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Ultimate Guide to Melbourne for Backpackers

City of Melbourne

If Sydney is a place to party and get your bearings, Melbourne is a place to settle for a while (especially in summer) and immerse yourself in the laid-back Aussie lifestyle while enjoying the amazing cultural diversity Melbourne celebrates daily. Melbourne is the sports capital of Australia, which is saying a lot considering the entire country is sports-mad!

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The intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets is the hub of the Melbourne CBD as Flinders Street Station (the central train station) is situated here as well as the arts and culture hub Federation Square. However, Melbourne is truly a city of suburbs meaning that venturing beyond the CBD – to neighbourhoods like Carlton, Lygon Street, Fitzroy, St. Kilda, South Yarra, Richmond and South Bank – will show you what Melbourne is really all about. Most backpackers tend to base themselves around St Kilda as it is a pretty happening place (but fair warning – it does have its dodgy areas as anyone living on Grey St will be sure to attest to!).


The Melbourne City Visitors Centre at Bourke and Swanston Streets has city maps available.


The best description of Melbourne weather is widely agreed to be ‘four seasons in a day’. But generally, summers are hot and sticky and winters are cool. Rain likes to spread itself out over the year, so always be prepared with your brolly in Melbourne!


The Sky bus is your best bet when arriving into Melbourne by air. It brings you right into the city centre – Southern Cross Station – where you can jump on a train if you are heading to St. Kilda (the main backpacker area) or just ramble around the CBD depending on where your hostel is.

Metlink is Melbourne’s public transport system and it includes trains, buses and trams and the travel card is called the “Myki” card. Most backpackers stick to Zone 1 of the Metlink system.

Internet Access

Free wifi is everywhere in many cafes (just ask before you settle in) and Melbourne is the cafe capital of the world. If you don’t have your own device, libraries offer computers you can book or there may be a computer for use in the backpacker travel places.

Where to Stay

Only the best Melbourne hostels by location as voted by you. (We left all the 3 star and below places off our list, and there are lots of them!)

Habitat HQ at St Kilda 📌

Base Backpacker at St Kilda 📌

The Ritz at St Kilda 📌

Nomads at City 📌

Melbourne Central YHA at City 📌

Corkman Irish Pub at North Melbourne📌

Things to do in Melbourne

There truly are so many great things to do in Melbourne (whether exploring the narrow lanes and alleyways sounds appealing to you, or taking a long walk down St Kilda Pier after a day out at Luna Park, or maybe something completely unique like watching the ‘penguin parade’ on Philip Island) that it is hard to narrow it down.

Free – One of the things that backpackers love most about Melbourne is that it’s so spread out each and every nook and cranny of the city has something going on – endless exploration and discovery. Brunswick St in Fitzroy has a grungy side and is effortlessly cool; it has awesome gigs, food and vintage shops. Lygon Street is home to Little Italy and Melbourne is home to the second largest Italian population outside of Italy!

Coffee – Did you know that Melbourne is world-famous for the quality of its coffee and its numerous cafes? You could spend all of your time in Melbourne visiting cafes and comparing the quality of the espresso (and many have done), but why not start with Cafe Bruce in St Kilda, which consistently created a perfect latte on a daily basis for one of our writers.

Food and Drink – Name the type of food you love and Melbourne can offer it. Melbourne is a foodie paradise, even on a budget. There are so many great pub, bar and eating out options for backpackers, but just to get you started in St Kilda there is the Cushion Lounge in Fitzroy Street with a meal deal every night and Nomads Backpackers is busy during the week with a free BBQ offered on Wednesdays. Near the city, PJ O’Briens on the Southbank is a lively and popular Irish pub with live music every night except Monday.

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