Melbourne has become a hub of sport, style, and culture. It has the coziness of a small town set in a modern metropolis. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking, Melbourne was ranked number one most livable city in the world—the sixth year in a row. It’s no wonder so many travel to Melbourne to not only see its wonders but to also live among them. From scenic drives, thriving art scene, hipster bars and cafes, unique shops and award-winning restaurants, the city is full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. So for those of you who are ready to take on this magnificent city, here are our favorite hot spots you cannot miss the next time you’re in town.
If you’re looking to get away from the typical indoor shopping scene like Melbourne Central, then we recommend checking out South Yarra. This area used to be the shopping center district before skyscrapers took over in other parts of the city. Nonetheless, in South Yarra, you can find a multitude of trendy yet classic shops located on Toorak Road and Chapel Street. If you’re a sucker for 1960’s and 1970’s vintage items, then the shops on Greville Street is where you need to be.
Aside from shopping, there are little cafe’s popping up all over this area. There’s an Italian cafe called Little Frankies that serves ice cream in a donut cone, topped off with your favorite topping—the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth!
Are you the outdoorsy type? Then rent a bike at The Humble Vintage, which has an exclusive selection of new and vintage racers, upright bikes and step-through bikes. Take one for the day (or longer) and explore the city using the seasonal map called Melbourne for Visitors and Casual Cyclists, provided to you when you get your bike. You can select from various custom routes designed for the adventurer—choose the Capital City Trail, which takes you from the Yarra River to the Abbotsford Convent. Or, if you want to discover Melbourne’s heritage sites you may otherwise miss, then make sure to select the Hidden Heritage South or North Route. What better way to see all of Melbourne has to offer than on a bike?
Old Melbourne Gaol
The Old Melbourne Gaol, built in the mid-1800s, used to house some of the worst criminals, as well as petty offenders, homeless and those who were mentally unsound, all up until it closed in 1929. Next to the Gaol is The Watch House where felons were taken to face justice. It opened in 1909 and operated until 1994, and to this day its interior is the same as it was 85 years ago.
The Gaol is a self-guided tour, however tickets cover entry to two buildings, the Gaol and the City Watch House. We recommend seeing both because The City Watch House is an interactive tour that involves you being “arrested” and locked-up” by a Charge Sergeant. Don’t worry, you’ll be let go in the end.
The tours are absolutely amazing and educational—you’ll learn how people lived (and passed away) within its walls. Are you looking for a thrill? They offer night tours as well…just make sure you’re not afraid of ghost stories!
After a day of exploring, head over to the Horse Bazaar, a four-in-one business that functions as a bar, music venue, art gallery, and recital area. Every day, Horse Bazaar serves specialty drinks and Japanese soul food. If you stop by on a Wednesday, the place turns into a hip-hop open mic night and serves Japanese fried chicken for only $1. Every third Thursday of the month, the saloon hosts “Beat Lab”, an open mic style night for producers and beatmakers. If you’re up for a fun evening, pop into Horse Bazaar to listen to some good tunes while you munch on their Izakaya tapas menu.
Eau de Vie
Are you more of the classic type? Eau de Vie, meaning “water of life” in French, is a speakeasy type lounge in Melbourne, tucked behind a secret wooden door. From the moment you step inside, you’ll be engulfed by the sophisticated vibe of this trendy yet very classy bar. Their drink menu is extensive and very creative, given the 700+ spirits available in the back bar. We recommend you try the Espresso Zabaione—a mixture of vodka, maple syrup, and coffee topped with a nitrogen-frozen vanilla mousse.
But the bar is not the only hidden gem, hidden behind their “fake book-case” is the Whisky Room that stores the finest whiskeys. They also have lockers for your own personal spirits, which you can store there as well. If the whiskey Room is not booked for an event, it’s definitely a cool place to chill out and have an exquisite cocktail.
Melbourne is a city like no other in Australia. Unlike Sydney, Melbourne is cozy yet metropolitan, is easygoing, and offers its residents and tourists a multitude of activities and sites to explore. Regardless of how long you’re there for, make sure to venture into Melbourne’s hidden gems where you’ll find haute boutiques, a thriving nightlife, multicultural dining options, chic shops, and a lively art scene.
If this or any other destinations speak to you, we’d love to help you get there in comfort and put some savings in your pocket. Submit a flight request or contact your agent and we’ll find the best dates to travel there!