Melbourne is known for its great coffees – heck, they even invented the flat white. And with quality coffee comes a vibrant café culture. The city is teeming with them and you're almost always guaranteed a good cup of joe. For those of you who've tried the big names like Market Lane and Patricia Brewers, hole-in-the-wall joints like Bar Americano, Cathedral Coffee and Chuckle Park Bar are just around the corner for that midday perk-me-up.
It's a concept that might take some time getting used to – cold weather in June, which also means a Christmas-sy vibe six months early. Queen Victoria Market kicks off its Winter Night Market from June 5 to August 28 where opening hours are extended till 10pm. You can enjoy hot street food, music in the streets by talented street buskers and spice mulled wine to keep your fingers warm. The Night Market also celebrates Christmas in July, where kids and adults don their ugly jumpers proudly and dance in the 'snow' (thanks to a snow-making machine).
It doesn't actually snow in the city, but if you're not heading out to cooler climes, the city's famous light and projection festival makes for a great alternative. White Night Melbourne Re-imagined happens from August 22 to 24 where light installations take over the buildings in the city.
A winter experience also isn't complete without a cup of hot chocolate and Australia's first festival dedicated to the thick molten beverage is happening all through August. Pick up your cup at Yarra Valley, Great Ocean Road and the Mornington Peninsula Chocolaterie and Ice-Creamery. The Hot Chocolate Festival sees 31 different flavours rotating from August 1 to 31 and you can sample them at various tasting sessions.
Melbourne’s commitment to the arts is unrivalled. Home to more than 100 art galleries including large public galleries like the National Gallery of Victoria – who are planning to build the largest contemporary art gallery in Australia by 2025, smaller independent ones and artist-run spaces, the city is teeming with art – including the streets. Snap some pics for the 'gram at Hosier Lane, Centre Place and AC/DC lane where the art celebrates famous musicians from around the world.
Take a break from the city and go on a road trip out of town. Soak in the amazing views (and sea breeze) of the Great Ocean Road, stopping by the famous 12 apostles rock formation. Reach new heights with a trek in The Grampians, a national park known for its striking sandstone mountain ranges and one of the richest indigenous rock art sites. Or rent a car and drive out to Gippsland, where you can explore Wilson Promontory. Highlights of the national park include its granite mountains, wildlife (yup, including kangaroos and wombats), the white quartz sand beach and killer views all around.
Choose your adventure: brave the snow or explore the forest? Whichever trip out of the city you embark on, you're in for an exhilarating experience. Escape into the mountains and enjoy a weekend of skiing, sled rides, snowboarding and tumbling in the snow at one of Victoria’s snowfields, Mount Buller, Falls Creek or Mount Hotham. Ski season starts from June 8 till the end of September or as long as the snow lasts.
If lush greenery is more of your scene, set foot in one of the temperate rainforests in Victoria like the Otways National Park on the famous Great Ocean Road. On the trail, you'll cover rugged coastlines, mountains of the Otway Ranges and a couple of waterfalls in the park.
No matter when you visit Melbourne in the year, there's bound to be a festival happening. Whether it's comedy, film, music, literature, coffee, food, flower shows, wine and even farms, there's a festival celebrating the best of the local scene. Take note, summer in Australia happens towards the end of the year and it is also when a lot of the major outdoor festivals happen. Some to keep an eye on are Open House Melbourne (July 27-28), Melbourne International Film Festival (August 1-18), Melbourne International Arts Festival (October 2-20) and Laneway (early February).
Forget Broadway in New York or London's West End – Melbourne has a thriving performing arts scene (along with a lot of historical theatres). Many productions make their international debut in Melbourne, including the critically acclaimed Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Potterheads: the play is worth a trip on its own. It's presented in two parts – intended to be seen in order on the same day, or on two consecutive evenings. Most of the tickets are already sold out but new seats are available for performances till March 22, 2020. Start booking them early, along with your flight tickets.
The journey down to Melbourne takes about seven hours and Singapore Airlines flies to the city 32 times weekly (that's about four times a day). With spacious seats and in-flight entertainment system KrisWorld – which has more than 1,800 on-demand entertainment options – the flight is a breeze. Singapore Airlines is currently running a promotional fare to Melbourne and round-trip ticket starts from $618. Promotion ends May 31, 2019. Book a trip today and discover a different side to Australia.