Location: Melbourne, Victoria
A trip to Melbourne just isn’t complete without escaping the city and exploring its’ unique and interesting neighborhoods. Even though the central business district (CBD) already holds enough sights, sounds and smells to keep you occupied for a day or more, Melbourne really is more than what’s contained in that tiny grid system and should be explored towards all points of the compass.
If you only have a day to spare then read through my day itinerary and pick one (or two if you really push it) neighboring suburb to check out; however, I do highly recommend giving yourself an additional few days in Melbourne to get out of the CBD and explore some of these unique areas with my concise guide to the highlights of some of the trendiest, traditional and not to be missed Melbourne suburbs.
Located below the Southern Cross Train Station, the Docklands precinct offers waterfront harbour views, factory outlet shopping at Harbour Town, and entertainment options including the new Melbourne Star Observation Wheel and Etihad Stadium which hosts regular Australian Rules Football and A-League (soccer) games. So if you’re after designer gear at factory outlet prices, this is the place to go!
The big draw card in North Melbourne is the Queen Victoria Markets, which is the most central fresh produce market to Melbourne CBD. This market is huge and encompasses not only fresh fruit and vegetables, but also cheese stores, cold meats and more cuisine on offer than you can poke a stick at, and if that’s not enough then during the year they also run Night Market nights and market food tours.
Generally referred to as ‘Little Italy’, Carlton is known for it’s large Italian population with Lygon Street offering some of the best Italian restaurants and cafes in Melbourne. The area is also home to the beautiful Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton Gardens and the Melbourne Museum. And if you happen to visit Melbourne in March during the F1 Grand Prix, Carlton is a must visit as the town is painted Ferrari red!
This up-and-coming Melbourne neighborhood was once derelict and seen as off limits to any self respecting Melbournian, however, is now famous for it’s eclectic and bohemian vibe. Brunswick Street is the main thoroughfare and is lined with off beat cafes, funky bars, and a heady mix of recycled vintage stores and local one of a kind boutiques. And a visit to Brunswick Street isn’t complete without stopping in for a drink at Naked For Satan, but don’t let the name put you off as its pintxos and drinks menu is complimented by its expansive rooftop views out to Melbourne city.
Not only is Richmond home to the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), it’s also home a large and thriving Vietnamese community. If you’ve got a burley appetite for some authentic and cheap Bahn Mi, then you’ve come to the right place! Victoria and Bridge Streets are lined with not only Vietnamese restaurants and bakeries, but also many pubs that makes this suburb a great pre AFL game dinner or post drinks spot.
South Yarra and Prahran
Chapel Street runs the length of both South Yarra and Prahran and is a shoppers paradise. These two exclusively hip suburbs are home to all the high street brands and everything in between, including some of the best vintage shopping this side of Melbourne tucked down some of Chapel Streets side streets. They also boast a lively bar and food scene, and includes one of Australia’s best known patissier’s, Adriano Zumbo. If you’re low on sugar then a visit to Zumbo for one of his infamous zumbaron’s or specialty cakes is a must!
With the infamy of Melbourne’s ‘London-esque’ weather, you wouldn’t think that a Melbourne beach wouldn’t be of any use, but the seaside suburb of St Kilda brings a welcome salt sprayed touch to this concrete city. Unlike Docklands which still bears the hallmarks of it’s previous life as a working harbour, St Kilda was and still is the seaside playground for Melbourne’s working class. With access to cycle ways, amusement rides at Luna Park and St Kilda beach; this suburb is one of the most popular for visitors to Melbourne. For shopping and dinning out options, you can’t go past a stroll along Ackland Street, and for the best sunset city views a walk along the old St Kilda Pier should be on your list.
Melbourne’s suburbs are definitely my favorite part of visiting this city, and they are all easily accessible with the extensive tram network, or if you’ve got the legs for it you can hire out bicycles or walk some of the neighboring suburbs and make more room in your stomach to indulge in. Personally, I always make the time to visit Fitzroy, Prahran and St Kilda when I’m in Melbourne, but I always try to visit a suburb I haven’t been too; which is what keeps me coming back to Melbourne, and I’m sure will keep you wanting to to return here too.
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Second photograph by Auyeung Photography, all others by Jelena Stipanicev.