If you’re interested in taking a holiday in the land down under, there are many places to choose from that will offer beautiful sights, good food, interesting activities and friendly people. Today, we’re concentrating on the city of Melbourne and we’ll be sharing our tips that can prove helpful especially for first time travellers to this beautiful city.

1. DO NOT butcher the name by pronouncing it as Mel-born.

First things first, we want to make sure you get the name right. English is the language spoken all over this country slash continent, but you’ve got to remember one thing: Mel-born is incorrect. If you don’t believe us, you can just observe how the rest of the city’s population—all four million of them—pronounce it. If you want to stand out like a sore thumb and immediately identify yourself as a tourist, that’s entirely up to you.

DO heed the collective voice of the locals and pronounce it the right way.

The right way to pronounce Melbourne is … Mel-buhn. Actually, you can also go with Mel-behn but either way, you don’t pronounce the “r”. Got it?

Now that we’re talking about language, we might as well tell you that it helps a lot if tourists learn the common language or local lingo. For first time visitors to Melbourne, it might be hard to follow a conversation if you’re not familiar with the jargon. Here are a couple of words you should be aware of:

Footy means Australian Rules Football or the AFL. Football is growing ever more popular in Australian, but keep in mind that soccer and rugby are not as popular here like in other countries such as England.

Thongs refer to the footwear, not to a skimpy piece of underwear worn by women and designed to defy the laws of physics. Flips flops are unheard of in Melbourne, much less jandles.

2. DO NOT plan your wardrobe according to the local weather forecast.

If you’re the type of traveller who plans their entire holiday wardrobe based on the forecast issued by local weather stations, chances are you’ll be stuck with only one type of wardrobe during your trip and end up being completely helpless when a sudden change in the weather kicks in. Melbourne is known to have ever changing weather; one day you’ll be sweating it out under the sizzling noonday sun; and the next day, you find yourself in the middle of a steady downpour. Hailstones also pose a threat to the residents; residents sometimes find hailstones as big as fruits in their backyard.

DO remember to pack clothes for all types of weather.

The trick is having being prepared with clothes that are suitable for all types of weather be it sunny, rainy, hot, humid, cold or in between. But one thing you should keep in mind is that you’ll only be gone for a couple of days and there’s no need to empty out your closet. It’s also helpful to pack a bottle of sunscreen, a small umbrella, and also a windproof jacket. Layering is the recommended fashion style in Melbourne and moaning about the ever changing weather is a good way to strike up a conversation with a stranger; it will instantly earn you brownie points with the locals, which is good if you’re a tourist who wants to blend in.

3. DO NOT get yourself tangled in the debate between Melbourne versus Sydney

Unlike Sydney which is quite popular with tourist because it has lots of attractive landmarks and other sights, Sydney is often ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world. Melbourne is an ideal city for active people, there is much more to do in the city compared to attractive landmarks.

For example, you can visit Melbourne’s Royal Botanical Gardens for an entire day of outdoor fun. You can set out your blanket, unpack your picnic basket an open a nice bottle of wine and have a picnic in the summer. Otherwise, you can bring your friends out with you and have a friendly ball game. At night, you can snuggle with your date while watching a flick over at Moonlight cinema.

Food lovers can check out the Queen Victoria Market early in the morning and browse through the different shops that sell food from all over the world. Here, you can sample dishes of various flavors, some of which you may taste for the first time. If you want to do what the locals do, you can fire up the barbie (that’s barbeque, for those who aren’t in the know), grab a beer bottle and enjoy your meal right by the banks of Yarra River.

DO side with Melbourne if you’re asked to choose a side.

Okay, if you’re trapped in a situation where you absolutely, positively, must choose, we recommend picking Melbourne’s side. Since you’re staying in Melbourne anyway, we figure it’s better not to cause rifts with the people around you. One way to win them over is by telling them that the people in Melbourne are friendlier compared to Sydneysiders, and that their city is more steeped in culture compared to Sydney. If you’re lucky, you might even get one free drink from a new found friend.

4. DO NOT expect to ride the waves

Surfer dudes will just have to face the truth: the waves in Melbourne are quite tiny and are not at all conducive to surfing. Apologies are issued to those who were informed otherwise, but that’s that.

DO consider other water sports such as windsurfing or perhaps kiteboarding

The calm waters in Melbourne may not be ideal for surfing, but these conditions are perfect for other water sports such as windsurfing. For sporty travellers who enjoy being in the water, you can visit Brighton, Sandringham, or perhaps Elwood to go windsurfing. If you prefer kiteboarding, you can go to West Beach in St. Kilda. For US 100 dollars per hour, you can even take kiteboarding lessons.

5. DO NOT ride the City Circle Tram.

The City Circle Tram may appeal to tourists mainly because it’s free. Admittedly, it’s not a terrible way for travellers to be able to go around Melbourne. However, you might find yourself straining to hear the audio service because of the static coming from the speaker and also the clanging from the loud tram bells, not to mention the buzz and chatter from the people making their way around the city.

DO sign yourself up for the guided tour around the city on foot—absolutely free of charge.

The city of Melbourne is designed in a grid which makes it fairly easy for tourists visiting the city to explore the sights on foot. You can acquire the services of one of the local volunteers who knows how to speak your language to give you a walking tour of this city for no fee at all. If you’d rather explore the city on your own, you can also opt to download the self guided walk and make it on your own. If you need help along the way, simply keep an eye out for one of their City Ambassadors wearing red shirts; they’re pretty handy when you need directions or other advice.

6. DO NOT go on a shopping spree at the Chadstone Mall.

Shopaholics new to Melbourne will most probably be drawn to the Chadstone mall to break out the credit card and try on some new clothes and accessories. This particular area, more popularly known to the local residents as Chaddy, has somehow become the designated fashion capital of the country. There are more than 500 shops to be found in Chadstone; this humongous shopping center has multiple levels and is considered to be the biggest one in the entire southern hemisphere. But be reminded that on a regular, busy afternoon, shopping at the Chadstone Mall will most likely tire you out and give a pair of very sore feet. Another word of advice for those who still want to go, the correct pronunciation is Chad-stuhn instead of Chad-stone.

DO check out the various shops that line the streets.

If you really want to go shopping, you can always check out The Block or perhaps the GPO arcade. For those whose small budgets dictate their shopping habits, you can find really good bargains at Swan Street which is located in Richmond, or perhaps Bridge Road. For one of a kind pieces, head off to Brunswick Street which is located in Fitzroy; the products sold here are mostly from independent labels and tend to have more artsy designs.

7. DO NOT feel required to watch the AFL match at the G

While it enjoys a wide popularity among the locals, tourists don’t have to feel obliged to like football. If you’re not particularly keen on the game, you can opt to watch other sports that are also open to tourists.

DO study Melbourne’s sporting calendar to check out other events you might like to watch.

Through the course of the year, Melbourne plays host to various sporting events be it in the local or international level. In Victoria, one of the more popular events you might like to see for yourself is the netball competition.

8. DO NOT fall into a trap and visit the famous Melbourne Zoo and the equally famous Melbourne Aquarium.

The Melbourne Zoo is a pretty popular destination for tourists visiting the area. The zoo does have some amazing animals in store for visitors such as the big elephants and the not so big baby Mali, the first elephant in Australia to be artificially conceived. Unfortunately for travellers on a budget, tickets for the Melbourne Zoo cost US 24.80 dollars each. On the other hand, if you want to visit the Melbourne Aquarium, you’ll have to dig deeper and cough up more money—US 32.50 dollars for each person, to be exact. Another disappointing thing about these destinations is that more often than not, they’re filled with visitors any day of the week, especially groups of students going on a school trip.

DO take the road less travelled and explore Melbourne through hidden laneways or perhaps the arcades.

Melbourne is home to a number of cobblestone paths that actually serve as part of the city’s attractions. These roads are dotted with a variety of establishments that are open to tourists visiting the area. For example, you can step inside a café and enjoy a warm beverage, or you can admire antiques and sift through vintage clothing in any of the vintage shops in the area. If you’re looking for places where you can have some fun in the evenings, these roads are also home to the best bars in Melbourne.

To admire some graffiti made by local and international artists, make your way to Hosier Lane and see the Citylights Projects.

9. DO NOT spend your entire vacation lolling around the CBD.

The CBD or Central Business District is big enough to warrant at least a couple of days’ exploration. Travellers can visit Ian Potter Center or perhaps the ACMI or Australia Centre for Moving Image; these two can be found in the Federation Square otherwise known to local residents as the Fed Square. However, we think it’s better if travellers didn’t limit themselves to the CBD while they’re on holiday in Melbourne.

DO take the time to investigate the suburbs in Melbourne’s inner city.

Visiting Melbourne’s suburbs is a good way of getting a feel of the city from the point of view of its residents. Visit St. Kilda on a sunny Saturday morning and go rollerblading over at the Esplanade; on Sundays, you can check out the quirky craft market. You can also rummage through some secondhand pieces at Camberwell market, which is open on Sundays. After that, you can have brunch with a friend at any of the establishments on Bridge Road, located in Richmond. If you’re in Fitzroy, you can try having some delicious dinner over at Vegie Bar and follow your meal with a couple of drinks and some good jazz at Night Cat bar.

If you want to take a road trip outside the city, you can visit Yarra Valley and sample the local wines made there. You can also take your car for a spin at Great Ocean Road.

10. DO NOT purchase coffee from a commercial chain store

If you’re used to getting your coffee fix at Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, or Gloria Jeans, it’s wise if you abandon these places at least for the duration of your stay in Melbourne. These commercial coffee houses are generally not patronized by the coffee drinkers in Melbourne.

DO start your day right by ordering a flat white

Since commercial coffee houses aren’t generally not recommended by those living in Melbourne, we suggest getting on the #8 tram headed north for a cup of Joe that sits well with the locals. Get off the train at Carlton and make your way to Lygon Street and order a flat white. For those who have never heard of this drink, it’s a single shot espresso that is topped with hot milk. The name takes its cue from the flat milk that is added to your espresso.

If you’re willing to explore the local café culture a bit more, visit Degraves Street and step inside any of the cafes within walking range. Sitting in a café, you can open your Big Issue copy and blend in with the locals; between sips, look out over the crowd and watch the people go by.

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