One of the coolest things about Melbourne are its many suburbs, all of them with their own atmosphere and personality. The whole city is a patchwork of different feelings, from the busy CBD to the holiday vibes of St Kilda, from the hipster lanes of Fitzroy to the green lungs of the Botanical Gardens. It would take a lifetime to discover all the hidden treasures that Melbourne has to offer! But if you’re new to the city, this article might help you having a first impression of the many captivating things to do here. Discover five suburbs of Melbourne through five iconic streets, my personal favourites of the city!
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1/ Fitzroy – Brunswick Street
Fitzroy is the hipster suburb of Melbourne. Alternative shops, vegan restaurants, bars and street art are everywhere here. Walking on Brunswick Street is the best way to discover the place and feel the hippie vibe of Fitzroy. Follow me to my favourite spots:
- for a drink with a view: Naked for Satan
Naked for Satan is one of the most famous bars of Melbourne, and once you’ll get in you quickly understand why. The atmosphere of the 2 floors is really cosy and the huge wooden bar is gorgeous, but what makes this place so special is its incredible view over Melbourne’s skyline from the terrace. Enjoying one of the local crafted beers or a delicious cocktail with such a sight is definitely something to add on your to-do list while you’re in Melbourne.
- for a vegan experience: Transformer
I’m not a vegan, not even a vegetarian, and the first time I went to Transformer I have to admit that I was a bit unsure if I would like the experience or not. But the dinner I had in this vegan restaurant in Fitzroy was absolutely terrific and I recommend the place to everybody, including meat lovers like me. If you want to try their delicious and sophisticated cuisine, walk on Brunswick Street with the CBD behind you until you see on an intersection a brick wall on your right with a giant arrow pointing to the restaurant, 50m away on a side street.
Pictures on the bottom left and on the right taken by Jodie Louise Sullivan
- for the street art: everywhere!
The CBD might have the most spectacular streets when it’s about street art, but Fitzroy is a serious challenger. Every lane, every court crossing Brunswick Street is full of huge amazing paintings. The best of them is probably Rose Street, across the road from Transformer. A perfect after dinner walk if you tried their vegan dishes!
2/ CBD – Flinders Lane
Apart from some nice bars and restaurants (see below), Flinders Lane isn’t the most extraordinary street of the CBD, but it connects some of the greatest lanes of the city and if you’re exploring Melbourne you’ll definitely walk on this street at some point.
From west to east, Flinders Lane successively crosses Degraves Street, Hosier Lane and ACDC Lane. Degraves Street (in line with Center Place) is one of the best places to find out why coffee is so important in Melbourne. Take a seat in one of the tiny cafes and enjoy a delicious flat white, cappuccino or latte macchiato!
Do I really need to introduce you to Hosier Lane? With its fabulous and constantly changing murals, this is probably the most famous lane of Melbourne. Get ready to be amazed by fantastic street art… but also to share it with dozens of tourists!
You won’t have to worry a lot about crowds in ACDC Lane, as I already told you in a previous article. Far away from selfie sticks, take your time to stare at the walls of this street, where you’ll find my favourite murals of Melbourne.
After all these explorations, head back to Flinders Lane and sit down for a drink or a bite at the Garden State Hotel, one of the classiest places in the CBD.
3/ Southbank – Yarra Promenade and South Wharf Promenade
Ok, I’m cheating a little bit with this one. On the south side of the Yarra River, the Yarra and South Wharf Promenade aren’t strictly speaking streets, but pedestrian zones. From Princes Bridge across Federation Square to Webb Bridge 2,5 kms further west, it’s one of the best places of Melbourne to enjoy a sunny day, thanks to the many bars, restaurants and street artists on the way. The two most popular terraces are actually on the north side of the Yarra River, stuck between the water and Flinders Street Station (The Arbory) or… in the middle of the river, with the Ponyfish Island below the Evan Walker Bridge.
Even if you’re not a gambler, make sure to get inside the Crown Complex to have a look at the giant casino and appreciate the luxury of the stairs in the lobby. While you’re here, take also a short detour to the Eureka Tower, the tallest building in Melbourne (297m), and enjoy the view from the observatory.
After the Crown, the Promenade gets quickly less crowded but not less interesting. On this side of Southbank, you can successively find the Polly Woodside (an 1885 sailing boat now opened to the public), more bars and restaurants (including the General Assembly or Munich Brauhaus) and the DFO (Direct Factory Outlets), a huge shopping centre with the cheapest prices of Melbourne.
Finally, from the DFO you’re also a stone’s throw away from the South Melbourne Market.
4/ From South Yarra to Balaclava – Chapel Street
Of all the places that I’m describing in this article, this is certainly the one I know best, as I lived just nearby during almost 6 months. From South Yarra in the north to St Kilda East and Balaclava in the south, this very long and dynamic street is a paradise for night owls, especially in the suburbs of Prahran and Windsor. Follow me for the perfect night out on Chapel street!
- 6pm: start with a drink in one of the countless bars. You’ll be spoilt for choice between the backyard of Three Monkeys, the comfy couches of Jane Doe or live music at the Wolf and I, and it might be hard to choose where to go! On a warm afternoon, grab a bottle of Little Creatures (my favourite Australian beer) and enjoy it on the terrace of Tusk, under the shade of the tree.
- 8pm: time for a good dinner! If you’re into Mexican food, Jalisco is the place to go. Just across the street, the South-East Asian cuisine of Hawker Hall is delicious (booking is advised). Be careful though, some of the dishes are extremely spicy! My mouth hasn’t forgotten yet…
- 10pm: enjoy a cocktail in a hidden bar. Jungle Boy is a must of Melbourne! Read my previous article to know more about this place.
- midnight: let’s go dancing! In Chapel Street you’ll find the most famous club of Melbourne: Revolver Upstairs. Open non-stop from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning, I would only advise it to real party animals though. For a less extreme atmosphere, the 2 floors of Lucky Coq at the corner of Chapel and High Street should be perfect… and the entry is free!
- 11am: after such a long night, what else than a good brunch to start a new day? I began many Sunday mornings on the benches of Yellow Bird, and I’m sure that you’ll find the perfect dish for you on their huge menu. I can only recommend the delicious Avocado Mess… Yummy!
5/ St Kilda – Acland Street
St Kilda is the beach side of Melbourne. With its many backpackers’ hostels and the roller-coaster and attractions of Luna Park, there’s a holiday vibe here 365 days a year and its main artery Acland Street is always busy and lively. Try a delicious cake from one of the many pastry shops: it’s impossible to resist so many sweets in display…
There are also a lot of shopping options here, as well as many bars and restaurants, some of them with live music in the evening.
At the end of the afternoon, take a 5-minute walk from Acland Street to the beach to enjoy a gorgeous sunset over the bay. At the same time, penguins from the St Kilda Pier colony come back to search for a shelter for the night. Such an endearing and funny sight to watch them clumsily climb on the rocks at the end of the pier!
And you, do you have any other favourite streets in Melbourne? Share them in the comments!
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