After Sydney’s impressive harbour and beautiful beaches, it would easy to be disappointed with Melbourne which has few obvious tourist attractions. However, while Sydney is a stunning supermodel, Melbourne is a multi-layered “onion” of a city, each new exploratory trip reveals new layers: hidden gems of classy shops, chic food markets, interesting cafés, and funky bars. (In the case of the funky bars, “hidden” is literally true: back alleys lead to bars with bizarre but cool school science lab themes, and un-marked entrance ways hide bar staff who hold encyclopedic cocktail menus in their heads.)
If one does tire of the eating and drinking in the city, then a one or two-day trip down the Great Ocean Road provides beautiful coastline scenery. Alternatively, a day trip to the Yarra Valley provides a good excuse to taste some fine Australian wine while admiring the view from the shade of a converted barn or farmhouse.
It would be easy to compare Melbourne to London: for example the Queen Victoria markets are similar to Borough market, and the converted Treasury bar is a bit like the Bank of England pub, and so on. Melbourne felt a little more compact though: while Melbourne has huge sprawling suburbs, the central area where all the action is, did seem a lot smaller than London’s disparate “villages”. Either way, it’s definitely a great place for people who like cities and city-breaks.