• Cityscape History and high-rises
  • City life Culture, cuisine and couture

Known for its sporting passion, cultural edge and cool take on music, fashion and food, Victoria’s capital beats Sydney to the crown of Australia’s most liveable city.

The NSWer may have a sexier location, but Melbourne steals it on attitude (and affordability). Life here is more about being, than doing, but if you are doing something, make sure you’re clutching a latte, humming an indie tune and wearing black – the default sartorial setting. The cityscape is a quirky clash of elegant Victorian houses, skyscrapers and gardens, but beneath the polite façade you’ll discover hidden laneways brimming with hip bars, graffiti-strewn galleries, grungy clubs and one-off fashion and vintage stores.

Do go/Don’t go

October and November sees ladies frock up and gents get suited for the Spring Racing Carnival, with the Melbourne Cup a highlight. There’s a party atmosphere in summer (December to February) with plenty of free activities on offer. Winter (June to August) may be a little cold and wet but clear skies suit wine tours in the nearby Yarra Valley or Mornington Peninsula (www.visitmorningtonpeninsular.org).

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Melbourne Airport (www.melbourneairport.com.au), 22 kilometres north-west of the centre, services domestic and international flights. Smaller Avalon Airport (www.avalonairport.com.au), 40 minutes west of the city, handles some Jetstar flights.
  • Trains Melbourne’s main railway hub is Flinders Street Station in the CBD, just one stop away from Southern Cross Station where trains depart for rural Victoria and interstate destinations (see www.vline.com.au).
  • Automobiles Skybus (www.skybus.com.au) operates a shuttle service from Melbourne Airport to Southern Cross Station in the CBD for AU$17 single or AU$28 return. Melbourne’s compact grid and network of trains, trams and buses means you won’t need wheels; to ride on any metropolitan public transport pick up a Myki card (www.myki.com.au) at accredited newsagents or train stations, which you can then top up at stops, stations or select retailers, including 7-Eleven stores. If you’re roaming further afield, the usual car hire firms are on hand at the airport.
  • Taxis Cabs can easily be flagged down in the street or found at ranks in the CBD. Can’t see one? Call Silver Top Taxis (13 10 08), and one will come to you.