My experience at a few of Melbourne’s most popular sights, and whether they were worth the visit or not.
Melbourne may not have as many of the world famous sights as other parts of Australia, such as the Opera House in Sydney or the Great Barrier Reef up in Queensland, but there is always something to do in the city. Actually, I’ve found it to be a pretty great city to live in (recently voted one of the best cities to live in the world).
Okay, let’s be real, I love it here.
I’ve already reviewed most of the free activities to do in Melbourne, but as to not overlook the ones that do cost money, I have a few tourist experiences to share from my first month in the city.
Compared to the San Diego Zoo, one of the best in the world, the Melbourne zoo may not seem like much, but if you have time on your hands and you’re looking for a place to spend the day, the zoo is not a bad idea. This is especially the case if you’re traveling with kids.
Going to the zoo is always a bittersweet experience for me. On one hand, I love animals and going to see so many unusual ones up close, but at the same time it makes me sad, seeing all these living creatures that often inhabit small enclosures.
I was invited by an American friend, whom I met in my RSA course (Responsible Service of Alcohol – a necessary certification for bartenders in Australia) a few weeks back, and I must say we had a great day at the zoo.
It’s worth checking out if you have the money and time, but it’s not necessarily something I would do again. Honestly, I’m much more excited to see some of these animals (i.e. elephants!) up close and personal in the wild when I visit Southeast Asia.
New animal I saw: African Wild Dog
Favorite animal to watch: Meerkats (hilarious)
Best part of the experience: Seeing the variety of kangaroos
Overall tourist attraction rating: 3/5
Eureka Skydeck 88 and the Edge Experience
This was one of those attractions I looked forward to even before I arrived in Melbourne, because I love gorgeous views (as you can tell from my Postcard from the top of the Empire State Building).
I mean, who doesn’t, unless maybe you have acrophobia.
Eureka Skydeck is the tallest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere, and even if you are afraid of heights, this experience is not the least bit scary. The elevator took a matter of a few seconds to get to the top, and the majority of the top level is completely enclosed.
I actually experienced this attraction on a date with an Italian guy I met while grabbing lunch in St. Kilda last week. I was thinking of going by myself in the next week, now that I actually have an income, but Andrea surprised me by taking me to see the best view in Melbourne, after a lovely Italian lunch alongside the river.
Just the views from the Skydeck itself made the experience worth it. We lucked out with the weather, going on one of the most beautiful 75-degree days in Melbourne.
The second part of the attraction is the Edge Experience. You’re put into a (slightly claustrophobic) glass cube and, at first, the glass is clouded, but after being projected 3 meters from the building, the glass clears instantly and you have a 360 view of the city.
It was particularly fun laying face down on the glass and contemplating just how far up you are.
Even still, I don’t believe for the added price of the Edge Experience that it was worth it. For one thing, you’re not far enough out from the building to really get the best view of the city.
Also, the glass was a little scratched and beaten up, making it less clear to see through than the actual windows at the Skydeck. I would say experience the Skydeck at least once, but pass on the Edge Experience.
This is a great activity to add to your Melbourne itinerary, and worth the cost if you’re a fan of expansive city views.
Best part of the experience: The view of Melbourne on a beautiful day
Price: Skydeck – $18.50
The Edge – $12.00
Overall tourist attraction rating: 3.5/5
AFL game at the MCG
By far my favorite costly experience to have in Melbourne was going to a footy game.
I’ve already written about my love of AFL in Tales from my first footy match, but I had to include it on this list because, besides being a way of life for locals, footy is also a huge tourist attraction for those who are visiting Melbourne (where footy was first established).
I went with an Aussie friend, and the whole experience has been one of my favorites in the last month. From drinking beer at a local pub dressed in our team colors before the game, to actually watching my first AFL game at the MCG while enjoying hot chips and hot dogs, it was quite the day.
If you’re traveling to Melbourne, pick a team and jump on the footy bandwagon. It’s an experience you won’t regret paying for.
Best part of the experience: Having a local Australian explain the rules of AFL and share his love for the game with me.
Overall tourist attraction rating: 4/5
Clearly, I enjoyed the other popular and costly attractions that Melbourne has to offer, but I still think that some of the best things to do in Melbourne are the ones that come with a free price tag.