Melbourne City Guide
There’s a lot to love about Melbourne. With famous laneways decorated in street art, to intersecting high-end avenues lined with boutiques. The buzzing bar scene offers an array of nightcaps to finish off a hard day’s work. There’s a feeling of opportunity, a place where Australians from all walks of life can flourish.
Melbourne, Australia’s most cultural city, is fast becoming the nation’s business hub. The Australian Bureau of Statistics data suggests Melbourne is set to overtake rival Sydney as the country’s most populated city by 2030. With a population 4.7 million strong, this makes Melbourne a more attractive market to settle into. You’ll have access to the best talent, with a sizeable market to scale your business. Best of all? Melbourne fosters a forward-thinking business culture, with many innovative start-ups calling this city home.
Whether you’re thinking of expanding to Melbourne, or are visiting for meetings, this is the guide to read. We’ve prepared all the necessary ingredients to make sure your Melbourne business trip goes off without a hitch.
Arriving at Melbourne’s Airports
The first thing you’ll need to do is navigate Melbourne’s airports (unless a cross-country road trip is more your style). Depending on your airline, you’ll land at either Tullamarine or Avalon airport. No matter which one it is, here’s a few things you should know so you can touch down on the runway and get straight to business.
Melbourne Tullamarine Airport
Whether you're flying interstate or travelling from overseas, chances are you'll pass through Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport. Tullamarine services all of Melbourne's international flights and most domestic flights. It is the country’s second busiest airport (behind Sydney).
There are four terminals at Tullamarine Airport:
- T1 hosts Qantas domestic passengers
- T2 is the international hub
- T3 is for Virgin domestic travellers
- T4 is for all other airlines.
Note: T4 has a separate departure drive to T1-3.
Check out the layout and plan your trip with maps of Tullamarine Airport.
Getting into the City
Tullamarine is 23km north-west of Melbourne's city centre, with plenty of ways to get to the CBD and beyond. Choose from public bus routes and direct shuttle services to door-to-door chauffeurs and even helicopter rides. How you get to and from the city depends on your budget and preference.
Taxi and Rideshare
If you have a lot of luggage or want some quiet time to send emails, a taxi or Uber might be the way to go. A trip to the CBD will cost you anywhere between $60 and $80 and take around 40 minutes if you miss peak-hour traffic. Taxi ranks are outside of T1, T2, and T3 baggage claims on ground level and T4 taxi rank is across the road on level 1 of the T4 transport centre.
Private Car Bookings
Tullamarine’s crowds are challenging, let alone braving them at the taxi ranks. The best way to get into the city is by private transfer. Many companies offer door-to-door transfers from the airport to the CBD. GPU has affordable private cars, roughly $59 fixed-price one-way to the CBD. Tell them your flight number and they’ll text you their registration number on the day.
Note: there are no service desks at the airport. Book your private car online or with your dedicated travel manager before your flight.
One of the most convenient and cost-effective ways to get into the CBD is by taking the 24/7 Skybus. Services run direct from the airport to Melbourne CBD, St Kilda, South Bank Docklands, Frankston, and the Western Suburbs. No matter where you're heading, the Skybus departs every 10 minutes (except between 1am and 4am). Tickets can be purchased at the airport or pre-purchased online and will cost ~$20 one-way. Prices are fixed so you can factor this into your trip budget easily.
Heading outside of the city for your business trip? Or looking to end your stay with a drive down Great Ocean Road or Yarra Valley? Car hire is available on the ground level of the 'AT Terminal 123' car park. Here you'll find car rental companies like Hertz, Avis, and more. If you need a hire car for your trip, talk to a dedicated travel manager about our SmartDrive options.
Melbourne Avalon Airport
If you're flying Jetstar or Tiger Airways, you may pass through Avalon Airport. A little further away than Tullamarine, Avalon is closer to neighbouring Geelong. It’s about 50km south-west of Melbourne’s CBD. With this in mind, the Skybus might be the best option. Catch the Skybus, which departs from the airport into the city every half an hour. Otherwise, you can opt for a cab ride, which costs around $120-$150 – Uber estimates $90-120. Find your way around with a map of Avalon Airport.
Getting around Melbourne
Maps of Melbourne
If you’re a fan of AFL, you may be familiar with some of Melbourne’s inner-city suburbs. There’s Carlton to the north; East Melbourne in the, you guessed it, east; Docklands to the west; and aptly named South Bank and South Wharf nestled against the Yarra River to the south. All in walking distance from the CBD, with Melbourne’s excellent public transport connecting each corner of the city. Despite Melbourne’s size, the CBD is fairly simple to navigate thanks to its logical grid layout. You’ve got lots of options for maps, and the Corporate Traveller mobile app provides maps, weather and city safe information on your destination.
Melbourne's Public Transport
There's always an involuntary eye-roll when someone suggests taking public transport. And, yes, most of the time it's justified. But the usual public transport woes aren't as apparent in the 2nd* most liveable city in the world (*thanks, Vienna). Melbourne has a well-connected transport system, making it a reliable choice if you need to dash between meetings. With regular trains, buses, and Melbourne's iconic trams at your beck and call, getting to your next meeting will be a cinch!
If in doubt, you can check Public Transport Victoria's journey planner to get the most up-to-date details.
The Myki Card
Myki is your gateway to Melbourne's public transport network. It's a tap-on, tap-off smartcard that you preload with funds. Purchase a Myki card at the airport, or at participating retailers, including all 7/11 stores and sign-marked newsagencies. Find out more at the Myki card website.
Free Tram Zone
Melbourne's free tram zone will allow you to zip place to place in the centre of town, completely free of charge. The free tram zone extends from the Docklands in the west, Flinders Street Station to the South, the Queen Victoria Markets in the North, Parliament House to the East, and anywhere in between. Please note: if you plan to cross the designated free-zone borders you will need to tap your Myki card.
Best Melbourne Hotels for Business
Never underestimate the power of a good sleep. Especially if a potential business deal awaits you the next day. From opulent suites that impress the harshest of critics to the more modest accommodation with the essentials. Here are three of our favourite Melbourne Hotels for business travel.
Grand Hyatt Melbourne
Looking to escape the day-to-day stress of your business trip? Look no further than the luxurious Grand Hyatt Melbourne. This 5-star Melbourne icon is right in the city centre. It’s the perfect base if you're meeting with clients by day, and want to explore the main sites by night. With comfortable beds, thick walls and curtains (to reduce noise and light) you'll be well-rested for your meetings. And of course, it has all the amenities you would expect from a 5-star hotel chain.
Melbourne Marriott Hotel
If you don't have the 5-star budget but want the next best thing, check out the Melbourne Marriott Hotel. Also in the heart of Melbourne, the 4-star Marriott Hotel still leaves an undeniable feeling of luxury to all who visit. With a gym, pool, and fine dining options, you can unwind and reset without wearing out the corporate card.
Melbourne Parkview Hotel
Looking to tone down the luxury on your business trip? The Melbourne Parkview Hotel ticks all the business travel boxes without breaking the bank. The 3.5-star hotel offers simple, yet tasteful rooms, equipped with WiFi, a large office desk, and comfortable beds. They even have a rooftop pool and gym overlooking many of the surrounding parks.
Want to get the best value for money for Melbourne accommodation? Take a look at our SMARTStay options for our clients.
Melbourne Coworking Spaces
Melbourne's quirky cafes are second to none. Though you may find sitting in a crowded place with someone shouting coffee orders isn't the best place to do business. Luckily, Melbourne is dotted with co-working offices. Here's a guide to four of our favourites.
Longing to be in nature? 'Habitat' is as close as you'll get without heading into the Yarra Ranges. This plant-filled coworking space is located in Fitzroy North's famous 'Pink Building'. With free street parking and a boardroom for members, hosting clients will be a breeze. There's just one caveat: Habitat does not have 'hot desks'. Instead, enquire about their 1-month memberships.
Black Canvas Coworking
Black Canvas Coworking is right across from Luna Park in St Kilda Beach. More than its location, Black Canvas is known for its distinct community vibe. You'll get tips from local freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. If you're in and out of the office, choose from their flexible memberships. Looking to knuckle-down all week? Full-time is the way to go.
Hub - Southern Cross Station
Looking for a co-working office in the CBD? Hub's Southern Cross office ticks all the boxes. With over 600 members, Hub is one of Melbourne's biggest coworking spaces. It’s a great place for networking, but void of the small, communal office feeling. For some downtime, try their in-house exercise studio or cafe. Hub also has offices in Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide if you frequently travel Australia for work.
Exchange Workspaces - Richmond
For a relaxed vibe, try Exchange in Richmond. Its medium size office has flexible memberships starting from 12 days. Here you can bounce between hot desks and even beanbags. Oh, and love dogs? Exchange is 100% pup-friendly.
Best Melbourne Restaurants and Bars for Business
Fun fact: Melbourne has more restaurants per capita than anywhere in the world. With their strong dedication to food, wowing clients has never been so easy! If you’re feeling overwhelmed by choice, here are a few of our favourite Melbourne restaurants for business.
The French Brasserie
Dining to impress? Look no further than the French Brasserie. From express lunches to decadent five-course meals, escargot to fresh-caught mussels. Their French cuisine is the best in Melbourne. With open spaces and intimate seating, it's the perfect place to chat business. After your meal, head out to the terrace for a glass of wine.
Not all high-end restaurants have that pretentious vibe. Rosa's Canteen offers authentic Italian, perfect for a business lunch. Served by Nonna Rosa, feel welcomed by their friendly service. And what would an Italian lunch be without a glass of wine? Ask their staff for their recommendations.
And then there’s the true-blue Aussie option. Here you’ll recognise every item on the menu but still experience fine-dining. ‘Rare’ sources Australia’s finest beef, cooked to perfection. Best of all, there are three franchises in the CBD. Whether you’re uptown, downtown, or in between, you’re a short walk away from a Rare Steakhouse.
The Crafty Squire
If you’re looking for something more casual, try out The Crafty Squire Brewery for a casual lunch and a great beer. A great place for social client entertainment or casual Friday beers to celebrate any successes. It’s in the heart of the CBD and a short walk from the Yarra if you want to go for a stroll after.
Looking for a bit more fun? Cookie is beer hall, eating house and disco in Melbourne’s CBD. With Asian cuisine and amazing cocktails, in a large open space it is great for Christmas parties or team celebrations. They have a main menu, bar menu and banquet menu so you have plenty to choose from.
For something a little more luxe, the bar 1806 has a strong focus on classy cocktails and a lush décor. With whiskey experiences and other events this could be the ideal place for some client relationship building if you need to impress and make them feel fancy. It has a strong vintage feel with wood grains, red velvets and leather.
Best Laneways in Melbourne – make the most of your trip
Melbourne has some of the coolest laneways in the country. Whether you’re looking for bars, art or a litle bit of history, Melbourne is set to deliver. There are tons of laneways to visit and we’ve picked a few to pop at the top of your list. You can find out about all the city laneways at Visit Victoria’s website.
Hosier Lane is home to some of Melbourne’s greatest street art and is responsible for putting them on the map on the world stage. This is a great place to stroll down, coffee in hand and ready to dive in front of a wall for your latest Instagram pic. It can get quite busy with tourists and locals wanting to create great social media content with an iconic part of Melbourne.
Looking for something a little quieter? You’ll find Somerset Place behind one of Melbourne’s busiest streets and adorned with an eclectic mix of shops. From science fiction fan clubs to book shops and hairdressers, you could spend hours here. Have a beer overlooking the busy Elizabeth Street or nestle down with a coffee, WiFi and a good book.
Feeling foodie? Market Lane is not far from Chinatown and home to a variety of cuisines. Whether you’re up for dumplings, Cantonese or Bavarian beer, you won’t walk out of there hungry. Experience all that this multi-cultural location has to offer but we suggest giving yourself a few hours to sample the delights. Oh and make sure your clothes aren’t tight around the middle, you’ll want to eat everything!
Plan for success
A Melbourne business trip's about planning, knowing where to go, and a good attitude. If you don't walk away feeling inspired, you just didn't do it right. Plan your trip the right way and get in touch with a dedicated travel manager.