Best student cities: Melbourne
Most universities in Melbourne offer university-specific discount cards that work in and around the city, from purchasing books to gym memberships. Bus, tram and train lines comprise Melbourne’s transport system and students have access to a variety of discounted pass options at varying price points, depending on length of time and zones required. The information is detailed on the Public Transit Victoria site. International students are eligible to obtain the free Culture Card Victoria that grants access to discounted trips, events and outings, such as tours to nearby day trip destinations as well as visits to the Arts Centre Melbourne, focused on showcasing the performing arts.
St Kilda is a quick jaunt on the tram from Melbourne and is a preferred destination for a day at the beach or a night out, as it is the closest beach to the city centre. To escape city hubbub, the Grampians mountain range and national park lies 260km northwest of Melbourne. Many head here by train and coach to explore and hike for a day, as well as see kangaroos and other native animals in the wild animal reserve. Philip Island is a retreat 140km south of the city, where tiny penguins make their daily parade from the water to the hills at twilight and scores of seals bask on Seal Rock along the island’s striking beaches. Travellers can reach the island via the V/Line public coach.
A scenic road trip down the coast along the Great Ocean Road passes the Twelve Apostles, natural limestone rock formations that rise up majestically from the Southern Ocean on Victoria's dramatic coastline. Australia also claims a robust wine industry, and the Yarra Valley, 50km east of Melbourne and reachable via coach or train, is a common outing for a day of vineyard visiting and wine tippling.
Travelling on a budget
The student tram discount is the best way to travel inexpensively within the city and the train is another common mode of transport. Only permanent residents and Australian citizens are eligible for the Victorian Public Transit Student Concession Card, but overseas students can obtain the top-up Myki card. As is the trend in most major international cities, Melbourne has a bike rental program, Melbourne Bike Share, that students regularly use. Sporting a helmet is an enforced law in Australia and you can rent helmets when you grab a bike. For travels farther afield, Tiger Airways is a majorly discounted carrier, though some students find it too unreliable to use regularly and go with the slightly pricier JetStar instead. Tracing Victoria’s coastline is a popular trip, and Greyhound offers bus packages that cost far under what airfare would run for the same route.
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