6. Don’t… go shopping at Chadstone Mall

Chadstone (or Chaddy to locals) declares itself to be the “fashion capital” of Australia. With over 500 shops, this suburban multi-level shopping centre is the biggest in the southern hemisphere. But a busy afternoon here is likely to leave you with sore feet and shopping rage.

(But if you must go, it’s pronounced Chad-stuhn, not Chad-stone.)

Do… go shopping on the street

For boutique shopping, visit The Block and GPO arcades; head to Bridge Road and Swan Street in Richmond for bargain shopping; and to Brunswick Street in Fitzroy and Ackland Street in St. Kilda for arty and independent labels.

7. Don’t… watch an AFL match at the ‘G’

It may be considered a rite of passage to see an AFL game on the “hallowed turf” of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), and I almost didn’t include this for fear of being disowned by my family who are still reliving the Hawks 2008 Grand Final victory.

But hey, the footy isn’t for everyone, so don’t feel obliged. There are plenty of other sporting events to see while you’re here.

Do… check out Melbourne’s sporting calendar

Melbourne hosts a range of local and international sporting events throughout the year including the Australian Open, Australian Grand prix, and the Melbourne Cup. There are also regular state, national, and international netball competitions, making this sport one of the most popular in Victoria.

8. Don’t… visit the Melbourne Zoo or the Melbourne Aquarium

I love the renovated elephant enclosure at the zoo and can’t wait to visit baby Mali, Australia’s first artificially conceived elephant. But a ticket to the zoo will set you back $24.80, and a visit to the aquarium a whopping $32.50.

Both of these ‘must see’ venues continue to overcharge visitors and are regularly crowded with school groups.

Do… explore the city’s hidden laneways and arcades instead

Now, these are not the quaint cobblestone laneways other cities are renowned for. Heading out for my birthday one year, we trampled through rubbish and past two dumpsters and a mattress to finally find the Croft Institute.

But you’ll also find cafes, vintage shops, and many of Melbourne’s top bars here.

While you’re there, walk down Hosier Lane and check out the Citylights Projects, displaying local and international graffiti.

9. Don’t… spend all of your time in the CBD

The Central Business District (CBD) is worth at least a few days of exploration. The Ian Potter Centre and the Australia Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) are excellent rainy-day activities located in Federation Square (known locally as Fed Square).

You can also find free events in the CBD through that’s Melbourne, but keep in mind, there’s so much more to Melbourne than this.

Do… explore the inner-city suburbs

You could spend a Saturday rollerblading along the Esplanade in St. Kilda (local craft market every Sunday) or have dinner at the Vegie Bar in Fitzroy followed by drinks and jazz at the Night Cat.

For a lazy Sunday in Melbourne, I like rummaging through secondhand pieces at the Camberwell market and having brunch on Richmond’s Bridge Road.

For day trips out of the city, go wine tasting in the Yarra Valley or take a road trip along the Great Ocean Road.

10. Don’t… buy your coffee from a chain store

Gloria Jeans, Starbucks, and Hudson’s coffee chains are snubbed by Melbourne’s coffee drinkers. We like to be on a first-name basis with our baristas.

Do… try a flat white and explore Melbourne’s cafe culture

The origins of the flat white (a single shot espresso, topped up with hot ‘flat’ milk) are widely debated, but Melbourne makes some of the best. Jump on the number 8 tram and head north to Lygon Street in Carlton.

Or if the strong westerly winds rip through the city, grab a copy of the Big Issue ($5 with half going directly to the vendor) and pop into a cafe on Degraves Street. Here you can find yourself a window seat and people-watch over your coffee like a local.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION

For a different perspective, check out this video at MatadorTV: Hot Air Ballooning Over Melbourne and the Yarra Valley.

Matador Community member — and Melburnian — amorris lists her 5 Favourite Places to Eat in Melbourne on a Budget.