Taste the best croissant outside of Paris
Melbourne isn’t short of cult foods but the most cultish of them all is Lune Croissanterie. The queue forms before sunrise for one of Kate Reid’s delectable pastries. Book well ahead for a seat at Lune Lab to interact with the chefs and enjoy a croissant tastng.
119 Rose Street, Fitzroy
Sip the coffee that locals love
In a coffee-mad town there’s no shortage of coffee royalty – and Seven Seeds is king. Drop by the cool Carlton warehouse with its state-of-the-art roasting facility and sample the house blend or take packets of beans to go.
114 Berkeley Street, Carlton
Ride the Route 8 tram
A great way to take the cultural pulse of the city, the Route 8 tram begins in hipster haven Brunswick and heads along multicultural Sydney Road before cutting through the heart of the city on Swanston Street. See Federation Square and the Arts Precinct then travel on to the grand boulevard of St Kilda Road, past the Shrine of Remembrance and through the leafy streets of Toorak.
Try some legendary dim sims
Less touristy than the Queen Victoria Market, South Melbourne’s covered market brings together food and fashion with events such as artist-led workshops, cooking masterclasses and guided tours. Locals make a beeline for the South Melbourne Market Dim Sims stall, which has been trading since 1949 (just look for the queue). During the summer months, the night market – featuring food vendors and live music – takes on a street-party vibe.
Corner of Cecil and Coventry streets, South Melbourne
Discover the local arts community
The Nicholas Building is the bohemian home of jewellers, fashion designers, commercial artists, haberdashers, milliners and much more. Wander around the studios, boutiques and galleries occupying the nine floors of this extravagant yet decaying Art Deco building. The elevators – two creaky relics of the past with manually closing doors – are well worth a ride.
37 Swanston Street, Melbourne (enter via Cathedral Arcade)
Head to the market
Every Saturday and Sunday the city’s creative types flock to the vibrant Rose Street Artists’ Market in Fitzroy to sell and shop for jewellery, clothing, footwear, prints, art photography, vintage pieces, homewares and curios – all handmade, usually by the person at the stall. There’s a diner and rooftop bar, too, open from 8am until late.
60 Rose Street, Fitzroy
Find the street art
Melbourne is a globally renowned street-art capital and the laneways of the inner city are a de facto art gallery, including the bluestone Hosier Lane, opposite Federation Square, and AC/DC Lane (named after Australia’s biggest rock ’n’ roll export). For a true appreciation of aerosol art, take a guided art tour with the likes of Melbourne Street Tours or Urban Scrawl.
Enjoy farm life
Tucked in a green, tree-lined bend on the Yarra River, Collingwood Children’s Farm feels like it’s in the country rather than four kilometres from the city centre (about 15 minutes’ drive). Not just for kids, the farm is truly interactive – you can pat the guinea pigs and help milk the cow. While you’re there, be sure to visit the imposing Abbotsford Convent (across the bike track). It’s a fascinating relic of 19th-century Melbourne that is now used as a multi-arts precinct featuring galleries, cafés and a wellbeing centre.
Collingwood Children’s Farm; 18 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford
Abbotsford Convent; 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford
See Australian and Indigenous art
Five minutes’ walk from Flinders Street railway station, the National Gallery of Victoria boasts a magnificent Australian collection. The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia site in Federation Square includes Indigenous art and artefacts, plus works by leading 20th-century names such as Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan. The NGV International, on nearby St Kilda Road, is also worth a visit for its sculpture garden and delightful water-wall entrance.
Drink at one of Melbourne’s best bars
Head to Siglo, a rooftop bar perched above Spring Street that offers views of the grand Victorian edifice of Parliament House across the road and the razzle-dazzle theatre lights of the Princess Theatre next door. Complete with a humidor for cigars, a 3am close and proper table service, it’s a late-night favourite, although it can be hard to find – look for the nondescript wooden doorway and walk up the stairs.
Rooftop, 161 Spring Street, Melbourne