Melbourne is easy to love and adored by many. It often tops the world’s most liveable city lists, which is unsurprising given it excels in multiple categories and appeals to various demographics. It’s an urbanite’s dream. Based on a grid system, many of the city’s greatest delights are hidden in laneways. The myriad of lanes are ripe for business owners, currently tenanted by independent art galleries, bars, cafés, and boutiques.
This sometimes gritty and always edgy city reminds me of the Toronto I know and love. Melbourne has multiple personalities that each offer worthwhile and unique ways to experience the city. We discovered businesses with complex, multi-purpose identities. Cafés in old warehouses that showcased the art of up and coming artists and boutique hotels with art studios, situated in children’s hospitals.
While Melbourne can’t compete physically with Sydney, looks aren’t everything. Melbourne’s cuisine, culture and art scenes are impressive on a global scale and draw in hoards of tourists and new immigrants year-round. This 72-hour guide merely scratches the surface of what is quickly becoming one of my favourite cities.
STAY: The Larwill Studio
Staying in up and coming North Melbourne was an easy decision. I had read a lot about the vintage shopping and quality cafés in the area and wanted to be based close to Fitzroy. We decided on The Larwill Studio, which is part of the Art Series Hotel Group. The boutique hotel is dedicated to quirky Australian artist, David Larwill and features pops of orange that complement Larwill’s lighthearted pieces. The hotel is located in The Royal Children’s Hospital AND offers art classes and studio space available for booking. Nick and I both agreed that the beds were the comfiest we’ve ever slept in and loved having access to Lekker cruisers to explore the city.
EAT & DRINK:
With three full days in Melbourne, we spent a lot of time eating and drinking. The city delivered on both accounts and we’re already dreaming of returning to venture to all the places we didn’t get a chance to visit. In short, nowhere else does brunch quite like Melbourne!
Fourth Chapter: Found in Prahran, just off Church Street, this delightfully bright café is filled with incredible greenery and mouthwatering dishes. They offer healthy alternatives like açai and cherry bowls and avocado smash with fritters. Their back patio is perfect on a sunny day.
Higher Ground: If you’re after Melbourne’s tastiest and most instagrammable hotcakes, be sure to visit Higher Ground, Top Paddock or The Kettle Black. They are served with fruit, flowers, whipped cream, and maple syrup and you may want to share!
Auction Rooms: I couldn’t get over the gorgeous interior at this North Melbourne café. Swarming with locals when we visited, we waited on one of the church pews outside with a strong coffee and croissant until our table was ready.
Market Lane Coffee: If you’re after high quality brew, you’ve come to the right place. With a handful of locations scattered through Melbourne, the team behind Market Lane is passionate about coffee. The specialty roastery, cafe and reatailer insists on doing one thing and doing it well, which is evident in their espresso, aeropress and pour over options.
Doughboys Doughnuts: Some people have an affinity for macarons, others cupcakes. My obsession is with doughnuts and Doughboys serves up some of Melbourne’s freshest. Visiting with an empty stomach is advisable!
Trippy Taco: Some of the most delicious vegetarian tacos I’ve ever tasted on super cool Gertrude Street.
Chin Chin: Everyone who knows Melbourne will tell you to dine at Chin Chin – listen to them! There’s always a wait, but you can grab a drink downstairs at GoGo Bar (which has my all-time favourite neon sign). As was recommended to us, we tried the Tasting Platter and plate after plate of mouthwatering food soon appeared before us!
Adelphi Hotel: After overindulging at dinner, we ventured to Adelphi Hotel to sample their extensive and elaborate cocktail menu. The intimate bar offers everything one could desire from a hotel bar – moody lighting, strong drinks and attentive service. Both Nick and I were impressed by the creativity and presentation that went into our drinks. I had the Summer G&T, which includes a generous pour of Hendricks gin (yes!), elderflower, cucumber, raspberries, rose syrup and capi tonic! It’s served in a pot hole infuser! I’ve never known someone to love mojitos as much as Nick, so he opted for the Toothpaste mojito, which is as strange as it sounds. After a light brush with mojito toothpaste and toothbrush, light rum, pressed organic mint, clarified lime juice is a delight to the palette.
Naked For Satan: If you’re looking for Melbourne’s best rooftop bar, look no further! This popular Fitzroy spot not only serves up some of the best cocktails and Spanish tapas in the city, it also showcases the Melbourne skyline in all its glory!
KitKat Chocolatory: Make your very own chocolate bar at the world’s only KitKat chocolatory. My friend and local Melburnian, Jess introduced us to this exciting foodie destination, and I was way too excited about crafting my own bar and selecting the packaging. I opted for salted caramel, honeycomb and hibiscus mixed into dark chocolate. YUM!
Brighton Beach: Avoid touristy St. Kilda and venture further south to Brighton Beach. Get your photo taken in front of the colourful bathing boxes, which are definitely unique to the area!
Botanic Gardens: I had visited the botanic gardens on my last trip to Melbourne, and insisted we return again this time! During the summer months, be sure to check out the moonlight cinema.
Queen Victoria Market: The market itself is as tacky as you’d expect, but worth visiting for the shops just outside. The pop-up shops rotate throughout the year and Books for Cooks bookstore can inspire even the laziest of chefs (aka me). There’s also a Market Lane location next door, so you can get your caffeine fix.
I aimed not to spend much money in Melbourne. I’m streamlining my wardrobe and my life because I have a tendency to accumulate clutter. Also, I want to reduce my spending and environmental footprint. That said, there were several shops I couldn’t help poking my head into since Melbourne is, after all, known as a shopping destination!
Aesop: Be sure to visit the mothership whilst in Melbourne. Aesop was established in Melbourne in 1987 with the objective to formulate skin, hair and body care products of the finest quality. They aim to source plant-based and laboratory-made ingredients. Each of their stores is unique, and their employees are always super helpful!
Milk & Sugar: With two locations, this Melbourne shop carries a range of bedspreads, linens, homewares & creative lighting. Perfect for those who are decorating their homes and strive for a minimalist aesthetic.
COS: One of my go-to stores for quality basics with a twist, COS has made its way from Sweden to Australia. The Melbourne store is relatively small, but still features a decent range of their current collection.
Saturdays Surf NYC: Selling menswear and coffee, this New York institution is worth visiting if you have a thing for good design and attractive surfers.
Tell me, what are your must-visit spots in Melbourne?