published: 3/7/2023 | March 7, 2023
Melbourne is probably my favorite city in Australia. While Sydney boasts more popular tourist attractions, Melbourne is more laid-back and an arts and culture hub.
Home to over five million people, it has a diverse population and something of a European feel, home to plenty of festivals, art galleries, live music, amazing street art, bars and cafes, and delicious food. You could easily spend more than a week here and only scratch the surface when it comes to things to see and do.
While public transport goes everywhere, Melbourne is a little spread out, so it’s important to choose the area you stay in carefully, or you’ll spend most of your trip in transit.
To help you decide where to stay in Melbourne, in this post, I’m going to highlight the best neighborhoods below so you can choose the area that best suits your travel style and budget as all the neighborhoods in this city have their own vibe.
But, before I get into the specifics, here are some frequently asked questions I get asked about neighborhoods in Melbourne:
What’s the best neighborhood for first-time visitors?
The city center, or “Central Business District,” as locals tend to call it, has something to satisfy most travelers. It is crammed with great museums, monuments, cafes, restaurants and bars. It is the most central place to do a lot of sightseeing.
What is the best neighborhood for families?
St Kilda is an old bohemian area with the largest number of restaurants in the city. But the neighborhood is also home to Luna Park, the world’s oldest theme park, plus it’s right by the sea. (Note that this is also a great area for backpackers, too!)
What is the best neighborhood for shopping?
Shopaholics will be in heaven along boutique-lined Chapel Street in South Yarra.
What’s the best neighborhood for a foodie?
Fitzroy is full of great restaurants – from classic and traditional eats to sophisticated venues. I also think this is just a great area to hang out in too.
What’s the best neighborhood for feeling local?
Richmond, located just east of the centre, has a varied number of things for locals to get involved in, such as eating, drinking and shopping. In addition, it is the home of “Little Saigon”.
What is the best neighborhood overall?
It’s hard to single out just one neighborhood in Melbourne as the “best,” but City Center fits into that category because of its location and because it has a little bit of everything for everyone, no matter your interests. However, I also love St Kilda.
With those questions now answered, here’s a more specific breakdown of each neighborhood – with suggested accommodations for each so you know where to stay in Melbourne.
Where to stay in Melbourne for first-time visitors: Downtown
“The CBD” (short for “Central Business District”) may not be a particularly exciting name, but it has something most other neighborhoods in Melbourne don’t: a little (or in some cases a lot) of everything. Shopping, dining, museums, cafes, galleries and even nightlife are represented here. Start at the famous Flinders Street station, which was the busiest railway station in the Southern Hemisphere in the 1920s, then pop off and explore central Melbourne, including the famous Federation Square and the nearby National Gallery of Victoria.
Best places to stay in the city center:
- budget: Mercure Welcome – Smack In the middle of it all, this is a nice budget friendly place. Mercure may be a global chain, but it’s also a good, reliable chain too, and this location is no exception. The 330 rooms are tastefully decorated with king-size beds, minibars and desks. Some rooms also have great city views.
- middle of the road: Brady Hotels Central Melbourne – This boutique hotel has a gym, self-catering laundry, rooms with soft queen beds, minibars, balconies, and Urban Skincare Co. bath products.
- Welfare: Treasury on Collins Arguably the most elegant hotel in the CBD, the heritage-listed Treasury on Collins offers apartment-style rooms: large multi-room accommodations with kitchens, sofas, desks, king-size beds, washing machines and more. If you want to feel like you are temporarily living in Melbourne, this is a very good place to do it.
Where to stay for families: St Kilda
An old bohemian haunt that was once a red light district, St Kilda is a seaside area that is home to Luna Park, the world’s oldest theme park fun for all ages. There is a seaside boardwalk to explore and a fun arts and crafts fair on Sundays. It also happens to have the largest number of restaurants in the city. Start on Acland Street, which is lined with restaurants.
Best places to stay in St Kilda:
- budget: Sixty Two on Gray – Just a few minutes’ walk from the nearest tram stop and a 12-minute walk from Luna Park, Sixty Two on Gray has apartment-style guest accommodations with kitchens and super comfy beds, all at an affordable price. for the budget.
- middle of the road: Hotel Tolarno – Founded by artist Mirka Mora and her husband, who arrived in Melbourne after fleeing Poland during World War II, Tolarno has been a St Kilda landmark for decades. Each of the rooms with period furniture is unique, its walls covered in different colors and decorated with pieces by local artists.
- Welfare: Quest St. Kilda Bayside – The 56 suites at Quest St. Kilda Bayside Everything a family could want for a stay in this fun neighborhood, including kitchens, washing machines, and multiple bedrooms. The hotel is within walking distance of all attractions in St. Kilda, including Luna Park.
Where to stay in Melbourne for shopping: South Yarra
South Yarra boasts sculpture parks, art galleries, and lush gardens, but the main reason to plant yourself here for a while is for the great shopping. Don’t miss Chapel Street, an avenue lined with boutique shops, where you can cash in your credit card (or at least window-browse from local and European designers). The area also has a lot of independent coffee shops too!
Best places to stay in South Yarra:
- budget: South Yarra Hostel – Set in a Victorian house, this hostel has a huge kitchen, BBQ area, and spacious common room. It’s small and cozy, with very friendly staff.
- middle of the road: The Claremont Guesthouse – Housed in a Victorian building from 1886, Claremont offers various room types, from fully equipped apartments to double rooms, with ceiling fans and flat-screen TVs. Breakfast is included.
- Welfare: The Olsen Hotel is located right on Chapel Street, and the Olsen is ideally located to take advantage of South Yarra’s shopping arcade. The hotel is artistically themed, including works by landscape artist Dr. John Olsen (for whom the hotel is named) scattered throughout the property. Rooms feature large, comfortable beds and unique artwork, as well as two restaurants and a day spa.
Where to stay in Melbourne for foodies: Fitzroy
Once a working-class neighborhood, Fitzroy has blossomed into a magnet for food-loving locals and visitors alike. The streets are now lined with eateries of every stripe – from those sampling diverse non-Australian cuisine or locally-inspired local dishes to pubs serving elevated grub and modern, sophisticated eateries. Start on Gertrude Street, which is a microcosm of this same culinary enclave.
Best places to stay in Fitzroy:
- budget: The Nunnery – Life in this building used to be completely different than it is now. Today, set in a former monastery, The Nunnery is a fun and active inn where travelers of all stripes hang out in the great guest room between meals. Sleeping options include dorm-style rooms – for 4 to 12 beds (including some female-only rooms) – as well as private rooms for one or two people.
- middle of the road: Royal Derby Hotel – Over a century and a half old, all rooms here are spacious and include a kitchenette with a toaster, microwave, and refrigerator. The in-house pub is one of the best in the neighborhood.
- Welfare: Lyf – Located on the borders of Fitzroy and Collingwood, Lyf is a modern 128-room property that includes a fully equipped communal kitchen and laundry facilities for guests to use. The apartment style rooms will make you feel like you are living in the coolest part of Melbourne.
Where to stay in Melbourne to live like a local: Richmond
Richmond is an up-and-coming area that, like Fitzroy, is full of delicious eats. Unlike Fitzroy, it’s a local affair complete with its own Vietnamese enclave known as “Little Saigon”. If you want to feel like a local and get away from most of the tourists, this is a great neighborhood to do so.
Best places to stay in Richmond:
- budgetKnightsbridge Apartments: Located just west of Richmond, Knightsbridge is one of the only affordable options in the area. The no-frills rooms are comfortable and include free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and a kitchenette.
- middle of the road: Lanbruk Richmond Hill – The 26 rooms and suites at Lanbruk are elegant and large, with coffee makers, toasters, teak wood, and desks. Some of them offer great views of the neighborhood. There is also a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the area.
- Welfare: The Motley Fool – This five-star hotel celebrates Richmond’s past as the center of Melbourne’s fashion and textile industry. The interior of the hotel – the lobby, the halls and the rooms – are full of color and decorated with rich textiles. The hotel is also home to the work of many local artists. The elegant and spacious rooms have huge soft mattresses, fine furniture and amazing showers.
Melbourne is a lively and fun city perfect for backpackers and budget travelers. Because it is so spread out, it is important to choose a neighborhood that best matches your interests so you can minimize the time you spend commuting. But, no matter where you stay, you really can’t go wrong because everywhere in Melbourne is great!
Book your flight to Melbourne: logistical tips and tricks
Book your flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines all over the world so you will always know that no stone is left unturned.
Reserve your accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld because they have the largest inventory and the best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they constantly show the cheapest rates for cheap guesthouses and hotels.
For hostel suggestions, here is a complete list of the best hostels in Melbourne.
Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you from illness, injury, theft and cancellation. It is comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Are you looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resources page for the best companies to use when traveling. I list everything I use to save money when I’m on the road. They’ll save you money when you travel, too.
Want more information about Melbourne?
Be sure to check out our robust destination guide to Melbourne for more planning tips!