How to Spend an Awesome 3 Days in Melbourne

2 days in Melbourne Australia: Melbourne street art
Melbourne Australia is a vibrant place to spend a weekend. Is 2 days in Melbourne enough? If that's all the time you've got, definitely go for it! However, if you can spare 3 days in Melbourne, you'll be able to squeeze in a day trip to the surrounding Yarra Valley wine region. Wondering exactly what to do with 3 days in Melbourne? Read on for the details of our Melbourne weekend itinerary and come to love Melbourne as much as I do.

Day 1: Along the Yarra River and Melbourne CBD

I flew to Melbourne from Sydney, one of the most frequently traveled routes in the world. I'll admit, it was a rough start to the day with my original Virgin Australia flight getting cancelled and my checked bag being delayed. Upon arriving in Melbourne though, all was forgiven.

Coffee at Seedling Cafe

Start the day with one of the things Melbourne does best: coffee! Seedling Cafe on Elizabeth Street, not far from the Melbourne train station, is the perfect place to begin. Seedling Cafe is tiny with a few eclectic tables inside but overlooking the street. Seedling Cafe appears to be open on weekdays only so make sure to head over here right away if you land in Melbourne on a Friday. In fact, many of the cool coffee places in Melbourne CBD close for the weekend so definitely arrive on a Friday for your Melbourne weekend and front-load your coffee drinking.
Melbourne weekend: Coffee at Seedling cafe on a Friday
The coffee at Seedling Cafe was expertly prepared and my cappuccino came with a healthy dose of chocolate. Pair your coffee with another Australian staple: avo toast. In this case, my toast came with avocado, marinated onions, peanuts, seeds and more.

Walk Along the Yarra River

Next up, walk under the train station and emerge on the other side for a morning walk along Melbourne's Yarra River. The path along the river is a relaxing way to start the day and you'll be rewarded by views of the Melbourne CBD.
Melbourne weekend: views of the Melbourne CBD across the Yarra River

Art Deco Walk in Melbourne CBD

It turns out that Melbourne is Art Deco fabulous! Take a walk through Melbourne CBD centered on Bourke Street. Browse the shops that catch your fancy but look up and make sure to appreciate the Art Deco period architecture.
Weekend in Melbourne: An art deco building in Melbourne CBD

Dinner at Spice Temple

After a day of exploring at your leisure, tuck into dinner at one of Melbourne's sleekest restaurants. Located on the Southbank of the Yarra River, Spice Temple features creative Chinese dishes and fancy cocktails. As my regular readers know, I'm a part-time travel blogger with a full time day job. I was actually in Melbourne for a work-related conference and had the chance to go out to dinner with a large group. This gave us the opportunity to try the "Golden Banquet" and sample a wide array of dishes that we might not have discovered otherwise. There are definitely benefits to business travel!

The Old Railroad Bridge

Cross the Yarra using the old railroad bridge and take time to appreciate the sparkling Melbourne skyline before calling it a night.
2 days in Melbourne: Melbourne skyline at night across the Yarra River

Day 2: Play Tourist and Local in Equal Measure in Melbourne

Breakfast on Degraves Street

Melbourne is known for its intricate network of laneways. These small, pedestrianized streets feature cafes and restaurants with outdoor tables spilling out onto the street. Degraves Street is one of the more famous examples of Melbourne's lane culture. Grab a table at RMB Cafe which is conveniently located on the corner of Degraves St. and Flinders Lane.

The umbrellas will protect you from the fierce Australian sun and there are heat lamps if you get cold. Australians have a somewhat distorted impression of what 'cold' means. It was about 70 °F when I sat down to breakfast and I suddenly started to feel very warm. I quickly realized what the problem was: the heat lamps were actually on despite the balmly temperature. 
What to eat in Melbourne Australia: scrambled eggs and coffee at RMB Cafe
Scrambled eggs with various mix-ins are the perfect thing to order; washed down with a coffee, of course!

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Not a morning person? Degraves Street is also a great spot for a casual outdoor dinner or drinks. Grab some delectable fish tacos at The Quarter as a fitting end to the day.

Coffee in Cathedral Arcade

You can never have too much of Melbourne's amazing coffee. It was raining on my Melbourne weekend so it seemed that the perfect thing to do was get another coffee. I sought out Cathedral Coffee in the gorgeous and historic Cathedral Arcade. 
2 days in Melbourne Australia: Coffee in Cathedral Arcade

Seeking Melbourne's Street Art

Melbourne is known for some of the best street art in the world. Plan to do a little Melbourne sightseeing focused on the local street art scene. I did a quick Google search for Melbourne street art walks and a number of helpful maps appeared in the results. I loosely followed one of the maps and discovered some amazing works of art. Hosier Lane, Higson Lane, and AC/DC Lane are three 'must see' streets if you enjoy street art. I used my street art walk as an excuse to explore in general. Don't turn a blind eye to the funky shops, historic arcades, and fun cafes that you find along the way. Melbourne is a city that is all about serendipitous discovery.
2 days in Melbourne: Melbourne Street Art Collage

Melbourne's Federation Square

2 days in Melbourne itinerary: the buildings of Federation Square

There is always something on at Federation Square. Take a detour to admire the modern glass architecture that glints in the sun. From certain vantage points, you'll be able to see how old melds with new on the Melbourne skyline. Many of Melbourne's festivals take place on Federation Square. When I visited, there was a stage set-up and a local rapper was singing and playing the didgeridoo. Fantastic!

Experiencing "The Footy" at Melbourne Cricket Ground

When I visited Melbourne 10 years ago, I met a friendly Melburnian on my flight from Sydney (we're still friends on Facebook to this day!) who gave me all sorts of advice on things to do in Melbourne. At the time, he told me that the quintessential Melbourne experience is to see "The Footy" at Melbourne Cricket Ground. There wasn't an Australian rules football match on when I visited a decade ago but there was on my most recent visit and I was determined to go. It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the MCG from Federation Square. For less than 30 AUD, I was able to get a ticket just as the match was kicking off. My ticket allowed for open seating in certain sections of the MCG.

I looked up some of the basic rules of "The Footy" and it turns out that the match was relatively easy to follow. When someone is in possession of the ball, they can't be touched but to advance the ball, players need to kick or punch it. That's where the fun begins because this method of passing makes it awfully hard to control the ball. When the ball is not in a single player's possession, it is contested and different players can grapple to get possession. Points are scored by getting the ball between the four evenly spaced poles at the end of the giant oval field.
Weekend in Melbourne: Watching The Footy (Australian Rules Football) at Melbourne Cricket Ground
The footy match was not sold out the day I attended and it was interested to watch people shift their seats to maintain their position in the shade. Seats in the hot beating sun were generally empty and the shaded sections were full. Definitely catch "The Footy" if you find yourself in Melbourne during the season. I love sports and it was one of my more memorable international sporting experiences. 

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Ireland's hurling is another great example of a sport that I never would have experienced if I hadn't taken time to travel abroad from the U.S.

Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria

Melbourne is known for its lush green spaces. The Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria is located about a 10 minute walk from the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Wander into the gardens and appreciate the rolling lawns, trees, flowers, and water features. The Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria is definitely worth a visit on a nice day.

Visit Melbourne's Pink Lake

Did you know that Melbourne sometimes has a pink lake within the city limits? There is a salt water lake in Westgate Park, a Melbourne neighborhood filled with industrial office parks. When conditions are right (most likely in the summer): high temperatures, lots of sun, and limited rain; algae grows in the crust of the lake and produces beta carotene. The water of Pink Lake is actually crystal clear but looks incredibly pink thanks to beta carotene production.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Some of our other memorable hikes in Australia include Mount Field National Park in Tasmania and Big Swamp on a Perth to Margaret River road trip in Western Australia.

The conditions for the pink lake effect happened to be exactly right when I visited Melbourne in March. It took a little extra effort to get to Melbourne's Pink Lake. I took an Uber (for about 20 AUD) to get to Pink Lake from the Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria and then took the public bus (Route number 234) back to Melbourne CBD. It takes about 45 minutes in total to get back to Melbourne CBD by bus. This includes a 15 minute walk from the pink lake to the bus stop. The bus runs about once every 30 minutes.
Melbourne's Pink Lake in Westgate Park

When visiting Melbourne's Pink Lake, after you've had your fill of photography, peel off from the tourists and hike around the perimeter of the fresh water lake (not pink). You'll discover native Australian water birds but hopefully not snakes. I always stamp my feet a little extra when I hike in Australia to scare away any of Australia's famous wildlife that is just waiting for the opportunity to kill you. 

Dinner at Meatmaiden with Bacon Cocktails

End the day with a carniverous meal at Meatmaiden. Start with an appetizer of cured kangaroo meat. Definitely go for a steak for your main. The highlight of dinner at Meatmaiden for me though was definitely the cocktails. The bacon sour was simply amazing: smokey with a strip of candied bacon to garnish the drink 😋
What to eat in Melbourne: Bacon sour at Meatmaiden

Day 3: Yarra Valley Wine Tasting Day Trip

Australia is known for some amazing wines and the Yarra Valley is right on the doorstep of Melbourne. Less than an hour and a half after departing from Federation Square in Melbourne CBD, you can be rocking up to your first winery.

Normally, we prefer independent travel and eschew group tours. Wine tastings are the exception to this rule. It's better to have someone else drive you around so you can enjoy the tasting to the fullest without worrying about having to stay sober enough to get behind the wheel.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: We've been fortunate enough to take some amazing wine tasting tours around the world like cycling to Blenheim wineries in the Marlborough wine region of New Zealand and a visit to Medoc in Bordeaux France.

I booked in on an Australian Wine Tour Company day trip on Viator. For 83 EUR, the small group tour (max 16 people) stopped at four vineyards and included lunch.
Yarra Valley Wine Tour: Yering Farm, Soumah, Domaine Chandon, and Helen and Joey vineyards

Our first stop of the day was Yering Farm. The tasting room was located in a small metallic-roofed homestead. Next up, we enjoyed a Soumah wine tasting including some crisp whites and varietals not common in the region, like Savarro. Our third stop was Domaine Chandon for bubbles. Domaine Chandon sits on a beautiful property but doesn't feel properly Australian. At least that was the case until we tried the Chandon Sparkling Pinot Shiraz. That's about as Australian as a sparkling wine can get. Our final stop of the day in the Yarra Valley at Helen and Joey was my favorite. It wasn't for the wine per say (which was good) but for the abundance of unicorns on the property. There was even a giant unicorn statue overlooking the vineyard that you could climb up on. What a great way to end the day.

Dinner at Supernormal

Back in Melbourne CBD after a day of tasting fine Victoria wines, I was definitely feeling hungry. Google Maps pointed me toward Supernormal as a great place for an early dinner. Supernormal features an array of Asian dishes served in a cool setting. Supernormal is extremely popular so make sure to make a booking or go right when they open at 5 pm. I took the latter strategy and they were able to squeeze me in at the counter overlooking the kitchen.
Melbourne Weekend: Dinner at Supernormal
For 69 AUD, I opted for Supernormal's banquet menu so that I could try a selection of their most popular dishes. My Supernormal banquet included:
  1. Nori cracker, aubergine, and smoked caviar
  2. Kingfish, buttermilk, and green chili
  3. Szechuan chicken salad
  4. New England lobster roll
  5. Prawn and chicken dumplings with chili and vinegar sauce
  6. Flathead, burnt butter, wild watercress, and shaved kombu
  7. Cosberg salad with mint and ginger vinagarette
  8. Peanut butter parfait with salted caramel and soft chocolate
Make sure you go hungry to Supernormal! The Supernormal banquet was overall my favorite meal on my Melbourne weekend but I was stuffed by the end of it.
What to eat in Melbourne Australia: Supernormal banquet

Nightcap at Naked for Satan in Fitzroy

Even though I was stuffed from dinner, I knew that there was one more place I needed to go as a finale to my Melbourne weekend. In the evening, I walked from Melbourne CBD to Fitzroy (you can take the tram back to Melbourne CBD after dark) and headed for Naked for Satan, a popular bar with rooftop seating. Grab a gin and tonic and elbow your way to a table on the crowded roof deck around sunset. You'll be rewarded with a most excellent view of the Melbourne skyline as you reflect on your fun and fabulous Melbourne weekend.
2 days in Melbourne: Skyline views at sunset from the rooftop bar at Naked for Satan

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: How to Spend an Awesome 3 Days in Melbourne
How to Spend an Awesome 3 Days in Melbourne
Discover a 3 days in Melbourne weekend itinerary including Yarra Valley. Spend 2 days in Melbourne Australia plus take a day trip to taste Yarra Valley wine. Learn about things to do in Melbourne Australia on a long weekend break.
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