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Equal parts dynamic, cosmopolitan, sports-mad and arty, Melbourne simultaneously exudes style and keeps its best spots hidden, inviting discovery by food and culture lovers.

Within the Grid

Melbourne is often dubbed the most 'European' of Australian cities – indeed the eastern, designer section of Collins St was crowned the 'Paris End' in the 1950s. There's also a mini New York vibe here, thanks to the city's well-ordered grid and scattering of art-deco high-rises. But Melbourne is uniquely Melbourne, too. Much of that is due to the 230-plus laneways that penetrate into the heart of city blocks, which are recognised for world-class street art, restaurants and bars. Spend a year here – or a lifetime – and there will still be another route to take; another gem to uncover.


While central Melbourne has its own allure, the city's charm lies in its diverse suburbs, each of which tells a different tale. Despite the long-standing north–south divide (glitzy South Yarra versus hipster Fitzroy), there’s an effortless, laid-back appeal surrounding Melbourne's bars, cafes, festivals and people that transcends borders. Best experienced like a local, neighbourhood pockets of delicious food reflect the ethnic communities that inhabit them: Victoria St, Richmond, for Vietnamese; Carlton's old-school Italian; Balaclava for Jewish bakeries; Middle Eastern in Brunswick; Footscray for Ethiopian; and Chinatown for Asian food matched only by its country of origin.


It's not the high-rises and bridges that strike you when first visiting Melbourne, but the vast sporting edifices on the fringe of the city centre. Melburnians are crazy about AFL football ('footy'), cricket and horse racing, while grand-slam tennis and Formula One car racing draw visitors in droves. Sport is part of the social fabric and takes 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

It’s easy to label Melbourne a 'hipster' destination, but for a city that’s more than 20 hours by plane from New York and London – and home to half as many people – it’s more a trendsetter than follower. Melbourne's long been food and coffee obsessed and had liberal, bohemian and progressive strands to its subculture. Top chefs are inspired by their heritage and don't just cook local produce, but native ingredients used by Indigenous Australians for hundreds of thousands of years. Mingled with hotspots in laneways, warehouses and on rooftops, it’s clear that Melbourne doesn't have to try – it just is.

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