Being a bit of a beach bum at heart, St. Kilda is my favourite place to stay when I am in Melbourne. It has a chilled-out holiday vibe that makes me feel like I’m a million miles away from the bustling city itself. With a culture all of it’s own, it’s easy to spend a few days there without ever needing to venture into the city. Here’s my list of what to do in St. Kilda, Melbourne.
How to get there
It’s super easy to make your way from Melbourne centre out to St. Kilda. If you plan on using public transport, the first thing you’ll need to do is get yourself a Myki card. These can be purchased at any Metro station, some tram stations, and over 800 retailers around Melbourne, including all 7-Eleven stores. The card itself costs $6 for an adult and you’ll need to top it up after. Just tap it on the machines getting on and off the bus or tram and your fare will automatically be deducted from your balance.
Once you have yourself set up with your Myki card, you can jump on the 246 bus at Victoria Parade and Hoddle Street going towards Elsternwick, and get off at Carlisle Street and Barkley Street. If, like me, you prefer the tram, the line 16 will take you from City Square and Swanston Street out to St. Kilda, where you also get off at Barkly Street and Carlisle Street.
Where to stay
On my most recent visit to St. Kilda, I opted to stay at Nomads Hostel on Grey Street. Part of the Nomads hostel chain, it boasts brand new pod beds, which is one of the top things I look for in a hostel.
The beds absolutely didn’t disappoint. They are super comfy with a privacy curtain, a reading light, power points and USB charging in each pod. They are also very sturdy and don’t shake whenever someone turns over in bed. So I had great quality sleep while I was there.
On the negative side, there were a few girls in my dorm who seemed to be there long-term and had started to treat the place like it was their own. There was stuff everywhere, which didn’t matter so much in the room itself as it was pretty big with lots of space. There was even a rail for hanging clothes and a little area with comfy seats and a table for relaxing. But the bathroom was cluttered and messy with nowhere to put my stuff.
Would I stay there again? Absolutely. The place is just minutes from the tram, and the security is great with front door locked at all times and a key card needed for access. There’s a really comfy TV room, a big common area with a bar and a kitchen, and they have activities organised every day.
Dorm beds start at around $37 a night and a private double or twin (with shared bathroom) will cost you just under $100.
Hang out at the beach
This one obviously speaks for itself. For a lazy or relaxing day, grab your bathing suit, your towel and some sunscreen (factor 50+, it’s deceptively hot), and head off to the famous St Kilda beach for the day. Watch the windsurfers and kitesurfers doing their thing and head for refreshments at one of the nearby bars or restaurants.
Check out the amazing street art
Melbourne generally is known for it’s street art, particularly the famous Hosier lane in the city itself. St Kilda is no exception and has plenty of impressive street art of it’s own.
Visit Luna Park
The iconic amusement park has been a feature at St Kilda beach for over 100 years and is still one of the most popular attractions with both children and adults. It doesn’t open every day though, so if you’re hoping to visit, check out the opening hours here first to avoid disappointment.
Eat lots of cake
If you find yourself craving a sugar fix while in St Kilda, have no fear. You have absolutely come to the right place. Head over to Acland Street where you will be spoilt for choice. Here you will find rows and rows of elaborate and mouth-watering cakes on display in every second window that you pass.
Go to a show at the Palais Theatre
Originally a cinema that opened in 1919 and was destroyed by a fire just 6 years later, the Palais re-opened in 1927 and is the biggest seated theatre in Australia. Check out what’s on here.
Visit the Brighton bathing boxes
This is absolutely my favourite thing that I did while I was in St. Kilda. My original plan was to jump on a bus or some other form of transport and head over to see the brightly coloured bathing huts that have become Instagram icons (who can resist an Instagram opportunity?).
A girl in my dorm suggested that I walk over instead. So I followed the coastal path all the way over to Brighton. It’s a pleasant 90-minute walk (each way), passing a couple of smaller beaches and some pretty cafes and restaurants where I stopped for sustenance. It’s not exactly the Bondi to Coogee walk but it is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
If you’re hoping to get photos of the boxes, uninterrupted by other tourists, I think you would need to get up VERY early. Remember, they’re Insta-famous so everyone wants a picture on the steps of one of these huts.
Watch a movie outdoors
This won’t be an option all year round, but I was very lucky that when I visited around Christmas, there was an outdoor movie theatre set up down by the beach. They were showing a different movie each night, mostly Christmas classics, and had different “seating” options that ranged from bringing your own blanket to renting a comfy bean lounger. A Christmas cinema experience with a difference, and certainly not one I get to experience often, given how unpredictable the weather is here in Ireland.
See the penguins at St Kilda pier
Sadly, this is the one “must-do” activity that I actually didn’t get to do (I had to make a choice between the penguins or Elf at the outdoor cinema). For tips on the best time to see the penguins, click here.