Tips About Living in Melbourne to Help You NOT Look Like a Tourist • The Invisible Tourist

“There’s nothing worse than being an obnoxious traveller” ~ LC.

Ever wondered what the secret is to having the most enjoyable trip possible? Welcome to my “Be Invisible” series – your ultimate guide for how to NOT look like a tourist on your next adventure and guaranteed to boost your entire travel experience.

Bursting with helpful tips and tricks, I’ve asked locals from particular cities around the world to share their insider knowledge on the best ways travellers can become “invisible” when visiting their city and enjoy it like a local. If you’re ready to challenge travel stereotypes, overcome language barriers and embrace what I like to call invisible tourism, you’ve come to the right place!

This local’s guide for the do’s and dont’s in Melbourne was written by LC from Birdgehls. As one of my all-time favourite city break destinations, I am very excited to share her advice about what it’s really like living in Melbourne. These Melbourne travel tips will give you insight into local life so you can make the most of your time and experience the city like a local, written by a local!


Tips About Living in Melbourne to Help You NOT Look Like a Tourist • The Invisible Tourist
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Tips about living in Melbourne to make your visit non-touristy

You know the kind that I mean – those who are so obviously on holidays and don’t care who knows it. They’re loud, they’re brash, they carelessly wave their selfie sticks around, narrowly missing poking out the eyes of their fellow (hu)man.

While there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist, there is a right and wrong way to do it. A way that is respectful to those who call the city that you’re visiting home – they’re just trying to conduct their day to day lives in the place, with as minimal inconvenience or eye socket damage as possible.

And honestly, you’ll have a better travel experience from doing your best to merge with the crowd. We travel to see new sights and experience different cultures after all – a little seamless blending in will make your time spent abroad all the more rewarding.

With all that in mind, here are some tips about what it’s really like living in Melbourne to help you avoid looking like a tourist, as told by a local.

When living in Melbourne, do enjoy brunch at all hours of the morning

Australians are seriously serious about brunch. As I like to say and have by now written across all corners of the internet: “Brunch is not just a meal – it’s an institution”.

Melbourne in particular is full of creative and hip little cafes, so you’ll be spoilt for choice, really. Pick one, order some smashed avocado on toast and settle in for the long haul. It’s a scene that makes for excellent people watching, if anything else.

Indulge at brunch
Credit: FoodieFactor/Pixabay

Do get into the sports scene

Something you need to know about Melbourne is it’s the sporting capital of Australia (and some like to say the world, which is a woefully depressing thought for us residents of the city who are not much into the sports).

There’s always something sporting related going on – Aussie Rules games in the winter, soccer, cricket and the Australian Open tennis in the summer. Spring is the advent of the racing carnival season and autumn brings with it the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

If you yourself are into the sports, you should definitely take some time to tour the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). It’s the biggest stadium in Australia and was the site of the 1956 Olympics and 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Federation Square
Major sporting events are shown on a large-scale TV in Federation Square


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Do discover your passion for fashion

But hey, if you don’t like sport, there’s plenty of other elements of Melbs you can explore. Like clothes, for instance.

Melburnians are a fashionable bunch, which makes for wonderful people watching around the city. There’s also a pretty decent collection of boutique stores from suburb to suburb – you can pick up some interesting items, particularly those by local designers.

I like to have a good poke around vintage stores and op-shops too – one (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure. Some of my favourite clothes were found in these sort of stores within the city – and often for a bargain, to boot.

And if you want to dress like a Melburnian – start with a black base and layer up from there. The zanier the item of clothing, the more you’ll fit in.

Do poke around the little suburbs around the CBD

Melbourne’s CBD (Central Business District) is a beauty, littered with hip cafés, trendy bars and little laneways covered with urban street art. Yet, as with most Aussie cities, the beating heart of the city isn’t centrally based.

Rather, you’ll find the essence of Melbourne, what makes the city the fantastic liveable city that it is, in its surrounding suburbs, where everyday Australians are living out their lives.

Some of my favourites include Yarraville, Brunswick, Fitzroy and Prahran. Most places have their own distinct vibe, making them wonderful places to explore.

Brunswick Station

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Do grab a cup of joe, whenever you can

The best word to describe Melburnian’s attitude towards their coffee is snobbish. Most will believe the city is home to the best coffee in the world. Personally, I can’t say for sure – I don’t drink the stuff. It is pretty easy to get a decent matcha latte here however, my current hot bev of choice and for that I am grateful.

There are coffee shops throughout the city and its surrounding suburbs, so you’ll be hard-pressed not to find somewhere to grab a cup when the urge strikes.

Australians are so passionate about their home-grown, artisanal coffee, that ten years ago they sent Starbucks running out of the country, tail between their legs. That’s something to be proud of, for sure.

Don’t forget to be prepared for any and all weather

Melbourne’s weather is in a word, unpredictable. In fact, did you know that Australian/Kiwi band Crowded House wrote their song “Four Seasons in One Day” with the city as a major influence? It happened to be where the band members were residing at the time and they were probably just as fed up with the weather as everyone else.

It can start of sunny in Melbourne and be pouring by mid-afternoon, only to clear up by the evening. Thirty degree celsius days can drop to twenty by the next day. And the wind. Oh, the wind. Melbourne is Australia’s own windy city. It’ll do its darnedest to blow pollen and dust into your face and in the winter it’ll pierce you through to the bone.

It’s best to start off your day by spending a few minutes locating and studying an in-depth weather report. Always have an umbrella in your bag. And even if you are visiting in the summer, bring a pair of waterproof shoes and a light jumper.

You have been warned.

Frankston Fishing

READ MORE: What to Expect on a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Sydney

Do indulge in a little bit of art

Do you like art? Well, you’ll love Melbourne.

As Australia’s “culture capital”, it’s usually the first (and sometimes only) city in the country to receive international exhibitions. Good places to start are the Heide Museum of Modern Art and the very lovely National Gallery of Victoria.

The city itself often feels like a living, breathing piece of art, featuring the most beautiful pieces of architecture you’ll ever see (and, some of the most unusual too).

If there is a bare wall, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be adorned with urban art, sometimes layers of it, as is the case in the city’s most famous laneway – Hosier Lane near Federation Square.

Melbourne Street Art

RELATED: Here’s How to NOT Look Like a Tourist Anywhere

Don’t think it’s rude to bitch about the public transport

Australia has notoriously bad public transport and living in Melbourne makes you realise it’s no exception.

As a city, it probably has the best public transport country-wide. This is a highly depressing thought that makes most Australians weep into their pillows at night.

Many Melburnians do tend to sigh and soldier on, paying obscene amounts of money for a service that barely works. The trams are okay (and free to use in the CBD) but the trains are a joke. And don’t get me started on the buses.

Trains are often delayed or late (or sometimes, just don’t bother to show up). If you miss a train outside of the CBD, you’ll find yourself having to wait twenty minutes for the next train. The City Loop route CHANGES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY, which is confusing insanity. And there is no train line out to the city’s airport. Which makes sense – it’s only the second biggest in the country and all.

What’s that about the buses? I told you we must never speak of them.

Bourke Street Tram

Do catch a flick at an art-house cinema

When you’re living in Melbourne going to the cinema is not a cheap affair, with most adult tickets priced at around $19 AUD. If you’re going to drop that sort of cash on a movie, you may as well go see it somewhere nice.

Luckily, there are plenty of beautiful cinemas throughout the city for you to choose from. My favourites are the Astor Theatre in St Kilda and the Sun Theatre in Yarraville. Both show a lot of old flicks and regularly hold film festivals throughout the year.  

Sun Theatre, Melbourne

Do try to time your visit with a festival

Speaking of festivals, there seems to always be one on in Melbourne. St Kilda Festival in the summer, So Frenchy, So Chic, the Comedy Festival, the International Film Festival, Fringe Festival, the Writer’s Festival… the list goes on and on.

It’s definitely worth looking into whether or not a festival will be happening during your time in the city. If so, why not grab a ticket to one of the events? You won’t regret it.

Melbourne is a fantastic city, the cultural capital of Australia. Follow these tips and you’re sure to have a standout holiday (and probably return home a few kilos heavier, to boot).

To find out more about how to be a sustainable traveller in Australia and beyond (plus her war on plastic), head over to LC’s awesome blog Birdgehls, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Ready to be invisible in Melbourne?

Now you’ve discovered the best secrets for how to avoid looking a tourist in Melbourne, perhaps you’re ready to make the trip! Why not compare hotel prices here? Or, if you love shopping like I do, find out what are the best must buy souvenirs in Melbourne!

Do you have any extra tips to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below 🙂
I hope you enjoyed the first instalment in my Be Invisible series! If you found this helpful, please share it or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram for more!

Until next time, 

The Invisible Tourist

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How to NOT Look Like a Tourist in Melbourne | The Invisible Tourist

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  1. Hi,

    I support the statement you said about blending in with the environment. It definitely enhances the travelling experience. We can get along with some locals as well. I also recommend taking a public transport for seeing places nearby and reachable through it. This connects the traveler to the place he/she is visiting and makes the journey more memorable.

    1. I most definitely agree with you, Terry! I’m a big advocate for taking public transport where possible. Visiting a new city and using the transport systems not only gives you an insight into local life but it also helps support local jobs and businesses (which I love!) Thanks for your comment 🙂

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