City life in Melbourne: by Melburnians!

Five of the Vrbo staff members take you on a journey into the city life in Melbourne. Discover the many reasons why Melbourne is such a great place to live - and to take a holiday! Find out where you can get a great vegetarian meal in Melbourne, where you can find the best organic food shopping, and where the best shopping is to be found. Read on!

1) Mei Yin from Marketing

Mei Yin is a big fan of Smith Street, Fitzroy

Why do you love living here?

Everything is just so convenient – the pace in Melbourne is just perfect, not too busy but not too laidback, just well balanced. Public transport, although much maligned, is still very accessible, very convenient and very well planned. Melbourne overall is a very well planned city I think. That’s why I think Melbourne is one of the most liveable cities, in that there is a high quality of life for not just families but singles as well – it really does have the best of both worlds.

How would you describe the city to someone who has never visited?

I would say that Melbourne is a very calming and relaxing city – you never feel rushed. You don’t feel like you’re compelled to see everything at once, you can take your time and really enjoy the city as it is. I don’t think there is a sense of people bustling to get places fast, you know? Like I said, Melbourne has such a great level of pace, anyone can just come in and feel at home quite quickly.

What is your ideal day out in Melbourne?

There are a few places I could choose from, but I think it would likely involve a lazy afternoon stroll down Smith Street, Fitzroy. I love it! There are so many little shops to check out and the street has so much character. I think a lot of Melbourne’s up and coming designers and vintage shops can be found on Smith Street. There are also a lot of great ethnic cuisine options – it’s affordable, and everything is within walking distance. I could spend a whole day there exploring!

What is your favourite restaurant in the area?

There are so many to choose from! David’s in South Yarra is great – they do Asian, sort of Northern Chinese type cuisine. It’s really authentic food and I think it’s quite well priced for the quality of food that you get. The service is great and its very true to the Chinese culture – it’s rare to see, but it’s almost quite traditional to the culture. It’s really well done.

Two other restaurants well worth visiting are Gorski & Jones on Smith Street and Pabu – also on Smith Street! Pabu serve Japanese tapas, which is delicious.

Where is the best place to buy organic food?

The Queen Victoria Markets would be a great place to start; there are lots of great options there. Again though, Smith Street in Fitzroy has Organic Wholefoods. It’s been there for a long time and is very affordable with a great range, and they support local farmers as well. There are other options along Smith Street, but I really like the vibe in Organic Wholefoods – I love cruising down the aisles for new products and goods!

2) Katharine from Marketing

Katharine loves to head down Brunswick Street

Why do you love living in Melbourne?

There a few reasons! I think Melbourne is very multicultural - there are so many opportunities to experience different cultures. I love Melbourne’s food, drink and the festivals, which makes it a very exciting city to live in. It’s just so interesting – there’s so many laneways and nooks and crannies to explore – it’s also such a pretty city. I just love how there are so many areas that are close to the city itself that are so different, that you can really get a different experience no matter where you are in Melbourne. There’s a lot to love about Melbourne!

How would you describe the city to someone who has never visited?

I would describe Melbourne as fun, vibrant and lively. It is an epicentre for sports, arts and entertainment - and a foodie’s paradise! I would also say that while it is a sprawling city, there are a lot of parks and nature sites that you can observe both in the suburbs or closer in towards the CBD – it’s not a concrete jungle by any means!

What is your ideal day out in Melbourne?

I think it would be to catch a tram into Bourke Street Mall to do a bit of shopping, then perhaps to go Brunswick Street and pop into Naked for Satan’s Skybar for a drink in the afternoon sun. Then maybe visit Lygon Street or Chapel Street for dinner and drinks at one of the amazing restaurants that you can find.

Where is the best place to take your plus one?

My personal favourite is a funky little bar/restaurant on Chapel Street, called Yellow Bird. It’s a fun, American style diner with great food and drinks! After Yellow Bird you can wander down Chapel Street and do some bar hopping, or visit the Jam Factory and see a movie – either option would be the perfect night for me!

As a vegetarian, can you recommend a great vegetarian restaurant in the area?

There are so many in Melbourne! I would say that Patee Thai on Brunswick Street do really great vegetarian Thai food, so I’d recommend that. There tends to be vegetarian food pretty much everywhere you go in Melbourne so you’re never short on options. A fantastic place is the Retreat Hotel on Sydney Road, which actually has a separate vegetarian menu to choose a meal from. In general, Melbourne caters really well for vegetarians so you won’t have trouble finding something great!

3) Dave from Marketing

Dave recommends the Queen Victoria Markets

Why do you love living here?

Melbourne makes it easy to access lots of things. From within the CBD, you are only a short trip to lots of outdoors activities. Places like the Great Ocean Road, which has great beaches, or more regional areas like Ballarat or Geelong are only a short drive away. I love hiking at the You Yangs National Park, which is half way between Melbourne and Geelong. If you’ve got a weekend to yourself, you’re only a four hour drive to somewhere stunning like Bright, Mount Feathertop or the Grampians. In the city, you’ve got easy access to a pretty good music scene and great nightlife where venues stay open late. Melbourne really does give you great access to a lot of fantastic things in a very close space.

How would you describe Melbourne to someone who has never visited?

Bad weather, good scenery! No, I would probably pitch the city as being full of little secrets – there are the bars, cafes and the little music venues dotted around the city which are great. The good thing about Melbourne is that for every 10 minutes you spend looking around Melbourne, you’ll find hours’ worth of other things to do. Every street has heaps of little alley ways off it and every part of town, like Fitzroy or Brunswick, has so many little things that you didn’t expect to find. Melbourne is all about discovery.

What is your ideal day out here?

I would probably jump on my bicycle and head along the Merri Creek Trail to Collingwood Children’s Farm. The trail is an easy ride and is very accessible from somewhere like Richmond, which is serviced by great public transport. The Merri Creek Trail is very picturesque, with the Yarra River on one side. Once you get to the Collingwood Children’s Farm, you’ll feel like you’ve gone for hours into the middle of the countryside, but in reality you’re ten minutes from the city. The Farm has a great café and plenty of outdoor activities.

What do you like to do on the weekend?

I like to start my weekend at the Queen Victoria Markets, to do my weekly grocery shopping. It’s not just shopping though, there are so many places to have lunch there and meet up with friends. Then I would probably like to go for a ride and check out some local parks, maybe catch up with some mates and have a chat. Saturday night, I would go and see a concert somewhere in town – Block Place usually has free music playing, or the Corner Hotel in Richmond or the Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club. On Sundays I love to have nothing planned, so I can catch a movie at one of the really cool cinemas in Melbourne – like the Nova or the Astor in Prahran.

What is your favourite restaurant and/or bar in Melbourne?

On Bridge Road in Richmond, there’s a Nepalese restaurant called Himalayan Sherpa. The food is really good and doesn’t taste like anything else you can get in Melbourne. It’s also never too busy that you can’t get a table just walking in off the street – I hate booking stuff, so for me it’s perfect!

4) Hayley from Customer Service

Hayley recommends Lygon Street for dessert

Why do you love living in Melbourne?

The shopping! I love the shopping in Melbourne and the long hours that shops are open. There is a lot of sport on too. It’s a very culturally diverse city which is great, and the food is amazing – especially the breakfasts! I think people in Melbourne are very friendly too. I also like the fast paced lifestyle – it suits me.

How would you describe Melbourne to someone who has never visited?

I would say that it’s an amazing place with amazing sporting events. But if I had to describe Melbourne in one word, I would just describe it as beautiful!

What is your ideal day out here?

My ideal day would definitely include warm weather, for a start! If the weathers good, I love to take my dog down to Port Melbourne beach – it’s my favourite beach in Melbourne. Dogs are allowed off their leash in one part of the beach, although my husky stays on the leash the whole time! Port Melbourne is my favourite place to go in Melbourne, so while I’m there I like to do some shopping and grab a bite to eat. Bay Street is amazing!

What’s your favourite place to go for breakfast?

I wouldn’t say that I have one favourite place in Melbourne, there are too many! Out in Caroline Springs, west of Melbourne, there’s a place called Red Beetle which does amazing breakfast. I love bacon and eggs, and they do it well! Closer to the city, I love going to Topolino’s in St Kilda. It’s an Italian family restaurant, but they do a good breakfast and they serve it all day, which is good.

Do you have any places to recommend for dessert?

I would say that my favourite thing to get for dessert in Melbourne is gelato on Lygon Street. It doesn’t really matter which restaurant you choose on Lygon Street – you’re always going to get good authentic Italian gelato.

5) Renee from Sales

Renee recommends the restaurants on Southbank, near Crown Casino

Why do you love living here?

I love living here mainly because I don’t know any other way! All my family and friends live in Melbourne, and I love to catch up with them – either in Lygon Street in Carlton, exploring the restaurants that line the streets or at the Crown complex or South Wharf, looking out over the Yarra River.

How would you describe Melbourne to someone who has never visited?

I would say that Melbourne is a very multicultural city to visit. If you bring it back to food, somewhere like Lygon Street, you can get any type of cuisine from Asian, to Italian, to Middle-Eastern. Melbourne is definitely very diverse. Also, if you love sport then you’re coming to the right place!

What is your ideal day out here?

My ideal day out would be probably be spent at South Wharf, doing some shopping. There are quite a few factory outlets where you can catch a bargain or two. After shopping the day away, you can grab some dinner or some drinks looking out over the Yarra River.

Where do you like to go with your husband in Melbourne?

We like to go to Byblos Bar, which is a Middle-Eastern restaurant located in the World Trade Centre on Southbank. It looks out over the Yarra and you can sit on the second level, outdoors on a nice day, and look out over the water. It’s pretty cool.

Where is the best place to go shopping?

You can’t really go wrong in Melbourne. There are so many huge shopping centres around the city and the suburbs, if you want to go a little further out. My personal favourite is Chadstone, but the Westfield in Doncaster is also amazing – it’s huge. Shopping is something that you’re going to find plenty of in Melbourne.