Where to stay in Melbourne for first time: 7 Safe areas

I currently reside in a peaceful residential suburb in North Melbourne, but I have lived in various neighborhoods, including the CBD, for study and work. In today’s article, I will help you to find the safest places to stay in Melbourne for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Melbourne for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I first stayed in Melbourne and recommend some of the best hotels in Melbourne for all budgets.

Melbourne is the capital city of the state of Victoria and is the second-most populous city in Australia, after Sydney. It is known for its multicultural atmosphere and is home to a vibrant arts and food scene.

The city is known for experiencing four seasons in one day, where weather conditions can change rapidly. It has an extensive public transportation system, including trains, trams, and buses, making it easy to navigate.

Some of the must see attractions in Melbourne are Federation Square, Royal Botanic Gardens, National Gallery of Victoria, and Eureka Tower.

Melbourne hosts major sporting events such as the Australian Open (tennis), Melbourne Cup (horse racing), and is home to iconic sports venues like the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Is Melbourne safe to visit?

Yes, Melbourne is one of the safest cities in the world with a low risk for pickpockets and tourist scams. It is generally safe at night, but it’s always essential to exercise common sense, beware of your surroundings, and keep an eye on your belongings to ensure your safety.

Where to stay in Melbourne for the first time?

The best and safest areas to stay in Melbourne for first-timers and tourists are the CBD, Docklands, Southbank, St. Kilda, Fitzroy, South Yarra, and Richmond. These areas offer plenty of accommodation options for all budgets and are great bases to explore the city.

The CBD, Southbank, and Docklands are the most popular areas for the first visit due to their central locations and proximity to major attractions. St. Kilda offers a beachside experience, Fitzroy has a unique, artsy atmosphere, while South Yarra and Richmond provide local charm.

It is recommended to take extra caution, particularly at night at the areas around North Richmond and Western suburbs such as Footscray. These are great places to try international food with good prices but there are safety concerns like drug-related issues and street crime.

In my very first time in Melbourne, I stayed in Melbourne CBD at the mid-range Clarion Suites Gateway. It was a great base to explore the city and its attractions such as Yarra River, Crown Complex, and the Southbank with its many museums/art galleries. My room was nice with a comfy bed and good kitchen.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Melbourne for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Melbourne first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Melbourne first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Melbourne, especially for first-timers. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Melbourne have been carefully selected by me from well-known booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

7 Safest areas to stay in Melbourne for first-timers and tourists

1. Melbourne Central Business District (CBD)

Melbourne CBD is one of the most popular areas in Melbourne for first-time visitors. It is the heart of the city, offering a central location and proximity to key attractions, shopping, dining, and nightlife.

The CBD is well-connected and easily accessible, making it convenient for exploring the city. It is the central hub for public transportation, including trams, trains, and buses.

You can go shopping at the Melbourne Central and Bourke Street Mall, a major shopping precinct with a variety of shops, boutiques, and department stores. 

The CBD boasts a diverse culinary scene, offering a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and bars. You can find cuisine from around the world as well as local Australian fare.

There are numerous cultural landmarks such as Federation Square, National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), and the State Library of Victoria. These venues often host events, exhibitions, and festivals.

The CBD is home to theaters, cinemas, and entertainment venues. The Regent Theatre, Princess Theatre, and Her Majesty’s Theatre are popular for live performances.

While the CBD is known for its urban environment, you can still find green spaces like Flagstaff Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens not far away.

As the name suggests, the CBD is Melbourne’s central business and financial district, housing numerous office buildings, corporate headquarters, and financial institutions.

The CBD has the widest range of accommodations, ranging from luxury 5-star hotels to backpacker hostels. I am sure you will find one hotel that suits your budget and preferences.

Best places to stay in Melbourne CBD for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Grand Hyatt Melbourne, popular 5-star hotel centrally located in the heart of Melbourne on Collins Street, great base for sightseeing. Easy access to shops, restaurants, bars, trains, and trams. It has stunning skyline views, especially at night.

Mid-range ($$): Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne, great 4-star hotel located on a prime location just a few steps from the famous Federation Square and the Flinders Street Railway Station. It has a 24-hour front desk, laundry services, good breakfast, and an onsite restaurant/bar.

Budget ($): The Victoria Hotel, 3-star accommodation located in central Downtown Melbourne, easy walk from the Town Hall, Bourke Street Mall and Chinatown. It is also in the Free Tram Zone, so you’ll have easy access to many galleries, museums, restaurants, café and bars.

Hostel ($): Space Hotel, this is a good backpacker hostel in the CBD, on Russell Street, 5-10 mins walk from Central Station and Queen Victoria Market. It has both family rooms and dorm rooms. There is a rooftop terrace with city views, 24-hour front desk, and luggages storage services.


2. Docklands

Docklands is a modern waterfront district located west of the CBD. It is a great base for those who want contemporary living, waterfront views, proximity to Marvel Stadium, and easy access to major sights.

Docklands is situated along the Yarra River and offers picturesque waterfront views. You can enjoy walking along the promenade, taking boat cruises, or simply soaking in the scenery.

One of the major attractions in Docklands is Marvel Stadium (formerly Etihad Stadium), a multi-purpose venue hosting sports events, concerts, and entertainment shows. 

The area is home to shopping districts like the Harbour Town Shopping Centre, offering outlet shopping with a variety of stores. There are also numerous restaurants and cafes, particularly along the waterfront, providing a range of dining options.

New Quay is a precinct within Docklands known for its mix of residential and commercial spaces. It has a selection of restaurants, bars, and cafes with waterfront views.

You can relax and enjoy outdoor activities at Docklands Park, a public park that offers green spaces, walking paths, and recreational areas. 

Docklands is characterized by modern architecture, including high-rise buildings and contemporary designs. The area has a sleek and urban aesthetic.

Docklands is well-connected by public transportation, including trams and trains. Southern Cross Station, a major railway station, is located nearby, providing easy access to other parts of Melbourne.

Docklands hosts various events and festivals throughout the year. These can include food and wine festivals, cultural events, and family-friendly activities.

Best places to stay in Melbourne in Docklands for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Melbourne Marriott Hotel Docklands, great 5-star hotel located on Waterfront Way, short walk/taxi ride from Marvel Stadium and Southern Cross Station. It has an outdoor swimming pool, family rooms, fitness center, and currency exchange for guests.
  • Mid-range ($$): Quest NewQuay, popular 4-star accommodation, located on Caravel Lane close to the free tram zone, woolworths supermarket, many restaurants, and bars. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Docklands Private Collection – NEWQUAY, 4-star hotel, situated on Harbour Esplanade, on NewQuay waterfront district. It offers self-contained apartments, a fitness center and an outdoor pool. Easy access to Etihad Stadium, Flemington Racecourse, and Queen Victoria Market.

3. Southbank

Southbank is a vibrant and popular area located just south of CBD, across the Yarra River. It’s known for its scenic riverside location, cultural attractions, dining options, and entertainment venues. 

Southbank boasts a picturesque riverside promenade along the Yarra River. Visitors can enjoy leisurely walks, bike rides, or simply relax while taking in the views of the city skyline.

The Arts Centre Melbourne and the National Gallery of Victoria  are prominent cultural institutions in Southbank. The Arts Centre is a hub for performing arts, including theaters, concert halls, and galleries.

The Eureka Tower is home to the Eureka Skydeck, providing panoramic views of Melbourne from the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing platform.

You can take boat cruises along the Yarra River from Southbank, offering a unique perspective of Melbourne’s skyline and landmarks.

Southbank is well-connected by public transportation, including trams and trains. Flinders Street Station, a major transportation hub, is nearby.

Best places to stay in Melbourne in Southbank for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): The Langham Melbourne, popular 5-star hotel, centrally located on Southgate Avenue, on the banks of the Yarra River, close to Crown Casino and Melbourne Sky deck. It has an indoor pool, spacious rooms, good breakfast, and a bar for afternoon tea/cocktails.

Luxury ($$$): Crown Towers Melbourne, famous 5-star hotel in Melbourne, on Whiteman Street,  on the southern bank of the Yarra River. Staying here offers easy access to the restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs, bars and shops in the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex.

Mid-range ($$): Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne Southbank, great apartment style accommodation in Southbank, close to major attractions like Eureka Tower, Southbank Promenade, National Gallery of Victoria, Arts Centre Melbourne and St. Paul’s Cathedral. It has an indoor swimming pool.


4. St. Kilda

St. Kilda is a great base in Melbourne for a laid-back beach experience. It is a popular seaside suburb known for its beach, vibrant atmosphere, and eclectic mix of attractions. 

One of the main attractions is St. Kilda Beach, a sandy stretch along Port Phillip Bay. It’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The iconic St. Kilda Pier offers panoramic views of the bay and is known for its historic kiosk.

At the St. Kilda Breakwater, you can spot little penguins returning to their nests at dusk. It’s a unique wildlife experience in an urban setting.

A historic amusement park, Luna Park is a St. Kilda landmark. The park features classic carnival rides, a Ferris wheel, and the iconic Mr. Moon entrance.

Acland Street is famous for its cake shops, cafes, and boutique stores. Acland Street is a great place to stroll, shop, and indulge in delicious pastries.

Fitzroy Street is another vibrant thoroughfare, lined with restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues. It’s a hub for dining and entertainment.

For those seeking a peaceful escape, the St. Kilda Botanical Gardens offer beautifully landscaped grounds, walking paths, and a diverse collection of plants.

You can explore the Esplanade Markets, which are held every Sunday along the Esplanade, selling a variety of arts, crafts, and unique handmade items. It’s a great place to find local treasures.

St. Kilda has a bohemian and eclectic atmosphere, with street art, live music, and a diverse community. It’s known for its alternative and creative vibe. The annual St. Kilda Festival is one of Australia’s largest free music festivals, attracting a diverse range of performers and attendees. 

Best places to stay in St. Kilda for travelers:

  • Mid-range ($$): View Melbourne, 4.5 accommodation located on St Kilda Rd, short tram ride from the CBD, St Kilda Beach, Luna Park and South Yarra. It is also an easy distance from Albert Park Lake, Shrine of Remembrance and Royal Botanic Gardens. 
  • Mid-range ($$): The Prince, 4-star apartment located on Acland Street, a great quiet area, easy distance from shopping, dining, coffee shops. Tram line right outside. 
  • Mid-range ($$): The Hamptons Apartments – St Kilda, a sustainable condo hotel set close to Elwood Beach, Middle Park Beach, and St Kilda Beach.
  • Budget ($): Tolarno Hotel, this 3.5 beautiful apartment set on Fitzroy Street, great base for St Kilda and Melbourne CBD. Easy tram access, many places to eat and drink.

5. Carlton/ Fitzroy

Carlton and Fitzroy are two adjoining neighborhoods and are great areas for visitors to book their hotels. They offer central locations, easy access to public transportation, artistic vibe, and a diverse dining scene.

Carlton is often referred to as Melbourne’s “Little Italy” due to its rich Italian heritage. Lygon Street is the main thoroughfare, lined with numerous Italian restaurants, cafes, and gelato shops.

Carlton is home to Melbourne’s major cultural institutions, including the Melbourne Museum, IMAX Cinema, and the Royal Exhibition Building. The State Library of Victoria is also nearby.

The University of Melbourne, one of Australia’s leading universities, is located in Carlton. This gives the area a youthful and academic vibe, with students contributing to the lively atmosphere.

Carlton Gardens, adjacent to the Royal Exhibition Building, is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. It’s a beautiful green space with walking paths and historic structures.

In addition to Italian eateries, Carlton offers a diverse range of cafes and bars. It’s a great place to experience Melbourne’s coffee culture and enjoy a variety of international cuisines.

Fitzroy is known for its bohemian and alternative atmosphere. Brunswick Street and Gertrude Street are known for their eclectic mix of shops, offering everything from vintage clothing to handmade crafts and designer goods.

The Rose Street Artists’ Market, held on weekends, showcases the work of local artists and designers. It’s a great place to discover unique handmade items.

Fitzroy has a diverse range of dining options, from trendy cafes to upscale restaurants. The nightlife in Fitzroy is vibrant, with numerous bars and pubs catering to various tastes.

Best places to stay in Melbourne in Carlton/ Fitzroy:

  • Luxury ($$$): Zagame’s House, 5-star hotel situated on Lygon Street, 10 mins walk from Melbourne Central Station, excellent location for exploring the city. Also close to Melbourne Museum, State Library of Victoria and Conference Centre. It has Excellent Breakfast, and private parking for those who drive.
  • Mid-range ($$): lyf Collingwood Melbourne, great 4-star accommodation in Oxford Street, Collingwood, close to Fitzroy. It has free bikes, private parking, a shared kitchen and a 24-hour front desk. Easy access to the tram to the cbd. Many cafes, restaurants, and shops nearby.
  • Mid-range ($$): Tyrian Serviced Apartments Fitzroy, 4-star apartment in Fitzroy, a fantastic location close to everything. It has self-catering accommodations and free on-site parking.

6. South Yarra

South Yarra is an upscale and fashionable suburb of Melbourne, located just southeast of the CBD. It is known for its stylish atmosphere, luxury shopping, fine dining, and beautiful parks.

Chapel Street is one of Melbourne’s premier shopping streets and runs through South Yarra. It offers a mix of high-end fashion boutiques and trendy shops. Another prominent shopping street, Toorak Road, is lined with chic boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. 

Como House and Gardens is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Como House offers guided tours, providing insights into Melbourne’s history and architecture.

Located nearby, Prahran Market is a popular fresh food market offering a diverse range of produce, gourmet foods, and specialty items. It’s a great place for food enthusiasts.

Fawkner Park provides a green oasis in the midst of the urban environment. It features open spaces, sports facilities, and walking paths.

Best places to stay in South Yarra for visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Como Melbourne, 5-star hotel conveniently located close to the intersection of Toorak Road and the popular Chapel Street. Close to the restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and attractions in South Yarra, Prahran and Toorak. It has paid airport shuttle services.
  • Mid-range ($$): Ovolo South Yarra, great 4-star hotel located on Toorak Road, the main street of South Yarr, within walking distance to the Botanical Garden. Staff are friendly and helpful. Rooms are clean and comfortable.
  • Mid-range ($$): Oaks Melbourne South Yarra Suites, 4-star accommodation set in a fantastic location on Yarra Street, close to the Train Station, many cafes and eateries.

7. East Melbourne/ Richmond

East Melbourne is within walking distance of the CBD, making it an ideal location for those who want a more residential feel while still being close to the city center.

East Melbourne is home to the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens, featuring walking paths, historical landmarks like Captain Cook’s Cottage, and a variety of flora. It’s a tranquil green space in the heart of the city.

Richmond is known for being a hub for sports and entertainment. It offers easy access to the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Melbourne Park, home to the Australian Open. The area comes alive on game days and during major sporting events.

Bridge Road is famous for its shopping strip, offering a mix of fashion boutiques, outlets, and home decor stores. It’s a popular destination for those looking for trendy items at more affordable prices.

Richmond has a significant Vietnamese community, and Victoria Street is often referred to as Little Saigon. It’s a fantastic place to explore Vietnamese cuisine, with many authentic restaurants.

Best places to stay in Richmond/ East Melbourne:

  • Luxury ($$$): Pullman Melbourne On the Park, great 5-star hotel in East Melbourne, offering views of the Cricket Ground and Fitzroy Gardens. Easy distance to Jolimont Station, Rod Laver Arena, and Princess Theater. Restaurant is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Caroline Serviced Apartments Richmond, good value for money sustainable condo hotel. Close to Tram #70 to get to CBD and Southbank, and there are some good restaurants and pubs on Swan Street where the hotel located
  • Mid-range ($$): Lanbruk Richmond Hill, great condo hotel 15 mins walk from Melbourne Cricket Ground. Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchenette and a private bathroom.

In conclusion, the CBD, Docklands, Southbank, St. Kilda, Fitzroy, South Yarra, Richmond are the best places to stay in Melbourne for first-timers and tourists. These are generally safe areas but it is alway important to stay vigilant no matter where you stay in Melbourne.

If you travel to Melbourne as a family, you can read this article: Best places to stay in Melbourne for families with kids. Continue reading other popular destinations in Australia in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Melbourne. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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