The top things to do in Melbourne.
If you’re short on time, here’s a guide to help you enjoy a day in Melbourne.
Melbourne has been named the most livable city by The Economist for five years now, and it’s not hard to see why. Easy to navigate, full of beautiful parks, and teeming with trendy and multicultural cafes and restaurants, Melbourne is just a dream. It’s the type of place where you want to be stable because stability has never been so easy, yet so entertaining.
If you’ve only got one day to explore while the sun is still up, or if you live here and just want to have a splendid day around the city and outer neighborhoods, here’s a guide that highlights some of Melbourne’s main attractions:
1) Breakfast in Melbourne
Melburnians, and Australians in general, love taking the time to sit down at a nice cafe for a nice brekky. Coffee, poached eggs and smashed avo are a staple, but of course there’s plenty more to try. You’ll get the most out of your meal in the outer suburbs, complete with outdoor seating, beautiful views and relaxed atmospheres. I live in Brunswick, home of Lebanese bakeries, hipsters and op shops. All along Sydney Road and Lygon Street are cafes as far as the eye can see.
A few of my Brunswick faves are:
A cozy spot on residential Albion Street, A Minor Place has great service, is good for groups, and brews some of the smoothest coffee around. The smoked salmon with mint, pea and avocado mash over sourdough toast is to die for, and they’ve also got some great bagels.
103 Albion St., 03 9384 3131
Small venue with simple settings, a friendly staff and an Italian chef who cooks with love. Try the Calabrese Breakfast if you like a little heat in the morning!
822 Sydney Rd., 03 9383 2083
Adorable spot in an old bookshop. Great for flaky hot pies and inspired fresh juice mixes or teas. They obviously also make awesome coffee. The alley in the back offers beautiful seating to enjoy your meal.
115 Sydney Rd., 03 9387 1150
Large space with plenty of quiet seating, offering a nice Middle Eastern inspired menu and even a small grocery section. Have some ricotta and raspberry hot cakes or poached eggs with babaganoush.
29 Weston St., 03 9388 8738
When I have the urge to eat in a different outer Melbourne suburb, I go to Fitzroy. Fitzroy is a beautiful neighborhood wedged in between Carlton, Melbourne’s Little Italy, and Collingwood, known as one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs.
Brunswick Street and Smith Street run down Fitzroy, and both are perfect to showcase Fitzroy’s ever-changing, yet static bohemian culture, from cafes to art galleries.
While there are plenty of great brekky spots on these main roads, a short walk on Gore Street off of Smith will take you to Breakfast Thieves, a quiet cafe with plenty of vegetarian options, tucked away amongst the developing and industrial buildings in the neighborhood.
The owner’s inspiration for the name of the restaurant comes from the idea that, “We are all thieves when it comes to fine food.” And fine food you’ll get, along with a friendly staff, perfectly made coffees and an open kitchen so you can watch the cooks create your enticing plate. Sit outside if the weather is nice and try The Leprechaun, a plate of crispy sweet corn and basil fritters atop a creamy mushroom base with loving dollops of avocado-yuzu mousse and some parmesan and spiced lemon thyme crumbs for good measure. The Breakfast Chain is also a hearty dish, complete with nostalgia-inducing soft-boiled eggs, cheddar melted soldiers, fig yoghurt with house made granola and apple, rhubarb, ginger and almond crumble for a sweet finish.
420 Gore St., Fitzroy / 03 9416 4884
2) Shopping at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Markets
This giant historic landmark and market in the heart of the city is your one-stop shop for everything from fresh seafood and produce, to crafty dips and desserts, to recycled clothing and Aussie souvenirs. There’s heaps to look at and taste, and if you go on a weekend, it’s usually filled with people bustling to and fro, shop owners offering bites of food, and vendors yelling their wares in that way that only food stall vendors can do so well. I like to enter through the Dairy Hall, or Deli Hall, grab a melt in your mouth salted caramel macaroon from the closest bakery to the door, and munch as I stroll, reveling in the chaos.
The Queen Vic Markets also have regular featured events, like the Summer Night Markets, opening November 4 until the end of March from 5 pm to 10 pm. Currently, Stir Frydays, a weekly Asian food festival, are on every Friday night from 5 to 9 until November 27.
Tuesday/Thursday- 6 am to 2 pm
Friday- 6 am to 5 pm
Saturday- 6 am to 3 pm
Sunday- 6 am to 4 pm
Closed on holidays
3) Visit the Graffiti Alleys in Melbourne CBD
Art, not tags.
Melbourne is very well known for its street art culture, which lends itself to a more diverse and urban society. Even their local government supports the form of expression for the most part. You can find artists working in the alleys almost every day, and it’s not uncommon to walk into, say, Caledonian Lane one day and find it completely changed the next.
From the Queen Vic Markets, you’re only a short walk into the heart of the city. Find your way to Elizabeth Street and walk in the direction of La Trobe Street. Keep on keeping on until you make it to Bourke Street, and make a left. Enjoy the bustling city energy and talented street performers while you look for Union Lane, one of Melbourne’s most popular graffiti alleys.
Hosier Lane is another famous graffiti alley. You can find it near Federation Square off of Flinders Street. Make sure to get a good view of Flinders Street Station on your way to Hosier Lane!
When you make it there, stop in at Good 2 Go, a small coffee shop/op shop that is also covered in graffiti and is run by Youth Projects, an organisation on the same street that helps individuals who are disadvantaged, unemployed, homeless or addicted to drugs/alcohol by providing them with a community, employment, education and training services. “Buy” two coffees, or really just buy one and donate the price of another coffee to the cause, and sip on it while you explore your edgy and colourful surroundings.
4) Get the best views of Melbourne from Eureka Tower
Across the Yarra River and 297 meters high, the Skydeck at the top of Eureka Tower will give you a bird’s eye view of the city, Port Phillip Bay and as far as Dandenong Ranges. You can also sit inside a glass cube that juts out of the side of the building for a thrilling Edge Experience, or reserve a table and enjoy a fancy meal with magnificent views. Tickets to the Skydeck can be purchased for $19.50 at the door.
5) Walk along the Yarra River and grab a drink at Ponyfish Island
The Southbank Promenade stretches around the south side of the Yarra. It’s packed with upmarket restaurants, shops, cafes, hotels and high rises. If the weather is good, the promenade makes for an easy stroll to Pedestrian Bridge that will take you back to the north side. Look out for Ponyfish Island, a bar and restaurant that is hidden underneath the bridge and is basically at water level. It’s a good place to sit in the sun and drink micro-brewed beers or house made sangria.
6) Lose yourself and find some lunch in Melbourne’s hidden laneways
One of the best things about Melbourne is how they’ve managed to fill in what might have been creepy alleys with trendy and cheap cafes and eateries. Degraves Street and Center Place, both off of Flinders Lane, offer a ton of seemingly nameless spots to grab a latte and/or a $5 petite baguette. I love the eggplant schnitzel and pio pio chicken sandwiches, but there’s plenty of variety with each shop.
If you’re feeling more Asian-inspired and are craving noodles and dumplings, Hardware Lane, off of Little Bourke Street, is the place to be.
Your Day in Melbourne
From a hipster breakfast in the suburbs to shopping in the CBD to being swallowed by the artsy and alluring alleys, you’ve hopefully enjoyed a day that truly showcases what a diverse and animated city Melbourne is.
By Rebecca Bellan AKA Boundless Bec