When you are staying in Melbourne, you may want to take a day trip to escape the city for a bit. I recommend St. Kilda Beach. It is an easy 20 minute tram ride from Melbourne on the 96 East Brunswick route. You can buy a Myki card at the train station to tap on and off trains, trams, and buses throughout Victoria. If you aren’t a fan of trams, it is probably about $20 AUD for an Uber ride at the time I wrote this article. Stop at the Esplanade, the stop nearest the pier.
Myki Tip: keep cash to top up on the bus or at a top up kiosk. I have three major credit cards, all either Visa or MasterCard, which Myki supposedly accepts. Each time I tried them, from my laptop or from a Myki kiosk, the system told me it doesn’t accept that card.
The pier is a nice walk that provides great views of the beach to your left and the Melbourne skyline to your right as you walk out to the end of the pier.
I recommend stopping off for lunch at Little Blue. They serve breakfast until 2pm and they also have a great kangaroo burger. I had mixed feelings about eating kangaroo because they are so cute, but the waiter recommended it and I was not disappointed. Little Blue has indoor and outdoor seating, so if the weather is nice, you can enjoy the scenery while you fight off the occasional fly or sea gull.
St Kilda Pier Kiosk was originally built in 1904, but was destroyed by a fire in 2003. The current building was reconstructed, based on the original 1904 drawings, in 2005.
Beyond the kiosk is the St Kilda Breakwater, home to a colony of about 1,400 Little Penguins and native water rats called Rakali. It is open 24 hours and is free to enter. If you really want to see a lot of penguins, you will need to be there at sunset when the penguins come in from fishing to nest. Keep in mind that the pier will be much more crowded at this time, so weigh the pros and cons. I went around lunch time and saw three penguins. One was right out in the open and the other two were resting below the rocks and were more difficult to spot. It was an easy decision for me since I’ve already seen penguins in the wild. That said, they are really an adorable sight, so if you think you will regret missing it, you might consider braving the crowd. You can always take tomorrow to read or meditate in solitude to recover.
Penguin Tip: There are not as many penguins in May, June, and July; the most penguin babies are visible in November and December.
After exiting the pier, take a right to walk along the boardwalk. If you didn’t eat at Little Blue, there are restaurants along the boardwalk. The Boardwalk Take Out is known as having the best ice cream in Melbourne. I wouldn’t know because I didn’t save room for dessert, but let me know what you think!
From here, you can’t miss Luna Park, an amusement park that you enter through a super weird clown mouth. It’s only open on weekends, holidays, and for special events, but I stopped by just for photos outside this iconic park. I’m not the only one who thinks the clown face is creepy, right?
Just beyond the amusement park is O’Donnell Park, a nice place to sit and read or people watch. If you need more excitement, here are some other things to do in St Kilda.
If you have time to walk the entire foreshore from Marina Reserve lighthouse to Sandridge Beach, be sure to spot all the planets along the Melbourne Solar System trail! It’s an approximately six kilometer model of the solar system, where every meter walked represents 1,000,000 kilometers. You will find the sun at the lighthouse, Pluto at Sandridge Beach, and the planets of our solar system in between.
Observation Deck at St Kilda Sea Baths. Whether you stop at the sea baths to use the saltwater pool, you can climb the stairs from the inner courtyard to the observation deck. It is open to the public and has picnic tables and nice views.
If you want to enjoy live music, check out the Palais Theatre.
Brighton Beach is about ten minutes further out, but I skipped it because it is reportedly much busier than St Kilda. Brighton Beach is known for its brightly colored bathing boxes, which you will not see anywhere else. If you want to see them, you should go. If you are just looking for the beach, shopping, and good cafes, St Kilda will provide that with a smaller crowd, especially during the week.
Let me know if you are going to St Kilda! I would love to hear about your plans in the comments below. If you have been here and have another recommendation to add for St Kilda or Brighton Beach, please share with the community in the comments.