On weekends, join the throng of Melburnians who descend on St Kilda, a bayside suburb humming with cool locals who wander the streets, stopping for sweets, market stalls and some salt water.
Eat sweets on Acland Street
The city’s home of Jewish and Eastern European migrants is also home to their wonderful pastries and a handful of mostly historic patisseries still operate. Europa Cake Shop makes faultless baked cheesecake and fruit tarts; grande dame Monarch Cakes has perfected the chocolate Kugelhopf; Acland Continental Cakes is famous for its French gateaux; and Le Bon Continental Cake Shop does delectable almond tarts.
Located between 81 and 103 Acland Street, St Kilda
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Stroll through the Sunday markets
You’ll find more than 150 stalls along The Esplanade, including handmade art and crafts, plus great street eats. Saunter down towards Acland Street to check out the gaping maw of Luna Park and hear the screams of people on the rickety wooden roller-coaster – 104 years old and the world’s oldest in continual operation (if you feel brave enough, it affords great views of Port Phillip Bay). Go to stkildaesplanademarket.com.au
Dive into a saltwater pool
The St Kilda Sea Baths are a vestige of 19th-century mores, which saw swimming banned on the beach during daylight hours. Turn some laps in the heated saltwater pool, float in the hydrotherapy pool, de-stress in the steam room or simply relax in the lounge area with great views of the bay and rollerbladers whooshing past.
10-18 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda
Play chess at the botanical gardens
For a change of pace from St Kilda’s frenetic energy, head to the St Kilda Botanical Gardens, a green oasis established in 1859 and registered with Heritage Victoria. Make your move on the giant chessboard near the pond and conservatory (bookings are available Monday to Friday between 8am and 2pm).
Herbert and Blessington streets, St Kilda
See the little penguins
Walk along the historic St Kilda Pier at sunset then go searching for wildlife. The breakwater is home to a colony of about 1000 little penguins (Eudyptula minor) – the same type tourists flock to see at Phillip Island, only these ones are 120 kilometres closer to the city. Look for them as you head home at dusk. Visit stkildapenguins.com.au