Melbourne city; 4 things to know

Discover Melbourne

Melbourne cityscape

Melbourne is the kind of city that could be plonked anywhere in the world. Not characterised by an open blue harbour or a canopy of tropical skies,  Melbourne has done pretty well at creating itself as the best that a city can be; interesting, historical, creative and a little bit whimsical. It’s just the right size, is jam-packed with urban personality and is full to the brim of interesting things to do. Here are our four favourite ways to discover Melbourne city.

1. An eye for art

Being the art capital of Australia has become Melbourne’s tagline. It’s certainly become known as one of the best street art cities in the world. What started off as graffiti, has fast become the signature for Melbourne’s art scene. Expressive, creative and compelling, street walls have become a vibrant canvas of energy and freedom. Here are some of our favourite places to experience Melbourne’s famous street murals and art.

    • AC/DC Lane and Duckboard Place
    • Hosier and Rutledge lanes
    • Union Lane
    • Centre Place
    • Stevenson and Tattersalls lanes
    • Drewery and Sniders lanes
    • Finlay Lane
    • Blender Lane

2. Discover Degraves

For the curious traveller, the twists and turns of Melbourne’s alleyways and narrow streets lead to endless discoveries. With their stone walkways, street lanterns and handwritten signs, the backstreets, laneways, arcades and even the gaps between buildings are full of interesting stores and eateries that leave you wanting to poke your head through every doorway.

To catch Melbourne’s Euro-inspired heritage, ornate architecture and upscale shopping try Block Arcade, equally famous for the delectable and ornate high tea served at the Hopetoun tea rooms. If it’s the “hole in the wall restaurant” street you’re looking for, visit Centre Place, with its street side seats and great afternoon coffee spots.

Just off Centre Place and connecting Flinders Street and Flinders Lane is the cities’ Parisian influenced Degraves Street, where it’s as easy to get a glass of red as an espresso. On the corner of Flinders Lane and Swanston Street is the charming Cathedral Arcade, with its central dome harking back to 1925. If it’s an afternoon of leafy street side dining you’re looking for, Hardware Lane is a must for authentic Euro cuisine and atmosphere.

3. Market mooching in Melbourne City

Tourist guides will tell you Queen Vic Market (QVM) as one of Melbourne’s most historic landmark markets and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere is a must-do. We won’t because for us the best sightseeing in Melbourne city is an afternoon treasure troving around the cities markets. The trick is finding out the best ones to explore, so we’ve picked our 3 favourites:

St Kilda’s Arts and Crafts Market has a long history and even longer line of artisans along the esplanade. In summer, markets run till twilight where you’ll find over 130 stalls of handcrafted and homemade goods and services, delicious food and the ambience of one of Melbourne’s most iconic suburbs.  

The South Melbourne Market in Coventry Street sounds as quaint as when it first started in 1867. Today it’s an enticing blend of European delicatessens, authentic handicraft stalls and popular everyday wear. Right on the corner is a fresh produce stall overflowing with colours and flavours and is a favourite location for locals and tourists alike. Take in the aroma of African coffee, spicy gooey dumplings and fluffy hot gozleme. Yum!

Ever been enchanted by those movie scene’s where book lovers spend a lazy Saturday afternoon browsing through a book market, casually flipping the well-worn pages of a favourite novel? Federation Square’s Saturday book market is stacked to the brim with titles on travel, history, art, cuisine and children’s classics and runs from 11 am – 5 pm each Saturday.

4. Let them eat cake and everything else 

Within the walls of Melbourne’s meandering alleys and festive restaurant streets, the food choices are plentiful. You couldn’t possibly sample them all, but here’s a handful of recommendations to zing your taste buds, after all, there’s a reason it’s home to Australia’s Masterchef.

Let’s start with Time Out’s Restaurant of the year, the Carlton Wine Room, an upmarket yet highly inviting blend of top-shelf wine with a delicious, fresh uncomplicated menu. Melbourne’s Asian food scene is about street spice and fusion flavours; enter Red Spice Road. This funky CBD eatery is a food journey from Thailand, Malaysia, China and Vietnam.

For a totally different food experience, try the expansive beer garden and rotating food trucks at Thornbury in Northcote. What used to be the old Morris Minor factory (very cool) is now home to the tastiest street food trucks (super cool) from Brazilian Bites, Mr Burger, Korean Fried Chicken, Vietnamese, Thai and Greek quick bites. If ethical eating is your thing, Melbourne’s favourite vegan Italian restaurant, Smith and Daughters in Fitzroy serves up delectable lashings of traditional meat inspired Italian dishes without a grain of guilt.

Let’s finish off with a little dessert; from tangy gelato, creamy macaroon’s or indulgent chocolate, dessert bars have popped up all over Melbourne. Brunetti’s in Lygon Street is alive with the ambient buzz of outside buskers, animated guests and an “I want more than one” cake menu. It’s a little bit of the buzz of Melbourne’s Italian heart with a dollop of sugar on top.

Want to read more about Australia’s best-loved cities? Read The Insiders Guide to Exploring Sydney here.

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