Thanks to its galleries, museums and food from all around the world, Melbourne has earned the title of Australia’s cultural capital. This southern city is packed with so many hidden gems, especially in the inner-city laneways, that if you’ve recently arrived in the city, you might need some expert advice on where to eat and what to do. That’s where our local guides come in.

From the best cafes to where to take a Sunday stroll, we spoke to three Melbourne-based students about their favourite spots in the city.

Renuka – India

Originally from India, Renuka has lived in Melbourne since 2018. She’s an arts student at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Media and Communication.

“I wanted to study here because of a broader range of subjects that are offered to students in Arts and Humanities,” she says. “I am also pursuing a breadth track in Marketing as I am interested in having a career in the field of marketing and advertising.”

Renuka likes to spend time with friends and find the best cheap eats in the city.

Where do you live in Melbourne and what do you love about living there?

I stay in student accommodation in Carlton, close to Queen Victoria Market. From my room, I can see the CBD skyline. I love the view because it reminds me of my hometown, Mumbai, and how the glass buildings contrast with the blue skies or light up during the night.

What’s your favourite thing to do or place to go on Friday and Saturday nights?

Friday nights are generally busy, as I am either working or finishing assignments to free up my weekend. I might go out with my friends to Chinatown to get Japanese food or hotpot for dinner after a really busy day. After coming back home, we generally play some video games or watch movies.

Saturday nights are very social and mostly involve drinking with friends at their place. Sometimes we go bowling or to escape rooms around the city to have a fun evening and then grab some food. Fitzroy and Brunswick have a range of aesthetic food places for you to take pictures for your Instagram!

What’s your favourite coffee spot?

There are plenty around the city. Professor’s Walk is my go-to coffee fix when I am studying at uni. Flovie Cafe is also nice for their unique floral twist on coffee.

What’s your favourite dinner spot?

Rice Workshop in Chinatown – that is one place my friends and I visit at least two or three times a week. They offer great food at a really cheap price!

What’s your favourite hidden gem in Melbourne?

A café called Little Rogue in Drewery Lane. This place was accidentally discovered and has remained one of my favourite places ever!

What are three things someone visiting the city shouldn’t miss?

I would highly recommend Southbank for walks along the riverbank at almost any time of the day and mesmerising sunsets, or Block Arcade because you will always find something new. The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is a great place to see all of the city skyline, beaches, highways and the dockyards.

Fisher – Malaysia

melbourne activities
Now in his third year in Melbourne, Fisher is studying a Bachelor of IT at RMIT. He is originally from Ipoh in Malaysia. 
“RMIT University is one of my dream universities, and it has a good ranking in IT subjects, so that’s why I’m here,” he says.
Fisher has explored lots of different neighbourhoods of Melbourne during his time as an international student. When he’s not studying, Fisher likes to hit the beach or go skiing at Mt Buller. 
Where do you live in Melbourne and what do you love about living there?
I’ve lived in a couple of different places – North Melbourne and the CBD – and currently I’m living in Carlton. I choose to live near the city because it is close to my uni, and also easier for me to go to work. Living in Melbourne is so peaceful compared to Malaysia and I also enjoy the delicious food in Melbourne.
What’s your favourite breakfast spot?
 I don’t have breakfast that often, but if I have to wake up super early I go to Mr. Kitchen on Swanston Street. It’s a franchise restaurant located all around Australia that mainly offers Chinese breakfast such as porridge, Chinese pancake and Chinese sausages.
What’s your favourite dinner spot?
My favourite dinner spot would be Rose Garden. I always order BBQ Pork Omelette on rice. At the restaurant, you can see lots of students throughout the day. The cost there is reasonable and the portions they provide are super big.
What are three things someone visiting the city shouldn’t miss?
First would be the Great Ocean Road. It’s three hours’ drive from Melbourne and you can enjoy the natural environment there. If you are driving there by yourself, you can always arrive there before the sunset and enjoy the view.
Secondly, if you want to taste some Italian food, you should try the chicken schnitzel or chicken parmigiana at Universal Restaurant on Lygon Street
Lastly, go to the Yarra River behind Federation Square. Usually, I walk there and enjoy the view. It is a very quiet place in the centre of Melbourne where you can chill out.

Sheridan – Rural Victoria

Sheridan grew up in Murtoa, a small country town in Western Victoria. After graduating from high school, she decided to move to Melbourne to broaden her opportunities. Sheridan is currently studying a Bachelor of Design in Game Design at RMIT.
While she generally prefers to relax at home during her downtime, Sheridan also loves exploring Melbourne’s many cultural institutions.
Where do you live in Melbourne and what do you love about living there?
I’m currently living at Journal Student Living in Carlton. I love how secure it is here and all the greenery. It definitely helps fill the missing nature when in the city.
What is a typical Saturday like for you?
Saturday is usually my shopping day. It’s my day to relax and either spoil myself by getting a new T-shirt or just look through different shops.
Typical Sunday?
I usually sleep in on Sunday, and will go to A Cafe Called John on the ground floor of Journal for brunch. The staff there are all really lovely, and they make the best scrambled eggs on toast. Then the rest of the day is just playing games or doing my game design commissions.
What’s your favourite coffee spot?
I don’t drink coffee, but I do love getting a croissant from the cafes on Bowen Street.
What’s your favourite dinner spot?
I enjoy this pizza place on Lygon Street called Mercadante – they make brilliant wood-fired pizza.
What are three things someone visiting the city shouldn’t miss?
Definitely visit the NGV, have a look at the Melbourne Museum, and if you’re really adventurous, take a train ride out into the country – there is so much out there. You’d be surprised at what you can find!

Inspired by the culture and character of Melbourne, Journal Uni Place goes far beyond standard student accommodation. Only Uni Place offers bigger common spaces, sophisticated design, lush gardens – and all right next door to the universities and CBD. Book now for semester 1, 2020.