Australia’s second city, Melbourne lays claim to the status of the nation’s foodie capital. With one day in town, you can get a handle on the city’s geography, check off the key sights, feast on delicious fare from the Pacific and beyond, and watch the world’s smallest penguins parading home to their burrows at sunset. Here’s how.
Especially in summer, a sunrise balloon flight is a wonderful way to soak up Melbourne’s startling mix of sleek skyscrapers, green riverbanks, and historic laneways. Treat yourself to a Champagne breakfast when you land. Next, explore the city at ground level, perhaps with a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour. Stroll through the Victorian-era Royal Botanic Gardens, explore vibrant Queen Victoria Market, and savor architectural masterpieces such as Parliament House alongside contemporary urban landscapes such as Federation Square. Conclude the morning with a Yarra River cruise that brings you through parks and cityscapes into the city’s modern Docklands harbor area.
Melbourne is Australia’s gourmet epicenter, with a food scene that stretches far beyond the coffee shops, Vietnamese and Greek restaurants, and laneway bars for which it is best known. Young chefs come from as far afield as Asia and Europe to train here. Find out what makes the city’s food scene tick as you tour ethnic enclaves such as Chinatown or Little Italy, or visit gourmet stores and farmers markets that major in artisan produce from the Yarra Valley’s fertile fields. Wrap up your explorations with a contemporary happy-hour cocktail in one of the city’s striking rooftop bars.
An 1.5-hour drive south of Melbourne proper, Phillip Island is a unique wildlife reserve that’s home to a magical evening ritual. A colony of little penguins (the world’s smallest penguin species) lives here, and at dusk each night they waddle out of the ocean and into their burrows in the sand. Join a tour from the city to watch the famous Penguin Parade, and get an insight into the other local wildlife here, including fur seals. Once you’re back in the city, dine on your choice of world food—perhaps Greek street food, Greek fusion, or modern Vietnamese.