Stylish, artsy, hipster, cosmopolitan: these are just some of the adjectives used to describe Melbourne – a unique city effortlessly blending culture, sports and food. From hidden laneways to rooftop bars, this is the ultimate guide to the most livable city centre in the world, the most European city of Australia, the city of coffee and sports lovers – the one and only Melbourne CBD.
With over 230 laneways to explore and a collection of inner-city neighbourhoods each renowned for something different – Richmond for Vietnamese food and sports, Lygon Street for being ‘Little Italy’ and Brunswick for Middle Eastern cuisine to name a few – Melbourne is a glamorous playground hiding secrets in every corner.
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From hatted restaurants to cheap and delicious dumplings in Chinatown, the food scene in the CBD is set to blow you away. Whether you are willing to taste your way through the vibrant neighbourhoods at your own pace or visit little hidden cafes, there are some restaurants in Melbourne that really should make your shortlist.
Cumulus Inc. : Flinders Lane is a long, narrow street packed with great cocktail bars and incredible restaurants, and Cumulus is one of them. One-hatted restaurant Cumulus Inc is a unique combination of excellent food and stylish interior design with an intelligent menu showcasing the finest local and international produce. Defining itself as an ‘eating house and bar’ and catering for every urge, breakfast, lunch or dinner, Cumulus’ menu is made to share – and sure to impress.
San Telmo: Craving Argentine food and delicious meat? You have found your spot. Inspired by the Buenos Aires’ barrio of San Telmo, the restaurant is rustic, bohemian and brimming with delicious food. From yellowfin tuna ceviche to empanadas and perfectly cooked eye fillets, San Telmo has it all.
Tipo 00: Pasta fans hear us out, we are talking fresh tortelloni with ricotta and mascarpone, home-made tagliatelle with braised lamb shoulder and olives, risotto with basil pesto… need we say more? Yes: have a Negroni at Tipo 00 before your dinner, they know how to make them here!
Saint Crispin: This two-hatted restaurant is a little gem in Collingwood, offering a menu with a strong focus on local produce and everything that is in season. You will have the chance to pick between a two or three-course menu, with highlights such as Venison with smoked beetroot and quince, or sweet potato with toasted buckwheat.
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It would take you years to try out all of the cool cocktail bars in Melbourne CBD – there are so many the list is never-ending. But if you are looking for the perfect cocktail, here are some of the best cocktail bar in Melbourne for you to check out.
Eau De Vie: Hidden behind a huge wooden door in a little lane off Flinders Lane, Eau de Vie was once Melbourne’s best-kept secret. Now it’s an icon – and serves some of the best and most spectacular cocktails in the city, in a stylish and jazzy, even sexy, setting. Private leather booths, drinks chilled with liquid nitrogen, flaming spirits and a martini trolley – venture down to Melbourne’s playground of incredible cocktails.
Gin Palace: The cosy, couch-filled Gin Palace is a place for gin mischiefs. With a long list of gins from across the world and all sorts of Martinis available, this is the place to be in Melbourne if you want to feel like James Bond – or at least drink like him.
Boston Sub: Can you name a place where you can get your food fix, with subs and cheesy fries, then open the cool-room door to reach a cocktail bar? We can, it’s Boston Sub on Chapel Street – and Jungle Boy, its tropical-inspired cocktail bar.
Berlin Bar: Capitalist opulence confronts Communist austerity in this secret bar inspired by the two sides of Germany’s capital city during the Cold War: Berlin East and Berlin West. Which side will you end up in? We don’t know, no one knows until one of the lovely staff members will tell you where you to sit, what we know is that cocktails here are divine.
Pan Pacific Melbourne: Nestled between Southbank and Docklands, in the up and coming precinct of South Wharf, Pan Pacific Melbourne is the ideal location and a scenic 10-minute walk for shopping, sightseeing and exploring the array of bars, restaurants, sporting events and art galleries the city is so famous for. A haven of tranquility boasting some of the best panoramic vistas of the Yarra River, Port Philip Bay and city skyline, Pan Pacific Melbourne is both stylish and artsy: the hotel features high-quality wood finishes and designer artworks, plus a 24-hour gym, a contemporary restaurant and bar serving delectable dishes highlighting Australia’s fresh local produce.
Sofitel Melbourne: Located in the heart of Melbourne’s premier CBD precinct, Collins Street, on the so-called ‘Paris end’ of this prestigious street, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins is just a short walk away from practically everything. With exceptionally beautiful rooms and outstanding service, a stay at the Sofitel will make your getaway in Melbourne CBD so special.
The Windsor Hotel: History and luxury meet at the Hotel Windsor- an icon of Melbourne’s much lauded Victorian Gold Rush boom and winner of numerous World Travel Awards. The 1883 hotel predates the Savoy in London, the Ritz in Paris, and Raffles in Singapore and is the last remaining grand heritage hotel in Australia. Here you can live like royalty and indulge in the famous Windsor Afternoon Tea, served in the hotel’s tearoom for 130 years, a quintessential Melbourne experience.
The Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park: Located just 30 minutes outside Melbourne CBD, The Mansion Hotel & Spa sits aside the grand 19th-century Werribee Park Mansion, said to be one of the finest examples of Italianate architecture in the world. A sanctuary of peace surrounded by perfectly manicured English gardens, the property captures the very essence of boutique accommodation: the 91, luxuriously appointed guest rooms are individual and sophisticated, the facilities are impressive and include a fine dining restaurant, Joseph’s Restaurant & Bar, a blissful spa and picturesque gardens – making this one of the grandest hotels in Australia.
The CBD has so much to offer, but here’s our pick of the top things to do in Melbourne.
Take a hidden tour of the Laneways: Melbourne’s Hidden Secret Tours are the perfect way to explore the city as a local would. Venture on a Laneway tour, and discover AC/DC Lane, Flinders Lane and the famous Hosier Lane and all their cool street art.
Spend some time at the NGV: The National Gallery of Victoria sits peacefully along St Kilda Road – where you can also find the stunning Botanical Gardens – and offers a rotation of striking exhibitions on top of the permanent collection, which boasts works from Rembrandt, Tiepolo and Turner to name a few.
Catch a game at the MCG: Melburnians love sport, and there’s no better place than the MCG, or Melbourne Cricket Ground, to catch a footy game in winter or a cricket game in summer. The atmosphere is magic, fans are loud, and the pies are always piping hot.
Sip on a Melbourne-made beer, or gin: Melbourne is a proud producer of good craft beers. Head straight to the source and try them all with a visit to Stomping Ground, in Collingwood.
Not a fan of beer? Melbourne has your back, as it also happens to produce some of the best gins in the country! Head to the famous Four Pillars distillery to try their Bloody Shiraz gin – yes, that’s correct – Shiraz gin.
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