Welcome to Melbourne
Stylish, arty Melbourne is both dynamic and cosmopolitan, and it's proud of its place as Australia’s sporting and cultural capital.
Within the Grid
It's long been commented that Melbourne's inner city is the most European of any in Australia; the leafy eastern section of Collins St was dubbed the 'Paris end' in the 1950s. There's a bit of New York in the mix as well, thanks to the city's well-ordered grid and scattering of art-deco high-rises. But Melbourne is uniquely Melbourne and a lot of that's down to the more than 230 laneways that penetrate into the heart of the city blocks. It's here that the inner city's true nature resides, crammed into narrow lanes concealing world-beating restaurants, bars and street art.
Melbourne is best experienced as a local would, with its character largely reliant upon its diverse collection of inner-city neighbourhoods. Despite a long-standing north–south divide (flashy South Yarra versus hipster Fitzroy), there’s a coolness about its bars, cafes, restaurants, festivals and people that transcends the borders. Ethnic communities have gravitated together in some areas, and Melburnians know to head to Victoria St in Richmond for Vietnamese food, Lygon St in Carlton for old-school Italian, Balaclava for Jewish bakeries, Brunswick for Middle Eastern, Footscray for African and Chinatown for all manner of Asian cuisines.
It's not the high-rises and bridges that strike you when you first visit Melbourne but the vast sporting edifices that fringe the city centre. Melburnians are passionate about AFL football ('footy'), cricket and horse racing, while grand-slam tennis and Formula One car racing draw visitors in droves. Sport is a crucial part of the social fabric, taking on something of a religious aspect here. In fact, sporting events have nearly as many public holidays allotted to them as religion – everyone gets the day off for the Melbourne Cup horse race and the Friday before the AFL Grand Final!
Deep Reserves of Cool
Melbourne was 'hipster' before the word was ever attached to bearded 20-something Bon Iver fans. It's long had an artsy, liberal, bohemian and progressive strand to its subculture, and coffee and food have been obsessions here for decades. Word spreads about interesting new eateries and, before you know it, queues are forming outside. The international trend for faux-speakeasy bars is redundant in Melbourne as the city has had edgy places hidden down laneways and on warehouse rooftops for many years. Melbourne doesn't have to try hard – it just is.
Top experiences in Melbourne
Food and drink
Attica in St KildaModern Australian
Lune Croissanterie in Fitzroy, Collingwood & AbbotsfordBakery
D.O.C. Espresso in Carlton & BrunswickItalian
Smith & Deli in Fitzroy, Collingwood & AbbotsfordDeli Vegan
Zumbo in South Yarra, Prahran & WindsorDesserts
Cutler & Co in Fitzroy, Collingwood & AbbotsfordModern Australian
Spice Temple in Southbank & DocklandsChinese
Hakata Gensuke in City CentreRamen
Lee Ho Fook in City CentreChinese
D.O.C. Pizza & Mozzarella Bar in Carlton & BrunswickPizza