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Melbourne Visitor Guide
Destination: Melbourne, Australia
|Featured Hotel: The Westin Melbourne|
This view from the 55th floor observation deck of the Rialto Towers on Collins Street (adjacent to Intercontinental Melbourne the Rialto) will help you get oriented to Melbourne, and to the areas we'll describe later on this page. If you like summer weather, we recommend January as a great time to visit Melbourne, especially if you like tennis, since the Australian Open is happening at the Rod Laver Arena and surrounding courts within Melbourne Park.
In the photo above, the yellow and red building with the clock tower on one end and the dome on the other is Flinders Street Station, Melbourne's main commuter train terminal, which runs along Flinders Street between Swanston Street and Elizabeth Street. Just above the station on Swanston Street is Federation Square, and that's Princes Bridge over the Yarra River extending across to the right.
A short distance around the bend in the river, along Toorak Road is the popular, hip, and fashionable area of South Yarra. On the south side of the river, Swanston Street turns into St. Kilda Road; St. Kilda Beach is about 3 kilometers away.
Here's the view from ground level, looking across towards Swanston Street and the Central Business District (CBD) with Flinders Street Station on the left, St. Paul's Cathedral and Federation Square on the right, and Princes Bridge and the Victorian Arts Center (the tall, white spire) behind us. The Westin Melbourne is located at the corner of Collins and Swanston Street, in the theater and shopping district, and you'll find many other hotels in the CBD including the Stamford Plaza Melbourne, the Grand Hyatt Melbourne, the Hotel Lindrum, the Marriott Melbourne, the The Grand Hotel, the Sofitel Melbourne, the Park Hyatt Melbourne, the Novotel Melbourne on Collins, and the Windsor.
If you continue a few blocks up Swanston Street to Little Bourke Street, you'll find yourself in Chinatown.
Let's take a walk in the other direction (to the south), across Princes Bridge, over the Yarra River, with Yarra cruise boats lined up below, then cross St. Kilda Road towards the Victorian Arts Center and head west along the river front. You'll find the Royce Hotel on St. Kilda Road, across from the Botanical Gardens.
This area, just to the west of Prince's Bridge on the south bank of the Yarra is the Southbank area. This pedestrian bridge is right in front of the Langham Hotel Melbourne, and runs across to the Elizabeth Street end of Flinders Street Station. Melbourne has a very cosmopolitan, European atmosphere and, like Paris, has many sidewalk cafes, a good number of which can be found along the south bank of the river.
Continuing to the west, past Queen's Bridge, and across from the Melbourne Aquarium and the Rialto Towers, is the massive Crown Towers Hotel hotel, casino and entertainment complex, which stretches on along the river for several blocks down to Clarendon Street. There are restaurants all along the riverfront in this area. Just beyond the Crown complex (and on the other side of the river) is the Convention Center.
If you follow St. Kilda Road all the way down, St. Kilda Pier and Luna Park are about a 30 minute tram ride (take the #16 or 96 tram) from downtown, there are lots of shops and restaurants in St. Kilda. If you turn left off St. Kilda onto Toorak Road, you'll be in fashionable South Yarra, near some of Melbourne's best shopping.
Melbourne has a number of similarities with San Francisco, including an extensive street car system (you can get everywhere on the tram, Melbourne has the world's largest tram system), one of the world's great wine-making regions is nearby, and there's a spectacular coastal drive along Australia's southern coast reminiscent of Big Sur in California.
It takes several hours to drive the Great Ocean Road past towns like Geelong, the surfing capital of Torquay (home of Bells Beach) and Apollo Bay out to the 12 Apostles, in Port Campbell National Park, but the drive is incredibly beautiful, and you'll be rewarded with this view if you make it that far.