The Australian Open is more than just a tennis tournament; it is a part of Australian culture, woven into the very fabric of Melbourne’s society. First held in 1905, tennis superstars from around the globe all strive to claim the first Grand Slam title of the tennis season.
This year, the Australian Open will commence on January 15 for two weeks of non-stop action, excitement, and tennis. Former world champions including Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, and Kei Nishikori have all confirmed that they will be participating in next year’s events.
The Australian Open features events such as men’s and women’s singles; men’s, women’s, and mixed doubles; and junior’s championships. Each year, the Australian Open gets bigger, better, and more intense. In fact, the total prize money for 2017 was an astounding USD 36 million (about AUD 50 million)!
The close of the 2018 Australian Open on January 28 will give way to three other famous tennis sporting events: the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open.
Besides the Australian Open each year, Melbourne also plays host to some of the world’s finest international sporting events including the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, Australian Rules Football, and the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
In fact, Melbourne is known as Australia’s sporting and events capital. The city boasts six international sporting facilities, four of them with retractable roofs, on the outskirts of its central business district.
So if tennis is your thing and you’re thinking of making your way to the land down under for the events, here’s everything you need to know about the Australian Open.
We've also crowdsourced some of the top travel bloggers for their recommendations on their favorite places to visit while in Melbourne!
Australian Open Travel Packages
So before you pack your bags, you’ll want to score some tickets. Otherwise, you’ll be sitting on the sidelines.
The Australian Open website partners with several travel companies to offer travel packages from practically every country. Be prepared to dish out a pretty penny, though. Tickets to four day and four night sessions are available on Grand Slam Tennis Tours starting at $5,975. This does not include flights or accommodations.
Sports Net Holidays has more reasonable prices than the former site. Their semi-finals package runs for USD 1,235.81 and includes three nights at select central Melbourne hotels, category three entry, and reserved seating for three select sessions at the Rod Laver Arena, and entry to the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel for a 30 minute rotation.
Recommended Hotels in Melbourne
Should you choose to forgo a travel package and book your trip a la carte, there are several impressive hotels in the Melbourne area.
The QT Melbourne
An industrial-chic boutique hotel located in the heart of Australia’s most creatively charged city, the QT Melbourne is the perfect place to spend your nights while enjoying the Australian Open during the day.
From top to bottom, this hotel satisfies your desire for all things eccentric and innovative. All of the rooms feature hardwood floors, a glamorous en-suite, and a comfortable gel-topped bed. Each room also includes free high-speed internet, an HD flat screen TV, free coffee pots and Tippity tea, and free in-room movies.
In addition to fashionable, high-end guest rooms, QT Melbourne is home to Pascale Bar and Grill. Infusing Euro bistro influences into its dishes, this fine dining restaurant is the perfect place to end a busy day. Then, satisfy your sweet tooth at “The Cake Shop.”
While the QT Melbourne is a little up there on the price spectrum, it has all of the amenities that modern travelers desire. Hurry up, and book now while there’s still availability.
Hotel Lindrum Melbourne
Located just half a mile from Rod Laver Arena, Hotel Lindrum Melbourne brings incredible amenities at an affordable price in the center of Melbourne.
Each guest room has high ceilings, en-suite bathroom, rain shower over bath, work desk, gourmet minibar, and complimentary high-speed internet. For an additional cost, you can request daily breakfast, and the hotel even offers babysitting (for a charge).
The property features 59 guest rooms, the Felt restaurant, a bar, and a billiard room. The best thing about this hotel is its location; it is within walking distance to world-class theatres, restaurants, and sporting venues such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Space Hotel
The Space Hotel is the perfect place to stay in Melbourne if you are after an awesome budget place in a central location.
They have a variety of room types including private rooms with bathroom, private rooms with shared bathrooms or typical dorm style rooms. They also have some fantastic facilities such as a cinema, gym, lounge, gourmet style shared kitchen facilities, shared laundry, bar, internet café, tour desk and a roof top with a spa and killer views of the Melbourne skyline!
The hotel Some is located at the top of Russel Street, only a few minutes to the nearest tram stop (which is in the free tram zone) and within minutes you are in the heart of the city. There are even a few attractions within walking distance, for example the Melbourne Gaol is right across the road and the Queen Victoria Markets are a 5-minute walk away.
Good Eats in Melbourne
Lentils as Anything
Lentil as Anything is one of the best things to do in Melbourne on any budget. It’s a vegetarian, pay what you wish restaurant that has a community atmosphere and amazing food. The restaurant thrives on a simple principle – it will offer healthy, delicious food to anyone who walks through the door, and they give what they can afford. This makes good food available to the entire community, not just people who can afford it. There are three restaurants throughout Melbourne, in Abbotsford, St Kilda and Thornbury and each has a unique atmosphere and décor.
It’s not just food at Lentil as Anything; the restaurant also hosts live music, sustainability workshops and events for the surrounding community. It really makes an effort to include everyone in Melbourne’s rich society, which is what this multicultural city is all about.
Three One 2 One
Melbourne is all over food trends and it’s not uncommon to find sweet treats that are a meal in themselves. One such treat that’s popular all over Australia is a freakshake, a giant milkshake piled high with even more sweet goodness.
While you’re in Melbourne a stop at Three One 2 One in Richmond is in order to try one of their mega shakes. In a mason glass you will be served a milkshake made of ice cream with sweets stuck to the glass with fudge and toppings that can include waffles, doughnuts, Kit Kats, Tim Tams, strawberries, pretzels, an ice cream sandwich or even chocolate cake. And that’s not all of your options.
Before you go make sure you’re hungry or plan on sharing one because these shakes really are more filling than a meal!
Tram Car Restaurant
In a city known around the world for dining options there is one restaurant in Melbourne that stands out from the crowd. Well actually it drives through the crowd!
Experiencing fine dining while riding a tram through the bustling streets of this cosmopolitan city is something quite special. It feels a little strange when the tram pulls up at traffic lights and you are staring out your window at a truck driver parked beside you. But raise your glass of wine to him and you will soon be back on your way.
I highly recommend dining on the Colonial Tram Car to make a visit to this great city even better.
Awesome Bars in Melbourne
A few blocks from Flinders Street Station, along Flinders Lane is one of the coolest retro bars to hit Melbourne since the 1980s. Video game lovers will want to spend hours at Bartronica, banging on the flashing pinball machines, playing arcade games like Donkey Kong or NBA Jam, or even sitting in a private booth playing classic Nintendo games. The place is dimly lit to accentuate the bright lights and drinks menu is solid with craft beer on tap and a handy list of cocktails available. It’s a perfect stop to take you back in time, if only for an evening.
THINGS TO DO IN MELBOURNE
Visit the Brighton Beach Huts
The affluent suburb of Brighton sits just South-East of the Melbourne CBD and has an upmarket, beachy atmosphere. The long stretch of white, sandy beach is beautiful at all times of the year (although you would have to be brave to go for a swim in winter). But the beach itself isn’t the most famous part of Brighton, it is the colorful beach huts dotted along it which earn Brighton its stripes.
These beach huts are famous in Melbourne and Australia for their vibrant colors and beautiful artworks. The candy-colored beach huts are a photographer’s dream and my personal favorite is the one featuring a recreation of the Great Wave. The 82 huts open up during the summer months, and have been a staple of the shoreline since the early 1900s. If you are in Melbourne I would highly recommend visiting Brighton, not only for the Beach Huts, but for the Brighton Baths, the beach, and the cafés.
Visit Federation Square
Federation Square, in the heart of Melbourne is the best place to get your bearings. The Tourist Information Center there is one of the most efficiently run locations I've ever visited. Here you can get maps, schedule excursions -and use the bathroom! Federation Square is a destination on its own with trendy restaurants, a cultural center and an exhibition center. They had a craft beer sampling event when we were there. Ah, a city after my own heart. This is also a great place to catch the trams in the city center. From here the trams will take you to key locations in the city. The best part is that they are free. Let me repeat, the trams are free! There is also a bus that travels just about anywhere you want to go for just A$10 per 24hour period. The citizens ofMelbourne want you happy!
Visit the Fitzroy Gardens
In the mystical lands of the Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne, you will find the fairy tree. The tree was one of the original trees planted over 300 years ago. From 1931-1942 Ola Cohen carved Fairies into the trunk. When asked why she stated “I have carved in a tree in the Fitzroy Gardens for you, and the fairies, but mostly for the fairies and those who believe in them, for they will understand how necessary it is to have a fairy sanctuary – a place that is sacred and safe as a home should be to all living creatures.” The conservatory Melbourne has an amazing floral display is open daily. Built 80 years ago it is one of Melbournes most popular free activities. As far as Australian heritage goes Cooks Cottage shipped all the way from England in the 1930’s is a memorial to the man who discovered Australia. It’s not really known if Cook actually stayed in the cottage but it was certainly owned by his parents in the village of Great Ayton, Yorkshire, England. The Fitzroy Gardens is a great place to visit in Melbourne, just a stones throw from the CBD.
Visit Old Melbourne Gaol
One of the best activities we found in Melbourne was a trip to the Old Melbourne Gaol. Located next to the old City Police House and Court Buildings, construction of the prison started in 1839 but did not become operational until 1842 and remained in use up until 1929. During this time it held many of Australia’s most notorious criminals. The most famous criminals to walk through its gates are bushranger Ned Kelly and serial killer Frederick Bailey Deeming. In total, over 130 people were executed here by hanging.
Not only is it fascinating learning about the history of the prison and some of the prisoners who were sent here, it was also a fun way to spend the day. The tour guide was so passionate that his stories came to life. Plus your ticket also gives you entrance to The Old Magistrates Court and The City Watch House Experience. This is were you get to experience life as a prisoner by being 'locked up'. This was definitely my favorite part!
The Curious Explorers
Visit The Melbourne Zoo
The Melbourne Zoo is one of the best places to see all those amazing Australian animals such as koalas and kangaroos. It is easy to get to thanks to a tram stop right outside. This means no matter where you are staying in Melbourne you have no excuse not to visit. Every day they have keeper talks so you can learn about the animals. It is to best to plan your trip around these times to make the most out of your visit. Get ready to see lions, tigers, kangaroos, crocodiles, monkeys, seals, meerkats and more. My favorite enclosure is Lemur Island. Here you can go inside the enclosure right with the lemurs and interact with them, people were even taking selfies with them! It is the perfect way to spend the day whether you are entertaining the family or just hanging out with friends.
Check out the Street Art
Melbourne is home to some of the best street art in Australia. As a hipster city with a lot of cafes, bars, and a sports mad culture, it is the backstreets and lanes, and the street art throughout the city, which attracts visitors from around the world. It is easy to walk around Melbourne, but you could also do a street art tour. Hosier Lane is one of Melbourne’s most famous street art laneways. The cobbled stone lane is a mecca for tourists, and that is because it is a laneway that is a living example of urban street art. Degraves Lane is lined with hole-in-the-wall cafes and people eating, drinking coffee in the mornings, wine at lunch and cocktails after that, Degraves Lane is covered in street art. Union Lane is awash with colour and oversized murals, which was initially a part of Melbourne’s Graffiti Mentoring Project in 2008. Named after the Aussie legendary band AC/DC this lane is home to some of Melbourne’s wonderful pieces of street art, not to mention some great bars and eateries. Next to ACDC Lane is Duckboard Place where you will see some beautiful pieces of street art in Melbourne
Visit St. Kilda
Just 15 minutes from the city, St Kilda is an inner suburb located on Port Phillip Bay. It used to be known for its seedy reputation and bohemians, but has become gentrified in the past few decades and now offers up lots of great things to do. St Kilda Beach is the most happening beach in Melbourne where you will see kite-boarders coasting along, families enjoying a summer day at the beach and fairy penguins at the pier at sunset. The cake shops, restaurants and night life along Acland Street are legendary and make a fun place to hang out on a summer day.
St Kilda is also home to the iconic Luna Park theme park, dating from 1912. Ride the Scenic Railway roller coaster where a worker in the middle of the coaster controls your speed with a large lever. Take an obligatory photo at the Mr. Moon face entrance and wander through the park at no charge.
Visit Port Campbell National Park
Twelve Apostles rock formation, touted as one of Australia’s most stunning natural wonders, is found within Port Campbell National Park. The park can be accessed via car or bus tour and is open from 10 AM until 4:30 PM.
Visit the Block Arcade
This mall of sorts is sure to please everyone – architecture buffs, fashionistas, foodies, art junkies, and everyone in between. Over 25 boutiques, galleries, and specialty food stores are housed within this beautiful structure, which features stained glass windows, skylights, cast-iron details, and mosaic floors.