Getting Around Melbourne
This great city has often been ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world and the ease of finding your way around is a part of what makes this city so appealing. The following is a brief overview of a variety of transportation you may use while on your stay in Melbourne.
Melbourne's public transport system is very easy to use and called "Metlink" offering tram, train and bus transport all on the one ticket. The system is divided into three zones, zone 1 (being the inner city area), zone 2 (the outer suburbs), or both. They are sold as a 2hr or a full day ticket and either full fare or concession (child tickets up to 16 y.o. are considered concession).There are also 10X2hr and 10X full day, weekly, monthly, and yearly tickets. Metlink's website provides a simple timetable, listing stations and stops, to guide you to your destination.
The city and inner suburbs are best viewed by tram, a unique Melbourne way to travel. Melbourne's city centre is built in a grid, which the trams cover extremely well. They will take you directly to the Queen Victoria Market, Fitzroy Gardens, Bridge Rd and Major sporting arenas to name a few. A great way to orientate yourself around Melbourne is to hop on one of the City Circle trams. They loop the city centre every 12 mins. in both directions (see the map below for stops). The entire circuit takes approx. 48 mins. These trams are restored old trams and are painted maroon with gold trim. It is a little hard to hear sometimes but listen carefully for the historical commentary as you travel. Best of all, these trams are free and take you close to many of Melbourne's tourist spots, i.e. Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne Gaol, Docklands.
Melbourne's train system is also very convenient. All Metlink Trains arrive and depart from Flinders St. Station and use the same met card as the trams and buses. The train network is extensive and includes lengthy suburban routes and an underground city loop.
The bus network generally fills in the gaps left between the tram and train services. Buses are a little more difficult but are easy when you use the online trip itinerary. They also use the same Metcards as trams and trains. There is also a Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle it operates every 30 mins. From 9:30am to 4:30pm excluding Christmas Day. On Labour Day and Anzac Day, the service does not start until 1 pm. The route takes in 13 stops which are hop on, hop off.
Melbourne's generally flat terrain renders cycling as a popular option for getting around. Melbourne has just introduced a new public bike share program throughout the city. Instructions and prices are listed at each bike dock. Remeber to watch out for those tram tracks (wheels can get caught). There are great bike tracks along the Yarra River to explore. Please note that bike helmets are required throughout Victoria when riding. Bike helmets can be purchased from most 7/11 stores closest to each bike dock and cost $5, but if you return them undamaged they wil give you back $3.
Taxis are numerous alas expensive. Melbourne Taxis are yellow in colour. It is always helpful to have your intended address written for the driver. Taxi ranks are clearly signposted and usually in obvious places such as outside major hotels or important locations like Flinders Street Station. You can hail a taxi in Melbourne. If the roof top light is on the taxi is available. Alternatively you can book a taxi by phone. After 10pm in Melbourne fares must be paid in advance.
Car-rental operators range from the usual international and nationally familiar names to the rent-a-bomb variety. You can find a lot of the major dealers at both the domestic and international arrival terminals as well as around town in the CBD and surrounding areas. As mentioned earlier driving in Melbourne is easy as it was laid out in a grid, however be aware of the hook turns necessary in a city with trams. Traffic turning right must often do so from the left lane to avoid blocking tram tracks. This is only necessary in the city centre and Clarendon Street in South Melbourne. All these turns are marked with over head signs. Make yourself aware of Victoria's road rules and obey all traffic signals. If you are an international traveller a helpful tip is that left turning traffic at an intersection with lights must wait for the lights to signal you to allow you to turn.
There is only one company that operates water taxis in Melbourne and it is a great way to travel to some of the cities events or games to avoid the traffic. It can also be a fun trip to docklands with a group of friends. They run a regular service between Southgate and Rod Laver Arena / Melbourne Park / MCG for events such as the Australian Open Tennis, concerts, and AFL matches.
A public transportation bus service, which runs between the airport and city center, making a loop through the city before terminating at Spencer Street Train Station. The trip takes 20 minutes. There are two airport pickup locations. The buses leave from outside terminal 1 & 3. The shuttle depart about every 15 minutes from 06:00 am to midnight, then every half hour afterward. Airport-bound buses depart from Spencer Street at half-hour intervals from 06:00 am to midnight then at hourly intervals after that. They also run a connection service between the terminal and central hotels throughout the day Monday to Friday 06:00 am to 08:00 pm, Saturday & Sunday 08:00 am to 06:00 pm. Book hotel pick-up three hours ahead. Bookings are not needed for travel from the airport to hotels. If there are more than three in your party it becomes more economic getting a taxi.