The current financial climate and “credit crunch” is causing prospective holidaymakers to consider traveling outside of the Euro Zone to make the most of their travel money. To many, Australia seems a safe bet in terms of value for money (after the initial flight costs, at least) due to the pound’s relative strength against the Aussie dollar over the past year – especially in comparison to its performance against the euro and the US dollar. Interestingly, some speculators are anticipating that Melbourne is the destination of choice for 2009.

Melbourne may not have been famed for its tourism credentials in the past, but recent developments are showing that it is becoming as popular with visitors as its contemporaries such as Sydney and Brisbane. The Opodo Travel News reports that, ‘according to Tourism Victoria, travellers are attracted to the city’s “world-renowned, cosmopolitan lifestyle”,’ causing bookings to increase by 400 percent!

Situated on the Southern Australian coast, Melbourne is a city that is celebrated for its multicultural heritage. Nearly a quarter of the city’s 3 million+ inhabitants were born in other countries, including: United Kingdom, Italy, and China – and as a consequence there is a rich variety of places to visit, cuisine to try, and culture to sample. There is an established commercial arts scene of pop music, theatre, and film, as well as many institutions that are considered alternative, such as: street art and indie music.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Subsequently, there are many festivals and events that take place in the city over the course of the year. Perhaps most notable is The Melbourne International Comedy Festival which takes place over three weeks around April Fools Day every year. Running since 1987, the festival showcases local and international comedians and comediennes specializing in stand-up and cabaret.

Melbourne’s permanent sights range from the architectural to the natural. The former is exemplified by such delights as the Royal Exhibition Building, a World Heritage Site and host to many exhibitions.

Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens

For flora lovers, Melbourne is also considered Australia’s Garden City and includes many parks and gardens. The Royal Botanic Gardens is renowned for its size at 354,000 metres square and for containing over 10,000 species of plant. In recent years the area has been subjected to severe water conservation in order to deal with continual dry conditions. The organisers, therefore, have to take great care of the environmental implications of the gardens, whilst the diversity of plant life is a draw for a vast range of unique and interesting fauna.

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