The heart of Melbourne is an exciting maze of things to explore. Wander through laneways and uncover hidden gems, from bars and street art, to artisan eateries and shops.
It’s all about getting lost in cobbled lanes and discovering secret places in Melbourne’s CBD. With over 40 laneways and arcades, it’s an urban explorer’s dream.
Head to Flinders Lane for some of the best dining the city has to offer. Chin Chin, Kisume, Cumulus Inc and Vapiano are just a few of the award-winning restaurants that call this laneway home. There are as many affordable dining options here as there are expensive ones. Get Korean fried chicken at one of the many Korean eateries off Little Lonsdale Street, eat dumplings at HuTong on Market Lane, or grab a cheap lunch from one of the cafes along Degraves Street or Centre Place. You’ll find others hidden in buildings across the city, including Sushi Hotaru in Midcity Centre, basement Thai restaurant Dodee Paidang, and PappaRich Malaysian in QV Melbourne (which also happens to be halal).
You can’t be in Melbourne and not enjoy specialty coffee. There are plenty of cafes serving up great brews, but don’t look past Melbourne’s very own roasters including Coffee Cartel, Dukes Coffee Roasters, and Bonnie Coffee Co – all of which are found in tiny lanes or in quieter parts of the city.
Take in the street art lining Hosier Lane and ACDC Lane, where Banksy once left his mark. Duckboard Place, Presgrave Place and Croft Alley are worth visiting for their murals, tags and miniature art. Art-lovers will also enjoy smaller galleries like No Vacancy on Jane Bell Lane and Loop Project Space & Bar in Meyers Place, with rotating exhibitions and a packed events program.
It’s easy to see why Melbourne is Australia’s fashion capital. Laneways, as well as arcades like the Royal Arcade, Block Arcade and Cathedral Arcade, house local boutiques, vintage and independent labels. Budget-friendly chains including Muji, Uniqlo and H&M are located in major shopping centres like Emporium and GPO. Make sure to check out Melbourne’s homegrown labels while you’re in the city, including Gorman, Bared Footwear and Scanlan Theodore.
Some of the best drinking spots are found in alleyways or on top of buildings. Eau de Vie has a lounge hidden behind a bookcase; Madame Brussels offers a summery vibe with its indoor garden and rooftop terrace; and science-themed bar The Croft Institute impresses with custom drinks served in interesting ways.
The Study Melbourne Student Centre on Hardware Lane provides a convenient space for study and activities, and has free support to help you make the most of living and studying in Melbourne. You can access visa and workplace advice, join study meetups and receive help if you’re not sure who to talk to.
Enjoy some quiet study in one of Melbourne’s most beautiful buildings. The State Library Victoria offers computer access, free wi-fi, and printing and photocopying services. City Library on Flinders Lane and Library at The Dock in Docklands host events, community groups, and regular English conversation sessions.
The Melbourne City Baths on Swanston Street is an excellent public gym and swimming facility providing an indoor lap pool, sauna, spa, group fitness classes and squash courts. There are also plenty of gyms in the city, like Fitness First, Snap Fitness, and Anytime Fitness, which offer casual access and memberships.
Places of worship in the city centre for Catholic and Christian faiths include the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral, Scots’ Church, and St Patrick’s Cathedral amongst many others. The Islamic Council of Victoria has a city mosque on Jeffcott Street in West Melbourne, and you’ll find the Melbourne Madinah on Exhibition Street. Prayer rooms are also available at most Melbourne colleges and universities.
Summer is all about enjoying the city outdoors. From December to March, you can head to the rooftop of Curtin House on Swanston Street or to QV Melbourne for outdoor cinema. Watch blockbusters, classics and cult favourites while enjoying drinks, snacks, and comfortable deck chairs.
Melbourne summers have also become synonymous with the Sidney Myer Free Concert Series – an annual music event that livens up the grounds of Kings Domain. Every February for three days, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra plays under the stars for all to hear. Entry is free.