This question frequently gets asked on Facebook, this article is targeted at inexperienced backpackers, solo travellers and people whose first day in Melbourne will also be there first day in Australia.
If you have flown to Melbourne from Europe, America or Asia you may just want a shower and bed when you land. When you are tired, jetlagged, carrying all your luggage and unable to use your phone because it is not set up on an Australian network, will you really want to have to make a complicated journey to get to your hostel? For your first night, I suggest keeping it simple and finding a hostel which you can easily get to using public transport. Taking a taxi from the airport to your hostel will likely kill your backpacker budget.
For choosing hostels I use Hostelworld, you can instantly get access to the opinions of many consumers. The site lists numerous hostels, provides a rating for each hostel and allows you to filter on criteria such as price. The peer review element of sites such as HostelWorld is not perfect, there is scope for uneducated and bias reviews. If a hostel has a great average score, but only has a handful of reviews then take the score with a pinch of salt. If you are landing in Melbourne late at night, check to see if the hostel has a 24/7 reception. Hostelworld provides this information.
There are shuttle bus’ which go from the Melbourne (Tullamarine) airport directly to some of the hostels within Melbourne. You can find out about the shuttle bus’ at AirportShuttles.com. The shuttle bus’ may not be operating at the time you land. If the shuttle bus services are not accesible you can catch the SkyBus coach to Southern Cross coach station in the CBD. The coach runs 24 hours a day and last time I used the service it was $18.
In Melbourne I have stayed in four hostels, The Nunnery, Space Hotel, Nomads St Kilda Beach and Flinders Backpackers. In my opionon it is relatively easy to get to The Nunnery, Nomads St Kilda Beach and Flinders Backpacker via public transport from Soutern Cross coash station. Below is a mini navigation guide for the three hostels.
There are five train stations in Melbourne CBD, all five are accesible via the City Loop line. During operating hours trains on this line run extremely frequently, the PTV site gives you information on operating hours. Southern Cross train station is connected to the coach station. From this station you can get to Flinders Station via the City Loop. Then Flinders Backpackers is within walking distance of the station. If you have terrible navigation skills, like myself, then in your home country you can look on Google Maps and Google Streetview at the short walk from the train station to the hostel.
Nunnery and Nomads St Kilda Beach
The Nunnery and Nomads St Kilda Beach are both near tram stops on the route 96 East Brumswick / St Kilda line. There is a tram stop for the 96 line right outside the coach station. The tram and train operating hours are the same. Before getting a tram to either of these hostels you will have to get a Myki card. The tram network has a free travel zone but its range does not extent to either hostel. Myki cards can be brought from a range of places including Southern Cross station and the 7/11s stores. When you get the tram, make sure it is going in the right direcetion.
For The Nunnery you need to, catch the tram going to East Brumswick, get off at tram stop 13, cross over the road (in the opposite direction to the big field) and then walk down the hill for about 60 metres.
For Nomads St Kilda you need to, catch the tram going to St Kilda, get off at tram stop 132 (just outside Woolworths supermarket), cross over the road and walk 100 metres up Grey Street.
You can also use Google Maps and Google Streetview for these two journeys.