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Night view of Melbourne

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Expect to feel right at home on Melbourne holidays: this pearl on the southern coast of Australia has a distinctly European flavour and there are opportunities to enjoy some of the finest museums, restaurants, bars, shops and festivals in the entire southern hemisphere.

Why go?

Get a big slice of Australia with a side order of Europe during holidays in Melbourne...

This cultured and cosmopolitan city is frequently voted one of the best on the planet in which to live, so you'll find plenty to keep you entertained during your Australian break.

Distinctly different to Australia's other big cities - such as Sydney and Perth - Melbourne is a fascinating historic city with an eye on the future. The city's Victorian buildings rub shoulders with skyscrapers and striking modern architecture along the banks of the mighty Yarra River, which flows into Port Phillip Bay.

The state capital of Victoria, Melbourne is the nation's culture capital, with enough museums and music venues to shake a (drum) stick at. It's also home to beloved TV soap Neighbours, and tours of fictional cul-de-sac Ramsay Street run from here.

Melbourne holidays are for exploring and simply savouring the good life in this exciting city. Tour the distinct neighbourhoods, such as buzzing Fitzroy, with the bars and eateries of bohemian Brunswick Street. Then there's Little Italy in Carlton, and the beaches of seaside resort St Kilda, where Luna Park attracts thousands of visitors.

As well as a varied and lively nightlife scene, Melbourne also enjoys a packed sporting calendar and active pursuits are taken very seriously in this city Down Under.

The Melbourne Gold Cup is Australia's premier horseracing event and is held at Flemington Racecourse; the Australian Open draws tennis fans and the game's biggest names to Melbourne; the city hosts the Australian Grand Prix; Aussie Football League is a big deal here, too, with a number of big teams claiming Melbourne as home; while cricket at the MCG is a rite of passage for sports fans. It's no surprise that the Commonwealth Games were hosted here in 2006, and the Olympic Games in 1956.

In terms of sights, hop on one of Melbourne's iconic trams to explore what the city has to offer. Take a tour of Old Melbourne Gaol, where notorious bushranger Ned Kelly was hanged, or enjoy the peace of the lovely Fitzroy Gardens. Flinders Street Station is a beautiful building in the centre of the city, while Melbourne Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria will interest more mature travellers. The kids will love the penguins, sharks and rays that call Melbourne Aquarium home, and they'll also go nuts for Melbourne Zoo.

The 1880 Royal Exhibition Building, in Carlton Gardens, is another sight worth seeing, as are St Patrick's Cathedral and the Parliament of Victoria.

If you fancy a couple of days out of the city, you can reach the Great Ocean Road and explore the turns and views of one of the world's greatest drives.

Melbourne is packed with great hotels with enough choice to suit most budgets. Families, groups, and couples will all be welcomed into friendly Melbourne.

Find holidays to Melbourne with the help of TravelSupermarket. You can compare prices before booking your holiday by using the comparison tool.

When to go?

The city of Melbourne has plenty to offer, no matter what time of year you choose to visit...

Melbourne doesn't enjoy the same consistency in its weather as cities such as Sydney, and you can get four seasons in one day here. Summers are generally hot, and temperatures regularly push past 30C between the southern hemisphere summer months of December and February. Winters are mild, hovering at 12C, and rainfall is consistent and low throughout the year.

What's on?

This vibrant city always has something exciting on the go. Spend some of your holiday time mingling with the locals at these special events...

Australian Open; January: Book before you travel to get tickets to this major competition - one of four Grand Slam tennis events every year (others include Wimbledon).

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival; March: Sup delicious local wines and tuck into tasty dishes as the city celebrates its excellent culinary status during this annual event.

Rip Curl Pro; March: One of Australia's best surf spots, Bells Beach is just 90 minutes outside of Melbourne. The Rip Curl Pro brings together the best surfers in the world and the atmosphere is buzzing.

Melbourne International Arts Festival; October: One of the biggest multi-arts festivals in the world, this annual event presents a wide variety of artists across 17 days. You're sure to find something to suit your tastes.

Melbourne Gold Cup; November: Feel the thunder of hooves and get your bets on - plus your best race-day clobber - to enjoy the top fixture on Australia's horseracing calendar at Melbourne's Flemington Racecourse.

What to do?

Whatever you like doing, you're sure to find a generous helping of it here...

Grown-up families: If you've got the stomach for it, head for the Eureka Skydeck at night and look through the glass floor at Melbourne... 297m below you.

Romance: Take a hot air balloon ride over the city as the sun's shadows grow long over Melbourne. Champagne is almost compulsory.

Shopping: If you like shopping for unusual knick-knacks, head for the massive Queen Victoria Market, which locals call Vic Market. The friendly atmosphere here is infectious and you can pick up some lovely tourist souvenirs as well as day-to-day essentials.