Melbourne is a place in Australia that used to be the country's capital city but is now the capital of the State of Victoria. The town was extremely wealthy after the time of the Gold Rush, and today it is still rich and influential. Some people even consider it to be the most liveable city in the world, which is why about five million people have chosen to call it home. It is the sporting capital of the world and is home to lots of sporting venues that host events and games, like the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Spring Racing Carnival, the AFL Grand Final and the Australian Open.
The first traffic lights in Australia were installed in Melbourne back in 1912 and it is also the world's first place to enforce seat belts, so you can bet the city takes transportation and safety seriously. If you are visiting and want to know the best ways to navigate the city, we can give you a hand. First, find your way to a baggage locker in Melbourne to stow away your heavy luggage or backpacks. Use Melbourne public transport to see the city without the weight of heavy bags.
How to get around Melbourne by train
Melbourne has an aboveground railway service that can bring you inside the city or to different states in Australia. The main train stations include the Flinders Street Station, which is where the city trains depart from, and the Southern Cross Station which is in charge of interstate and regional Victoria traveling. You will most likely be using the city's trains on the City Loop, and this railway runs through the central business district of Melbourne with a total of five stops.
You will need to buy tickets to use the train in Melbourne, and passes usually cost about AU$4.30 or AU$8.60 with varying prices depending on the zone that you are traveling to. Make sure to check the map and buy the right ticket! You can ask for a ticket from the train conductor, or if you own a Myki Pass you are able to use that as well. You can purchase a Myki Card for AU$6 and once you have one it can be reused throughout your entire visit.
The pass can be used on trains, trams and buses which makes them versatile and convenient, so if you know you will be using different types of transportation you should definitely grab one. The cards can be charged with money, so instead of buying individual passes each time you use public transport you can just keep tapping your Myki card. If you are staying for a couple of days consider buying a seven day Myki Pass which will cost you AU$44.
Most days trains start running at around 5 am until midnight and arrive every 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the time of day. During rush hours they come every few minutes. On Friday and Saturday evenings, feel free to stay out late enjoying Melbourne after dark. The trains keep running all night but only circle back every hour or so.
How to get around Melbourne by bus
Melbourne has a great bus network as well as several tram routes that are useful and affordable ways to get around. The great part about the trams is that you can ride them without paying if you are in the Free Tram Zone in the city centre, which extends from Flinders Street, Spring Street, the Melbourne Gaol and Queen Victoria Market. This service is known as the City Circle Tram and is available between 10 am and 9 pm from Thursday to Saturday and from 10 am to 6 pm on Sundays and Wednesdays.
These Free Tram Zones are only located in the central business district, but other tram stops are located throughout outer suburbs as well. St Kilda, South Yarra or Richmond can be reached by tram but you will have to pay using your Myki passes. If you are traveling on the City Circle Tram and it is about to exit the free zone you will be alerted with an announcement that will tell you that you need to pay.
Similar to the train lines, the trams run from 5 am to midnight during the week, between 7 am to 11 pm on Sundays, and all day and night on Fridays and Saturdays. We recommend buying your Myki cards from the Melbourne Visitor Centre since you will have the opportunity to buy pre-loaded Myki cards and get special rates for certain tourist attractions. However, you can also purchase them from Myki machines located around town. Tram passes cost AU$2.70 or AU$3.90 depending on your zone, and unlimited weekly passes cost AU$27.
Other than the city trams, Melbourne has nearly 300 bus routes that you can use to navigate the city. They cover more ground than the train system and the trams so they might actually be the most useful way to get around Melbourne. They are separated into two different zones and your ticket will cost more depending on how far you travel. Passes cost the same as the tram tickets and are valid for two hours after they are activated.
In general, the bus routes run between 5 am and midnight although some routes have varying hours. On weekends you can use the NightRider bus service to get around the city centre after midnight, which can ensure that you will get where you need to go safely.
How to get around Melbourne by car
You can also travel around the city using the Melbourne taxis, although they are more expensive than the other options mentioned above. These cars are usually yellow or white with bright orange writing making them easy to spot, so if you see one you can just hail it from the street and they will stop for you. You will automatically be charged AU$4.20 once you get into the taxi and the price raises by AU$6 for every mile that you drive, meaning that you will pay more the further that you travel. Rides going to and from the airport cost a bit more, as well as travels between 10pm and 4am on Fridays and Saturdays.
A slightly cheaper and just as effective option is to take an Uber or use another ride sharing app, since they all work in this city. If you are looking to get to and from the Melbourne Airport specifically you have several options; either by regular bus, taxi, rideshare or using the SkyBus services. The Skybus terminals are located at most of the major tram stops and train stations, like Spencer Street or the Southern Cross Station. They will bring you directly to and from the airport, although tickets can only be bought online or at the airport.
If you want to bring your own car or look into car rentals in Melbourne you can, although it is not recommended. The city streets can get a bit hectic with all of the trams and buses driving around so you really need to pay attention, especially around pedestrians. As well, some road rules are different in Melbourne, like "hook turns" for example, which can be difficult to get used to. Traffic is also an issue, but your biggest challenge will probably be getting used to driving on the left side of the road! Be aware that you will most likely have to pay for parking in most of the neighborhoods and the Melbourne CBD, and the usual hourly rate is AU$5.50.
Water taxi and ferry
Other than taxis and car sharing services, Melbourne actually has water taxis and ferry boats that you can use to get between different areas on the coast. You can grab a ferry on the Yarra River to get between the City Centre, Abbotsford or Williamstown. They are also found floating across the Maribyrnong River. To get between Port Melbourne and Spotswood you can use the water taxis, or you can use passenger boats to get from Gem Pier in Williamstown to the Southbank Promenade.
How to get around Melbourne by foot
Getting around most of the neighborhoods and areas in Melbourne will need to be done using the trains, trams and buses, but when you have the opportunity to walk you should take advantage of it. Exploring as much of the city as possible by foot can bring you new experiences and you can save money as well! The Melbourne Central Business District is easy to navigate since it is set up like a grid, and if you buy some handy maps you should have no problem at all figuring out where to go. To get to the surrounding suburbs, however, you will probably need to take the buses or trams.
While you are walking around the city we recommend stopping by some of its top tourist attractions and activities. Visit Queen Victoria Market for shopping to buy fresh meats and produce as well as souvenirs, and areas like Port Phillip Bay or Federation Square offer different attractions that you can enjoy.
Aside from walking by foot, Melbourne is great for biking and it is actually one of the most bike friendly cities in Australia. The city is working on adding more bike paths to help encourage its citizens to use bicycles instead of cars.
If you didn't bring your own bike you can rent from one of the several companies that offer it around town. Keep in mind that you can take all bikes on the trains but only foldable bikes are allowed to be brought on the buses and trams. Some of the bike paths are made on old train lines and others take you through greenspaces and public parks which can be quite scenic, so biking around can actually be a great way to see the city.
The Harbour Esplanade is a street along the waterfront which can be very nice to bike or stroll along. Biking or walking in Melbourne also allows you to explore at your own pace and you won't have to rely on bus, train or tram schedules so you can take your time getting to know the neighborhoods. It also gives you the freedom to discover the city spontaneously, and if you happen to notice an interesting cafe or activity going on then you can join in without having to worry about missing the next train or your tickets expiring.
Using the Public Transport in Melbourne
Melbourne is a big city, but with regional and interstate trains, trams and buses you have more than enough ways to get around. Most buses, metro trains and trams can get you anywhere that you need to go but if you are traveling far away and outside of the Melbourne CBD you can also use taxis or ride sharing services. These can get you anywhere quickly, although they are more expensive.
Driving around the city in your own vehicle can be challenging since the roads get busy during peak hours and also considering the different road rules, but if you feel that you need your own car you can rent one from the airport or from one of the local companies.
Make sure to buy tickets for any form of public transport that you use, with the exception of the Free Tram Zone. Individual passes can be bought from ticket machines, and you can purchase Myki cards from retail outlets displaying the Myki sign or from a Myki machine set up elsewhere around town.
If you are someone who enjoys being active we recommend taking advantage of the fact that Melbourne is one of the most cycle friendly cities and rent a bike, or walk around the street by foot. Now that you know how to get around Melbourne, hop on a bus or grab a train to explore the city!