Cosmopolitan Melbourne is Australia's culture capital, with impressive museums, galleries and theatres, and a sophisticated 'European' attitude that travellers find beguiling:
Melbourne is a melting pot of different cultures, all brewed together to create a dynamic, stylish city which, though slick and modern, boasts a pleasantly sedate pace of life. Several distinct, characterful neighbourhoods, like Fitzroy and St Kilda, offer restaurants, arts and crafts, and cultural attractions for travellers, and Melbourne is also known for good shopping and a feisty nightlife.
Melbourne's residents proudly assert that the city offers an incredibly high standard of living and is wonderfully child-friendly. The many parks and gardens, and the nearby vineyards and wilderness areas, promise lots of outdoor fun for adventurous visitors. The city is a lovely destination for family holidays, for active adventurers, and for culture vultures.
Best time to visit Melbourne
Peak seasons for holidays in Melbourne are dictated more by events than the weather, so it is wise to check what's on and book accommodation early to avoid disappointment. Busy times are late October, when the Spring Racing Carnival and International Festival take place, early March for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, and late January during the Australian Tennis Open. Weather-wise it is best not to travel to Melbourne in winter (June to August), when it is dull and grey. The best season to holiday in Melbourne weather-wise is autumn (March to May).
GMT +10 (GMT +11, Oct - Apr)
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin flat blade plugs are used but are different to those in most other countries, so an adapter is normally required.
English is the official language of Australia.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required by travellers over one year of age arriving within six days of having stayed overnight or longer in an infected country. No other special immunisations or medications are required for most trips to Australia; however, insect repellents are strongly advised because of the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses. Another health risk is sunburn, and visitors are advised to take precautions. Medical services are excellent, but can be expensive so travellers should ensure that they have adequate insurance. Australia has a reciprocal health agreement with the United Kingdom providing for free hospital emergency medical treatment; proof of UK residence is required.
Most service providers in Sydney don't expect a tip, so travellers shouldn't feel pressured into giving one, though a tip of 10 percent is standard in restaurants. Passengers usually round up to the nearest dollar or more in taxis.
The crime rate in Australia is low; however, travellers should be aware that tourists could be targeted by petty criminals. Visitors should be vigilant about personal possessions and travel documents, particularly in popular tourist destinations such as along the Gold Coast. Tropical cyclones normally occur between November and April in some parts of Australia, particularly in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. There is a serious risk of bush fires in summer (November to March), especially in Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and ACT. Also during the summer months, the shallow coastal waters of northern Australia and Queensland become infested with marine stingers, commonly known as box jellyfish, whose sting is highly dangerous and can be deadly. Visitors should pay attention to signs on beaches and follow the instructions of local lifeguards to avoid injury.
Generally an informal attitude, in dress and behaviour, prevails in most social and business situations. Sport, particularly rugby and cricket, is almost a religion in Australia.
The second largest city in Australia, Melbourne is brimming with a wide variety of attractions to enthral just about every kind of traveller. Whatever your taste or interest, there is bound to be something in Melbourne for you.
Art lovers will enjoy the National Gallery of Victoria; history buffs will relish touring the Old Melbourne Gaol; and culture vultures will love exploring the Chinese and Melbourne Museums. Those with a fear of heights should steer clear of the Eureka Tower, but thrill-seekers will be in heaven on the 88th floor of Melbourne's tallest building, which offers breath-taking panoramic views of the city. Children of all ages will love the Melbourne Zoo which boasts more than 350 different species of animals, and a day in the Royal Botanical Gardens is not to be missed.
Visitors keen on sightseeing will do well to purchase one of the iVenture Cards specific to Melbourne, all of which can lead to huge discounts on attractions and tours when used extensively enough. The cards come in several different categories and can be purchased online.
One of Australia's most cosmopolitan cities, Melbourne has a diverse and exciting dining scene and eating out in this vibrant city can be anything you want it to be. With just about all types of cuisine on offer, the variety of restaurants in Melbourne is astonishing and will see visitors coming back for more.
Although originally based on traditional British food, Australian cuisine has been strongly influenced by its Southeast Asian neighbours and elements of this can be seen in many Australian dishes. Travellers can enjoy sampling some of the most innovative and exciting fusion food in the world as Melbourne offers many of Australia's top-class restaurants. Korean, Japanese and Thai eateries abound in the city.
William Street is the place to go for authentic Indian fare. Chinatown, in Little Bourke Street, is the best for authentic Chinese food. Brunswick Street in Fitzroy boasts an eclectic mix of eateries where visitors will have a hard time choosing where to start. Downtown Melbourne is where the more low-key restaurants can be found, and the chic St Kilda and Chapel Streets are the trendiest restaurant districts for those wanting to sample Melbourne's latest nouveau cuisine.
Melbourne has a vibrant nightlife encompassing cocktail lounges, pubs, underground dance clubs and international theatre productions. There is no one distinct party area; instead, various entertainment pockets can be found in Melbourne.
Melbourne's Central Business District was once very quiet after dark but the last few years have heralded a resurgence of nightlife in the CBD which is now home to plenty of bars and nightclubs. Hotspots in the CBD include King Street and Swanston Street.
The most famous nightlife districts are the Collingwood and Fitzroy neighbourhoods in northeastern Melbourne, where night-time entertainment venues centre on streets including Brunswick, Johnson, Smith and Fitzroy. The LGBT nightlife hub is Commercial Street.
The charming St Kilda neighbourhood is also a good bet after dark as the crowds of beachgoers tend to move into the pubs and bars as the sun goes down.
Melbourne has a moderate oceanic climate and the city's weather is notoriously changeable. In the hottest months of summer, January and February, temperatures average between 58°F (14°C) and 78°F (25°C), though it can get substantially hotter. In the spring and summer months cold fronts can cause severe weather including thunderstorms, hail, heavy rain and gales. In the winter months, between June and August, temperatures average between 42°F (6°C) and 59°F (15°C). Melbourne experiences some frost and fog in winter, but snow is rare. Melbourne is best visited between November and March, when it is warmer and less rainy, but some rain can be expected throughout the year.
Australian federal law changed on 7 December 2017 to recognise same-sex marriages. Australia has an established tradition of tolerance towards homosexuality, but there are still isolated incidents of homophobic crimes. Take care when visiting rural communities.
Details of vaccination recommendations and requirements are provided below.
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