St Kilda is Melbourne‘s closest and most well-known beach, only 6km from Melbourne’s CBD and is a great place to spend 24 hours! The lively beach town is known for its bohemian vibe, beautiful palm-lined bay and gorgeous sunsets.
St Kilda is a great day out with so many things to keep you entertained! Enjoy time on the beach relaxing in the sun, go on the rides at Luna Park, enjoy delicious food in Acland Street’s boutique eateries, cycle to Brighton beach huts, see the penguins on St Kilda pier after dark – there’s plenty to do!
Read on for my top picks if you only have one day here!
24 HOURS IN ST KILDA
St Kilda Pier
St Kilda pier offers great views of Melbourne city both day and night.
Head to the end of the pier at dusk for an unmissable chance to see the penguins: they are here all year round and are the world’s smallest species of penguin at about 30cm tall.
At sunset they come back from a long day hunting for food at sea, and waddle to their burrows between the rocks at the end of the pier.
Almost 1500 little penguins live here and you can get fairly close to them, but please don’t touch or feed them!
Volunteers are there after sunset shining red torches so you can see the penguins more clearly, and you can take a photo so long as the flash is off, so as not to damage the penguins’ eyes.
Even though it gets busy in the evening, definitely make it to see the penguins here – they are just so cute!
St Kilda Beach
Enjoy some time on the beach and take in St Kilda’s lively atmosphere. You’ll see locals young and old walking and jogging on the promenade and doing watersports in the sea from dawn til dusk.
One of the many things I love about Australia is how everyone is so health-conscious! Also, Australia is great for eating out healthily, with a big focus on natural and gluten-free products!!
There are several nice restaurants and bars at the St Kilda Sea Baths on the beach – in particular Captain Baxter and Beachcomber, where you can grab lunch, happy hour deals, or evening drinks and dinner.
Brighton Beach Boxes
Just a few kilometres from St Kilda is Melbourne’s favourite seaside destination: Brighton Beach and its 82 iconic brightly coloured wooden bathing boxes.
The Brighton Beach Boxes were built in the late 1800s – early 1900s to preserve bathers’ modesty – so ladies could change into their swimwear in private, following Victorian morals and ideas of seaside bathing.
Brighton is a very affluent suburb of Melbourne, and despite only being the size of a garden shed, these beach boxes sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and are only available to buy for local residents.
The beach boxes are known internationally, and hundreds of tourists come to Brighton Beach each day to marvel at and photograph the boxes – all of them unique with their own character.
The owners can decorate them as they wish; some are decorated just in a couple of colours, whilst others have been more creative, such as the one painted as an Australian flag.
The beach boxes are a family treasure, passed down through generations. Whilst being over 100 years old, the beach boxes still retain their historic charm and uniform size.
They are not allowed running water or electricity, nor can they be used as accommodation, and they still keep the timber and corrugated iron roofs, so the purpose and the classical architectural features of the beach boxes remain unchanged; reminiscent of a bygone era.
This is the most popular of Melbourne’s beaches, as well as being the most recognised from photos.
The views from the boxes are incredible; you can see Melbourne’s skyline in the distance or look out to Port Philip Bay, and the contrast between the vibrantly coloured beach boxes and the beach makes for some wonderful shots.
Brighton Beach can be reached in about 20 minutes from train or bus from Melbourne’s CBD, or you can do as I did and rent a bike and cycle there from St Kilda (I hired the bike from St Kilda Cycles shop).
Lime bikes are a great way to explore the local area at a cheap price.
If you are using public transport to get around Melbourne, you will need a ‘myki’ travelcard.
The cards costs A$6 to purchase and you top it up and use it each time you travel – just touch on and off each time you travel to ensure you pay the lowest fare.
You can buy myki travel cards from stations and retail outlets. This is the only way to pay for public transport here: you can’t buy paper tickets.
How to get to St Kilda from Melbourne
Finding a parking spot in St Kilda can be quite challenging so you may find it easier to get here by public transport from Melbourne CBD as opposed to driving.
If you are coming to St Kilda from Melbourne CBD, the number 3, 16 and 96 trams all reach St Kilda in under 25 minutes.
If you are in St Kilda during the weekends or school holidays, it is well worth checking out Luna Park: Melbourne’s famous amusement park.
Luna Park was built over 100 years old by a group of men, one who eventually went on to help create Warner Brothers.
Luna Park has lots of thrill-seeking rides, including the world’s oldest continually operating roller coaster and is a great fun day out for everyone!
If you’re not a massive fan of rides (like me!) it doesn’t matter – entrance to the park is only $2 and then you just pay for the rides you go on!
Acland Street is the main street in St Kilda.
Its boutique shops are great for fashion, homeware and arts and crafts, and every night of the week the many restaurants and bars on this street are packed with friendly locals and tourists, especially backpackers (St Kilda is a hot spot for backpackers)!
But of course, the busiest and best time to be in St Kilda is on the weekend!
On Sundays, there is also a really cute arts and craft market on The Esplanade with lots of pop-up stalls where you can pick up nice souvenirs and treats.
Definitely head to Acland Street during the evening for a fun night out!
And that is how you spend 24 hours in St Kilda Melbourne!
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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!