Melbourne is crammed with hidden spaces, nooks and crannies. From secret drinking dens to tiny street art, car-park cafes and rooftop bars – here are some gems you may have missed.

Two men walking into a small hidden ramen bar

The unofficial Japan-town

Insiders know MidCity Arcade is like a detour to Japan. Drop into Kaneda for a deluxe bento box beneath a giant mural of Hokusai’s Great Wave. Ride the escalator to Sushi Hotaru where all sushi and sides off the train are just $3.70. Or try Hakata-style house-made noodles at Mr Ramen San. The Japanese atmosphere is authentic, from the staff's chorus of greetings to the Studio Ghibli decor.

Big blocks and wheels of cheese in a cellar

The basement cheese cellar

If you’re seeking gourmet goodness, follow Spring Street Grocer’s neon cheese sign down a spiral staircase. Behold! An underground temple of cheese sourced from around the world and stored in fromage friendly conditions. From brie to blue, your heart’s desire awaits at Spring Street Cheese Cellar.

Two women walking into a tiny bar wedged between two retail stores

The 'laneway off a laneway' bar

Wedged off Little Collins, Chuckle Park is a sliver of a cafe and bar. And while a lot of Melbourne’s coolest bars can boast a laneway location, this cute spot has its very own mini side street. Complete with vintage caravan bar, bright faux flora and magical lanterns, it doesn't get more Melbourne than this.

Diner cooking hotpot on a bright blue table.

The restaurant in a car park

You have to have a bit of grit and a lot of confidence to open a restaurant in a car park. Luckily Soi 38 has both, as the steady lunch queues prove. Boat noodles with beef are an easy choice or opt for braised duck noodle soup for something a little richer.

The inside of a church building

The century old building hosting pirate shows

To get your pirate on, heave ho to the Mission to Seafarers. Indulge in some liquid courage and enjoy a pirate cabaret dinner from Queens of the Damned. Expect a night of swashbuckling burlesque and cut-throat comedy. The Spanish-style courtyard and beautiful mission building chapel are a must-see, too.

A street art stencil on a building of a parachuting rat

The last Banksy

Before they were tourist attractions, Melbourne's laneways had already been discovered by famous street artist Banksy. Although his work is increasingly difficult to find, you can still see one of his infamous rat stencils. Head down AC/DC Lane and into Duckboard Place. You will find it hiding in a doorway. It's just one of many sights on City of Melbourne's free street art walking guide.

people walking past outdoor tables and umbrellas next to a street art covered building

The cult-status brunch spot

In a hidden alley behind a petrol station, Vertue Coffee Roasters used to have a name even more obscure than its location. Inspired by a handbill promoting London’s first coffee house, it began as The Vertue Of The Coffee Drink. A micro-roaster, cafe, kitchen and retailer, the team take their coffee very seriously.

A couple walking in a domed hallway in a museum

The underground gold vaults

The Old Treasury Building tour is more than a trip down memory lane. It’s home to the original vaults where gold bullion was stored during the Gold Rush era. Explore the vaults with free entry Sunday through to Friday.

Two children standing in front of a mural painted as outer space

The immersive trick art gallery hiding in Docklands

Touch, feel and grab the camera at this one-of-a-kind art gallery in Docklands. ArtVo is the ultimate trick art spot, home to a collection of more than 80 hand-painted immersive artworks. Kids young and old will love the different zones where viewers become the art.

Mannequins and shelves displaying clothing in a fashion store located in an old building with a high ceiling and arch windows

The iconic concept store in an old cathedral

This extraordinary retail space, just next to St Paul’s Cathedral, has to be seen to be believed. Walk up two flights of stairs to an elegant and lofty hall with high ceilings, expansive glass windows and a grand piano. In addition to showcasing Alpha60’s cuts and styles, it’s also a place for artistic collaboration. Previous pop-up events have included the MSO’s Secret Symphony series and White Night.

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Last updated on Thu 11 Aug 2022

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