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Melbourne CBD skyline from Southbank
Photograph: Roberto Seba

Melbourne CBD area guide

The best restaurants, bars, shops and events in Melbourne

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From the shopping precincts of Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne Central and the glitzy Paris End of Collins Street, to the markets and galleries of Federation Square, the CBD is a hotbed of activity.

Jump on the free City Circle tram if you’re a newb, which will trundle you past sights like the Melbourne AquariumOld Melbourne Gaol and Parliament House – and of course you’ll want to jump out and explore the coffee, boutiques and street art of the laneways and old arcades.

When you're spent and hungry try to find Izakaya DenCookieCumulus IncMoVida or one of the many iconic Melbourne hangouts. Need a drink? The CBD's best bars and pubs are listed below.

So do the time-honoured thing: meet someone under the Flinders Street Station clocks and explore.

The best restaurants in the CBD

Kappo

Kappo

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • price 2 of 4

Simon Denton and business partners Takashi Omi and Miyuki Nakahara have euthanised lunchtime bolthole Nama Nama for something far more ambitious. And in that...

The Press Club

The Press Club

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • price 3 of 4

It’s high noon, and just like the days of old, the Press Club is filled with a crowd for whom doing lunch is a part of the job. A couple of equine models...

Coda

Coda

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • price 2 of 4

The energy of Coda. If there were a way of bottling it you could solve the world energy crisis. It billows out the door onto the cobblestone laneway then...

Tipo 00

Tipo 00

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • price 2 of 4

Let’s start with the pasta. This is a pasta bar, after all, although that seems to sell Tipo 00 short. Pappardelle, thick ribbons boasting the suppleness of...

Izakaya Den

Izakaya Den

  • 4 out of 5 stars

It’s hard to find and has minimal signage. So far, so Melbourne. But find the doorway, descend the stairs, push aside a black curtain and this dark basement...

Cumulus Inc

Cumulus Inc

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • price 2 of 4

Andrew McConnell once did work experience in a hair salon. He asked us not to tell anyone, but we just can’t imagine what Melbourne dining would be like if the...

Supernormal

Supernormal

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • price 2 of 4

You get a strange same-same-but-different feeling when you walk into Supernormal, Andrew McConnell’s new Japanese-y diner in Flinders Lane. To an extent, it’s...

Flower Drum

Flower Drum

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • price 3 of 4

A decade is a long time in restaurant years – especially in Melbourne, land of the fickle diner. So what is it about this high-end Cantonese restaurant that’s...

The best bars in the CBD

Eau De Vie

Eau De Vie

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • price 2 of 4

Like all good underground operations, EDV takes some seeking. It’s hidden down Malthouse Lane behind a signage-free door that you’d easily mistake for a...

Hihou

Hihou

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • price 2 of 4

Wear your best socks if you plan on staying a while at Hihou. Once you’ve located the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it entrance on Flinders Lane, near the corner of...

Rooftop Bar

Rooftop Bar

  • 3 out of 5 stars

Many a Melburnian has weighed up the merits of waiting for the slow-moving Curtin House elevator or trudging the seven flights of stairs up to Rooftop Bar....

Section 8

Section 8

  • 3 out of 5 stars

After squeezing past the huge bouncers to get into the much-hyped Section 8, you might be disappointed to find yourself standing in what amounts to a vacant...

The best hotels in the CBD

Grand Hyatt Melbourne

Grand Hyatt Melbourne

  • price 4 of 4

There are some travellers that love staying in the heart of a city and walking the town. Admittedly, it’s a favourite past-time of ours here at Time Out and if...

Hotel Windsor

Hotel Windsor

  • price 3 of 4

Before you even enter this 1883 grand dame, you know you’ve stumbled upon something special. Located opposite Parliament House on Spring St in all its...

The Victoria Hotel

The Victoria Hotel

In the heart of the CBD, this iconic Melbourne hotel is conveniently close to all the city's major attractions and venues. Since its inception in 1880, the...

More great venues in the CBD

Queen Victoria Market

Queen Victoria Market

The open-air Queen Vic is loud and proud, packed with veteran stallholders who are passionate about fresh produce. Whatever you seek you will find, from fruit...

Emporium Melbourne

Emporium Melbourne

By now you’ve probably heard about the big guns: there’s Japanese casualwear giant UNIQLO, the multi-level Topshop Melbourne flagship and the oh-so-fancy café...

State Library of Victoria

State Library of Victoria

Step into the Dome Reading Room at the State Library of Victoria, and you can almost hear the cogs turning in the minds of visitors. People are studying,...