This newly renovated gem will be perfect to capture those Instagram worthy shots. Hot tip: go to the top floor viewing deck. They often offer workshops and talks from artists, writers, architects and publishers that are usually free to attend.
QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET
One of the largest outdoor markets in the southern hemisphere, this is the place to go if you want to craft a delicious picnic to have at the Flagstaff Gardens. It is also great to load up on “Aussie” souvenirs for friends and family. During the warmer months they open a Summer Night Market which offers a mouth-watering selection of food and drink, perfect for enjoying summer in the city. Then in April / May, they will usually have a Europa Night Market which showcases fantastic food options including scooping spaghetti out of a cheese wheel.
Melbourne is well known in Australia for its vibrant street art which covers most of the laneways and alleys in the city (although some are more highly concentrated than others). If you are a fan, you can head down to Hosier Lane, AC/DC Lane, Blender Lane, Rutledge Lane and Union Lane to view the ever-changing artwork by some of Melbourne’s underground artists.
On the rooftop of Curtin House, you will find this little gem open during the summer months screening a mix of new releases and classics at sundown. Tickets are usually under $30 and cheaper if you are a student. Did we mention you also have access to a Burger Shack and a bar full of delicious cocktails, wines and beers?
At the Royal Botanic Gardens there is a Moonlight Cinema hosted between November and March each year. There is a range of old and new-release offerings for you to roll out the picnic rug and enjoy. Moonlight boasts an extensive food truck and licensed bar offering, and its reserved bean beds. You can also BYO booze and dogs are allowed so get ready for some puppy cuddles!
Melburnians love their live music and as such offer several options for free or paying gigs all over the city any day of the week. Look into Cherry Bar, 170 Russell, The Forum, or The Toff in Town. If you are after folk, blues, jazz, pop, or Australian hip-hop, we suggest looking at listings in the local street press like Beat Magazine (available at bars, pubs and cafes) or the indie radio-station RRR’s online gig guide.
The Sidney Myer Music Bowl has something for everyone with rock concerts, symphonic performances, theatrical extravaganzas and more.
Melbourne is home to a range of galleries, with many of them free to enter. Just a short stroll from Flinders St Station is NGV International, where you can stand at the entrance of the gallery and take in the breath-taking water wall, or step inside to view one of their world-class exhibitions. Entry into the main gallery is free, with varying costs for the temporary exhibitions. NGV Friday Nights are also held during the summer months, hosting a range of local DJs and bands, with canapes and drinks included in the ticket price.
Melbourne Museum is the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere and is located in the gorgeous Carlton Gardens in Melbourne’s north. In addition to its ever-changing temporary exhibitions, the museum is home to some of Melbourne’s State Collections, including objects relating to Indigenous Australian culture, historical studies, and zoology.
At the Royal Botanic Gardens, you may enjoy the Aboriginal Heritage Walk, a Free Guided Walk, a ride on the Garden Explorer or Punting on the tranquil Ornamental Lake, all set against a beautiful backdrop and just moments from the city. The Children's Garden helps them discover the natural world, with plant tunnels that they can crawl through, rocks that they can climb and a bamboo forest in which they can hide.
Images: Visit Victoria
This list will be hard to limit as there are so many amazing options in Melbourne, however the below are some of the Melbourne institutions that any self-respecting Melbournian has gone to at least once.
In the mood for Italian food? Grossi Florentino or Pellegrini’s will hit the spot.
If your cravings are more focused on Asian delicacies, Melbourne has many, many options: Chin Chin (South-East Asian fusion) is very popular and doesn’t take bookings, expect to queue if you go on a Friday /Saturday night. Cookie (Thai) has a great atmosphere even if you just want a drink, however if the weather is nice and there are only two of you, be sure to ask for a balcony table. Hwaro Korean BBQ is great for small group catch ups or Supernormal (Japanese) for those with a refined palate. You can also take a walk-through Chinatown, located on Little Bourke St, to discover some of Melbourne best (and cheapest!) traditional Chinese restaurants.
Looking for content for your Instagram page? Then walk on over to Drumplings on Bourke Street. Drumplings desires to offer a new taste experience by connecting people to flavours from all over the world through a delicate, mouth-watering dumpling. Our personal favourites are the truffle mushroom dumplings and pork belly baos.
Just looking for a discount, be sure to download the EatClub app on your phone for live discounted deals for lunch or dinner.
Lui Bar is a great option if you want to get a great view of Melbourne without paying top dollar at the Sky Deck, the drinks may be a little expensive though.
If gin is life, then the Gin Palace is for you! We also have the Berlin Bar that lets you in only once you have rung the doorbell. If you like Harry Potter and all things magical, do yourself a favour and try the wonderful cocktails at StoryVille.
Last but not least, in the long list of “hidden bars” Siglo Rooftop Bar has no signage and is just a wooden door you may think leads to someone’s house, but once in, you get sit down with a cigar and a fabulous view of Parliament House.
Attend a potion class at the Wizard's Cauldron which mixes magic and mixology (cocktails). This Harry Potter 'experience' will take 90 minutes and will cost you A$55. Oh, but there is more… sip potions and hang out on the rooftop of a CBD pub a magical wizarding world awaits. Located atop Bourke Street's Imperial, it's filled with alcoholic potions, magical wintry booths, an owlery and a supernatural sweet store.
Images: Concrete Playground and Concrete Playground
You may be wondering why coffee is entitled to its own section, that is because Melbournians are very much coffee snobs and whilst most places serve great coffee there are few who deserve to be singled out: Brother Baba Budan is the spot for that essential morning take away coffee, The League of Honest Coffee allows you to have a coffee whilst making a difference with their fair trade beans. Kit Espresso takes you down the Royal Arcade which is always worth a look.
Degraves Street is another coffee spot you shouldn’t miss as it is home to a huge range of cafes. With its Parisian-style laneway, it offers a variety of delicious coffee options and on-street dining.
WALKING DISTANCE FROM MCEC
You have some free time during or after the conference and you do not want to go too far? Here’s a list of restaurants that are a short walk from Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Surrounded by water on all sides, Ponyfish Island is a haven for wonderers and wanderers. The island is a 10-minute walk from MCEC and (adding to the adventure) is only accessible from a single stairwell, located on the water under the Yarra Pedestrian Footbridge. Enjoy the water views and the quesadillas or nachos.
Hop into the Boatbuilders Yard as it is a 1-minute walk from MCEC and includes a great selection of easy meals and bar snacks with a Mediterranean touch.
Also 1-minute away from MCEC is BangPop, a communal and colourful atmosphere, shared and punchy menu filled with spices and tang. Try the Drunken Prawns (stir fried prawn cutlets w/ krachai, green peppercorns, young bamboo, chili & green onion).
Images: Ponyfish Island and BangPop
Head 1-minute away from MCEC to Boho South Wharf for the finest Australian and imported cheeses, a generous selection of artisan gin and a great wine list that represents the diversity of Victorian wine.
Citizen Bar is a Japanese influenced bar offering over 25 gins and whiskeys as well as a cocktail list. Citizen is the only venue in Australia to have the super cold beer, Asahi Super Dry, chilled and served at minus 2.2 degrees Celsius.
Experience the essence of Melbourne at the General Assembly that offers Melbourne’s latest food trends, huge range of drinks and local acoustic artists. There is also street art installations around the venue which mirror Melbourne’s hidden laneways.
Images: Boho South Wharf and Citizen Bar
OUTSIDE OF THE CBD (CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT)
Chadstone Shopping Centre is Australia’s largest shopping centre and even has a shuttle bus that leaves from Federation Square to get you there.
If you are wanting to move away from the Queen Vic Markets, we recommend you take a stroll to the South Melbourne market, established in 1867 or you can head to the Prahran Markets, Melbourne’s number 1 food market, which offers a wide range of organic and sustainable produce.
AFL GAME AT THE MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND (MCG) OR THE “G”
If you are lucky to be in Melbourne over the March to September period, make sure you catch a game of AFL (Australian Football League) at the G. It’s good fun and make sure you grab a meat pie and beer combo to really get that footy experience.
Let loose and listen to great music with the locals at:
Northcote Social Club for live local music, niche acts from interstate and abroad along with tasty pub classics and share plates.
Retreat Hotel is Brunswick’s home of live music, local beers and huge beer garden.
The Corner Hotel is a rowdy, 800-person band room that has hosted some of the world’s biggest music stars, including Mick Jagger. If you would like a quiet drink instead; the Corner also has a greenery-filled rooftop.
The Tote for live rock music or play a song on the jukebox and take a seat at the bar.
The Esplanade Hotel celebrates the old with vintage furniture and '80s gig posters. It’s the place to be for a blues night in the Gershwin Room, sneaky cocktails with bay views, or just a slow pint in the public bar.
Images: Corner Hotel Broadsheet and Hotel Esplanade Broadsheet
Step through the famous Mr Moon mouth to soak up the carnival atmosphere and rides that have entertained visitors for 107 years at Luna Park in St Kilda.
Walk through Fitzroy's Gertrude Street that is abundant with dazzling streetlights, performances and games. Gertrude Street Projection Festival adds a little more excitement to the already buzzing neighbourhood.
Images: Gertrude Street Projection Festival and Luna Park
Vent all your anger safely at the Break Room in Collingwood, a venue that openly encourages you to destroy objects. Create your own masterpiece by splashing paint balloons at Smash Splash in Oakleigh.
Images: Break Room and Timeout
Journey through a world of wildlife, stunning native flora and find out how you can help in fighting wildlife extinction by visiting Victoria’s Zoos; Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Rane Zoo ( just 30 minutes from Melbourne CBD an en route to Victoria's stunning Great Ocean Road) and Healesville Sanctuary (one hour journey from Melbourne CBD through the stunning Yarra Valley wine region!).
Milk cows, bottle feed young lambs and look for eggs at Collingwood Children's Farm, which is only five kilometres from the centre of Melbourne.
Images: Visit Victoria
See the classics and cult favourites in the Victorian heritage listed; Astor Theatre (one of only a few single screen movie theatres from the 1930s in the world), Dandenong's Lunar Drive-In, Village Cinemas Coburg Drive-In.
Images: Astor Theatre and Village Cinemas Coburg Drive-In
If you thought that the CBD offered great options, the suburbs is where the fun really starts. Some great restaurants to check out include The Abyssinian, Ethiopian cuisine, or the Vegie Bar in Collingwood. Last but not least, Naked for Satan in Fitzroy is a wonderful world of delicious tapas but be that they don’t take bookings and therefore you will need to pop your name down on the rooftop level and grab a drink on the ground floor whilst you wait.
If you have a special relationship with cheese and think it’s the best thing in the world, head on to Milk the Cow in either Carlton (European district) or St Kilda (not too far from the beach).
There are too many to choose from, but it you are in the vicinity of the Black Pearl in Fitzroy, Old Palm Liquor in Brunswick , Mr West in Footscray or Stomping Ground in Collingwood who brews their own beer.
The Local Tap House in St Kilda East is oner of the best places on the east side of Melbourne if you’re into craft beer. With a rotating menu of no less than 20 tap-beers that changes daily, you’re always in for a treat!
Melbourne has emerged as the city with the world’s best coffee…according to a survey done by booking.com. You can grab a cup of the best coffee from any part of Melbourne so here’s your got-to guide to the great coffee spots outside of the CBD.
A constant line of local residents and workers patiently hanging at an entrance is a great sign that the product is worth the wait. Proud Mary is a buzzing cafe in the backstreets of Collingwood that serves top-flight coffee by baristas with a love for specialty coffee.
Images: proudmarycoffee Instagram
Enjoy your coffee in the outdoor terrace of St Ali. This is an out-of-the-way converted warehouse in the back streets of South Melbourne serving world-class coffee with a little rock and roll.
Images: St. Ali website and st_ali Twitter
For an intimate setting that offers spiritual healing; visit Monk Bodhi Dharma in Balaclava. This micro brick roastery is the place to meet with baristas who know their beans and are happy to help you choose something to suit your own flavour profile and an animal-friendly menu.
Escape reality for a moment at Code Black Coffee in Brunswick and witness the scientific process of creating coffee sourced from different coffee growing areas around the world- from Colombia to Ethiopia and Kenya. You will be left (as the establishment’s catchphrase reads) “On The Edge Of Mystery And Altered States”.
Images: Code Black Coffee website
From secluded beaches, beachside cafes, hikes to bike adventures, we've put together a bucket list of day trips. Venture beyond the city limits to experience the following:
Less than an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is renowned for its vineyards, fine dining and quaint accommodation.
Get into the heart of the region by walking upstream along theKeppel Falls Walk, which lands you at a stunning waterfall. You can follow this with a trip through theTarraWarra Museum of Art , showcasing Australian works from the mid-20th century onwards.
Feeling a little hungry and thirsty? Visit the French-style cellar door atDominique Portet Winery, which specialises in sparkling wine and has received rave reviews for its Fontaine Rosé. Experience a behind-the-scenes vineyard and winery tour atDe Bortolior enjoy a private wine tasting at Yering Station.
Head to Yarra Valley Dairy for a wide selection of artisan cheeses, and make reservations for the five or eight-course degustation at Ezard at Levantine Hill.
For a truly unique experience simply BYO cheese and wine while cruising down the Yarra on one of GoBoat's eco-friendly picnic boats. Oh, and did we mention they're pet-friendly?
Images: Australia and GoBoat,
The Mornington Peninsula is a favourite day getaway destination for the locals and we will tell you why... Start with a coffee at the Merchant & Maker or Store Fifteen before heading for a beachside trail linking the Cape Schanck Lighthouse and Point Nepean National Park. The thirty-kilometre walk is made up of a variety of different smaller walks, a mix of sandy beachfront, gravel tracks and rugged coastline, with a number of lookouts providing those picture-perfect panoramas. For a short walk, we recommend Capel Sound Bay Trail which includes Peninsula's famous colourful bathing boxes. Then, take your pick of drinking spots for the afternoon — perhaps at Montalto's sprawling restaurant and winery or the newly revamped Portsea Hotel.
Images: Concrete Playground and Mornington Peninsula
To unwind and be one with nature; make your way to Daylesford and the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa. First, a climb up Mount Macedonwhich offers a good excuse to reward yourself with a post-hike brunch and coffee at Mr Macedon. Want the hike but not the baggage? Consider getting a llama to help you out. Hanging Rock Llama Trekswill hook you up with your very own personal four-legged friend.
If you are looking to really unplug then we suggest disappearing into a dreamy world of purple haze and super-relaxing aromas at Lavandula, lavender farm. Then, venture on over for a soak in the famed mineral baths and cool off at Holgate Breweryin Woodend for a cold pint.
Images: Concrete Playground and Concrete Playground
GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK
Discover grand and rugged mountain ranges, spectacular wildflower displays at Grampians National Park. For those that appreciate ancient art, view a wealth of Aboriginal rock art sites in Billimina Shelter, Gulgurn Manja Shelter and Manja Shelter. Looking for something for adventurous? Hit the waters of Lake Bellfield and Lake Wartook for fishing or canoeing or take advantage of the rocky crags for rock climbing and abseiling.
Check out some of the best lookouts like Mount William that is accessible by car. At 1,167 metres, Mount William is the highest point in the park and provides great 360-degree views of mountain ranges and open plains. Energetic walkers will love Mount Sturgeon, which takes in water crossings, open woodland and rocky terrain. Once at the summit, revel in panoramic views of the surrounding ranges and volcanic plains.
Images: Visit Victoria
GREAT OCEAN ROAD
The Great Ocean Road is a 90-minute drive from Melbourne through rainforest and beach views and also a few attractions. Fuel up with breakfast and sweet treats from the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, before a drive down to the iconic 12 Apostles. Dip your feet in the crystal clear waters at Loch Ard Gorge. If you are up for a trek, choose from routes like the seven-kilometre track between Castle Cove and Johanna which promises plenty of beach, a hidden lagoon and even the odd peregrine falcon sighting. On your way home, stop for a tapas feast at MoVida Lorne, or a craft pint and pizza at Blackman's Breweryin Torquay, and keep your eyes peeled for koalas and kangaroos that may make an appearance.
Images: Concrete Playground and Concrete Playground
Head on out to Melbourne's neighbour, Phillip Island, and surround yourself with nature and wildlife for the day. Start with some furry fun at the Koala Conservation Reserve, soak up the scent of eucalyptus and wander the natural Australian bushland woodlands. Then, pay a visit to the Penguin Parade as the island's resident little penguins are seen swimming from the ocean and waddling across the beach back to their nesting boxes, every night of the year after sunset. Beyond wildlife watching, you can settle in to sample the Phillip Island Winery or conquer a hiking trail like the Cape Woolamai Walk, which provides you with a view of the soaring clifftops along Phillip's southernmost point.