Melbourne: Local Travel Info
Australia's multicultural hub
Internal Flights and Major International Airports in Melbourne
Melbourne Airport, located 22 km north-west of the city centre adjacent to the suburb of Tullamarine, provides regular access from all major Australian cities, as well as many international destinations across Europe, America, Asia and the South Pacific region. Due to Australia's isolation, many international flights go via an Asian hub (for example Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong), a Pacific Hub like Auckland, and/or transfer in Sydney. For shorter internal flights, Avalon Airport, about 60km southwest of Melbourne towards Geelong, is also on hand to provide daily domestic links to Australia’s other territories.
Getting to and from the Airport in Melbourne
Melbourne is served by two airports, Melbourne Airport (International and Domestic) 22km north of the city centre, and Avalon Airport (Domestic), about 60km southwest of Melbourne towards Geelong. Located 22 km northwest of the central business district and easily reached from the city via the Tullamarine Freeway. All arrivals are on the lower level of the terminals, with departures from the upper level. Unlike many airports around the world, all the terminals at Melbourne Airport are connected and within easy walking distance of each other. However, each terminal has separate security screening, and access between terminals is not available once in the sterile area.
Taxis between Melbourne Airp and the city centre cost around $40-$45 and take about 25 minutes in clear traffic. Skybus also runs a 24/7 shuttle to and from the Southern Cross Station Coach Terminal on Spencer Street at the west end of the Central Business District, just north of Lonsdale Street. The trip takes 20 minutes and is the fastest way between the airport and city by road (it uses an enhanced freeway route with bus lanes). It costs $16 adult one-way, $24 adult return, $5 child one-way (between 4 and 14 years of age). There are also several family ticket options available. There are two airport pickup locations. One is outside the Virgin Blue/REX terminal (T3), 50m from the international terminal (T2). The other is outside the Qantas/Jetstar domestic terminal (T1). There are ticket desks at both T1 and T3, and if unattended, tickets can be purchased electronically or from the driver. Book hotel pick-up 3 hours ahead. Bookings are not needed for travel from the airport to hotels. It is worth noting that the Skybus will drop you at Southern Cross bus terminal, which is connected to Southern Cross train station, where you can board all suburban trains and country/interstate trains. Avalon Airport, (AVV), is situated in the Geelong outer suburb of Lara. The airport is located 55 km to the south-west of Melbourne, and is considerably further from Melbourne CBD than the Melbourne airport at Tullamarine. It is a very basic terminal facility, but it has an ATM and a food outlet, as well as hire car facilities. Avalon Airport is serviced by Qantas subsidiary low-cost airline Jetstar from Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. All Jetstar flights from Sydney arrive at Avalon.
Options to get to the Melbourne CBD include : A taxi from the airport to Melbourne CBD will cost up to $100. SITA coaches operate a coach shuttle service to Melbourne's Southern Cross Station at $20 per adult and $10 per child one way. The buses meet every Jetstar arrival. An additional $7 per person charge is made for a transfer to city hotels. Only cash is accepted, not credit cards. Lara station is around 8km from the terminal. Trains from there to Southern Cross station in Melbourne CBD run hourly, and cost $5.60. Children 17 years and under are half price. During off-peak times up to two children travel free with every adult. You will need to get a taxi to Lara station, as there is no public transport connection. A taxi should cost around $15, so there is no cost or time benefit for a single adult of the train over the shuttle. The road connections are good. Hiring a car for a couple of days will usually be cheaper than a taxi, as long as you have somewhere to park it. It is about 50 minutes drive to the Melbourne CBD. Can take longer in the morning peak, or on Sunday afternoons.
Travel Costs in Melbourne
Melbourne's efficient public transport system, known as The Met, is an integrated service utilising trams, trains and buses, with standard fares. The best way to see the city and central suburbs is by tram, a fast, cheap and convenient system that is one of the largest and oldest in the world. City Circle trams, which provide a commentary, are a very convenient way to tour the city centre, providing a free round trip service that takes in many of the city's main attractions. The suburban train network is extensive and is the fastest way to reach outlying suburbs, and also has an underground city loop. uses cover the areas that trams and trains don't reach, as well as those they do, but are little used by visitors; on weekends there is a limited night bus service. Taxis, highly visible in bright yellow, are numerous but expensive. Car hire companies are available throughout the city, but if driving in the city beware of the unusual hook turn where drivers must get into the far left hand lane in order to turn right and vice versa. Taxis are numerous alas expensive, car-rental operators range from the usual international and nationally familiar names to the rent-a-bomb variety. Melbourne's public transport system regularly experiences delayed and cancelled services, especially during peak hour. The free City Circle trams run around the CBD perimeter, covering Flinders St, Spring St, Nicholson St, Victoria St, La Trobe St and Harbour Esplanade. It is an older style tram, easily recognisable by its maroon colour. The tram stops along the route are sign posted with City Circle. Several of the trams on this service are equipped with recorded commentary about attractions passed. Tourist information is often available on board either from brochures or from a city guide person. These trams are geared to visitors and provide access to sites of interest to the tourist. They are a great introduction to central Melbourne and a free way to have a tram experience. The free Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle bus service stops at key tourist destinations in and around the city. The buses run at 15 minute intervals between 9:30AM and 4:30PM every day. A complete circuit takes 45 minutes, and there is onboard commentary.
Renting Cars in Melbourne
Car hire in Melbourne is easily arranged and, due to large amounts of competing companies, very good value. Visitors must hold a valid driving licence with no infringements for dangerous or drunken driving in the last 5 years. You must be aged 18 or over to rent a car in Melbourne. For Car Hire in Melbourne expect to pay approx $25-40 per day but do watch out for bargains and shop around.
To book car rental in Melbourne online, view our Car Hire section for Melbourne . We offer Ok Alpha users the latest special offers and best rates available for car hire in Melbourne . We advise you book your Melbourne hire car in advance so you can pick it up and drop it off directly at the airport.
Drivers License Requirements in Melbourne
Visitors wishing to drive must possess a Certificate of Insurance or an International Green Card, a valid Driving Licence or International Driving Permit.
Driving Rules in Melbourne
Normally, a driver would have to be in the right-most lane of a multilane street in order to legally perform a right turn. When a hook turn is indicated by a sign "Right turn from left only", the driver must go as far as practicable into the intersection, staying on the left. When the light of the street you are turning into turns green, you complete the turn. Lots of Melbournians are confused about this, but you should not complete the turn until you get a green light on the street you are turning into. The point of hook turns is to keep all turning cars away from the tram tracks, as it is an offence to delay a tram by trying to turn right across traffic. Check out CityLink's site for details of Melbourne's T-shaped tollway which links the Westgate, Tullamarine and Monash (formerly South-Eastern) freeways. It is a fully electronic road with no manual toll gates. You can buy a day pass in advance, or within 3 days of having driven down it, giving your registration and car details. You can do this by phone, internet, or at some Shell petrol stations. The registered owner of the car will get a fine in the mail if you do not buy a pass within 3 days. The tolled sections are indicated with blue and yellow signs, rather than the standard green and white. CityLink can cut a worthwhile amount of time from your journey, especially if you are driving from, say, the south-eastern suburbs to Melbourne Airport. Motorcycles are free, cars are around $11/day. Larger vehicles cost more.
Buses in Melbourne
Melbourne Bus Service is quite good and operates on the same routes as trams, as well as other locations that cannot be reached by trains or trams. The only drawback with buses is that they generally take longer and often get caught up in traffic jams. There is an extensive bus network in Melbourne, which is operated by a number of privately owned bus companies. Melbourne Bus Service generally connects suburbs that are far away from rail lines, act as connecters to railway stations, allow cross-suburban travel and provide late night transport on Friday and Saturday nights. Buses normally run between 7 am to 7 pm from Monday to Friday and 8 am to 6 pm on Saturdays, although the State Government is trying to extend the network so that they can operate until 9 pm, seven days a week.
As part of the Melbourne Bus Service network, NightRider Buses run on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday mornings to provide a late night public transport service between the city center of Melbourne and suburban areas. Another way to tour Melbourne is by availing the Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle, which offers free rides to tourists wanting to visit Melbourne's tourist attractions. Tour shuttles operate between 10 am and 4 pm everyday and takes around 50 minutes to go around the key tourist attractions of Melbourne. It also offers an on-board commentary that helps one gather information about these various places. Another important feature of Melbourne Bus Service is the SmartBus, which was an initiative by the former Kennett government. SmartBus services usually run every 15 minutes on weekdays, 30 minutes during evenings and every 20 to 40 minutes on weekends. Getting around Melbourne is fairly easy and can mostly be done on foot. A unique way to travel is to avail the trams. However, a safe, easy and quite comfortable way to get around in Melbourne is to use the Melbourne Bus Service.
For those going further afield, the long-distance bus terminal in the city centre is at the Southern Cross Railway Station. Skybus airport buses also operate from here. Greyhound and Premier daily services to/from Sydney ($74, 13 hours), stopping at towns along the way. Firefly also services Melbourne.
Taxis in Melbourne
A crackdown on inefficient operators and the introduction of stringent training requirements have led to a huge improvement in taxi service. Fares are metered, with a surcharge in effect midnight-6 am. There is also an extra charge if you travel on the CityLink toll road. Credit cards are often accepted by drivers, but you'll pay an extra 10% for the convenience. Most companies operate 24 hours. Cabs can be hailed on the street, picked up at designated points or ordered by phone.
Cycling in Melbourne
Melbourne has an excellent network of bike paths, plus a generally flat terrain, making pedal-power a great way to take in the city. Most paths are "shared footways" under the law, although the majority of users in most places are cyclists. This means cyclists should expect to share the path with pedestrians, dog-walkers, rollerbladers, joggers, prams and tricycles. Some trails contain on-road sections (in marked bike lanes). It is legal to cycle on footpaths only when supervising cycling children or when the path is marked or signposted as allowing bikes. Helmets are required by law, and care should be taken when cycling near slippery tram tracks. The main paths of interest to travellers are: The Yarra River Trail runs from the mouth of Melbourne's iconic Yarra River, through the city and onwards to Westerfolds Park in the outer suburbs. The Capital City Trail runs a circuit through Melbourne's inner suburbs, the Docklands precinct and the city. It's a good way to see a slice of day-to-day life. The Bay Trail is a pleasant trek around Port Phillip Bay, running from Port Melbourne, through the bustling beachside precinct of St Kilda, past the famous bathing sheds of Brighton, all the way to Carrum. A punt operates under the West Gate Bridge on weekends and public holidays allowing a start at Altona Meadows along the Williamstown Trail, across the punt, and joining with the Bay Trail. There is no cyclist access permitted to the West Gate Bridge. Detailed maps of the bike path network can be found online. Bikes can be hired from Hire-a-Bike near Federation Square
Water Transport in Melbourne
The Spirit of Tasmania sails between Melbourne and Tasmania at 8pm nightly year-round, departing from Port Melbourne’s Station Pier and the Esplanade in Devonport – both arrive at around 7am. Melbourne lies on the famous Yarra River and Melbourne Water Taxi Service plies on this river, all 7 days of the week. A unique means of touring Melbourne, this service provides pick up and drops at destinations like Fenix Restaurant, Richmond; Angler's Tavern, Maribyrnong and even Williamstown, as long as there is a jetty for landing.
Melbourne Water Taxi Service offers facilities for sightseeing and touring Melbourne and can accommodate up to 12 people at a time. Just like normal taxis, these water taxis need to be booked beforehand. This unique mode of transport can be utilized as point-to-point transport by people or for more leisurely touring by individuals or small groups. A fun, fast, though expensive, way to move around in Melbourne is by utilising the Melbourne Water Taxi Service.
Hitchhiking in Melbourne
Although hitchhiking is a popular method of transport for travellers in Australia, the potential dangers are huge and cases of violence and abduction not unheard of so it is not a recommended form of travel.