More trendy then your local thrift shop
I absolutely love Melbourne. If you can allow more than 4 days in the city than that would be my first recommendation. We were fortunate to travel for a long weekend but we still left plenty to do. Melbourne airport firstly is a fair bit out of the city so you're up for a $20 bus to the city if you haven't got a transfer organised. Summer House Backpackers Hostel in St Kilda gave us a one way trip from the airport, which worked out well as we had a car for the return journey. The trip to the airport is roughly 30-45 minutes from the city. We stayed in a hostel for the 4 days we had in the city. Summer-House backpackers was about 15-20 minutes by tram to the city centre and a 5-7 minute walk to the beach and vibrant coastal life St Kilda hosts.
I had never stayed in a hostel before, so this was a great first experience. The hostel was fairly big, had an ensuite, a large kitchen and common room. It was a 7 minute walk to the tram stop. Both my friend and I are both beach lovers so it was so convenient to be in walking distance to the ocean as well as restaurants, bars and clubs to entertain us on the days we wanted to stay in St Kilda. There are various restaurants on the main strip of St Kilda many of which have lunch specials, and early dinner specials if you're on a budget. Happy hour on drinks is available in most the eateries, the cocktails are delicious so don't be shy to adventure out from the usual order.
Melbourne city itself is fairly big, it is walkable so don't take a car and most of the city isn't accessible by car due to the trams and pedestrian streets. If you're looking for shopping be sure to check out 'Bourke Street', 'Melbourne Central', 'The Emporium', and 'DFO South Wharf' around the city. We spend about 1-2 days in the city, sight seeing and taking in some retail therapy. Between all the street art, buildings and cool alley ways there is plenty to explore for a day or two if shopping isn't you're main aim. Melbourne's shopping was really good! We went in January so we still had some of the boxing day sales and new year sales so all the purchases we got were all discounted. If you shop around you will find a bargain. There are great pop up boutiques for clothing in the lower floors of a couple shopping centres, so be sure to check them out and maybe score a discount!
Food is Melbourne isn't less or more expensive than Sydney but we did find if you can buy supermarket items it will save a lot of dinning out and expensive meals. All the food we ate was really nice and medium - low priced. We tended to have a full breakfast then a late lunch/ early dinner and a snack if we got hungry. Fruit during summer is fairly cheap and will keep you full so we always had stock in the fridge! Explore the suburbs for food if you can, we had plenty of choice between the city and St Kilda but wouldn't have minded looking around.
If you can plan your trip then aim for a weekend, MiKi card is your transport card and on Saturdays and Sundays has a $6 flat rate fee which is 1-2 trips, after that you can enjoy free travel! Trams run most of the city's transport and are always on time so be sure to grab a tram map and timetable. You can collect a MiKi card from the newsagency and you preload your amount before you travel, the card is reloadable so don't worry!
We were lucky enough to hire a car, if you're stuck with an age restriction check out Juicy Car Rentals they allow 18 year old drivers. While we had the car we did the most part of the great ocean road, I can 100% recommend it. There are day trips you can organise with a tour for about $100-200 including lunch. Having a car gave us the option to stop when we wanted and take it as slow or fast as we wanted to... If you haven't driven in Australia the great ocean road is mostly countryside and single lane roads so you should be fine, just keep vigilant and aware of the road rules. It took us about 6 hours to get to the 12 Apostles. We did stop at almost every beach, for lunch and bathroom breaks so it can be down in about 4 and a half.
Enjoy Melbourne and tell me your travel stories!