A Perfect 24 Hours in Melbourne

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Greetings, Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours in Melbourne! So you’ve gone all the way to Australia and you’re looking to spend 24 hours in Melbourne, getting to know the cool street art and whatnot? (I realize I am assuming that you ordinarily live far from Australia, which is quite an assumption. For all I know, you live in New Zealand. I don’t know your life!)

Anyway, Melbourne is a large city with many different and exciting neighborhoods, but let’s face it. If you’ve only got 24 hours in Melbourne, you should spend it in the City Centre. You should also get used to the fact that Australians spell Centre the backwards way. Follow me and I’ll show you the best 24 hours in Melbourne you can imagine!

24 Hours in Melbourne

How To Get There

Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a beautiful box of Australian meat pies. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to Melbourne.

But I can tell you that I used a lovely airplane to get from my hometown NYC to Melbourne, and I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to Melbourne at the best time of day. When I booked with them, I was able to save a bunch of money on my ticket, and it only took 48 hours door to door! But you might want to spend more money and save some time. Up to you!

Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out to Melbourne ASAP.

24 Hours in Melbourne

Where to Stay?

I cannot recommend the exact hotel where I spent my 24 hours in Melbourne. That’s because they accidentally charged my debit card for the full price of the hotel TWO times and the extra charge didn’t drop for a week. I almost had a nervous breakdown.

But if you’re looking for a centrally located place for your 24 hours in Melbourne, I suggest Federation Square. It’s near many of the major tourist attractions, like the National Gallery of Victoria. You can’t go wrong!

If you want to avoid my mistakes for your trip to Melbourne, you can find a host of excellent hotels and check out their reviews, so you’ll know if the hotels are on the up and up, or if they are in the habit of bilking their clients. Just click here!

24 Hours in Melbourne

What Should I Pack?

  • Stylish and comfy sandals that are just perfect for an Australian summer Christmas season.
  • Cute boots in case it rains. You can wear these from the mud puddles of Melbourne straight to a nice restaurant.
  • A cell charger so you can keep taking pictures of the fabulous Melbourne street art.
  • A rain jacket with a hood because it might definitely rain during your 24 hours in Melbourne.
  • My favorite guide book to Melbourne
  • That’s not a knife. That’s a knife.
  • True History of Kelly Gang, which ironically is a work of fiction. This is a great place to start if you want to know more about Ned Kelly.
  • And if you’re looking for something more factual about Ned Kelly, I’ve got you covered right here.
  • I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age, and you don’t want to get stranded in a foreign country without help. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by a roving gang of boxing kangaroo during your 24 hours in Melbourne.
24 hours in Melbourne

24 Hours in Melbourne

Morning: The National Gallery of Victoria

The National Gallery of Victoria is a fantastic collection of Australian art smack in the centre of town. It is more commonly known as the NGV, although that word seems hard to pronounce to me because there are no vowels in it.

You could easily spend a whole day in the gallery, but we have other things to do, so allow me to recommend simply

Approximately Top 5: The NGV

24 hours in Melbourne
1) Have breakfast at Degraves Espresso Bar

Melbourne is famous for its cafes and Degraves has excellent coffee. Clearly the thing to get here is the flat white, which is a short Australian version of a latte. I think it’s so sad that Starbucks has brought the flat white to the USA because it is no longer cool to know what a flat white is.

To eat, just get whatever pastry looks good to you. This itinerary has a big lunch and snacks included, so you don’t want to fill up too much.

24 hours in Melbourne
Tjapaltjarri and Tjapaltjarri, Napperby death spirit Dreaming
2) View the contemporary indigenous art collection

Many of these works have the word “dreaming” in the title, and this word has a special significance. In indigenous Australian art, a dreaming is a sacred story that belongs to one particular group. It is passed on from one member of that group to another, and it is forbidden to tell the story to someone outside of the group.

I found it very interesting that the work of so many indigenous Australian artists resembles abstract contemporary art, but it makes sense when you understand that many of these works are related to dreaming, and a dreaming is not supposed to be told to outsiders. But when it comes down to it, can we really ever understand a work of art, abstract or not?

24 hours in Melbourne
Collins St., 5 PM  by John Brack
3) See the 19th-20th century Australian art

A lot of colonial Australian art is landscape paintings of the Australian wild, aka the bush. Many of the paintings were gorgeous, but I found myself eventually wishing that I could leave the museum and go look at the actual Australian bush, instead of spending all day staring at landscapes.

It was perhaps for that reason that my favorite Australian painting was “Collins St., 5 PM” by John Brack. I was so excited to see a depiction of Australia that wasn’t bushy. Also I love how the people in the background look like faceless worker drones, but that those same people gain a distinct humanity when you see their widely varying faces up close.

Plus you get to see the architecture in Melbourne in the background, and even in earth tones, the buildings in Melbourne are quite lovely.

4) Have lunch at the Mitre Tavern

The Mitre Tavern is the oldest building in Melbourne, which means that it dates to 1975. Just kidding! Australia’s not that young. This building is really from the mid 19th century. I have to say, that is not especially old for the oldest building in the city. I mean, I don’t judge you, Melbourne, but I hope you don’t expect Cairo or Rome to be impressed with that.

The Mitre Tavern is probably named after the Mitre in London, and it is definitely completely adorable. You order at the counter and take a number, and then you will have your lunch delivered to you. That way there’s no chuffa with the check at the end of the meal. If you are feeling Very British, get the ploughman’s lunch.

The ploughman’s lunch is one of the top five best lunches of all time, a glorious collection of bread, meat, cheese, and pickles. This particular ploughman’s lunch also came with grapes, which I assume magically makes it healthy.

Chowing down on this spread will make you feel like you have just taken a break from gold mining for some hearty grub. Although the ploughman’s lunch at the Mitre costs at least 22 dollars, so you would have to be a really successful gold miner.

24 hours in Melbourne

24 Hours in Melbourne

Afternoon: Street Art Tour

In any good travel itinerary, I like to spend the time after lunch walking around and seeing smaller sights. A great way to do this is to take a walking tour led by a local (or knowledgeable transplant).

One amazing such tour is the Melbourne Street Art Tour, which is the perfect addition to your 24 hours in Melbourne. This tour leaves every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 1:30 PM from Federation Square. You can book it here.

What is special about these Street Art Tours is that they are led by practicing street artists themselves. Our guide was named Daniel and he creates works out of “junk” as a commentary on consumer waste.


Be mindful that the word street is in street art for a reason. You might encounter some denizens of the street on this tour. Nothing unsafe will happen, but one inebriated gent did berate poor Daniel with many creative curses for some time. I am from NYC, so this only happens to me about five times per day at home.

Anyway, enough with the drunkards, on to the fun stuff: knowledge!


24 hours in Melbourne

So much painting happens here that no work stays up for very long. You might even see this happen during your 24 hours in Melbourne. Every blank space on this street is covered with paint. We even watched one group of artists put up this portrait you see above.

I even have proof that we saw them do it! You can even see the paint cans right there in the photo.

24 hours in Melbourne

Daniel’s not the only street artist who uses materials other than paint. A wide variety of stuffs are used in fabricating these glorious creatures. Some artists paste on designs made out of paper because they are so easy to slap on the wall quickly without getting caught.

24 hours in Melbourne

It looks like some people have stenciled over Ned Kelly. :(>

24 hours in Melbourne

Some artists even use fabric, like whatever the hell this is. I think it’s what you would get if Magic Mike became a werewolf.

24 hours in Melbourne

We saw quite a few works criticizing Tony Abbott, the former, (some would say) notoriously stupid Prime Minister of Australia. Lest you think I am being culturally insensitive, I would like for you to know that even Australians nicknamed him Tony Dum-Dum. I urge you to watch this John Oliver clip to learn more about this ridiculous man. I’ll wait.

24 hours in Melbourne

My favorite work was this dragon because he looks like Falkor the Luck Dragon from The Neverending Story, and that is one of my favorite books. Giant white dragons are the highest possible form of art. That’s just science.


But you don’t care about any of this, do you Internet Stranger? You just want to see a Banksy, right? Fine, here it is:

24 hours in Melbourne

There. I hope you’re happy now.

24 hours in Melbourne

At the end of the tour, we got to tour the studio belonging to the street artists. It is decorated just as you might expect, with flying paper office drones.

You’ll also finish up your tour with wine, finger food, and cupcakes in the studio. It was all very convivial until one English lady got snippy with me for talking too long to her husband. FYI: your husband was not cute, English Lady! I was just being polite.

24 hours in Melbourne

24 Hours in Melbourne

Late Afternoon: Lanes and Arcades

Melbourne is famous for its lanes and arcades, so you can’t miss them during your 24 hours in Melbourne. I became confused the first time I heard that because lots of cities have lanes, and I didn’t think that arcades had really been popular since the heyday of Pacman.

Anyway, it turns out that the lanes and arcades are really the amusing little side streets and shopping arcades that thread through the Melbourne City Centre. These exist because Melbourne was designed by English people during the Victorian era, so they planned the city to be as roundabout and counter-intuitive in design as London. (Supposedly the lanes were to make it easier for service horses to pass, but I don’t believe the real reason is anything so sensible.)

Anyway, whatever the motivation for the creation of the lanes, they make an excellent area for exploring. I refuse to give more specific instructions than that. This is the free exploration portion of the 24 hours in Melbourne itinerary, so you will do whatever you please, just as I am telling you to do. If your feet hurt, you can go back to Federation Square and people watch until it is time for dinner.

24 Hours in Melbourne

Dinner: MoVida

Now that we’ve had a trendy 24 hours in Melbourne full of street art and coffee, it’s time to have an even trendier dinner with tapas at MoVida. I am not a fussy eater, so I just let the waitress pick for me, and I approved of all her choices.

Five plates was enough for me, but keep in mind that I am a five foot five woman who can eat her weight in food. You might not want so many. Here is what she selected for me:

  • Anchovy on crouton
  • House smoked mackerel
  • Pickled mussel with cod roe
  • Spiced chicken escabache
  • Duck liver pate bocadilla

My favorite part of the meal was the sorbet that came with the fish dishes. The anchovy was paired with tomato and the mackerel with pine nut. I would never have thought to pair fish with ice cream, but it was yums. Thanks for the new food knowledge, Melbourne.

Aside from that, I loved the pate bocadilla served on a brioche. You’d might think that would be too rich, but you’d be wrong. Dead wrong. There’s no such thing as too rich when it comes to pate, as my grandmother always said.

After dinner I went home (to my hotel) and went to sleep. Some of you might prefer to go out clubhopping after dinner or whatever the cool kids are doing these days, but I always think I’m going to get my purse stolen in one of those places. But don’t let me cut your 24 hours in Melbourne short! Except when I cut it short right now with…

That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Melbourne

What would you do with 24 hours in Melbourne? Is “Tony Dum-Dum” a fair nickname for a Prime Minister? And is it illegal in Australia to paste over Ned Kelly’s face? Please leave your thoughts below!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Melbourne. I

If you have an extra 24 hours in Melbourne, try the Royal Botanic Gardens and this itinerary. And if you’d rather visit Sydney, I’ve got you covered here.

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