti that changes almost daily.
- Wander the streets of the sprawling Chinatown for cheap and exotic feeds.
- Drink cocktails from the bars at the top of high-rise towers, overlooking the city.
- Try your luck at the pokies at Crown Casino.
- Or just chill out in one of the many parks that can be found around the city.
Suggested Hotels Near the CBD
If you are looking for where to stay in Melbourne and want to be in the heart of things this is the area for you.
- Luxury: Grand Hyatt Melbourne – High-rise hotel with city views, an indoor pool and spa.
- Mid-Range – InterContinental Melbourne – Built in 1891, this hotel features two restaurants, a lounge bar and a pool.
- Budget – Ibis Melbourne CBD -Humble rooms with a breakfast buffet and free Wi-Fi. Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com
Things to see in the CBD
My favorites are – Fitzroy Gardens – home to a conservatory, Cook’s Cottage (where the parents of James Cook, “discoverer” or Australia lived, brought over from England) and a model Tudor village.
National Gallery of Victoria – The National Gallery of Victoria or NGV is the oldest public art gallery in Australia and consists of two sites – the Australian collection and International Collection.
The Laneways – Melbourne is famous for its laneways, incorporating cool bars, trendy little cafes and urban art. The best known of all the laneways is Hosier Lane.
Chinatown – Melbourne’s Chinatown was established during the Victorian gold rush in the 1850s. The modern day Chinatown sprawls through the CBD and is home to some hip bars and as eateries that will satisfy every budget.
Queen Victoria Market – QVM is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. At seven hectares big, it’s the largest open plan market in Australia. DON’T MISS THE QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET FOOD TOUR FOR ONLY $64/PP
Flinders Street Station – Flinders Street Station was the first railway station to be built in Australia and is the central hub for the metro lines in Melbourne. The station was constructed in 1909, is heritage listed and recognised as a cultural icon of the city.
Royal Botanic Gardens – The Gardens are located near the center of the city, south of the Yarra River. They’re home to a mixture of exotic and native flora..
Shrine of Remembrance – The Shrine was built after the First World War to commemorate the Victorians who had served abroad or been involved in the war efforts at home. Guided or self-guided tours are offered daily.
Eureka Tower – Eureka Tower is 91 stories high and located in Southbank. It is home to Skydeck, on the 88th floor offering the highest public view from any building in the Southern Hemisphere.
If you’re particularly brave, you can step out onto The Edge – a glass cube that slides out three metres from the building. Book advance tickets with Get Your Guide
Melbourne City Pass – starting at 210 AUD and available in 3 or 7 day passes, this will give you entry to sights such as Eureka Skydeck 88 and Melbourne Zoo.
- Flinders Street Station – any Circle Loop train will terminate here.
- Royal Botanical Gardens – stop at Domain Interchange/St Kilda Rd from tram lines 3/3a/6/16f/64/72
- Queen Victoria Markets – catch a train to Flagstaff Station along the City Loop and walk.
- For more information check out the Public Transport Victoria website.
2. St Kilda
A historic neighborhood by the sea. St Kilda is beloved by both locals and tourists alike. A postcard perfect part of Melbourne, it is renowned for its view of Port Phillip, palm-lined boardwalk and beautiful sunsets.
There are plenty of seaside activities available for visitors and the suburb is littered with great restaurants, bars and cafes.
There are plenty of stunning old buildings, famous theatres (such as the Palais Theatre) and festivals happening all year round, such as the annual film festival and the eponymous St Kilda Festival, held every summer.
One of my favorite things to do in St Kilda is to go to one of the cafes on the water, order a chai latte and a bowl of chips and people-watch. Or of course, go for a paddle in the water!
Where to Stay Near St Kilda
- Luxury – Rydges St Kilda – A modern hotel, less than 10 mins from the beach. Access to the gym and Wi-Fi included in price.
- Mid-Range –Tolarno Hotel – Designer hotel in a great location. Free Wi-Fi & a low-key bar on-site.
- Budget – Oslo Hotel – Affordable hotel with private rooms and dorms.
Things to See in St Kilda
St Kilda Pier -The Pier and Breakwater is considered to be a landmark of Melbourne, offering views of Melbourne’s skyline and Port Phillip Bay. It’s also home to a colony of 100 Little Penguins.
St Kilda Beach – It may not be Bondi Beach, but St Kilda at the very least provides access to water and there are some really lovely pubs and cafes nearby.
Luna Park -Luna Park is a historic amusement park, which opened in 1912. It was one of five original parks, with only it and Sydney’s remaining in operation.
The Astor Theatre -If you consider yourself a film buff, you’ll love the Astor Theatre. A single-screen movie theatre, it regularly shows the classics, alongside movie-marathons and singalongs. Open since 1913, it was nearly shut down in 2015. After much protesting, cinema chain Palace Cinemas leased the premises and has continued on with its traditional screenings.
There are no train stations in St Kilda – the area is serviced by trams. Catch the 3/3a, 67 or 16f from Flinders Street or the 96 from Southern Cross. For more information check out the Public Transport Victoria website.
Richmond is an inner-city suburb of Melbourne, which underwent a period of gentrification in the 1990s. It’s now one of the most extremely sought-after postcodes in the city.
The area is known for its top-notch Vietnamese food and is a popular area of congregation for sports fans, thanks to the proliferation of sports bars in the suburb, along with the presence of the city’s most beloved sporting venue, the Melbourne Cricket Grounds.
Suggested Hotels Near Richmond
- Luxury – Cremorne: Modern Apartment-Hotel, right near Richmond train station.
- Mid-Range – Amora Hotel Riverwalk Melbourne: High-end hotel with river views. 24/7 room service and complimentary bikes available.
- Budget – Adara Richmond: Less than a block from shops/cafes. Free Wi-Fi.
Things to see in Richmond
Melbourne Cricket Grounds (the MCG) -Melbourne is the sports capital of Australia and the best of the best happens at the MCG. First opened in 1853, it is the 10th largest stadium in the world and the biggest in Australia. It was the main stadium for the 1956 Olympic Games, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and is considered both the birthplace of Test Cricket and the official home of Australian Rules Football (also known as “Aussie Rules” or simply as “the AFL”). If catching a game there isn’t enough for you, you can take a 75-minute tour of the grounds and the Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum. BOOK YOUR BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR OF THE CRICKET GROUNDS HERE
The Owl and Cat Theatre – This small theatre is located near Richmond Station and is a popular, intimate venue for both plays and music.
Tour a Craft Beer Facility –Aussie’s love their beer in all forms and in the hip, inner suburbs of Melbourne, craft beer is only growing in popularity.
Mountain Goat Brewery open their doors to the public three days a week, for tours, food and of course, a cold bevvie on tap.
Yarra Cruises – see the highlights from the Yarra River with a 1 or 2 hour cruise. Book a Cruise in Advance with Get Your Guide
Getting to Richmond
Richmond train station is one stop away from Flinder Street Station. Multiple lines service the station (Frankston, Cranbourne, Pakenham, Sandringham, Glen Waverley, Alamain, Lilydale and Belgrave will all get you there).
- For more information check out the Public Transport Victoria website.
Fitzroy is one of the hippest suburbs in Melbourne. A neighborhood for creatives, it features a mix of specialty bookshops, art galleries, boutique clothing stores and beyond-decent eateries.
If you want to know where to stay in Melbourne that is also a very affordable this is it. It’s also a great place for thrift shopping – I bought one of my favorite pairs of shoes there for $8. Bargain.
The area is also an excellent place to head to for a night out on the town and is home to some of the most amazing urban art to be found within the city.
Suggested Hotels in Fitzroy
- Luxury –District Fitzroy: Apartment hotel minutes walk away from Brusnwick St and Smith St.
- Mid-Range – Melbourne Metropole Central: Modern hotel in great location with an outdoor pool and free parking.
- Budget – The Nunnery Accommodation: Quirky guesthouse in a former 19th Century convent. Free breakfast.
Things to See and Do in Fitzroy
Hit up an Aussie Pub –Going to an Australian pub is an interesting experience and one you won’t have experienced unless you’ve ordered a schnitty (schnitzel) that’s a big as a plate, with the chips inexplicably hidden underneath the crumbed chicken.
Visit The Workers Club or Builders Arms Hotel for a truly Australian experience.
For something a little different The Old Bar is a venue for live music, along with art exhibitions, knitting nights and a VHS Club.
Go Shopping Along Brunswick St –Fitzroy is renowned for its shopping and the main street (Brunswick St) is littered with boutique shops filled with clothes, homewares and other tack. For those on a budget, you’re sure to find a bargain amongst one of the suburb’s many thrift shops.
Visit the Edinburgh Gardens – At 24 hectares in size, Edinburgh Gardens is one of the largest parks within the city. Have a game of tennis, try your hand at lawn bowls, or cook a BBQ Aussie style using the park’s own facilities.
Fitzroy is serviced extensively by trams. Catch the Number 11 from Collins Street or Number 86 from Bourke Street. For more information check out the Public Transport Victoria website.
Hawthorn is the ideal location for any travelers wanting to experience Melbourne “like a local”. Located 6 km from the city, it is one of the city’s most influential suburbs. Its ethnic diversity has led to a top-quality restaurant scene and due to its strong student population, it has a thriving nightlife.
Suggested Hotels Hawthorn
- Luxury – Hawthorn Gardens Serviced Apartments: Set in the suburbs, with free Wifi.
- Mid-Range – Glenferrie Hotel: Cosy hotel with a stately facade. Free Wifi.
- Budget – Quest Hawthorn: Sleek apartments, with a fitness room and restaurant onsite.
Things to see and do in Hawthorn
Check out the Melbourne Tram Museum – Most Melburnians would be lost without their trams and this museum pays homage to the transport system that has been in place since 1885. Open Saturdays, the museum is located at Hawthorn’s original tram depot and features 20 vintage tramcars, alongside other historic memorabilia.
Pick up a book at Readings –In 2016, Melbourne based Readings was awarded the London Book Fair’s Bookstore of the Year award, beating out bookshops in Estonia, Italy and China. Its flagship store in located in Carlton, just north of the CBD, but the Hawthorn branch is also worth a visit. Grab yourself a novel and then wander round to any nearby cafe to spend an afternoon reading some quality literature, drinking some of Melbourne’s internationally renowned coffee and indulging in the greatest pleasure of any traveler – people watching.
Immerse in Australia’s brunch scene –Brunch in Australia isn’t just a meal, it’s an institution. Most Aussie’s love nothing more than parking themselves at their favourites cafes, ordering a plate of smashed avocado and whiling the hours away with their nearest and dearest – whether that be friends, family or just their dogs.
Most suburbs in Melbourne are home to some truly excellent cafes, so take your pick. Be sure to arrive early, so you can get a seat as once most patrons park themselves down, it’ll be awhile before they get moving again!
Take a train from the city to Hawthorn, Glenferrie or Auburn Station. The area is serviced by the tram lines 16, 48, 70, 75 and 109. For more information check out the Public Transport Victoria website.
6. Prahran and Windsor
Located a stone’s throw from the city, Prahran and Windsor are known for their top quality eateries, vintage finds and pumping nightlife. Chapel Street in particular is the place to be seen, featuring boutique shops, a range of restaurants and cafes and eclectic bars.
I once went for a walk down the street to “see what it had on offer” and accidentally spent $400 on clothes. Collateral damage – it could happen to anyone.
Suggested Hotels for Prahran and Windsor
- Luxury – Melbourne Parkview Hotel: Upscale hotel with views of Albert Park and the city skyline.
- Mid-Range – The Cullen: Boutique hotel: With decor inspired by artist Adam Cullen. Laid-back bistro and popular dumpling bar onsite.
- Budget – Pint on Punt Hostel: Lively hostel set above a pub. Close to shops and nightlife.
Things to do and see in Prahran and Windsor
Chapel Street –Chapel Street is one of Melbourne’s premier shopping districts, known for its boutique stores, hip cafes and trendy bars. Wander up and down the street and try not to spend all your money at once.
Prahran Market –Open five days a week (it closes Mondays and Wednesday), Prahran Market is considered to be the #1 food market in Melbourne. Here you can pick up a range of food from the delis and produce shops, or grab a feed at one of the many eateries located in the premises – from simple toasties, to German Bratwurst.
An animal farm visits the market every Tuesday, providing an opportunity for kids (both big and small) to get up close to some delightfully fluffy farm animals.
Head to Revolver for the Thai Food – Revolver is quite possibly one of, if not the most disgusting nightclubs in Melbourne – the kind of place where people will arrive late on a Friday night and won’t leave until 10am Monday morning. Yet, it’s also home to the suburb’s best Thai food, Colonel Tan’s. Hold your nose, avert your eyes, scale the stairs to the upper quarters and feast on pad thai and stir fried beef until your heart’s content.
Main metro stops are: Catch the tram line 6 from Flinders Street to get to Prahran and Windsor. Prahran Market is serviced by the 72. South Yarra train station is the closest to Chapel St. Alternatively, jump on the 78 or 79 to travel its length. For more information check out the Public Transport Victoria website.
Brunswick is hands down my favorite neighborhood in Melbourne. It’s the kind of place where people will stop to have a chat with you in the street. Where cafe staff will tell you to “come back and pay when you have the money”, if you don’t have any cash on hand. Where you can get a burger and a beer for under $15. Where you’ll see some of the most thought-provoking street art in Melbourne.
You could wander the streets of this suburb all day and not run out of things to see or do.
Suggested Hotels for Brunswick
- Luxury –Serviced Apartments Melbourne: Apartments close to shops and restaurants.
- Mid-Range –Vibe Hotel Carlton: Contemporary Hotel only 11 minutes walk from Melbourne Zoo.
- Budget –Dolma Hotel Melbourne: Casual hotel with free Wi-Fi.
Things to See in Brunswick
Self-Guided Urban Art Tour –Although the laneways in the city are famous for their graffiti, you have to head deep into the suburbs to see the good stuff.
Brunswick is one such suburb whose identity is linked to its urban art and it features some of the best in Melbourne – some of which has been around for generations. Both Jewell and Brunswick train stations are good places to start.
Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School – It’s one thing to sample delicious desserts, another to be able to create them yourself. Savour school offers a range of classes, from chocolate artistry, to pastries and tarts and even macarons.
Drink where Beyonce once drank – Big Bey fan? Well, when visiting Australia in 2013, Beyonce was spotted by fans entering Brunswick’s Retreat Hotel for a tipple.
Visit the Melbourne Zoo – not far from Brunswick is Melbourne Zoo, which is worth visiting for the very neat Butterfly House and penguin enclosure at the very least.
Melbourne Zoo – the 19 tram line will take you there from Brunswick. Alternatively, it’s a 14 minute walk from Brunswick Station. Catch the Upfield line from any station on the City Loop and get off at Jewell or Brunswick Station for access to Sydney Road. For more information check out the Public Transport Victoria website.
Collingwood is yet another suburb located a very short distance from the CBD, but with its own distinct feel.It’s one of Melbourne’s top dining and drinking suburbs, with loads of beautiful architecture to ogle out.
I can happily spend a day here shopping along Smith St, poking my head into various art galleries and boutique stores and whiling away hours drinking coffee in any of the neighborhood’s cafes.
Suggested Hotels in Collingwood
- Luxury –Tribeca Serviced Apartments: Upscale apartment/hotel 8-minute walk from North Richmond Station. Features an outdoor lap pool and fitness room.
- Mid-Range – Comfort Hotel East Melbourne: Low-key apartment/hotel with free Wi-Fi.
- Budget – Baden Powell Hotel: Cosy low-key rooms, close to North Richmond train station.
Things to do in Collingwood
Grab a cup of Melbourne Coffee –If it’s one thing Melburnians are passionate about, it’s their coffee and the city is cited to have some of the best in the world. Inner city suburb Collingwood is one of the area’s trendiest, so you’re guaranteed to find a decent cup of joe, wherever you go.
If you want a true, Australian coffee experience, order a flat white. If you’re lucky, it’ll come with some truly spectacular latte art.
Collingwood Children’s Farm –Yep, there’s a farm located only a few kilometres out of the city! Collingwood Children’s Farm is open daily and parents will be happy to hear that there is a cafe onsite, where they can sip on a hot beverage whilst their children run wild. Daily highlights include cow milking and guinea pig cuddles.
Stomping Ground Brewing Co. –Stomping Ground is a relatively new warehouse turned beer hall in Collingwood. Head there for a bev, or a bit of live entertainment. If you want to see the inner workings of a craft beer brewery, free tours are held every Saturday and Sunday at 12 noon.
Catch the South Morang line from the city to Collingwood station, or alternative head to North Richmond. The 86 tram line leads to Collingwood from the city. For more information check out the Public Transport Victoria website.
Melbourne Quick Tips
Melbourne has the best public transport of any city in Australia. You can easily get around using the buses, trains and trams that make up its transport system. When arriving in Melbourne, you’ll need to purchase a myki – a transport card that will enable you to navigate your way around the city.
Myki cards are priced at $6 and can be pre-loaded with cash. A full two hour fare in zones 1 + 2 costs $4.10 and a daily fare is $8.20. If you’re staying in Melbourne for a week or longer and you plan to utilize the public transport a lot, consider getting a myki pass. 7 days will cost you $28.
If you’re staying centrally, tram access around designated routes in the city is free.
Melbourne doesn’t have a train line that runs direct to the city from the airport. Some suburbs are easier to get to simply by booking an Uber or taking a taxi from the airport.
Visitors instead are given the option of catching the SkyBus, which takes you direct to Southern Cross Station in the city. When booked online, a one way ticket is $18, a return is priced at $35. I would only recommend using the Skybus if you’re staying in or around the city.
Plan Your Melbourne Trip
The local currency is the Australian Dollar. $1 USD = $1.25 AUD – For up to date conversions get the XE Currency Converter App
Melbourne’s weather is in a word, unpredictable. The city is regularly cited as experiencing “Four Season in One Day” (there is a famous Crowded House song that is titled as such). Layers will see you through the winter, along with a sturdy coat (preferably water proof).
Don’t expect the weather to necessarily be hot in the summer seasons – come prepared with a light jacket or sweater. Be sure to pack one pair of waterproof shoes.
Eagle Creek Plug Adapter – This all in one adapter is all your need for Australia and your other world travels.
So that’s it. If I were visiting Melbourne for the first time, I’d be happy to stay in any of the above suburbs. If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.
- What to do in Melbourne, 11 Things to do in The Coolest City in Australia
- Great Ocean Walk – A Beautiful Way to Experience the Twelve Apostles
- The Best Things to do in New Zealand
- Australia Travel Guide
LC is a proud Melburnian and an advocate of backyard travel. Visit her blog Birdgehls for more on Australia and beyond. Check out her complete 7 Day itinerary to Melbourne for more ideas and travel planning. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
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