Melbourne is described as the most European city in Australia. It’s all about the restaurants, bars and events. It’s arty and quirky. The weather is extremely changeable and not as hot as you’d think for Australia. I lived there for 2 years and have plenty of suggests for a long weekend in Melbourne.
Arrive hungry and expect to leave with a hangover
There are always new places opening. Look at Broadsheet, The Urban List or Time Out before arriving for the latest places and expects lines!
Swanson Street area
Bars and restaurants
- Curtin House is a multi-level building with plenty of bars and shops. The lift is regularly out of order, so it’s a great work-out for the legs. Cookies is well known with a trendy Thai restaurant on the right and bar on the left. It becomes busier as the night progresses. The Rooftop bar is fantastic for some daytime drinking. They sometimes do movie nights. Address: Curtin House, 252 Swanston St.
- China Town is worth a look. It’s along Little Bourke street with plenty of tasty restaurants to try.
- Croft Institute is hidden down one of the many alleyways covered in street art. It’s spooky getting there at night and the ground floor of the bar is themed as a science lab. Address: Croft Alley off Little Bourke street.
- Section 8 is a quirky outside bar where the seats are crates. Address: Off Lonsdale street down Tattersalls Lane.
Melbourne street art
- Melbourne is know for it’s creative street art. A good place to start is Hosier and Rutledge Lane, opposite Federation Square and walk uphill. If you’re lucky, you’ll see someone creating a new piece. Try That’s Melbourne website for more ideas.
- Bourke street has plenty of clothes shops like Myers and H&M.
- You can link the shopping malls together by walking through Myers, then the new Emporium shopping mall and on to Melbourne Central.
South Bank fire show
- There is usually an event happening at the square.
- Try Transport bar for a good drinking stop.
- There’s is a hidden bar along the river by Fed Square called Riverside Bar. Perfect to recharge before exploring some more.
- An example of locals loving to hide places… there’s a great cider bar on the roof-top of a seedy old man’s pub – Young and Jacksons. Diagonally opposite the Fed Square.
- There is a very good art gallery at Potter Centre: NGV Australia.
- If you’re keen to see more art, the National Gallery of Victoria is a decent walk from Fed square. Address: 180 St Kilda Rd.
- If you need some nature time, the Royal Botanical Garden is just across the road from the NGV gallery.
Southbank / Yarra River
- Pony Fish Island is a bar in the middle of the river! Very unusual experience. Best to take a coat, as it can be windy.
- You won’t notice until it’s pointed out, but there are 8 pillars along the river outside the Casino that shoot out fireballs every evening. Time’s can be seen here.
- Have an afternoon drink and BBQ or watch the fire display from
- The Boatbuilders Yard. It’s also a great stop after walking along the Yarra river or shopping at DFO. Address: 23 South Wharf Promenade.
Collin street / business district
- Lui Bar is at the top of the Rialto Tower. You need staff at the ground floor desk to activate the lift for you. It’s a little posh, so dress-up and act sober. You get free views of Melbourne while sipping tasty cocktails. Much better than paying for the Eureka Skydeck.
- If you are wondering where all the cafe’s and sushi bars are in the business area, they are hidden inside the buildings on the ground floor. It took me a while to figure out.
- If you need a snack, try the Vietnamese rice paper rolls at Rolld. It’s a chain around Melbourne, but this one is in a very interesting triangular new building. Address: 181 William St.
St Kilda is worth a visit. It’s along the bay and has a relaxed beach-side feel… but also a seeder side. You can easily spend a day here with great restaurants and bars plus the option of a seaside stroll. Plenty of backpackers base themselves here at the start. To visit, take a tram and get off at Luna Park. You need to buy a Myki card at a train station or 7-eleven before getting on the tram.
- After a seaside stroll, a great place to stop is at the Republica bar. Perfect for people watching, afternoon sessions and watching the sunset over the water. Address: 18/10 Jacka Blvd.
- Walk along Acland street for quirky shops and more great restaurants.
- My friends italian restaurant Italico is just down Barkley street, if you want to try some authentic italian food. Address: 173 Barkly St.
I think of north Melbourne as the trendy part with plenty of skinny jeans, tattoos and big beards. Take a tram to Brunswick street and walk between Gertrude street and Alexander Parade. Parallel is Smith street which is equally interesting. There is plenty of street art in this area too.
- Naked for Satan is worth a look with a rooftop bar and views of the city centre. I love the drink selection with bold cocktails and boutique beers. Address: 285 Brunswick Street.
- Queen Victoria Markets is a popular spot to visit. It’s great for food and touristy gifts. Address: Corner of Elizabeth & Victoria Streets.
- Try and see an AFL game. I am not particularly interested in sport, but found it extremely entertaining.
As this is just about a long weekend, I won’t go into the other suburbs. If you are in Melbourne longer, it’s worth exploring Prahran, Richmond, Northcote, Brunswick and Williamstown.
You’ll arrive home poorer
There is plenty to do in Melbourne.
Exploring other parts of Australia too? I would recommend exploring the WhitSundays in Queensland or up Western Australia.
Comment below if you know of anything you’d add to this list.