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What's the best neighborhood in Melbourne for a first time visitor?

I've never been to Melbourne and I'm a little overwhelmed by all the hotel options. I'd like to stay in a hotel that is central and gives me good sense of what Melbourne is like. I'd love to know where locals tell their friends to stay when they visit, and why those areas and hotels are special. thanks!

11 Answers

answered by
Anthony from Mulgrave, Victoria, Australia

Hi Katie,

Depending on your budget and preference of scene there are heaps of different options for a true Melbourne experience.  If you enjoy a higher end trip then I would recommend staying somewhere along Collins Street at either the The Westin Melbourne or Grand Hyatt Melbourne Hotel, another option would be to stay near the shopping strip of Chapel St in one of the cool art house hotels like The Cullenor The Olsen.Another idea would be to check out the cool airbnb spots around the inner city suburbs of Melbourne like Fitzroyand Brunswick which are a bit more alternative (great spot for unique bars, cafes eg. Naked For Satan Gelato Messina Fitzroy).  you could look in the bay side region of the inner city like St Kilda and Port Melbourne and try your hand at some wind surfing or stroll along the beach side trail.(lots of bars/clubs and a wide range of restaurant/cafe options eg Captain Baxter Riva Cafe Bar).  All of these areas have great access to public transport so would be easy to get around and see the city.  Another great area to look in is Richmondwhich has the sporting hub of Melbourne.  There is normally something on here every weekend if sports take your fancy.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Collins Street (attraction)
  2. The Westin Melbourne (hotel)
  3. Grand Hyatt Melbourne Hotel (hotel)
  4. Chapel St (attraction)
  5. The Cullen (hotel)
  6. The Olsen (attraction)
  7. Fitzroy (attraction)
  8. Brunswick (attraction)
  9. Naked For Satan (restaurant)
  10. Gelato Messina Fitzroy (restaurant)
  11. St Kilda (attraction)
  12. Port Melbourne (attraction)
  13. Captain Baxter (restaurant)
  14. Riva Cafe Bar (restaurant)
  15. Richmond (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Belinda from Melbourne

Hi Katie, Melbourne has many different types of hotels.  It depends what type of a price range you are looking at.  Personally I think it's better to stay in the city so that you have public transport options available.  

1 thanks

answered by
Rob from Los Angeles

You can literally stay anywhere in Melbourne. The public transport (trams) is excellent! Make sure to check out the laneways around the CBD for quirky stores and cafes. Section 8 is an absolute must!!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Melbourne (attraction)
  2. Section 8 (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Rebecca from Manchester

Fitzroy is a really cool area full of backpackers and quirky bars and cafes.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Fitzroy (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Lok from Melbourne

The best areas of Melbourne are outside of the CBD in the inner-suburbs. However, the transport system is very much centralised from the CBD out, so it's not as easy to go across locations, many times having to go into the city and then out again. Perhaps somewhere in the northern CBD near Parliament station is best, because then you have trams and trains on your doorstep to get to most destinations.

So many options. It's hard to know what to suggest. Explore! Base yourself somewhere that you can easily get to any city train station (except Flagstaff because it's very much a business area and the area nearly shuts down on weekends). All city stations go to most train lines (some only go to Flinders St or Southern Cross). Many trams heading East and West (and some North) go along Swanston St. Main North trams go up Bourke St and Collins St. So find yourself somewhere that you can access those locations I'd say. The north-side of the city (from Swanston St up to Spring St) tends to be more interesting and busy with life instead of just business.

Areas you might want to visit:

Brunswick St, Fitzroy - Great bars and restaurants, buzzing with life, interesting shops. Check out "Naked for Satan", "Saba's Ethiopean Restaurant", and "Yong Green Food".  But there are so many choices you'll find something.

Victoria St, Richmond - A very long stretch of mostly Vietnamese restaurants. Thanh Ha 2 is a great choice for cheap and delicious eats, but there are many good ones (pick one that's full of Vietnamese people).

St Kilda - A bit more of a backpacker party district, similar to Fitzroy, but on the beach (and sometimes penguins nest off the pier). Not the best beaches, but it gives it a nice vibe on a sunny day with bars on the board walk, or The Espy overlooking the harbour up higher.

Church St, Windsor - Another very interesting area for food, drinks and shopping.  Church St is huge, and you may also want to check out

Prahran on the same street for a more mainstream experience.

Footscray - A bit more sparse and less obvious than the others but there have been some great craft beer joints of different flavours pop-up, and also a home for cheap food of all varieties.

Brunswick has both Sydney Rd for a grungier feel, and Lygon St at Brunswick East is a smaller but very nice, more low-key, trendy district of food and craft beer.

And actually the Melbourne CBD is great too but you have to know where to look. Swanston Street is boring near Flinders St, but then gets more interesting towards Little Bourke St. Little Bourke St has China Town with so many food choices. And be sure to check out the laneways. Many have something in them. Tattersalls Ln. De Graves St. AC/DC Lane. Little Lonsdale (near 1000 £ Bend). Follow the crowds.

Then there's Smith St at Collingwood, Lygon St at Carlton, Elizabeth St at North Melbourne, the list goes on forever.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Fitzroy (attraction)
  2. Richmond (attraction)
  3. St Kilda (attraction)
  4. Windsor (attraction)
  5. Prahran (attraction)
  6. Footscray (attraction)
  7. Brunswick (attraction)
  8. Melbourne (attraction)
  9. Collingwood (attraction)
  10. Carlton (attraction)
  11. North Melbourne (attraction)

answered by

The easy answer would be Melbourne CBD, you will have everything you need within a walkable distance. On top of that, trams are free within CBD and also ultra high speed free wifi. 

But if you are looking for something more stylish and different, i would suggest staying in the suburbs like Brunswick, Northcote, Thornbury. You won't get the big city feel in the suburbs, but it will be very down to earth and still very lively from day in day out. Amazing coffee and breakfast places.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Brunswick (attraction)
  2. Northcote (attraction)
  3. Thornbury (attraction)

answered by
Rhett from Perth, Australia

I would recommend staying on the northern edge of the CBD. Close to Carlton, and/or Fitzroy. These suburbs will give you a good sense of what Melbourne is like, as they showcase the cafe culture of Melbourne and have a lot of interesting shops, sites and things to do within walking distance. 

I recommend to my friends to avoid staying in Southbank or Docklands. These have some tourist attractions, art galleries and casinos but these can be visited in a day and are not the best parts of Melbourne to get lost in and to explore.

The other option is to choose time at the beach at St Kilda, however there are much better beaches in other parts of Australia. Again, this can be visited and explored in a day. Good luck!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Carlton (attraction)
  2. Fitzroy (attraction)
  3. Southbank (attraction)
  4. Docklands (attraction)
  5. St Kilda (attraction)

answered by

There are no areas in the centre of Melbourne to be avoided.  It will really depend on what the purpose of your visit is.  If you are a sports nut you might like to stay closer to East Melbourne. 

answered by
Luke from Melbourne, Australia

Hi Katie,

St Kilda is the beach area in Melbourne it's a little out of the city but easy to get to on a tram.  If you are looking for hipsters then it's a good spot to hang out.  Personally I'm from the north east so enjoy the whole Fitzroy/Richmond side of things. Honestly its not a huge city and you can get everywhere easily by tram so central would be good.  Avoid Docklands however - its a concrete jungle windy and ugly.

Hope that helps!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. St Kilda (attraction)
  2. Melbourne (attraction)
  3. Fitzroy (attraction)
  4. Richmond (attraction)
  5. Docklands (attraction)

answered by
Courtney from San Diego

Hey Katie,

There's a lot to be overwhelmed by! Location is key, so you're on the right track, because getting everywhere you want to go in Melbourne can be trying. (There are a lot of places you probably want to go!)

I agree with Rob about the CBD. The ibis Styles Melbourne, The Victoria Hotelis an awesome middle-of-the-road option. You cannot beat the price for the proximity to all the great shopping on Collins street, the Rod Laver Arena, the Museum and more. There's a great restaurant vibe at The Victoria hotel and a quiet sports bar on-site which are nice extras even thought you don't need to walk far for plenty of other Melbourne food options.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. ibis Styles Melbourne, The Victoria Hotel (restaurant)

answered first by
Steph from Melbourne

I'd suggest getting a hotel right in the CBD . This way you are close to everything and transport is easy. From here you can pretty much travel anywhere easily. The city has a rich history and be sure to have a wander and check out the laneways etc. Best of luck! S

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