From historic monuments to ultra-modern malls, ancient art to cutting-edge culture, Melbourne effortlessly blends past and present.

The capital of the state of Victoria is one of Australia’s most stylish and sophisticated cities, combining old-world colonial charm with modern-day convenience. Visitors will be quickly seduced by its food and its fashions, its art and its architecture, its culture and its coffee.

The city centre is packed with heritage-listed buildings, many of them dating back to Victorian times. The historic churches and sumptuous art deco hotels, the elegant arcades of Bourke Street Mall and Flinders Street Station, the oldest train station in Australia, sit comfortably alongside the futuristic glass-and-steel exhibition spaces around Federation Square and the iconic Eureka Tower, which offers panoramic views across the city from the observation deck on the 88th floor.

There’s no shortage of cultural contrasts either, from state-of-the-art digital technology at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and contemporary painting at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, to international and indigenous masterpieces at the National Gallery of Victoria and local treasures at the Melbourne Museum. The latter is even home to one of Australia’s great sporting icons, the legendary racehorse Phar Lap.

Take a breather in one of the city parks, wander around the Royal Botanic Gardens, or head off for a dip in the cooling waters of Port Phillip Bay at St. Kilda or Brighton Beach. Jump on and off Melbourne’s famous trams to explore the four corners of the city, maybe alighting at the popular beach-front Luna Park to ride the historic rollercoaster, or visit bustling, atmospheric Queen Victoria Market to pick up some delicious locally sourced produce.

Dining out is a breeze in cosmopolitan Melbourne, where you can easily sample a different cuisine every night. Head for Lygon Street, Australia’s “Little Italy”, for the best pasta and pizza outside the old country, enjoy the bohemian atmosphere of Flinders Lane in the heart of the city’s cultural quarter, or go upmarket in stylish Collins Street, home of the famous art deco Hopetoun Tearooms.

Melbourne is sometimes called the gateway to Australia and this friendly, sophisticated and culturally diverse city certainly gives visitors a perfect introduction to the country’s rich heritage, stunning natural beauty and infectious zest for life.

Guide to Exploring Melbourne

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