Alternative guide to Melbourne

By Sarah Moyles,

Melbourne has long been lauded as Australia’s cultural capital. The city is home to countless bohemians, artists and extremely talented baristas, as well as stunning architecture, vibrant nightlife and amazing restaurants.

Consistently voted one of the world’s most livable cities, Melbourne certainly has it all. With its stunning Victorian city centre, relaxed atmosphere and cool residents, it’s the ultimate stopover on your Australian adventure.

We’ve put together an alternative guide to Melbourne to find out what makes the city so special, from its colourful street art, vintage fashion to its quirky lanes.

EXPLORE  | DO  | EAT  | DRINK | SLEEP

EXPLORE

Melbourne’s Lanes

Guide to Melbourne

Degraves Street  – photo by Alpha 

Soak up the sights of sounds of Melbourne by taking a stroll through the city’s myriad of cobble-stoned lanes and alleyways – perfect for Instagram shots and exploring. While there’s lots to choose from, visitors should start their day on Degraves Street. This bustling lane is chock-a-block with quaint cafes and heavenly restaurants which are in full-swing during lunch time.

A short stroll from here, you’ll find the romantic Centre Place. Ideal for a lazy walk through the city, this quaint lane is perfect for people watching, grabbing some excellent Melbourne coffee and listening to the buskers nearby.

Next up, take a quick trip to Manchester Lane. Any fashion-savvy shoppers worth their salt will love the boutiques found here. Melbourne fashion house Claude Maus and designers’ collective Design A Space both have shops on Manchester Lane.

Famed for its graffiti, Hosier Lane is a must-visit for any art fans. Full of colour and character, this sloping laneway is at the centre of Melbourne’s street art scene. Now a tourist hotspot, get there early to avoid the crowds or better still, visit at night time and you may even see some artists at work.

Undoubtedly one of the most famous lanes in Melbourne is AC/DC Lane. Like its famous namesakes, the lane offers the best in live rock and roll music. Pay a visit to Cherry Bar, one of the best rock venues in the city to relive your glory days.

Whilst we could rattle on all day about Melbourne’s extraordinary lanes, here’s a few more suggestions that are worth a visit: Meyers Place, Tattersalls Lane, Crossley Street and Liverpool Street.

Fitzroy

Alternative guide to Melbourne

Fitzroy Graffiti – photo by Jonathan Lin

Fitzroy is Melbourne’s inner-city hub for all things hipster and vintage. Take a walk down the district’s main thoroughfare, Brunswick Street, to peruse all the eclectic clothes shops, second-hand book stores and quirky galleries. An abundance of trendy cocktail bars and cafes are also found here – perfect for evening drinks.

Running horizontal across Brunswick Street, you’ll find Gertrude Street. This hidden gem is filled with designer boutiques, vintage retailers and craft stores and is a great alternative shopping location for those looking to escape the busy city centre.

Alternative guide to Melbourne
The Rose Street Market

Every weekend, Fitzroy plays host to the chic Rose Street Artist’s Market. Since its inception in 2003, the market has been a unique outlet for artists and designers to showcase their work. Based in a former junkyard in the back streets of Fitzroy, visitors can find all sorts of hidden treasures from quirky pieces of furniture to intricate vintage jewellery and everything in between.

St. Kilda

St Kilda

Sunset in St. Kilda – photo by Scott Cresswell 

Whilst you’re never far from the ocean in Melbourne, a trip to the beach suburb of St.  Kilda provides visitors with prime sun-bathing opportunities. Renowned for its expansive view of Port Phillip, sandy beach and palm-lined boardwalk, St Kilda offers the ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

With plenty of water activities on offer, why not try your hand at kite-surfing or paddle boarding? And for the brave, there’s even the option to skydive over the beach. Exiting the plane at 14’000 feet, you’ll freefall over Melbourne’s picturesque skyline before landing safely on the beach. What a way to see the city from above!

DO

Alternative guide to Melbourne

Melbourne Street Art

Having seen Melbourne’s array of street art, here’s your chance to learn more about technical aspects of spray painting from the artists themselves.  Melbourne Street Art Tours is the first and only street art walking tour in Australia and offers guided tours through Melbourne’s lanes where graffiti artists will teach you all about the murals on display.

Walking through the streets of Melbourne you’re surrounded by art, but if you want to view some modern masterpieces then The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is the best place to start. The Gallery’s famous works are spread across two buildings, The NGV International and the NGV Australia which are located on either side of the Yarra River. Here visitors can admire exhibitions from both international and Australian artists. General admission to the gallery is free and complimentary guided tours are available.

Alternative guide to Melbourne

Ramsey Street – the set of Neighbours

Any self-respecting Neighbours fan will know that a holiday to Melbourne isn’t complete without a trip to Ramsey Street. The official tour starts with a meet and greet, where you can pose for photos with your favourite Neighbours’ cast members. Afterwards visitors are brought on a tour of the set where your guide will keep you entertained with slapstick humour, insider gossip and even some spoilers.

Although named the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), football is very much the game here, with the site playing host to some testing sporting battles over the years. The footy season runs from April to October and if you’re travelling through Melbourne during this period it’s definitely worth going to a game. The atmosphere is not to be missed when home favourites, the Melbourne Football Club, are playing.

EAT

A delicious Jafflechute – photos by (left to right) Trevor Dickson & jafflechutes 

When constantly on-the-go, it can be hard to find time to sit down and eat, but what if you didn’t have to? Jafflechutes is Melbourne’s first float-down eatery, a toasted sandwich is literally launched via parachute from above and – hopefully – lands smoothly into your hands. These delicious toasted sandwiches are full of melted cheesy goodness and are a great alternative snack while in Melbourne.

Green Park Dining is a hip café found in the city district of Carlton North. This all-day diner is a haven for both families and cyclists alike as it’s situated next to the Capital City Trail and overlooks a charming kid’s playground. Green Park’s menu ranges from British classics like Bubble and Squeak to a traditional caramelised red onion and goats cheese tart. Travelling with littles ones? Check out Green Park’s cheap and cheerful kids menu.

Tramcar-May14

The luxurious Colonial Tramcar Restaurant – Melbourne’s unique dining experience

A unique approach to dining, The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant allows guests to cruise through the streets of Melbourne whilst enjoying a delicious meal. These historic and beautifully decorated trams are ideal for anyone looking to dine in luxurious yet alternative settings. Guests can enjoy a wide selection from the restaurant’s seasonal menu and sample some premium quality Australian wines.

Found just a short distance from Melbourne’s city centre, Abbotsford Convent is a hub of creativity and culture and houses numerous galleries, craft markets and sumptuous eateries. With five delicious restaurants on site, you’re guaranteed to find something to your taste. Veggies should check out Lentil as Anything, a vegetarian restaurant which operates a pay-as-you-feel model.

Alternative guide to Melbourne

Delicious Asian fare on offer in Chin Chin

Chin Chin is a treat for the taste buds. This small funky restaurant dishes up authentic Asian food with a twist. Taking inspiration from traditional Indian, Thai and Malaysian recipes, Chin Chin serves up tasty home-cooked fare that would make mother proud. For those who aren’t experts on Asian cuisine, why not try Chin Chin’s Feed Me option? For $69 per person, you’re treated to a medley of options from the menu.

DRINK

alternative guide to melbourne

GoGo Bar

After you’ve finished your meal in Chin Chin, head to GoGo to sample their expansive drinks and cocktails menu. This super cool basement-bar is found below Chin Chin and is perfect for intimate drinks with your better half or a small group of friends. Go Go’s dimly-lit interior creates a cosy atmosphere where you can enjoy some eclectic cocktails such as a delicious margarita infused with Herradura pineapple and chilli salt. 

Ponyfish Island is found floating in the middle of the Yarra River on Melbourne’s Southbank. An oasis in the middle of a bustling city, this hip bars offers breath-taking views Melbourne’s skyline. Craft beer fans should check out Ponyfish’s authentic home-brews – Ponyfish Unlikely Lager and Ponyfish South Cider

alternative guide to melbourne

Creating cocktails at Naked for Satan

We promise this isn’t some sort of devil-worshiping-nudist bar – our mother’s raised us better. With a stand-out name and interesting back-story, Naked for Satan is any vodka connoisseur’s dream bar. Using Absolut Vodka and a combination of fresh ingredients, Naked for Satan’s menu is filled with their unique mix of delicious infused vodka blends such as salted caramel, passionfruit and Alpine chocolate and sugarcane.

Bringing a touch of European bohemian culture to Australia, Berlin Bar is a quirky pub situated in Melbourne’s Chinatown. The bar’s unique theme is based around Berlin’s divided history – guests can choose whether or not to sit in East Berlin or West Berlin. Each side’s décor is vastly different, from the neon-lit, shabby-chic East to the white leather sofas of the West. Berlin Bar also has wide selection of German beers and tasty cocktails available.

Alternative guide to Melbourne

Crushed ice cocktails from Fall from Grace

State of Grace is a chic eatery with great cocktails and friendly staff, but its trump card is its secret bar Fall from Grace. An inconspicuous bookcase leads the way to this hidden gem, and in true Indiana Jones style, visitors have to pull a special book from the shelf to gain entry. Downstairs you’ll find a swanky cocktail bar fitted with lush furnishings, crystal chandeliers and walls laden with wine racks.

SLEEP

alternative guide to melboune

The splendid Iconic Suite at The Rialto

The InterContinental Melbourne – The Rialto was created from the historic Rialto and Winfield buildings, renovated in 2008 to produce Melbourne’s newest five star luxury hotel. The building’s architecture is reminiscent of the Venetian Palazzo style, reflecting the city’s wealth during the gold rush. The interior also retains much its period features, with high ceilings and ornate windows.

The hotel’s impressive rooms and suites are decorated in a sleek, modern style which compliments its historic past. Each Deluxe room is comes with a king-sized bed, complimentary Agraria spa products and fluffy bathrobes and slippers – perfect for relaxation after a long day exploring Melbourne.

Click here to book your nights stay at The InterContinental Melbourne – The Rialto

Alternative guide to Melbourne

Luxurious bedroom with private balcony

The Blackman offers unique boutique accommodation just a stone’s throw from Melbourne’s city centre. Inspired by the contemporary Australian artist, Charles Blackman, the hotel’s unique style was inspired by the artist’s dreamlike and romantic paintings.

Situated on the enviable St. Kilda Road, The Blackman’s spacious rooms and suites offer unparalleled views across Port Philip or Melbourne’s vibrant cityscape. All rooms and suites come with a private balcony – perfect for admiring the stunning scenery. Prints of Blackman’s most famous works are hung in each bedroom, allowing guests to admire his wide collection of paintings from the comfort of their room.

Travelling to Melbourne? Book your stay at The Blackman here.

Feature image by Jes