A Great Place
When should you visit very special and unique places in the world that touch you? Places with an atmosphere you can’t describe or where you even get overwhelmed with emotion.
Welcome to our 'Definitive Melbourne Guide'! Updated in December 2019. Everything you need to know before visiting: When is the best time to visit and which are the 15 outstanding and unique activities in Melbourne for you? All written by a Melbourne local with insider tips. Jump directly to the 15 THINGS TO DO, in case you'd like to skip our season guide.
Now, our unique season/monthly guide. As one of the world’s great cities, Melbourne has plenty going on all year round, so there’s not really a bad time to visit the city. That said, there might be a few things to consider depending on when you’re visiting – so before we dive into the '15 Amazing Things to Do' here’s our guide to the seasons in Melbourne with tips for each month as well as weather details:
Summer (December - January - February)
- Pros: Warm, sunny weather that’s perfect for the beach or the many summer festivals
- Cons: It can get HOT, and also busy
For many people, a visit to Australia is synonymous with enjoying the sun, surf and sand – so it’s no wonder that summer is peak tourist season in Melbourne. With blissfully warm temperatures and many great events, summer is a fantastic time to visit the city and especially enjoy attractions like St Kilda beach and the bustling nightlife. Summer is also cricket season, so it’s the perfect time to check out the world-famous Melbourne Cricket Ground.
That said, there are a couple of drawbacks about Melbourne in the summer. Firstly, it can get very hot: temperatures often hover around 30 degrees and even climb above 40 degrees sometimes – so be sure to be sun smart! Also, prices can be higher and accommodation options booked out, so it’s a good idea to plan your trip and book ahead. Especially for your summer visit: Make sure to check out our comprehensive guide with 15 things to do in Melbourne below (scroll down!). They are all written by a local and include so many useful tips you can particularly benefit from when visiting in the summer.
Autumn (March - April - May)
- Pros: The climate is usually very pleasant, and there are lots of great festivals
- Cons: It can get a little colder the closer you get to winter
Fall can be a lovely time to visit Melbourne, when the climate is not too hot but not too cold, averaging around a maximum temperature of about 20 degrees. Plus, there are several exciting events that happen in autumn, such as the Melbourne Grand Prix and Melbourne Fashion Week, which both happen in March. The Botanic Gardens are also beautiful, as many trees turn to golden autumnal hues.
Autumn can still see some extreme weather events, where it be late heat waves or early cold snaps, so you may need to pack a wider variety of clothes to be ready for whatever the weather brings.
Winter (June - July - August)
Our top tip for the evening; scroll down to the end of the article
- Pros: The quietest time to visit Melbourne, the city has a very cosy feel
- Cons: There isn’t that much rain in winter, but it’s cooler and sometimes foggy, which is not exactly beach weather
Winter is the quietest time for tourism in Melbourne, which means that there are fewer queues and more opportunities to truly live like a Melbournian. Plus, although it is winter, the city certainly doesn’t entirely hibernate! There are still lots of fun things to do, including lots of all-weather activities such as the Australian Centre for the Moving Image or the SEALife Aquarium.
Of course, winter does mean the weather can be a bit gloomy, so make sure to pack a warm coat to keep you toasty warm since the average winter low temperature is 6 – 7 degrees. That said, the climate is rarely too cold in Melbourne and rain spells don’t tend to last, so even outdoor activities such as visiting St Kilda can be great fun in winter.
Spring (September - October - November)
Coop's Shot Tower in spring by Bernard Spragg
- Pros: The weather in Spring is glorious, yet the crowds aren’t quite as overwhelming.
- Cons: There aren’t many!
Spring is a wonderful season in Melbourne, where the weather is starting to warm up and so too is the social calendar. There are many great festivals, such as the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, and of course, the usual attractions such as catching a gig at the Tote or swinging by the Astor Theatre are great fun in the springtime. A particular highlight is a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens while all of the flowers are in bloom.
Although temperatures are usually pretty warm, with an average high in the low to mid-twenties, spring can still see late wintery weather, so we recommend chucking a coat in your bag, just in case!
The best time to visit Milford Sound without the crowds and enough daylight is on a morning cruise tour around 10 am. The best season is autumn as temps are mild (9-14°C). To experience this wet place with a sunny blue sky, you must monitor the weather forecast a couple of days before you visit.
Milford Sound is just mesmerizing and also one of the wettest regions on earth with up to 9 meters of rain each year. It's one of the most visited places in South New Zealand. Depending on the season you plan to come, we provide you with lots of useful tips. Continue reading to get the insights we got told by local rangers or get answers to your questions by using our quick navigation (most popular are the 7 Must-Know Tips):
- Essential Cruise Tour Tips
- Driving Tips from Te Anau
- Monthly Weather & Crowds | Best Times
- Hotel Booking Tips
- Scenic Flight & More Cruise Tours
- 7 Must-Know Tips Before You Visit
- A Perfect Day | Milford Itinerary
- Hikes and Walks
Milford experiences a minimum of 200 days of rain, 7 meters of rain on average each year. One of the few places where rainfall is measured in meters. Usually, it rains 2 days in 3. In 2017 the precipitation was even 9 meters, and on the opposite, the summer in 2018 was pretty dry even accompanied by forest fires. Nevertheless, rain occurs quite often throughout the year. With a high amount of rainfall, the fjord is full of awesome temporary waterfalls, and the existing ones are at its peak. It’s spectacular when waterfalls thunder down from the cliffs.
We wanted to experience the sound on a clear day, and we did. We just monitored the weather forecast and booked our tour just two days before. We drove 10 hours from Christchurch to Te Anau and another two for the 120 km from Te Anau the next morning before sunrise. Yep, that sounds a little crazy, but we got rewarded with fantastic views and a sunny blue sky. It was worth the strenuous drive.
Essential Cruise Tour Tips (Crowds & Booking)
Milford is the most popular place in New Zealand with more than 500.000 visitors each year. If you like to go on a cruise at midday advanced booking is recommended. These tours are frequently fully booked, that's why you must book these in advance, regardless of the season! During peak season, every tour should be pre-booked. In shoulder and low season, you may book the early morning and afternoon tours on the spot, as they are less crowded. Our favorite cruise is this one: Milford Sound Nature Cruise. To make sure you get on a cruise we recommend, book at least one or two days before. There are different tours being offered at different times. The first starts around 8.30 am, but at this time of the day, there is still not enough light for taking a good picture in the sound. It improves a lot an hour later. However, you should always arrive early at Milford Sound. Why? Read on below:
How to Get to Milford Sound (With Tips for the Drive)
You should (or must) drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound: Google Maps - Te Anau <> Milford Sound. It's one of the most gorgeous drives we've done! Start early and arrive around 8 latest 8.30 am at Milford Sound parking from December to March. This ensures you don’t need to park far away and have to take the shuttle to get close. The shuttle is offered at the busiest time of the year only. The two different parking areas fill up soon.
It takes about 1 hour 45 minutes from Te Anau very early in the morning. If you start later schedule two hours minimum for the drive plus half an hour for the shuttle. The sunrise in the morning and the sunset on the way back were breath-taking. Keep in mind there isn’t any gas station or fuel stop along the Milford road just an un-manned in Milford. Between May and November, snow chains are required. The Homer Tunnel at an altitude of 945 m above sea level is just one narrow single lane, 1.2 km long, and traffic is controlled by a traffic light.
Update March 1 for the Hiking Season in 2020
Due to significant damage from the weather event, the Milford Track was closed. A part of the Milford Track called Southern Milford-Mackinnon Experience got reopened. Walkers have to depart from Glade Wharf in Te Anau. This hike lasts three days and two nights. The last part of the Milford Track is closed for the rest of the hiking season; too much got destroyed. It takes lots of time to repair the last 7 km of the track. Unfortunately, the entire Routeburn Track is closed for the rest of the season, too. The track needs considerable repair work. Day visits to the sound are not affected. Most of the day hikes are open to the public.
Read our detailed Milford Sound weather guide for every season and month below. We also included information about peak tourist times with possible crowds and less busy periods.
Spring (September/October - November)
It’s still chilly in the night, but days tend to be warmer and longer. It’s the shoulder season, less crowded and overrun. There are hundreds of waterfalls gush down from rocky cliffs due to the spring rain and the melting snow. The countryside is covered with wildflowers. In November and December, the rata and the pohutukawa trees are in full bloom. These trees are also called Christmas trees. Mountains are still snow-capped. The Fiordland Crested Penguin can be seen until November or December by the latest raising the cheeks.
Summer (December - February)
December and January have the highest amount of precipitation but these months are also the warmest and busiest. The average temp is almost 20°C, and it can increase up to 28°C. In turns of sun and rain, the humidity is quite high. The Christmas Trees are in bloom until December. A shuttle service from the overflow parking is offered from December to March.
Crowds thin a little bit out and the shoulder season starts around mid-March. There are still many hours of daylight. The temps may be still close to 20°C at daytime. Nights become already chilly. It's the best time of the year for hiking. Waterfalls are not at their peak. There is a slightly higher chance to experience Milford on a clear day as we did at the end of March.
Winter (May - August/September)
That's the low season, and it’s less busy. Snow is common on the road to the Milford Sound, especially in higher altitudes. This makes the mountains even more photogenic. Seals and especially penguins are more active during colder temps. The Fjordland crested penguin comes to the same beach for mating each year. They lay their eggs in August and cheeks fled between November and December. The downside the road to the sound can be closed due to avalanche warnings although the roads are accessible. Often the rangers get asked for the reason for closing the way. There is a team monitoring the mountains and snowfields if they ascertain a high risk for an avalanche the only route to the sound can be closed for days. Hiking isn't possible everywhere. Avalanche-prone bridges get removed to prevent destroying by flooding or debris avalanches. The average daily temp is around 4°C. This makes the cruises pretty cold outside on the deck. Most of the ships offer indoor and outdoor seating and viewing area.
Stunning view regardless of the season. However, the TWTC is busy almost year-round. Don't miss the view to the World Trade Center 101 from the Elephant Mountain Hill, which is less crowded and for free. Regarding the weather, December to March are the best months to come here. Read on for our detailed 'when to go' insider tips or check out our unique Taiwan Guide:
Time of Day / Opening Hours
Elephant Mountain – Skyline View: Most impressive and perfect for a good shot in the early morning or early evening. In the afternoon, the sky is often not clear. The trail is well-lighted in the evening.
Taipei World Trade Center 101: The outdoor observatory opens if weather permits, check the large billboard above the ticket counter before you purchase the tickets. Opening hours from 9 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.
How to Avoid Crowds on the Elephant Mountain and the Top of TWTC
Elephant Mountain is a popular place, and the view is for free, the reason that it is always a little busy. However, the view of the skyline is spectacular and a must when visiting Taipei. Even in the rain, people walk uphill for this incredible experience as we did. For Chinese New Year's (usually late January or early February) fireworks; people even come here a day before to occupy the right spot. Our tips to avoid the crowds at almost any time for the top of the TWTC 101 and the Elephant Mountain:
- Get there early to avoid the crowds. It’s trendy for the sunset and the city lighting.
- Avoid visiting on a weekend which already starts on Friday midday.
- If the weather is fine, it’s more crowded.
- June is also a favourite month due to the Computex; the biggest IT Show in Asia.
The iconic landmark may be one of the top attractions apart from museums and temples in Taipei. During our visit on a Friday, Already too many people lined up, waiting time around one hour to get up and one hour to get down. We decided to see the skyline, including the enormous 101 Tower from above and walked to Elephant Mountain.
From April until October temps can be unpleasant hot with high humidity at daytime. In summer (June/July/August) day temps are around 30°C and in winter (December/January/February) about 20°C while nights are cold with less than 10°C. Most precipitation from May to September but a dry season does not exist. The driest months are November to January with rainfall on average less than 100 mm. February, March, and April are also a good time for Taiwan and Taipei.
Your experience can get spoilt during the summer months and Chinese New Year. There are sky-high prices, accommodations are often fully booked, and many places are overrun. Same in June when the Computex takes place.
Top Accommodation Tip
Taipei is the capital city of Taiwan, with an estimated population of almost three million people. Choosing the perfect location for a visit to Taipei is important. For example, if you stay close to the airport, you may need a minimum of 1 1/2 hour with public transport to get just to the Xiangshan metro station red line. You may also like to visit the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Therefore, it makes sense to stay in the city centre close to these attractions. We recommend the Dandy Hotel-Daan Park Branch with an excellent location. Breakfast is provided, and there are many outstanding restaurants within walking distance.
Great to visit any time of the year. Gets crowded on holiday weekends....but its still ok.
You can visit this national park any time of the year. But it can be amazing cold and wet sometimes. We visited it at the end of october and had wonderfull weather. Since you are unprotected in an open landscape, it can be very windy and cold. We had sun and wind, it was a good period on our opinion
Well, the best time to visit just depend on your personal taste. We visited this place towards the end of october, in the summer season. It tends to be Sunny and dry then. But if you want to see the mirror effect on the saltflats, you should consider coming january to march. This mirror effect is awesome too. A reason for a revisit in the future. You can visit the saltflats all day, from Sunrise till sunset they are beautiful.