Not as explosively impressive as big East Coast rival Sydney, Melbourne is a charmer. Spend a weekend there and you'll like it, spend a week and you'll fall in love with it.

Australia's second city, if you go on size alone, Melbourne sits on the south-east coast of the continent at the northern end of Port Philip bay. People will often tell you that Melbourne is more European than the Anglo-American fusion that characterises most Australian cities, and in truth it's an accurate description. The entire city has an effortless style that you find in continental European cities such as Milan or Paris - from its trams to the haute couture trappings of its citizens Melbourne exudes an air of intelligence and sophistication.

But you'd be wrong to think that the pace of life in Melbourne is in any way slow or relaxed. Its nightlife equals that of anywhere else in the country, it is the Australian capital of performing arts and the sheer range of entertainment on offer will keep you coming back for more. At no time is this more apparent than during the annual Fringe Festival, when international and local performers descend on the city turning the streets into an exuberant carnival of theatre, acrobatics and art.

Melbourne is also more than a match for anywhere with its surroundings. Victoria hides some of Australia's most beautiful scenery, drive the Great Ocean Road and you'll find some of the best limestone coastal scenery you'll see anywhere, or head for the serene natural beauty of the Yarra Valley and its vineyards. The city of some 3.7 million inhabitants is simply swallowed up in the surroundings and an hour's drive transports you a thousand miles away from urbanity.

The Golden Mile
Melbourne Museum
Old Melbourne Gaol
Queen Victoria Market
Shrine of Remembrance
Rialto Towers Observation Deck
Royal Botanic Gardens
Melbourne River Cruises
National Gallery of Victoria
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