Follow the trail of street art to the jewel of the inner north, Fitzroy. You’ll find Melbourne’s best coffee here (which, for our caffeine-obsessed city, is saying something) as well as iconic live music venues, top-notch cafés and the coolest bars and clubs.
Matchless views of the Yarra River, world-class shopping and delicious dining await at Melbourne’s premier entertainment precinct. Try your luck at the luxurious Crown Casino and fuel up at 400 Gradi, where you can (and must) order the Margherita that took out the World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy last year. Head over to the Eureka Tower and tick off another Melbourne must-do: viewing the city 88 storeys up at the 360-degree Eureka Skydeck.
Rose Street Artist’s Market
Each Saturday and Sunday the Rose Street Market gathers some of Melbourne's most exciting artists and designers to display their wares and talk all things handmade. Weave your way through the crowds and duck into the warehouse to check out the handmade fashion, food and curios for sale. .
60 Rose St, Fitzroy 3065.
The second floor of the CBD’s glittering shopping precinct is home to the largest collection of Australian designers under one roof; we’re talking Zimmerman, Jigsaw, Saba, Jac + Jack and the ultra-modern Dion Lee. Naturally, you’ll also find international brands like Michael Kors and Marc Cain.
287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000.
A proudly multicultural city, Melbourne’s dynamic food scene is driven by diverse cultures and flavours. Chin Chin’s playful, pan-Asian menu delivers big, punchy flavours and a whole lot of fun: don't miss out on the pork chop, buried under an avalanche of meaty oyster mushrooms and fragrant holy basil, or the chicken and shiitake spring rolls.
125 Flinders Ln, Melbourne 3000 (+61 3 8663 2000).
Peppery kangaroo carpaccio is on the cards at this smart-casual diner, which showcases modern Australian cuisine at its best at an affordable price.
142 Bridge Rd, Richmond 3121 (+61 3 9078 0113).
Time Out Melbourne's Restaurant of the Year in 2017 certainly had to work hard to outshine its elder sibling, Tipo 00, but it has done spectacularly so. The ’nduja octopus pretty much sums up Ilaria’s subtle, out-of-the-box brilliance – whole baby octopus scattered over a flame-orange sauce made from that trendy spreadable salami. See also: paccheri, thick pasta tubes strewn with nubs of Crystal Bay prawn meat, served with in tomato and sorrel purees and finished with prawn oil.
367 Little Bourke St, Melbourne 3000 (+61 3 9642 2287).
Dave Verheul is a chef with a knack for taking the road less travelled and Embla, despite calling itself a wine bar, is no exception. Head straight to the stracciatella – a soft creamy cheese like shredded burrata guts. There’s raw beef – topside – with beach rocket and radish, and the half chicken with plenty of whole garlic cloves and a sauce that’s more the essence of roasted bones is roast chook perfection.
122 Russell St, Melbourne 3000 (+61 3 9654 5923)
This smart little fire-focused establishment started off at the tail end of last year in Vietnam, moved on to Israel then Korea, and has now conquered Mexico. In its first year of life, this uniquely shape-shifting, globe-hopping restaurant has shifted between four cuisines from three continents in the space of 12 months, and every time we love it more.
133 Commercial Rd, South Yarra 3141 (+61 3 9826 2621).
Arbory Bar and Eatery
Time Out Melbourne’s Bar of the Year is home to the cocktail elite. You won’t find better shaken or stirred drinks than at this speakeasy-style joint – slip into a booth and work your way through the drinks menu.
Level 1, 150-156 Gertrude St, Fitzroy 3065 (+61 3 9416 2229).
Arbory Bar and Eatery
This new riverside bar occupies a former train line and boasts a 150m-long deck – but what locals love about it most is the excellent wine menu and delicious bar snacks. Try the crisp-shelled mushroom-and-cheese croquettes.
Flinders Walk, Melbourne 3000 (+61 3 9621 2260).
Whisky & Alement
Whisky and Alement have been paving Melbourne nights with precious amber distills since 2010 – they knew that we would grow into that rare Finlaggan that tastes like salt water and fishing nets and, oddly, banana lollies. These guys were also the first to have access to the limited edition and crazy expensive Scotch Malt Whisky Society single cask bottlings – but you can buy it by the nip and get a taste of the high life for fewer dollars than your weekly rent.
270 Russell St, 3000 (+61 3 9654 1284).
It takes a deft touch to update a pub without ruining it, but at the Lincoln, they slipped in the excellent wine list, an exciting collection of craft brews and a bistro menu that wouldn’t look out of place on white linen with candle light with surgically precise service. Nothing that people loved about this historic Carlton pub, which was established in 1854, has been disturbed, and the new features seem like they’ve always been there.
91 Cardigan St, Carlton 3053 (+61 3 9347 4666).
Two Birds Brewery
This westside beer house is Australia's first female-owned brewing operation. Founders Jayne Lewis and Danielle Allen started out as a mobile operation, renting tank space to turn out their sunset ales, and now their Footscray brewery is a destination in its own right. Try Two Bird's signature golden ale, the lightweight Bantam IPA and Lewis's citrus, coriander and lime taco beer for something different.
136 Hall St, Spotswood 3015 (+61 3 9762 0000).
THINGS TO DO
Ascend the winding staircase in this skinny CBD building and discover cute boutique shops, buzzing bar and nightclub The Toff in Town and the crowning glory, Rooftop Bar.
252 Swanston St, Melbourne 3000.
St Kilda foreshore
Melbourne may not have the beach culture of Sydney, but the picturesque seaside town of St Kilda is a must-visit. Great bars, famous cake shops and the iconic Luna Park rollercoaster are just 20 minutes from the CBD.
Beneath the stately Flinders Street Station is a network of salmon-pink tiled corridors, where you’ll find boutiques of local artists, great coffee and a mini art gallery.
Flinders St Station, Flinders St (corner of Swanston), Melbourne 3000.
This former convent is now home to rolling green gardens, cute cafés and the super-cool The Shadow Electric bar and live music venue.
1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford.
The chance to see some world-class graffiti – Melbourne is famous for it! In the CBD, the best places to admire street art are Hosier and AC/DC Lanes and Duckboard Place; over in South Melbourne, check out colourful Yarra Place.
Public transport is good – free tram rides are even better. You don’t have to use your Myki (Melbourne’s travel card) on trams in the CBD, and if you hop on the City Circle Tram, you won’t have to pay at all. This tourist-focussed tram even delivers some cool anecdotes about the city’s history at every stop – prick up your ears!