Ready to make up for lost time in the city? Check out these iconic Melbourne experiences on your next city adventure, from street art and laneway bars to shopping and shows.

Drink world-class coffee on every corner

How could we start with anything other than coffee? Order it from an impossibly small hole-in-the-wall, with a side of cult-status katsu sando or served in an edible biscuit cup. Try it spiked with butterscotch at Baguette Studios, sip $2.50 filter until midnight at Butcher's Diner or grab a cup in the no-photo zone that is Dukes. Then tour your way through our guide to Melbourne's best iced coffees.

A person's hand holding a coffee cup
Puzzle's edible cup

Explore epic art exhibits without spending a cent

Melbourne is filled with world-renowned museums, independent galleries and edgy artist-run spaces, and some of the best exhibits are free every day. For a spot of culture visit the giant skulls of Mass at NGV Australia’s Ian Potter Centre. Explore the history of film at ACMI, with free entry to the Story of the Moving Image. Then head to the Australian Music Vault to see rare footage and music memorabilia, from Kylie's fits to Nick Cave's notebooks.

Discover hidden street art

Melbourne is renowned for its street art, but the good stuff is hidden in the city’s nooks and crannies. Meyer's Place is home to a glorious green Mike Makatron mural, as is Gallagher's Lane. Duckboard Place boasts Melbourne's last Banksy, Drewery Alley offers up a floating apparition that glows at night and the mysterious Melbourne cat stencil can be seen all over town - but out fave is in Liverpool Street. Find all this and more on a self-guided walk, or let the experts guide you around on a street art tour.

A woman standing in front of a tall mural in a laneway
Nick Azidis' Highlander Lane mural

Eat dumplings in Chinatown

Melburnians are totally devoted to dumplings. Ideally enjoyed among the bright lights and spicy scents of Chinatown. Devour these bundles of joy at HuTong, or the city outpost of renowned Tim Ho Wan. The queue outside Shanghai Street is often long for good reason, but don’t worry, it moves quickly.

Snap a classic photo

Pause on bustling heritage Princes Bridge and enjoy uninterrupted views of the Yarra. To the east, there’s Fed Square’s contemporary architecture. Plus acres of parkland and the legendary Melbourne Cricket Ground. Look west to see the river lined with skyscrapers. And the Arts Centre spire and iconic Flinders Street Railway Station.

A train station lit up at night
Flinders Street station

Visit Little Italy on Lygon Street

Lygon Street has long been known as Melbourne’s Little Italy. A short tram ride from the central business district, it’s still the place for a taste of la dolce vita. Favourites include Tiamo, Brunetti, Donnini’s Restaurant and King & Godfree. Taste your way up each level to K&G’s rooftop bar, Johnny’s Green Room, for panoramic views of the city. And add Italian staples from Pidapipo Gelateria and Leonardo’s Pizza Palace.

Drink in a hidden bar

Many visitors never discover some of Melbourne’s best bars. That’s because they’re hidden down laneways and behind secret doors. Favourites include basement level Bar Margaux, with a Paris-meets-New York vibe. Peruse the epic cocktail menu at prohibition-style bar Eau de Vie. Pop in for a natty wine at Cathedral Coffee, located in a late-night nook of the Nicholas Building. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss Chuckle Park, an open-air bar off Little Collins Street.

People drinking at an outdoor bar
Chuckle Park

See a show in a stunning old theatre

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to big shows in Melbourne. The revamped Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is taking centre stage at Princess Theatre. And award-winning musical Hamilton has landed at Her Majesty's Theatre. More shows to add to your watch-list include Mary Poppins, Moulin Rouge and Phantom of the Opera. The iconic La Mama theatre has also returned after a long hiatus.

Rediscover Melbourne's most beautiful shops

Go retro at Vintage Sole and Reina, or find curated designer fashion at Christine on Collins. Make it super local and ethical at Collective Closets and Queen Victoria Women’s Centre’s SHOP! Boost your mood at flower-lined wonderland Pollon, and hunt for your next great read at Melbourne's most beautiful book stores. Find more beauty in our guide to Melbourne's most Instagrammable shops.

A woman walking through a shopping arcade
Cathedral Arcade

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Last updated on Thu 5 Jan 2023

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