Melbourne is best known as the coffee capital of Australia and the home of the flat white. But even if you’re not a coffee drinker, Australia’s second-largest city has so much more to offer: a thriving café culture, an innovative dining scene, and diverse arts and cultural offerings that have also earned the city a reputation as the country’s arts capital.
Outside the city, the state of Victoria is also known for its many wineries, ski resorts in the beautiful alpine region, and the famous Great Ocean Road — one of the country’s most scenic coastal drives.
We recommend you rent a car if you’re planning to explore Melbourne’s outskirts, but within the city, Melbourne has one of the country’s best public transport systems and you can save a few days on car rental.
Google Maps shows most of the general public transport information you’d need to get around Melbourne. However, if you want more detailed routes and guidance, try:
Citymapper. It’s extremely comprehensive and you can use it on both desktop and their mobile app.
The PTV app (Public Transport Victoria) to see the routes of trams/trains/buses and get real-time updates.
Rideshare apps such as Uber, Ola and Didi are also handy in case you decide on a private hire car instead!
On arrival: take the SkyBus to the city
Once you’ve landed and collected your bags at Melbourne Tullamarine airport, you’ll want to head for the SkyBus. SkyBus stands are located just outside the terminals, along with a ticket counter and machine.
You can buy a single trip or return ticket at the ticket counter — it costs A$19.75 for a single trip, or A$36.50 for a return trip. Or, you can buy online via Klook for A$14.50/A$26.45 (~30% off!) There is no specific date tied to the tickets and they are valid for three months from the date of purchase.
SkyBus offers 6 different services from the airport to:
Fun fact: with over 250km of track, the Melbourne tramway is the largest urban tramway network in the world! It’s also super efficient, with some tram lines running round the clock on Fridays and Saturdays.
As a tourist, you’ll likely be staying in the city center, or Melbourne CBD (Central Business District). While accommodation here is more expensive, public transport by tram is completely free. Really. Melbourne has a designated free tram zone (PDF map) that covers attractions such as Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne’s famous laneways covered in street art, Old Melbourne Gaol, and more.
However, once you travel out of the free tram zone to popular suburbs like St Kilda for the beach, South Yarra, Fitzroy, Richmond, Collingwood, you have to pay for your ride. For that you’ll need to get a myki card, the stored value transport card that can be used on all modes of public transport.
You can purchase a myki from ticket machines at all Metro railway stations, 7-Eleven stores, at more than 800 retailers across Melbourne, or even online. An adult myki costs A$30 and contains A$24 stored value (the card costs $6).
To use the trams, simply hail one at a tram stop with an outstretched arm (like you’d hail the bus). “Touch on” your myki at the tram’s card reader when boarding at any door. You should see a green light and hear a beep.
Melbourne trams do not stop at every stop. If you want to alight at the next stop, make sure to pull the stop cord or press the stop button! There’s no need to “touch off” when alighting.
Melbourne tram transport costs
Outside of the free tram zone, Melbourne’s transport fares can be quite pricey.
Within a 2-hour time frame, one ride in Zone 1 and 2 costs $4.50 — but the maximum that you can be charged in a day is $9.00 (two rides).
On weekends and public holidays, one trip costs A$3.25 and the daily fare is capped at A$6.50.
Most travelers won’t travel beyond Zone 2, so you don’t need to worry about it.
If you are staying in Melbourne for 7 days, you may consider getting the Myki Pass for $45.00. The pass is valid only for 7 consecutive days or between 28 and 365 days.
Getting around Melbourne: taking the train
Trains are the best way for travelling further out from the city. Note there are two main types of trains: 1) Metro metropolitan train network and 2) V/Line regional train network.
Melbourne’s metropolitan train network comprises 15 lines that serve the suburbs around the city. All metropolitan train lines lead out from the city centre at the extremely busy Flinders Street Railway Station, one of Melbourne’s most iconic landmarks.
A single ride within 2 hours costs the same as the tram ($4.50).
The V/Line regional train and coach network connects you to regional Victoria from Southern Cross station. You can take the train to popular Victorian cities such as gold mining towns Ballarat and Bendigo, the spa town of Daylesford or even coastal Aireys Inlet which lies along the Great Ocean Road. Ticket prices are dependent on your destination.
Getting around Melbourne: taking the bus
Buses are usually the least crowded public transport, so if you have time to spare and just want to take your time to explore slowly, the bus is the way to go.
Melbourne public transport etiquette & safety
When using public transport in Melbourne, take note of the following:
When using escalators, stand on the left and move on the right.
Peak hours (~7-9am, 5-7pm) can be really crowded on trams and trains. Be considerate and move in and away from doors when you board.
Priority seats on trams are usually covered in orange fabric and are near doors. On trains, there are stickers that indicate the priority seats.
Pro tip: If you have remaining value left on your Myki card before you depart, you can visit the PTV Hub at Southern Cross Station (7:30am-6:30pm on weekdays; 9am-6pm on weekends and public holidays) to get a refund on the spot. Note that refunds can’t be processed for <$5 or >$50, and make sure to bring your passport for identification.