The central business district of Melbourne is the city's cultural, entertainment and financial heart. Locally called the CBD, or simply "the City", it is where most international and interstate visitors spend the bulk of their time. Most must-see attractions sit within the city's grid-planned centre, as does much of the accommodation and nightlife.
The main visitor information centre is in Federation Square, right near the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets. There's another information centre near Cooks' Cottage in Fitzroy Gardens, and a small information booth is in the Bourke Street Mall. Additionally, volunteer city ambassadors dressed in a distinctive red uniform are stationed along Swanston St to help tourists with enquiries and directions.
- 1 Melbourne Visitor Centre, Federation Square, Cnr Swanston & Flinders Streets (Flinders Street Station, or any Swanston St tram: Stop 13; or any Flinders St tram: Stop 5). 9AM-6PM daily, closed Christmas Day. A good starting place if you're new in the city. Provides lots of information and tips about the city and the whole of Victoria, including itinerary advice, accommodation details, public transport information and hands out free maps and travel brochures. Also has a booking agency and souvenir shop, which sells myki packs and discounted show and attraction tickets. The centre also books for the Melbourne Greeter Service, a free, multilingual private tour by a volunteer for about 2-3 hours.
- 2 Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre, Wellington Pde, East Melbourne (Tram routes 48 or 75: Stop 10). 9AM-6PM daily, closed Christmas Day. A newer visitor centre set amongst the heritage-listed Fitzroy Gardens. Provides information about the whole of Melbourne, but more detailed info about East Melbourne and the adjacent Cooks' Cottage. Also sells tickets for Cooks' Cottage.
- Southbank and South Wharf — This major entertainment precinct spans the southern bank of the Yarra River, opposite the CBD. The riverfront features a large number of fantastic, but generally expensive, restaurants. The area is a hub of activity and movement, complemented by its family-friendly landmark, the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex.
- Docklands — Just west of Spencer Street in the CBD, the old shipping yards have been redeveloped into a mixed-use residential, commercial and entertainment district perched upon the waterfront. A variety activities, sights and shopping facilities exist throughout the area. While it used to be a fairly stoic area, it has begun to shake its reputation to become a more lively and inviting waterfront precinct.
- Chinatown — Melbourne's Chinatown is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western world. It dates back to the times of the Victorian Gold Rush of the 1850s, which saw mass Chinese immigration. The locality has only grown since then and is still bubbling with activity and good food. Most of Chinatown is on the eastern part of Little Bourke Street.
- Greek Precinct — Famous for its good food and Hellenic architecture and culture, the precinct is in the general area surrounding the intersection of Lonsdale and Russell Streets.
- Paris End — The eastern part of Collins Street, from Swanston Street to Spring Street, has long-been named after the French capital due to its generally strong European flavour. Grand plane trees, lit in pink at night, line the street famed for its historic connection to the city's rich and famous, grand European architecture and numerous designer labels such as Louis Vuitton, Emporio and Giorgio Armani, Prada and many others.
- Legal and banking precinct — A number of new and old court buildings are based around the intersection of William and Lonsdale Streets, traditionally known as the city's legal centre. Historically, the area around Collins Street further south, near William and Queen Streets, was known as a banking precinct, with a number of grand Victorian-era buildings remaining, including the Gothic-style ANZ Banking Museum.
- Government Precinct — The state's politicians and public servants frequent the area around Spring Street in the east, with major sights including Parliament House, the Old Treasury Building, the grand Windsor Hotel and a number of bars where various decision makers are known to have a drink during sitting weeks.
- Arts Precinct — The area of Southbank around St Kilda Road is home to many of the city's art institutions, including the iconic Arts Centre spire, the National Gallery of Victoria (International), the Melbourne Recital Centre and the Victorian College of the Arts (part of the University of Melbourne).
There are also a number of cultural precincts outside the CBD, including Melbourne's Little Italy in Lygon St (Inner north) and various others.
The CBD is Melbourne's hub of public transport. Every train line and most tram routes pass through or terminate in the city. All suburban trains stop at Flinders Street Station, the city's busiest interchange. Country trains terminate at Southern Cross Station. Trams mostly run east to west along Bourke and Collins Streets, and north to south along Swanston Street.
Much of Melbourne's freeway network is designed around moving cars into the city, with the major citybound freeways being the Eastern, Monash, West Gate and CityLink. Most locals leave the car at home and use public transport to reach the city, owing to congestion (often all day), very high parking rates and the ease of getting in by public transport.
3 PTV Hub. M-F 7AM-7PM, Sa Su 9AM-6PM. The Public Transport Victoria hub is located at Southern Cross Station, and assists with any transport or myki (smartcard ticket) related enquiries, including the sale of tourist packs.
Most major thoroughfares in the inner city are serviced by a tram and it is the simplest and most traditional way to get around. The north-south routes are Spencer, William, Elizabeth, Swanston and Spring Streets. La Trobe, Bourke, Collins and Flinders Streets are the major east-west routes.
If travelling only within the central grid, there is often no need to work out what tram route or number you need to catch. Trams typically travel along the entire length of a street in the city, and do not turn (apart from the edges of the grid at Spencer, Spring, Flinders and La Trobe Streets). Therefore, simply get on a tram that is going in the direction you want to go, and get off at the stop you want.
Although the frequency of trams is high, they can be very slow for even a short distance. In busy periods, you may see pedestrians moving faster! Trams are often crowded; make sure you hold on to the rails, as the trams often accelerate and brake suddenly.
Most of the CBD sits within the Free Tram Zone, where you can catch trams for free and do not need to touch on your myki. The zone stretches to Docklands in the west, Spring St in the east, up to Queen Victoria Market in the north and only as far south as the Yarra River. Be cautious, as you must touch on your myki if you leave the zone, and many attractions such as Crown Casino, the Arts Centre and Cooks' Cottage lie just outside the boundary and you may want to walk the last few hundred metres across the river. The City Circle tram line (route 35) travels exclusively within the Free Tram Zone.
The CBD has an excellent network of footpaths and crossings, making it safe, simple and easy for people of all ages and abilities to walk around. Jaywalking is a major issue in the city, and you should only cross at marked crossings, or else risk an incident with a car or tram. It is not unheard of to be fined by the police for jaywalking as they often conduct "blitzes" on enforcing crossing rules. Victoria Police often give on-the-spot fines to jaywalkers in the CBD.
Note that the crossing between Flinders Street and Elizabeth Street in front of the station is a scramble crossing, where all vehicle traffic stops and pedestrians may cross in any direction, including diagonally.
The Melbourne Visitor Centre has seven self-guided walking tours which are useful to discover the city and its history. Guides for the walks can be found here.
Melbourne has had a major shift towards becoming a bicycle friendly city. New bike lanes and infrastructure are constantly under construction in the inner city. The main bike routes in the CBD are:
- Swanston Street, north-south, lanes all the way down past St Kilda and up to Melbourne University in the inner north. Parts are segregated by concrete with right of way, others are on-road lanes right next to traffic and parked cars. In the centre of the city, remember to stop behind boarding trams at the new shared superstops.
- William Street, north-south, marked lanes
- La Trobe Street, east-west, segregated from parking and traffic
- Various bike lanes and routes in the Docklands precinct
- Trails including the Capital City trail along the Yarra and past Southbank
To borrow a bike, you will need a valid credit/debit card; cash is not accepted. Simply follow the instructions at a station. You are legally required to wear a helmet, sometimes available to share for free on the bikes, or else can be purchased for $5 from vending machines at Southern Cross Station or Melbourne University (can be returned for $3). There is an unavoidable base cost of $2.90 to subscribe for a day, or $8 for a week, along with a refundable $50 deposit. There may be an additional cost depending on the time you use a bike between stations. If you hire and return a bike within 30 minutes, there is no additional fee. If you spend up to an hour, it is an extra $2; up to 90 minutes, $7, before it starts becoming fairly expensive. The cheapest option is to simply return the bike every 30 minutes, meaning you will only pay $2.90 for the day. After docking a bike, you are free to rehire a bike after waiting 2 minutes by reinserting your credit card at no extra base cost.
The City Loop forms the backbone of the entire Melbourne train network and serves the city. It runs around the edges of the grid layout, with a mix of sunken, elevated and underground sections. The iconic Flinders Street Station in the south serves as the hub of all suburban rail travel throughout Melbourne, while the also iconic Southern Cross Station in the west is the hub of rural rail and bus travel. Parliament, Melbourne Central and Flagstaff stations are all underground, located in the east, north-east and north-west respectively. Melbourne Central station is built into a major shopping centre.
There is no single service that continually runs around the Loop, but rather a selection of suburban services that pass through. Each station in the CBD has a TV display of popular stations, including the next two train services and the platform they depart from. Trains are frequent enough that there isn't a need to plan intra-CBD travel and you won't have to wait more than 5 minutes. However, most trips within the CBD are more simply accomplished by tram.
The design of the CBD's roads may look straightforward on a map, but it is a fairly different situation on the ground. The abundance of trams means that at many intersections vehicles have to make right-hand turns from the far left lane. Cars in the turning lane must wait until the traffic light of the street they are turning into changes to green before they can finish their turn. This infamous manoeuvre has come to be known as the "hook turn", and is sometimes touted as a unique Melbourne experience.
Other important things to note are to stay clear of the centre tram lane, unlike other cities like Sydney, Newcastle or the Gold Coast, trams are more frequent in Melb, watch for wayward pedestrians and bikes, and that most of Swanston and Bourke Streets are permanently closed to car traffic in favour of trams, bikes and pedestrians. Parking is mostly provided through multi-storey or underground garages, with some on-street parking, but can be very expensive on weekdays. Parking in Docklands is more reasonable, with $10 parking all day at Harbour Town and the option to catch a free tram into the city from there.
- 1 Flinders Street Station, cnr Flinders and Swanston Streets, toll-free: 1800 800 007. Always open. The defining landmark of Melbourne, this colonial-era railway station was designed in an 1899 competition. The station's front steps, below a row of clocks announcing train departure times, are a popular meeting point for locals. It is the busiest suburban station in the Southern Hemisphere. Although grand from the outside, the interior has become dilapidated over the years and many rooms including the ballroom are closed to the public. A restoration project began in 2015 and further works were announced in 2018.
- 2 Government House. The official residence of the Governor of Victoria. The house opened in 1876 as the official residence of the Governor-General of Australia, before the capital moved to Canberra. The house is modelled to some extent on Queen Victoria's Osborne House, in Cowes, England. Combined tours with La Trobe's Cottage must be booked two weeks in advance. Free garden tours on third Thursday of the month, limited to 10 people so book well in advance. Visit on the Open Day on Australia Day (26 January).
- 3 Governor La Trobe's Cottage, Corner of Birdwood Avenue & Dallas Brooks Drive, The Domain. Oct - May on first and third Sundays 11AM - 4PM. A prefabricated cottage imported from England in 1839 for Victoria's first Lt. Governor, Charles Joseph La Trobe. The cottage has been rebuilt and relocated. The cottage and garden is run by the National Trust. $5.
- 4 Melbourne Town Hall, cnr Swanston and Collins Streets (any Collins St tram: Stop 6 or any Swanston St tram: Stop 11), ☏ +61 3 9658 9658, email@example.com. Tours: M-F 11AM and 1PM. Built in 1870, the city's town hall is grand and historic. 1 hour tours allow visitors to see the ornate Council chambers, the richly-carved Grand Organ and sit in the Lord Mayor's chair. Bookings recommended. Free.
- 5 Old Melbourne Gaol, 377 Russell St (2-minute walk from Melbourne Central Station, or tram routes 24, 30 or 35 (City Circle)), ☏ +61 3 8663 7228, firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 9:30AM-5:30PM except Good Friday and Christmas Day. Night tours: M, W, F and Sa. Built in 1841, it is now a penal museum, with a watch house and magistrate's court also on-site. Bushranger Ned Kelly was hanged here in 1880. The scaffold on which he and many others were hanged is displayed, as is Kelly’s death mask. There are other displays in many of the cells. Allow an hour or so for your visit. $30 adult, $25 concession, $17 child (5-15yrs), family tickets available (free for National Trust members and members of reciprical trusts overseas).
- 6 Parliament House of Victoria, 110 Spring St (Parliament Station or tram routes 35 (City Circle), 86 or 96: Stop 9), ☏ +61 3 9651 8568, email@example.com. M-F 9:30AM-3:45PM. Tours: Sa Su 9:30AM, 10:30AM, 11:30AM, 1:30PM, 2:30PM and 3:45PM; on sitting Tuesdays, 9:30AM, 10:30AM and 11:30AM. Built between 1856 and 1879, the Australian federal parliament sat in this impressive building from 1901 to 1927 while Canberra was built. It now houses the state parliament. The majestic façade can be seen right down Bourke St. Tours of the assembly halls and libraries are conducted when parliament is not in session. Visitors are also welcome to sit in the public gallery when parliament is in session. Free.
- 7 Scots Church, cnr Collins and Russell Streets (Any Collins St tram: Stop 7), ☏ +61 3 9650 9903, firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 11AM-2:30PM; Sunday visits only for Mass services. Gothic church built in 1873, the first Presbyterian house of worship in the city. Free.
- 8 Shrine of Remembrance. daily 10AM - 5PM (last entry 4.30 pm), closed Christmas Day and Good Friday. War memorial in classical style opened in 1934. The memorial was designed so that the sun would shine on the word LOVE at 11AM on 11 November. Exhibition galleries under the memorial were added in 2014. A Last Post Service is held here every Sunday at 4.45pm to commemorate an important event in Australia's military history. free.
- 9 State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston St (Melbourne Central Station, or tram routes 1, 3, 6, 8, 16, 67 or 72: Stop 8), ☏ +61 3 8664 7000. M-W 10AM-9PM, Th-Su 10AM-6PM, except public holidays. Built in stages beginning in 1854, it has an impressive classical revival façade. Includes a good newspaper reading room, genealogy room and an art collection, as well as the fantastic La Trobe Reading Room and its huge dome. Bushranger Ned Kelly's armour is stored permanently on display, along with a variety of galleries and exhibitions. Internet terminals are provided for research only, not email, and usually need to be booked because of high demand. Coin-operated lockers are available just off the lobby, where large bags must be deposited before entry. Free Wi-Fi and guided tours are also available. Free.
- 10 St Michaels Uniting Church, cnr Collins and Russell Streets (Any Collins St tram: Stop 7), ☏ +61 3 9654 5120, email@example.com. M-F 10:30AM-1:30PM. Romanesque-style church built in 1866. Free.
- 11 St Patrick’s Cathedral, 2 Cathedral Pce, East Melbourne (2 minute walk from Parliament Station, or tram routes 11, 12 or 109: Stop 11), ☏ +61 3 9662 2332. M-F 9AM-5PM. The original part of this Gothic Revival cathedral was built in the 1850s. It was consecrated in 1897 and the spires added in 1939. It is the largest and tallest church in Australia. Free.
- 12 St Paul's Cathedral, 198 Flinders St (Flinders Street Station), ☏ +61 3 9653 4333, firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-4PM, Su 7:30AM-7:30PM. Gothic-revival cathedral on the site of the colony's first church services in 1836. Free.
- 13 Crown Entertainment Complex, 8 Whiteham St, Southbank (5 minute walk across river from Flinders Street Station), ☏ +61 3 9292 8888. 24hr daily, closed 4AM-noon Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Anzac Day.. A Las Vegas-style gambling palace (including the Crown Casino), also containing restaurants, upmarket boutiques, nightclubs, two hotel towers, a cinema complex and floorshows. Free.
- 14 Eureka Tower, 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank (5 minute walk across river from Flinders Street Station), ☏ +61 3 9693 8888, email@example.com. 10AM-10PM. Contains the highest observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere on level 88, with panoramic views of the entirety of Melbourne. Only recommended in clear weather. Also offers an additional cost "Edge" experience whereby visitors are protruded outside of the building inside a glass-panelled cube. $18.50 adult, $14 concession, $10 child (4-16yrs) and various family tickets. Discounted price for additional same-day visit at nighttime.
- 15 Federation Square, 2 Swanston St (Flinders Street Station), ☏ +61 3 9655 1900, firstname.lastname@example.org. The city's most popular meeting place. The striking architecture of its buildings create a nice backdrop to this open plaza, directly opposite Flinders Street Station. There are usually live, free performances from various groups, along with coverage of major sporting and cultural events on the huge television. A number of museums and organisations call the site home, as well as Melbourne's major visitor information centre in the 'shard' building.
- 16 Melbourne Aquarium, Cnr Flinders St and Kings Way (Tram routes 35 (City Circle), 70 or 75: Stop 2), ☏ +61 3 9923 5999, email@example.com. Daily 9:30AM-6PM, last admission at 5PM. Home to over 10,000 aquatic creatures, there are four distinct areas of the aquarium dedicated to Antarctica, seahorses, the rainforest and the ocean, the latter of which includes a glass walk-through experience. Shark diving and animal feeding available. $35 adult, $21.50 child (4-15 yr), $29 concession, $92 family (2 adult+2 children); discounts online.
- 17 ACDC Lane. Formerly Corporation Lane, this alley was renamed in 2004 in honour of the world-famous Australian rock band. The laneway's sign is a nice photo opportunity for fans, plus it's located in the bar and rock district of the city.
Galleries and the arts
- 18 Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), ☏ +61 3 8663 2200, firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10AM-5PM, except Christmas Day. A museum, gallery and collection of cinemas dedicated to film, TV, video games, new media and art, both old and new. Regularly holds a number of interesting exhibitions. General entry free; charges apply for exhibitions.
- 19 Hosier Lane (Across from Federation Square). If you want to sample street art, head for this little lane full of ever-evolving, colourful graffiti from end to end.
- 20 The Ian Potter Centre (NGV Australia), Federation Square (At the back of Federation Square), ☏ +61 3 8620 2222, email@example.com. Tu-Su 10AM-5PM, except Christmas Day and Good Friday; 1PM on ANZAC Day. Houses over 25,000 works of only Australian art, including paintings, sculptures, photography and fashion. Famous artists such as Frederick McCubbin and Sidney Nolan are on display, along with a fine collection of Indigenous art. Free for the permanent collection.
- 21 National Gallery of Victoria (NGV International), 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, ☏ +61 3 8620 2222, firstname.lastname@example.org. W-M 10AM-5PM, except Christmas Day and Good Friday; 1PM on ANZAC Day. The premier venue for international fine art exhibitions in Melbourne, with a permanent collection and international collections. A must-see for art lovers. Free for the permanent collection.
- 22 Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road (By tram, stop 14 on routes 1, 3, 3a, 5, 6, 16, 64, 67 and 72. By train, disembark at Flinders Street station, then catch a tram or walk.), toll-free: + 61 1300 182 183, email@example.com. The Arts Centre Melbourne is home to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Ballet, Opera Australia and the Melbourne Theatre Company. It has a variety of performance venues, exhibition spaces, bars and restaurants. On Sundays, it hosts an Artisans' Market.
- 23 ANZ Banking Museum, 380 Collins St (Any Collins St tram: Stop 4). M-F 10AM-3PM except public holidays. Housed in the late-19th century Gothic Revival ANZ Bank building, it walks through the history of Australian banking from Indigenous bartering economies to finance of the future. Free.
- 24 Chinese Museum, 22 Cohen Place, Chinatown (just off Little Bourke St, near the plaza with the Chinese arches. Nearest trams at Cnr Russell and Bourke Streets), ☏ +61 3 9662 2888, firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10AM-5PM, closed Good Friday, Christmas and New Year's Day. Situated in the midst of Chinatown, it documents and explains the history of Chinese immigrants in Australia. The 'millennium dragon' is on display, the largest Chinese dragon in the world, along with an interactive underground exhibit highlighting the goldfields. Also on-site is a free visitor centre and a gift shop. The museum runs walking tours of Chinatown by appointment ($10 per person). $12.5 adult, $10 child/concession.
- 25 Fire Services Museum, 39 Gisborne St, East Melbourne (Tram routes 11, 12, 30 or 109: Stop 12), ☏ +61 3 9662 2907, email@example.com. Th-F 9AM-3PM, Su 10AM-4PM. A largely niche museum, it is the largest fire service-related collection in Australia. Houses historical uniforms, vehicles, photos and other memorabilia.
- 26 Immigration Museum, 400 Flinders St (Tram routes 35 (City Circle), 70 or 75: Stop 3), ☏ +61 3 9927 2700. Daily 10AM-5PM except Good Friday & Christmas Day. Located in the restored Old Customs House, it covers customs and immigration history over the past 200 years. Details the stories and experiences of immigrations to Australia, both past and present. $6 adult, children/concession free.
- 27 Old Treasury Building and Gold Museum, 20 Spring St (Parliament Station or any Collins St tram or 35 (City Circle): Stop 8), ☏ +61 3 9651 2233, firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-F 10AM-4PM, closed Good Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day. Built in 1858 by a 19-year-old architect, it was the city’s first Italian Renaissance building and many consider that its elegance has not been surpassed by anything in Melbourne since. Contains displays on the history of Melbourne as well as the history of gold in Victoria, including the original gold vaults. Fun activities for children, including the chance to earn a novelty gold licence. The expansive Treasury Gardens behind the building are also worth a visit. Free.
- 28 Polly Woodside Maritime Museum, 2A Clarendon St, South Wharf (Near the Exhibition Centre; tram routes 96, 109 or 12: Stop 124A), ☏ +61 3 9699 9760, email@example.com. Daily in Summer, July school holidays and weekends in Winter: 10AM-4PM. A maritime museum based aboard the restored 1885 Belfast-built, three-masted, iron-hulled barque "Polly Woodside". Various kids activities available, including Pirate Sundays. $10 adult, $7 child.
- 29 Victoria Police Museum, 637 Flinders St (Tram routes 35 (City Circle) or 70: Stop D6), ☏ +61 3 9247 6354, firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10AM-4PM. Displays with over 150 years of stories and of crime, justice, courage and forensic techniques. Includes some of the famous Kelly Gang's armour, the burnt out car used in the Russell Street Police HQ bombing and various records about famous gangland figures. Regular free exhibitions are on display. Free.
Parks and nature
- 30 Alexandra Gardens, Boathouse Drive. Ornamental gardens laid out in 1904, on south bank of the Yarra River. There is a row of historic rowing boathouses on the river bank.
- 31 Cooks' Cottage and Fitzroy Gardens, 230 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne (Tram routes 48 and 75: Stop 10), email@example.com. Cooks' Cottage: Daily 10AM-4PM, closed Christmas Day. Cooks' Cottage is the cottage that belonged to Captain James Cook’s parents and was transported from Yorkshire to Melbourne in 1934. Cooks' Cottage: $7.20 adult, $5.50 concession, $3.90 child (5-15yrs).
- 32 Queen Victoria Gardens. Features memorials to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, sculptures and a floral clock of 7000 plants.
- 33 Royal Botanic Gardens. daily 7:30AM to sunset. Recognised as one of the world’s finest botanic gardens, with over 10,000 species and 50,000 individual plants in the 38 hectare gardens. free.
- 1 Medibank Icehouse, 105 Pearl River Road, Docklands (Tram routes 35 (City Circle), 70 and 86: Stop D11), ☏ +61 1300 756 699 (local rate), firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM-10PM daily. The largest ice recreation venue in the Southern Hemisphere, the Icehouse allows visitors to skate around a large ice rink. There are free beginners classes on weekends and school holidays. It regularly holds public events such as dancing, games and music parties. $25 adult, $23 concession, $21 child (includes skates).
- 2 Melbourne Star, 101 Waterfront Way, Docklands (Tram routes 35 (City Circle), 70 and 86: Stop D11), ☏ +61 3 8688 9688, email@example.com. 10AM-10PM. Loathed by Melburnians for its exorbitant cost and constant delays, this observation wheel opened late to much fanfare in 2008, to only be closed 40 days later due to engineering faults and cracks. After complete reconstruction, the wheel is now safe and operational, and offers views over the city, suburbs, the bay and to hilly and mountainous districts in the distance, taking 30 minutes for a full ride/rotation. An "encore ticket" can also be purchased which gives the rider two trips; one at day and one at night. $32 adult, $19 child (5-15yrs), $26 concession, family prices available.
Melbourne’s vibrant retail scene thrives with alluring labels, products and shopping experiences. It's an eclectic mix of high end fashion, funky boutiques and mainstream stores, all of which have a home in the city’s laneways, retail centres and tree-lined streets.
- 1 Bourke Street Mall (Any Bourke, Elizabeth or Swanston St tram). A popular pedestrian and tram-only mall in the CBD lined with both big-name fashion brands and start-up designers.
- 2 Fat, Shop G03, GPO, 350 Bourke St. Renowned for discovering some of Australia's most beloved labels; stocks emerging labels as well as the now established brands.
- 3 David Jones, 350 Bourke St. Large, multi-level store of the higher-end department store chain.
- 4 H&M (Melbourne GPO), 350 Bourke St, ☏ +61 3 9639 0039. Sa-W 9AM-7PM, Th-F 9AM-9PM. Famous Swedish retailer's first store in Australia, housed in the historic General Post Office building. Sells a variety of cheap, quality womens, mens and kids clothing, along with a variety of home furnishings.
- 5 Myer, 314-336 Bourke St. The renovated, flagship store of Australia's largest department store chain.
- 6 Aesop, 268 Flinders Lane. A Melbourne-born brand started in 1987, Aesop is decked out in apothecary style and uses botanical extracts and natural preservatives where possible. Their products will definitely earn a prized rank in your bathroom.
- 7 City Hatters, 211 Flinders St (beneath Flinders St Station), ☏ +61 3 9614 3294, firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9:30AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 10AM-4PM. A famous icon for many Melbournians, the City Hatters sits just beneath the main entrance to Flinders Street Station on the right. It has survived the test of time, opening at the location in 1910, and stocks a wide variety of accessories, mostly for men. The store also provides hat cleaning and measurement services.
Laneways and arcades
- 8 Block Arcade, 280 Collins St through to Elizabeth St (any Elizabeth St tram: Stop 2; or any Collins St tram: Stop 5), ☏ +61 3 9654 5244. M-Sa 8AM-5:30PM, Su 9AM-5PM. A historic shopping arcade built in 1891, lined with boutiques and cafés, housed within carved stone and wood walls with a glass canopy above.
- 9 Royal Arcade, 331 Bourke St Mall (any Bourke St tram: Stop 5; or any Elizabeth St tram: Stop 3), ☏ +61 3 9670 7777, email@example.com. M-Sa 9AM-5:30PM, Su 10AM-5PM. Built in 1870, it is a historic shopping arcade that runs between Little Collins St, the Bourke Street Mall and Elizabeth St. The carved statues standing guard next to the iconic clock are worth a look, along with the numerous small shops.
Usually native to Melbourne's suburbs, a few new shopping centres (or malls) have been popping up in Melbourne's CBD. Emporium, Melbourne Central and QV are all located in the same area at the top end of Swanston St, connected by various walkways or crossings.
- 10 Emporium Melbourne, 287 Lonsdale St (walkways from Melbourne Central, Bourke Street Mall, or Swanston or Elizabeth St trams or buses along Lonsdale St), ☏ +613 8609 8221, firstname.lastname@example.org. Sa-W 10AM-7PM, Th F 10AM-9PM. Opened in 2014, it is housed within the former Myer Emporium building. The centre has cemented itself in the high-end shopping scene, home to major international fashion brands in addition to flagship Japanese retailer Uniqlo.
- 11 Harbour Town, 122 Studio Ln, Docklands (Tram routes 35 (City Circle), 70 and 86: Stop D11), ☏ +613 9328 8600, email@example.com. M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM. An open-air shopping centre of factory outlet stores with a number of major brands. Prides itself on big bargains and discounts, although the prices are nothing spectacular.
- 12 Melbourne Central, Cnr La Trobe & Swanston St (Melbourne Central station, any Swanston, Elizabeth or La Trobe St tram), ☏ +613 9922 1100. Sa-W 10AM-7PM, Th F 10AM-9PM. It used to be the only shopping centre in the CBD, but now has a lot of competition. Sits above the train station of the same name, and home to a large variety of stores and brands. An old shot tower sits within the centre's iconic glass cone roof, along with a small museum display about the tower's history and a clock (The Marionette Watch) which plays Waltzing Matilda every hour.
- 13 QV Melbourne, Cnr Swanston & Lonsdale St (Any Swanston or LaTrobe St tram or buses along Lonsdale St), ☏ +613 9207 9200. M-W Sa 10AM-6PM, Th 10AM-7PM, F 10AM-9PM, Su 10AM-5PM. Multi-storey shopping centre next to the State Library and opposite Melbourne Central, with a number of large supermarket and department stores such as Big W, Woolworths, Harvey Norman and Domayne Furniture.
- 14 Queen Victoria Market. The largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere, officially opened in 1878. The market has a mixture of outdoor stalls and indoor halls, selling food, clothes and crafts.
There are souvenir shops on the southern end of Swanston St.
- 15 The Melbourne Shop by Lumbi, S2, 8 Driver Lane (behind the GPO), ☏ +61 3 9663 2233. M-Th 10:30AM-5:30PM, F 10:30AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-4PM. A variety of high-quality wares such as mugs, cushions, phone cases, clocks and a Melbourne-style Snakes and Ladders rip-off. Items are assembled in Yarraville in the city's west.
- 16 Outre Gallery, 249 Elizabeth St. For the art lover that doesn't have a lot to spend, Outre can get you started with originals for under $100.
- 17 Arts Centre's Sunday Market, Between Hamer Hall and Arts Centre Melbourne (just across the river from Federation Square). Su 10AM-4PM. Every Sunday, the small park between Hamer Hall and Arts Centre Melbourne is filled with stalls that sell arts and crafts locally made by the sellers. The place is animated with live performance at noon. Free.
Between Degraves St and Centreplace (which link Flinders St to Collins St, between Swanston St and Elizabeth St), you will find several breakfast restaurants. Most open from 7AM and serve all kinds of breakfasts. Competition is strong and keeps quality up so the range of choice is impressive.
- 1 Aix (Centreplace.). Has a huge selection of mouth-wateringly good crepes.
- 2 Manchester Press, 8 Rankins Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, ☏ +61 3 9600 4054. M-F 7AM–5PM, Sa Su 9AM–5PM. Specialty coffee, brekkie and bagels served in a light, vintage-chic cafe with eclectic decor.
There are a number of burger joints in the Melbourne CBD.
- 3 8bit, 231 Swanston Street, ☏ +61 3 9687 8838. 11AM–11PM. Serves hamburgers, milkshakes, fries and hotdogs.
- 4 Royal Stacks, 470 Collins St, ☏ +61 3 9620 0296. 11:30AM–10PM (closed Sundays). Royal Stacks is a mini homage to US burger chain, Shake Shack
Melbourne's Chinatown district centred on Little Bourke St is filled with cheap Chinese options and some well-hidden (but excellent) Japanese alternatives. Search Tattersall's Lane for deliciously cheap dumplings. The CBD is also suffused with postmodern Oriental restaurants catering to the large Asian student market.
- 5 Camy Shanghai Dumplings, 25 Tattersalls Lane, ☏ +61 3 9663 8555. Chinese food in large servings, notable for its dumplings. Meals served with complimentary tea.
- 6 Shanghai Street, 146 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, ☏ +61 3 9662 3226. Noon-3PM, 5-9PM. Cheap and cheerful dumplings, expect a queue as they don't take bookings
- 7 Gaylords, 4 Tattersalls Lane, ☏ +61 3 9663 3980. Kitschy ode to Bollywood in the heart of Chinatown.
- 8 Tonka, 20 Duckboard Place, ☏ +61 3 9650 3155. A ritzy, reservations-required Indian/Modern Australian fusion restaurant down one of Melbourne's most iconic laneways.
- 9 Crossways, 123 Swanston St. M-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM. Tasty lunch cafe with a 2-course vegetarian all-you-can-eat meal. May be possible to work 30 minutes for your meal. $6.
- 10 Gopals Pure Vegetarian, 139 Swanston St., ☏ +61 3 9650 1578. M-Sa 11:30AM-8:30PM. Sister restaurant to Crossways.
Melbourne can also be called Greek 2.0 due to it having the largest amount of Greek population outside of Greece, hence it's strong Greek connections.
- 11 Stalactites, 177/183 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, ☏ +61 3 9663 3316. 24 hr. This Greek restaurant decorated with stalactites has delicious gyros and earthy meals.
- 12 Hella Good, 7 Elizabeth Street, ☏ +61 3 9663 3316. 24 hr. Classic souvlaki place with two locations in the heart of Melbourne (the listed and another at Emporium Melbourne); open until midnight for late-night feasts.
- 13 Mama’s Bưởi. Set in the modernised historic building of the Melbourne General Post Office, this Vietnamese restaurant offers quality meals at reasonable prices. As an indication, a set menu meal costs $25 each and includes a drink, entree and main, with four choices in each. $25.
The CBD holds some hidden gems as far as coffee is concerned. You cannot go wrong with the hipster coffee cafes, but avoid the cafe chains. Avoiding the chains may not be hard -- international mega-chains like Starbucks have surprisingly little representation in Australia, and Melbourne's CBD has only a sparse few.
- 1 Degraves Espresso Bar, 23 Degraves Street, ☏ +61 3 9654 1245. Tucked into a bluestone laneway near Flinders St Station, this outlet has long-held the title of Melbourne's best coffee. Hours: M–F 6:30AM–7:30PM, Sa Su 7:30AM-6:30PM.
- 2 Brother Baba Budan, 359 Little Bourke St, ☏ +61 3 9606 0449. M-Sa 7AM–5PM, Su 9AM–5PM. Speciality coffee shop serving cakes in a quirky space with wood panelling and bar stools.
- 3 Patricia Coffee Brewers, Little Bourke St & Little William St (very difficult to find, look out for people carrying coffee cups from a laneway), ☏ +61 3 9642 2237. M-F 7AM–4PM. Trendy, bare-bones, standing-room-only spot for artisanal coffee ground on-site, and small treats.
- 4 Dukes Coffee Roasters, 247 Flinders Ln, ☏ +61 3 9417 5578. M-F 7AM–4:30PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su closed. Speciality outpost crafting home-grown coffee in a stylish interior with light, wood-panelled walls.
- 5 Naked Espresso Bar, 390 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000, ☏ +61 409 504 936. They claim to specialise in serving and educating their customers all about speciality coffee. Their premium house blend, “Mega Choc” is always on offer, along with a rotating single origin of the day. Also on order are alternative brewing methods such as Aeropress, V60, Syphon and Cold Drip.
- 6 65 Degrees, 309 Exhibition St, ☏ +61 3 9662-1080. The owners have a long history of accolades. Champion barista, world latte artist and award winning coffee blend, gridlock coffee. Fast, friendly service and some of the finest coffee around.
- 7 The Gin Palace, 190 Little Collins St, ☏ +61 3 9654-0533. Serious cocktail aficionados should check out this place, for a welcome mix of knowledgeable bartenders, funky bordello ambiance and a laid-back crowd.
- 8 The Carlton Club, 193 Bourke St. Melbourne. Great late night joint or middle of the day, very functional with heaps of little spaces to get cosy and open areas to get your Sunday on. The rooftop bar in up there with the best in town. A must for people coming to Melbourne.
- 9 The Croft Institute, 21-25 Croft Alley, ☏ +61 3 9671-4399. It epitomizes the kitschy-hidden-bar trend of the past few years. Tucked within the narrowest and smelliest alley in Melbourne, this place is somewhat charmingly fitted out like a high school laboratory; complete with beakers, test tubes and retorts. Check out the upstairs 'gymnasium' playing house and electro, and the hospital gurney (with stirrups) on display near the women's toilets.
- 10 Cookie, 252 Swanston St, ☏ +61 3 9663 7660. Excellent bar and cocktails with an upstyle crowd that likes to party hard. Has a restaurant upstairs for dinner serving excellent Thai-inspired meals.
- 11 Section 8, 27-29 Tattersalls Ln, ☏ +61 430 291 588. A bar in a car park made from shipping containers. 'Nuff said?
- 12 Bar Americano, 20 Presgrave Pl. Serves up awesome cocktails and excellent coffee, but be warned, they don't serve skim or soy milk.
- 13 Madame Brussels, 63/59 Bourke Street, ☏ +61 3 9662 2775. This English Garden party themed bar is on the roof and serves up excellent cocktails by staff in Tennis outfits. Cocktail jugs $30 and $50, 2+ and 4+ serves respectively
- 14 The Workshop Bar, 1/413 Elizabeth St, ☏ +61 3 9326 4365. This relaxed bar is in a former motorcycle workshop, hence the name. Run by the same people who run e55.
- 1 All Nations Hostel, 2 Spencer St, ☏ +61 3 9620 1022, toll-free: 1800 222 238, fax: +61 3 9620 1033, firstname.lastname@example.org. 24-hour reception. Dorm beds from $19, single $38, double $48.
- 2 CityTempo Apartments, 353 Queen Street, toll-free: 1800 248 983. compact CBD apartments on Queen Street near the Queen Vic Markets. 4 Stars (AAA Tourism), all linen/towels provided with kitchenettes. Some apartments include clothes washer/dryer.
- 3 Flinders Backpackers, 35 Elizabeth St (cnr Flinders Lane), ☏ +61 3 9620 5100, fax: +61 3 9620 5101, email@example.com. 24-hour reception. Centrally located. Twins and doubles have TV. A party hostel, with a nightclub just below the rooms, which will be noisy well into the night. Has many long-term residents, some of who may be unkind to tourists on vacation schedules. 4-bed dorm bed $27/night or $160/week, twin/double $672/night or $439/week, double ensuite $84/night or $499/week.
- 4 Melbourne Central YHA, 562 Flinders St, ☏ +61 3 9621 2523, firstname.lastname@example.org. Centrally-located hostel in the backpacker hub of Melbourne. It is situated along the City Circle tram route and most Melbourne attractions are within walking distance. The staff are friendly, helpful and caring. It was opened in 2009 and is highly maintained. Shared room from $33.50, Double $78.50 (YHA members get $3.50 discount).
- 5 United Backpackers, 250 Flinders St, ☏ +61 3 9654 2616. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Opposite Flinders Street Station, in the centre of Melbourne.Dormitory beds and ensuite private rooms.
- 6 Victoria Hotel, 215 Little Collins St, ☏ +61 3 9653 0441, toll-free: 1800 331 147, fax: +61 3 9650 9678, email@example.com. Single $56-$155, twin/double $78-$155, triple $99-$165.
- 7 Atlantis Hotel, 300 Spencer St, ☏ +61 3 9600 2900, fax: +61 3 9600 2700, firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hour reception From $140, with cheaper specials online.
- 8 Best Western Melbourne City Hotel, 16 Spencer St, ☏ +61 3 9621 3333, toll-free: 1800 816 168, fax: +61 3 9621 1922, email@example.com. 24 hour reception.
- 9 Rydges Melbourne, 186 Exhibition Street (Opposite Her Majesty’s Theatre.), ☏ 1300 857 922 (local rate). 360 bedroom hotel with Locanda bar and restaurant (mains $27 - 59). Closed until early 2023. from $119.
- 10 Travelodge Southbank Melbourne, 9 Riverside Quay, Southbank, ☏ +61 3 8696 9600, fax: +61 3 9690 1160. Parking available
- 11 Citadines on Bourke Melbourne, 131–135 Bourke St, ☏ +61 3 9039-8888, fax: +61 3 9039-8899, firstname.lastname@example.org. Apartments available range from studios to two-bedroom executives, and have separate living and dining areas. It also offers a flexible service menu.
- 12 Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne, 328 Flinders Street, ☏ +61 3 9250 1888, email@example.com. One of Australia’s finest historic hotels. Built in 1913, this meticulously restored hotel retains the elegant style of the early 1900s while providing you with all the convenience of 21st century technology and amenities. Parking available. From 189.
- 13 Somerset on Elizabeth Melbourne, No 250 Elizabeth St, ☏ +61 3 8665-8888, firstname.lastname@example.org. Provides a choice of one or two bedrooms apartments equipped with a kitchen, broadband internet access and home entertainment system.
- 14 The Westin Melbourne, 205 Collins Street, ☏ +61 3 9635 2222, email@example.com. Modern, chic and elegantly understated.
- 15 Park Hyatt, 1 Parliament Square (Near St Patrick's Cathedral), ☏ +61 9224 1234, fax: +61 3 9224 1200, firstname.lastname@example.org. Superior service. With Italian marble bathrooms complete with a deep sunken bath with inset TV, twin basins, separate lavatory and therapeutic shower.
- 16 Grand Hotel Melbourne, 33 Spencer St, ☏ +61 3 9611 4567, toll-free: 1300 361 455, email@example.com. This heritage-listed apartment hotel has been restored to retain the style of the 1880s while providing guests with modern facilities.
- 17 Grand Hyatt Melbourne, 123 Collins Street, ☏ +61 3 9657 1234, firstname.lastname@example.org. Acknowledged as one of Melbourne's finest hotels, it features Art Deco set against Veronese marble, highlighted by art commissioned from around the world. All rooms receive access to the Regency Health Club, open daily from 6AM.
- 18 Hotel Lindrum, 26 Flinders St, ☏ +61 3 9668-1111. Hotel Lindrum is a boutique hotel offering stylish accommodation and facilities.
- 19 Hotel Windsor, 111 Spring Street, ☏ +61 3 9633 6000, fax: +61 3 9633 6001, email@example.com. The grand old lady of Melbourne's five-star hotels, and the only surviving grand pre-World War II hotel in Australia. Built in 1883, the Hotel Windsor bills itself as Australia’s only remaining grand hotel. It possesses old world charm with modern luxuries and is opposite Parliament at the top end of Collins St.
- 20 The Langham Melbourne Hotel, 1 Southgate Ave, Southbank, ☏ +61 3 8696-8888. The Langham Melbourne hotel offers luxurious Melbourne city accommodation behind the high end Southgate shopping mall, opposite the historic Flinders Street Station. The Langham Melbourne Hotel was the only Australian hotel in Travel and Leisure magazine's list of the world's 100 best hotels (2009). The Langham's Chuan Spa also achieved 'Top Hotel Spa' status in Travel + Leisure USA's 2009 World’s Best Awards readers survey.
- 21 Clarion Suites Gateway, 1 William St, ☏ +61 3 9296-8888. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Melbourne CBD hotel which is overlooking the Yarra River and is in the heart of Melbourne’s central business district. All suite and 4,5 stars Melbourne CBD hotel.
- 22 Quay West Suites Melbourne, 26 Southgate Ave, ☏ +61 3 9693-6000. This Southbank hotel is ideally positioned among Southbank promenade and overlooks the picturesque Yarra River.
- 23 Treasury on Collins Apartment Hotel, 394 Collins St, ☏ +61 3 9211-6600. On the corner of Queens Street and Collins Street in the heart of Melbourne’s business district. Elegantly restored. this 19th century former bank is now an historic hotel.
Wi-Fi is plentiful throughout the CBD. Federation Square and the Melbourne Visitor Centre have free Wi-Fi, as does Flinders Street Station, the Crown Casino Complex, City Library and the State Library of Victoria. McDonalds outlets throughout the city will also offer free Wi-Fi with some moderate censoring. Local bars, cafés and restaurants sometimes offer their own password-protected Wi-Fi, which can be accessed on request (if you're a paying customer, of course). The City of Melbourne keeps a list of retailers with Wi-Fi access.
The State Library of Victoria has a Wi-Fi and a number of internet-connected computers available that can be used for free. Two may be used on-the-spot for up to 10 minutes, while it is also possible to book a computer for up to an hour in advance.