There are certain things about Australia you would be best to know about before you come, and also facets of Melbourne you best be prepared for, too. Think, things to know before you arrive, our best transport advice, how to get here, tips on using public transport, and what to expect.
For example, we have a completely comprehensive yet ever-so-slightly confusing public transport system (it’s easy once you figure it out, we promise), the most unpredictable weather EVER, and many different ways of getting here from all over the country/world.
So, keep reading for tips from our seasoned Melbourne veterans about everything practical when planning for and arriving into our city.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR MELBOURNE
Preparing for an outing or holiday in Melbourne can be a daunting task – we know! Here are our top few tips to tick off before you depart:
If coming from overseas, make sure you have a visa! Apply for an e-visa (tourist visa) if you are simply traveling as a tourist. If you are coming on a working holiday or other kind of visa, make sure to apply a few months in advance.
The Australian Dollar is the glorious plastic money used here (really — it’s waterproof!). There are plenty of ATM’s around, but you may want to withdraw/exchange some before you arrive. Prepare for very colourful (plastic) money!
Make sure you book the most important activities in advance – check back to our Melbourne Travel Guide for more advice if you need some!
Pack for ALL WEATHER – especially if you’ll be traveling around. Australia is one heck of a large country with wet, dry, hot, cold, and humid weather and everything in between. The biggest mistake people make is thinking they won’t need a coat in Australia… You will! This is true especially in Melbourne… keep scrolling for a bit of info in Melbourne’s weather, specifically.
Sun protection is vital! Sunscreen and sunglasses (or, ‘sunnies’ as we call them here) are necessary – plan on intense sun exposure here as they say we are under a gap in the ozone layer.
GETTING TO MELBOURNE
If you are coming from outside Australia, there is about a 100% chance that you will be flying here… that’s what happens on the world’s biggest ‘island!’
There’s also a pretty high chance that you’ll be flying if you’re coming from within the country, too, because Melbourne is still an hour’s flight from the next largest cities. Australia is massive!
Below we will have directions on all the ways of getting to Melbourne – flying here, getting to the city from the airport, getting here by bus, driving here, using public transport in Melbourne, and some practical tips. We know everyone reading this will have varying degrees of necessity for this information, but we wanted to include it all just in case. Scroll to whichever section you need – it’s all in here!
Flights to Melbourne
Generally, Skyscanner is a great resource for comparing the cheapest flight fares from across different companies. This is what we use!
Qantas and Virgin are the premium Australian airlines. Jetstar and TigerAir are our budget airlines, which are fine but very tight on baggage weights and restrictions, so be careful and make sure to read the rules!
Busses to Melbourne
Believe it or not, there actually are busses between major Australian cities. Greyhound is the country’s largest bus company, and offers overnight and daytime services between all major destinations.
Driving to Melbourne
Renting cars or camper vans are really popular ways to see Australia. Many of you may just be taking your personal car – that’s great too (you don’t need us to pull up Google Maps directions, do ya?!)
We get plenty of locals on our tours, and you are so appreciated, too! It’s important to never stop being a tourist in your own city, as we always say, and this is a great way to gain a new perspective on a place you *think* you know well. 😉
ONCE HERE – MELBOURNE LOGISTICS + TRANSPORT
Australian SIM Cards
If you’re coming from another country and will be staying a while, chances are that you’ll want to purchase an Australian SIM card to use while you’re here. There are various options for tourist SIM’s or month-to-month plans that will give you ample data to use while you’re getting around Melbourne/Australia.
Optus and Telstra have great tourist SIM plans that you can purchase right in the airport. If you’re peachy keen to get connected, you can even pre-purchase online. Up to you!
GETTING TO MELBOURNE FROM THE AIRPORT
When flying into Melbourne, you’ll end up at the Tullamarine Airport outside the city (whether you’re in domestic or international arrivals). To get into the city, your options are:
Unfortunately, there are no trains to the Melbourne city center from the airport. The only public transport option we have is called the Skybus – a big red bus with white lettering that is readily available from any arrivals terminal. Pre-book your Skybus with the discount code WALKS101 for 10% off – you’re welcome!
How to take the Skybus: You can pre-book Skybus tickets online for a cheaper fare – the tickets are open-ended so you don’t have to make a specific time. Click here to pre-book (don’t forget discount code WALKS101). If not, you can easily purchase a ticket from the bus itself or one of many booths in the airport. Trust us, you’ll see them!
Skybus Routes: The main Skybus will take you directly to Southern Cross Train Station, which is in the city center. From here, you will be centrally connected to all other PTV (Public Transport Victoria) options, including our extremely well-connected train, tram, and bus routes. More info on these below!
There are a few other Skybus lines that make stops in the Southbank and Docklands, St Kilda, the Western Suburbs, and Mornington Peninsula areas between about 6am and about 7pm each day. If you are staying in these areas, check the timetable to see if there’s a stop nearer your accommodation than Southern Cross Train Station.
Another great option to get to the city from the airport or for getting around Melbourne is using a rideshare service. Uber, Didi, and Ola Cabs are popular in the area. Uber Pool would be a more affordable option to share the journey with other riders. Follow specific directions to pickup areas outside the airport.
As with any other major airport, there are taxi ranks in the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport. This may be a simpler way to hire a car upon arrival directly to your location.
GETTING AROUND MELBOURNE
PTV (Public Transport Victoria): Once you get to the city, there are LOTS of ways to get around! We have busses, trams, and trains in this city, and even a metro on the way, too. We’re proud to be home to the largest tram network in the whole world, and to have many different ways of getting around Melbourne.
To take any of Melbourne’s public transport, you’ll have to use a Myki card (unless you are in the free tram zone – explained below).
Getting your Myki (Public Transport) Card
You can purchase a Myki from any major train station and some major tram stops. The card will cost you $6 and you can load it with cash from there to cover the journeys you’ll need to take.
What is the Free Tram Zone?
It is free to take trams within all of Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) – how cool is that?! The free tram zone encompasses the main ‘Hoddle Grid’ of Melbourne as well as the Docklands. View a map here.
How do I find the right tram?
You can download an app called TramTracker to see trams in real time, or you can also select the ‘public transport’ option on Google Maps to view routes and times between destinations. These options will tell you what number bus/tram or what route on the train to get, at what time, from where. Getting around Melbourne can be foolproof! It’s easy to check your route before you get here if you want.
WEATHER + WHAT TO PACK FOR MELBOURNE
Melbourne is notorious for being the ‘city of four seasons in one day.’ This is a very important thing to take note of when traveling to Melbourne. The weather is Unpredictable with a capital ‘U.’ This is the kind of place that you’ll not only want to check the weather for each and every day, but for each hour of the day.
It’s not uncommon here for thunderstorms to roll in after a hot 40 degree day, and have the temperature drop by 20 degrees overnight. Make sure to have an umbrella, a rain coat, sandals, and beachwear at all times. Trust us, you’ll see what we mean when you arrive.
Melbourne Packing List
On that note, make sure to pack a great variety of things for your trip. An umbrella, rain shell, and closed toed shoes would be advisable at all times of year. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat are also crucial for hotter days. You’ll want your camera to capture some awesome moments on our tour, and a day pack to keep spare items in. Make sure to pack for all your Australian destinations!
Well, that’s about it for our guide to getting to and getting around Melbourne. We hope you’ve learned some great Melbourne practicalities and tips for you to use while in the city.