When it comes to cities I love Melbourne is way up there with the very best. It is fair to say that Melbourne is one of my favourite cities anywhere in the world.
I can’t just write one blog post about the city, it would never do the place justice. So I will break down my posts into smaller manageable chunks.
One of the things that make me say the magic of Melbourne is that it is so easy to get around. Many of the sites and sounds are concentrated within or close by to the CBD (Central Business District). However some things are a little bit beyond there.
Now let’s face it, Melbourne like the rest of Australia is not cheap! The Aussie dollar exchange rate to the British pound has appreciated greatly since I first visited 10 years ago. The rate then was about $2.50/£1, now it is about $1.58/£1. ouch!
So if you are backpacking or just trying to save some pennies here are some tips to getting around on the cheap.
Airport to City
The airport like most modern airports is a fair distance from the city so getting in could be a bit of a challenge. Getting a taxi is going to set you back a few dollars so why not do what I do.
Just look out for the red bus or red SkyBus hut just outside the terminal. This regular service takes just 20 minutes to travel the 23 kms to get into the city.
You’ll arrive at Southern Cross Train Station on Spencer Street which is at the west point of the CBD. If you are staying within the CBD you can then take another bus (included in your ticket price) to your accommodation. Book your stay in Melbourne with Expedia if you are traveling on a budget.
You can buy single or return tickets which are valid for three months from the date of purchase. In October 2012 a return ticket cost $28 or $17 for a single. There are also price offers for families.
To find out more visit the skybus website
Free Shuttle Bus
Whilst moving around the city look out for the free shuttle bus signs. I’ve seen these outside the Arts Centre on the South Bank and across the road from Federation Square. This shuttle bus starts around 9:30am onwards (from what I’ve been told) and takes around 1 and a ½ hours to complete it’s tour of the city.
Melbourne has the largest tram network of any city in the world! The public transport system is in my view excellent. Getting around can be quick and easy. Look out for the distinctive red free tram (City Circle) which performs continuous loops of the CBD. Just hop on and off at your leisure.
My Key To Melbourne Is Myki
If the free tram is not heading where you are heading then consider the public transport system. You can use trains, trams and buses all with one type of pass. From late December 2012 there is only one type of ticket you can use. This is in fact a plastic card called a Myki card.
The Myki card is very similar to the Oyster card used in London in terms of being able to use it on various forms of transport and you can top it up in various forms.
It costs around $6 for the card, one off fee. You can then top up the card or assign money to a daily, weekly or annual travel card to save money. You can get the cards and top ups at train stations and various shops such as 7-Eleven (which appear to be everywhere in Melbourne!)
Hey, it is good value and you just tap your card on a reader each time you get on/off lots of transport options. Even zone 1 will get you from the CBD to the beach at St Kilda.
Visit the Myki website.
The Cheapest Way Get Around
Okay, there is one mega cheap way to get around and that is on foot! You get the best chance to appreciate your surroundings and discover all the quaint little side streets, art and architecture. Plus you never know, you might find a great shop or café to stop off for a while. Just bring plenty of sun cream and water, cover up well.
For me it is very easy to see the magic of Melbourne and it is easy to get around no matter what your budget. In fact of all the cities I’ve been to around the world, getting around Melbourne seems easier than any of them.