One of the best things about Melbourne is the way it caters to tourists. Some cities are a bit wary about becoming known as a place full of tourists; as a result, they are not very accommodating for tourists, even though tourism is a great way for the city to take in money and become an even more amazing place. In Melbourne, you won’t find that problem; tourists are welcomed with open arms.
There is a free shuttle in Melbourne that takes tourists around key points of the city. I’m not kidding; it’s free, and it’s a great service. We hopped on near Federation Square, after a few cheery volunteers greeted us at the pick-up location. They informed us that a bus comes by every 30 minutes and that the trip takes about 1.5 hours.
They also kindly informed us that we would be getting on the last bus (the service runs between 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM) so if we chose to get off at any stop, we would have to find another method of transportation from there. If we planned our trip well, however, we could get off at a stop near the City Circle Tram, which is also free, and does a nice loop around the inner area of the city. The City Circle Tram operates from 10 AM to 6 PM on Sunday through Wednesday and from 10 AM to 9 PM on Thursday through Saturday.
A few minutes later we were on the Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle, making our way around the city, and learning a bit about our surroundings at the same time! Stop locations include:
- Arts precinct
- Federation Square (pictured)
- Sports precinct
- Chinatown precinct
- Melbourne Museum and Carlton Gardens
- Lygon Street precinct
- University of Melbourne
- Queen Victoria Market
- Waterfront City
- William Street
- Southbank and Yarra River
- Shrine and Royal Botanic Gardens
Any one of these locations could really offer enough to spend an entire day there. Since we caught the bus later in the day, we decided to stay on the bus for the full ride to get a glimpse of all of the areas. We were very tempted by a number of the locations, such as the Lygon Street Precinct in Carlton, which is in the historic heartland of Melbourne’s Italian community, where Italian restaurants “spill on to the footpaths.” The area is also well known for its experimental theater scene.
In all of my travels, I have never been to a city that makes free public transportation as helpful and accessible as it is in Melbourne. Two thumbs up for Melbourne tourism.