Carlton and Fitzroy offer a buzzing urban lifestyle. Wander down Brunswick and Lygon Streets and their side streets to find markets, boutiques and fun nightlife.
Eating around Fitzroy is as eclectic as it comes. Vegetarians and vegans will love the plant-based menus at Smith & Daughters, Vegie Bar and other venues along Brunswick Street; Alimentari does quality take-home meals and pantry staples; and there are lots of multicultural eateries, from Vietnamese to Ethiopian. Some of the finest brunch and patisserie spots are also here, hidden down side streets – including Melbourne’s best croissants at Lune Croissanterie.
Neighbouring Carlton rivals Fitzroy with its bustling cafe scene. Formerly an old textile factory, non-profit cafe Sibling serves fantastic coffee and food. Baker D. Chirico makes excellent artisan bread and particularly good donuts. Ima Project is a Japanese cafe that embraces nose-to-tail dining and waste minimisation. Like the city, you’ll come across hidden gems like Vertue Coffee Roasters, found in a laneway near the arthouse Nova Cinema.
Carlton and Fitzroy are some of Melbourne’s best spots for genuine house-made gelato. People line up in Carlton for scoops of Pidapipo’s traditional Sicilian version, while Il Dolce Freddo does exotic durian and taro flavours. Compa and Piccolina Gelateria are favourites in Fitzroy.
One of the best things to do in Fitzroy is shop for one-off vintage pieces. Hunt for treasures from the likes of Vintage Sole, Hunter Gatherer, Lost and Found Market, and more. Another great destination for pre-loved fashion is the Fitzroy Market – a weekly community market with over 70 stalls and good food and coffee. This market often teams up with the Fitzroy Mills Market, where you can buy fresh and handmade produce. Opposite is the Rose St Artists’ Market, specialising in creative wares from independent artists.
When looking for a place for dinner or a night out, you’ll have plenty of choice along Lygon and Brunswick Streets, but don’t overlook the quieter areas. In Fitzroy, enjoy the best red gum-fired steaks in town at Fitzroy Town Hall Hotel. Shimbashi Soba makes its own buckwheat noodles, or head to Shop Ramen for a delicious noodle soup. After dinner, try the delicious cocktails at The Rum Diary Bar, or head to Marion for wine. Then, dance the night away at Laundry Bar or The Night Cat. In Carlton, head to fromagerie Milk the Cow for a cheese board and other cheesy dishes. Mr Pietro serves up beautiful Italian, and Carlton Wine Room provides a warm ambiance and a fine drinks selection to finish off your night.
Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre in Carlton provides community classes and recreational activities. Attend one of the library’s Makerspace events, which includes hands-on activities such as 3D modelling, social sewing, and even a podcast beginners class. English conversation meetups are also regularly held here.
Both the Carlton Baths and Fitzroy Swimming Pool offer swimming facilities, gym equipment, group fitness and even triathlon training. With parks such as Fitzroy Gardens and Carlton Gardens nearby, you can also take your fitness outdoors.
The Melbourne Connect precinct at the University of Melbourne is an innovation hub. Here, you’ll find a science gallery, state-of-the-art facilities and software to help you upskill, innovate and meet like-minded people.
There are several churches and parishes around Carlton and Fitzroy, as well as the Islamic Dawah Centre of Australia, a mosque located on Fitzroy Street. Meditation centres are also found across both areas.
The beautiful Royal Exhibition Building in the lush Carlton Gardens is a historical and cultural icon. Built in 1880, it was the first-ever building to fly the Australian flag and the location for Australia’s first Federal Parliament held in 1901. Today, it’s a heritage-listed site used for exhibitions, trade shows and markets. The biggest draw is The Finders Keepers, a makers market held over three days. Free tours are also available on most days from 2pm with advance bookings.
Nearby is the IMAX Cinema located inside the Melbourne Museum precinct, which shows blockbusters and documentaries in 3D. Melbourne Museum brings the world of science to your fingertips, with interactive exhibitions and galleries.
For a lazy afternoon, wander through Fitzroy’s laneways around Johnston, Rose and Gertrude Streets to enjoy murals and street art by Melbourne talent like the AWOL Crew, Adnate and Rone. Finish your day with an infused vodka drink and some food at iconic rooftop bar Naked for Satan.