What to see, eat and drink in Melbourne if you only have 4 days (or less)
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to fly to Melbourne for work. I hadn’t been before (thanks, Covid) so I asked Andrew if he wanted to come along. We only had a few days in Victoria, but we wanted to make a trip out of it.
If, like me, you only have 4 days or less to explore Melbourne, here are a few ideas on how to spend your time. (There’s definitely so much more to see outside of this list, but we’ll save that for our next trip!)
See the sights
1. The Great Ocean Road
One of the most recognisable places in Australia (alongside the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru), The Great Ocean Road was unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else.
We booked with Sightseeing Tours and paid $108 per person. The tour starts with a 6.45 am pick-up in the CBD and includes stops at the 12 Apostles, London Bridge, the Razorback and Loch Ard Gorge along the Shipwreck Coast. If you’re lucky (and have enough time) your guide might even do a quick snack break at Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery (their hot chocolate was to die for!). We were back in the city before 7 pm just in time for dinner.
2. Melbourne CBD, including Hosier Lane and Flinders Street Station
The best way to get to know a city is to walk around. Melbourne’s iconic graffiti-covered alley, Hosier Lane, was just a few steps away from our hotel and a little after that was the Flinder Street Station and the Yarra River. There were also a few cafes and restaurants along the river in case you wanted to take a break or grab a snack. Melbourne’s weather is a bit fickle compared to Sydney so best to be prepared (either with a jacket or an umbrella).
We had a few hours to kill before our flight back to Sydney. We wandered into the ACMI (formerly the Australian Centre for the Moving Image) and surprisingly had a blast. There were a lot of really interesting things to see (and do, as you can see below) involving film, tv, video games, basically anything on screen culture. I don’t want to give too much away, but consider dropping by if you have the chance! And did I mention that it was free admission?!
Eat to your heart’s content
The first restaurant on our list was Supernormal. We were told it gets booked out pretty fast so we made a reservation I think almost two weeks ahead. Luckily, we were able to get one for late Wednesday night. Let me tell you, this place did not disappoint!
We ordered their seared tuna on nori cracker (so good, wish there was more!), hunan-style beef tartare with chili oil, lobster roll, twice-cooked duck bao (10/10 I still think about it) and pork buns with fermented chili (~no ragrets~). Honestly, everything we ate (and drank) at Supernormal was really good. It’s a bit pricy (I think we ended up paying roughly ~$240 including cocktails), but it was worth it.
We didn’t get to make a reservation for our second night, but while walking around the city we came across a restaurant on our list, Pastuso. It was absolutely delicious. We ordered their bread with fermented butter (we love a quality bread and butter combo), kingfish ceviche with fried egg noodles, fried pork belly with potato mash and charcoal grilled alpaca ribs. I haven’t had Peruvian food in awhile and this restaurant was a great reminder on how tasty and flavourful Peruvian food is.
3. Straight Outta Saigon
When we got back from our Great Ocean Road tour, we weren’t planning on heading out for dinner cause we were exhausted. However, our hunger got the best of us so we decided to grab a bite nearby. We walked past this busy restaurant and tried our luck at grabbing a table. Fortunately for us, another couple was just finishing up and they could take us in.
We ended up getting their set menu, which was $39 per person and included 2 small plates, 2 large plates and 1 side. We ordered their Vietnamese-style salmon sashimi, softshell crab bao, crispy fried rice and chicken curry. Also, don’t skip out on their cocktails! Andrew and I ended up having 2 each and we enjoyed them all.
Have a drink or two (or three.. or five!)
1. Yarra Valley
It’s no secret, I love a good bottle of wine (and day drinking). We’ve been to Hunter Valley and enjoyed it quite a lot so we thought about going on a wine tour around Yarra Valley. It’s only about an hour away from the CBD, so it’s easily accessible if you only have time for a day trip.
We visited Helen’s Hill (LOOOVE their wines), Hanrahan Cellar Door, Four Pillars Gin Distillery (must visit if you’re a gin lover), TarraWarra Estate and finished our day at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie (actually owned by the same people who run the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie!)
The tour company we used was Teepee Tours because they organised smaller groups and that’s what we wanted. Since it’s quite close to the city, pick-up was at 9.45 am and we were back in the city by 5.00 pm. They were great! We paid $125 each and it was well worth it. The day was relaxed, but still very organised. I liked their tasting choices as well (good mix of reds, whites, roses, gins and even chocolate!).
2. Bars around the CBD
Melbourne has such a cool, young vibe. Apart from the cocktails we had at Supernormal, Pastuso and Straight Outta Saigon, we also visited two pubs while we were in town, including Garden State and The Emerald Peacock. I wish we had more time for nights out, but that just means more places for us to explore when we return!
While 4 days may seem short to explore what Melbourne has to offer, it is doable! I can’t wait to go back and see more places (Brighton Beach and the Peninsula Hot Springs) try more restaurants (Rice, Paper Scissors, Tipo 00 and Lune Croissanterie), and visit more bars and vineyards.