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 Aquarium, Old 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.
So do the time-honoured thing: meet someone under the Flinders Street Station clocks and explore.
The best restaurants in the CBD
The best bars in the CBD
The best hotels in the CBD
Its Art Deco neon sign has lit up the city’s skyline for years, but there’s a lot more to Hotel Lindrum. The 59 contemporary rooms are a cut above, with wood furnishings, polished floors and super-comfortable Sealy beds. Junior Suites are the pick of the digs, while the 24-hour room service menu is essential for a three a.m. snack after sampling the great range of cocktail bars within a couple of blocks. Doubles from $184.50/night.
Since the early noughties, Sofitel Melbourne has stood tall at the top of Collins Street for its five-star service, views across the ‘G, the City and Port Melbourne, calibre of room service and furnishing of the contemporary rooms. Stay here for its location – eating, drinking and shopping is only a stone’s throw away – and you’ll save a heap on cab fares.
More great venues in the CBD
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 court. But if you’re going to do Emporium, you might as well do it properly, because there are lots of little surprises hidden within its six floors and 48,000 square metres of retail space. Our tip: start at the Lonsdale Street entrance. You’ll get a little pang of nostalgia as you walk through the grandiose 1911 Myer façade, chased with a futuristic hit from the monolithic concierge desk devised by Qantas A380 interior designer David Caon. This is the ground floor, and it’s home to a mixed bag of old favourites like Nine West, Peter Alexander and Swarovski, as well as newbies like Austrian enamel jeweller FREYWILLE. You'll also find top-tier brands include Michael Kors, Victoria’s Secret, Oroton, Furla and Chanel. A ground floor hero also has to be Superglue: a double-storey buffet of brands that's also home to a denim specialist, cafe, lolly pop machine and lots more. As a hub for youth and urban wear, the ground level level is part hipster-tastic, part sport-chic. Delve deep into the darkly-lit Superdry store for some Americana-meets-Japanese-graphics street wear. Turn right toward David Jones, where you’ll find Industrie, Capsule and Mag Nation. The Waiting Room by Dr. Denim – the first stand-alone store in Melbourne from the Swedish jeansmiths – will deck you out in clothes befitting a morning spent with a long
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, examining old books, and expanding their knowledge on anything from rare birds to architectural history. But there’s more to the library than first meets the eye. Time Out is taken on an hour-long tour of the library by Cathy Miller, volunteers and tours manager, who has been working there in various roles for over 30 years. (We’ve dubbed her Melbourne’s ultimate book worm.) The library is full of surprises, and you can discover them on the free daily 2pm tour. A guide takes visitors to the far reaches of the library, even to places not open to the general public. We start off in the Queen’s Hall, a grand old reading room that is currently closed off to regular visitors. Miller explains that when the library first opened in 1856, the books had only arrived the night before. “Sir Redmond Barry [the library’s founder] took responsibility for ordering all the books from England,” she says. Here in Queen’s Hall, “Redmond was up all night unpacking books with his sleeves rolled up”. Miller tells us there is allegedly a ghost who plays the piano at night, even though no one has ever died in the library. “I have been told by the managers that they have seen her," she says, "and the electricians never come in here at night.” The domed La Trobe Reading Room is the most extravagant room at the library. It’s so peaceful; every page