Whilst the results of this survey are geared towards living in a city, surely being liveable also makes it visitable. With a big focus on free and cost effective events, Melbourne comes alive over the summer months and buzzes with positive vibes. Summer runs from December to February in Australia, with the warm weather continuing well into March.
As a multicultural city, we love welcoming new people from around the world and you will find that locals are friendly and willing to help you or have a chat. Daylight savings means that there’s plenty of daylight to enjoy and the outdoor lifestyle is perfect for the warm weather.
If that’s not convincing enough, we’ve put together a compelling list of reasons that you need to visit Melbourne in the summer.
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Melbourne's outdoor events
Melbourne is known as being an event city and in summer it comes to life with a multitude of community and sport events. The most notable event being the Australian open which runs for two weeks from mid January. It alone is a reason Melbourne is one of the best places to travel in January.
During this time, the city is alive with Melburnians and tourists alike who enjoy the tennis and bands along the Birrarung Marr area of the Yarra River, just a short stroll from Flinders St, the city’s main train station.
If there is one thing that Melburnians enjoy it is food. We love to enjoy foods from all over the world, and what better way to do this than through food festivals and markets. The Queen Victoria runs from 5 – 10pm on Wednesday nights from mid November through to early March. Featuring hawker style food, lots of drink options, stalls and a band it is the perfect way to experience the iconic market in a different light.
In addition to the fixed food markets, pop up markets such as the cider and pork festival and donut and beer festival popping up for a day or even a few weeks at a time. Moonlight cinemas are also popular in Melbourne. They pop up in gardens and rooftops, so keep your eye out. They’re just one of many fun things to do in Melbourne for couples.
Towards the end of summer, Melburnians come out in force to celebrate the Moomba Festival. Featuring a parade, fireworks and lots of water skiing, you’ll find us camped out on the banks of the Yarra river, enjoying a picnic and the spectacle.
Melbourne's beautiful weather
December is the coolest of the summer months, with an average top temp of 19°C (66°F) compared to January and February that hit an average of 21°C (69°F). It is quite common to hear people saying that Melbourne has 4 seasons in one day, so don’t be surprised if it does dip a little below this, or soar up into the 40’s (100s). We wouldn’t consider it a good summer if it didn’t!
Rainfall is low over summer, so pack your brolly away as chances are you’ll only see a few fluffy clouds in the brilliant blue sky, if at all. With between 9-11 hours of sunlight a day, the long warm days are perfect for exploring the CBD area or heading a little further out of the city on one of the many day trips on offer.
If you’ve not been to Australia before, a word of note. The sun is quite strong here and the UV index is usually quite high. Even on cloudy days you’ll need to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide. Slip on a shirt, slap on some sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek some shade and slide on some wraparound sunnies.
READ | Our guide to what to pack for Australia in summer
Melbourne's excellent transport options
You may have heard of the dreaded Melbourne hook turn, but never fear. these babies only exist in the CBD. The roads in Melbourne are well signed, well maintained and easy to drive on. If you’re heading out of the city and would like some freedom, then hiring a car is the best way to go.
Keep in mind, that in keeping with our colonial past, we drive on the left, so make sure you’re confident before getting behind the wheel. The drink driving limit is 0.05 and police are a visible presence on the road checking both for speed and breathalysing drivers.
If hitting the road seems a bit overwhelming for you, Melbourne has an excellent train network that can get you around the city, suburbs and even further afield to the Mornington Peninsula and Geelong areas (great for the beach).
If you are only staying in the CBD, then you’ll be best catching a tram. A little like the Oyster card in London, Melbourne has an electronic ticketing system, called Myki. It costs $6 to buy the card and then you can top it up with credit. Cards can be bought from train stations and registered suppliers like newsagents (you’ll see a Myki sign on their window).
Trams can be a little tricky as you can alight the tram without a Myki card, but can’t purchase one on the tram. Make sure you’re prepared to avoid a fine.
READ | Take a day trip by train. Read our post on Puffing Billy Steam Railway.
In addition to all of the night market action, Melbourne is a great spot to head out after dark. Featuring funky laneways, pubs, bars and restaurants, there is never a shortage of things to do. Several moonlight cinemas operate over the summer months including the Moonlight Cinema in the Botanic Gardens.
During the tennis, why not head to the inner city suburb of Richmond, which is adjacent to Rod Laver Arena. The are comes alive during this period and is chock a bloc with, funky laneways, bars and pubs to enjoy a drink whilst watching the action.
Located by the beach, St Kilda is also a firm favourite. With a funky hipster vibe and beachside views, it wouldn’t be a summer without having at least one drink on a St Kilda rooftop bar.
If you’re a fan of the theatre, then why not head to the Botanic Gardens for a bit of Shakespeare? Pack a rug, drinks and a picnic and be swept away by the Melbourne theatre company as they play on an outdoor stage. Its an unmissable experience.
PLAN | Stay in a hotel close to the action. Read our post on why we love the Holiday Inn on Flinders Lane.
Melbourne's beautiful beaches
Located on Port Phillip Bay, the Melbourne CBD is just a short tram ride away from the beach. St Kilda Beach, a 15 minute tram ride from the city, is the closest beach to the CBD. You’ll find many tourists on this beach, however most Aussies head a little further out of the city.
South of the city lies the Mornington Peninsula. Everyone has their own special beach that they love the best but most Melburnians would head to Brighton beach or further south. If you’re looking for that iconic picture with the bathing boxes, then Brighton Beach is the one for you.
On the opposite side of the bay is the Bellerine Peninsula. With beaches from Williamstown onwards, the water is a little shallower and the waves a little flatter over this side of the bay.
Regardless of where you choose to swim, be aware that waters in Australia can be dangerous. On occassion there are shark sightings, but more often than not it is rips and unsafe surf conditions you need to be most cautious of.
Always swim at a patrolled beach. ensuring that you swim between the flags. We are lucky to have a large number of patrolled beaches and lifesavers in Victoria, so make the most of it and swim safely.
If you enjoy water sports, why not hire a SUP (stand up paddle board) or take a paddle boarding class? Body boards or ‘boogie boards’ as Aussies call them, can be cheaply purchased and are great fun to play in the waves.
If you prefer to stay on the beach, then you will enjoy the wide open expanses of sand and the ability to enjoy your own space. Unlike Europe, chairs and umbrellas aren’t for hire at the beachside, so come prepared. Most Aussies own a pop up beach tent, which is a great option for sheltering yourself from the sun.