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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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