Melbourne is a great city for travellers. Often called the most European of Australia’s capital cities, everything in the CBD is accessible by foot. We loved this. But we’re crazy walkers (on average I’d say we did 8-10 km a day). The food and cafe culture is the best I’ve seen in a long time, and it was so refreshing! Needless to say, we did a lot of eating, a lot of coffee drinking, and a lot of absorbing the beautiful sites of Melbourne.
It was great to re-visit Melbourne as an adult (I was last there 8 years ago, and Adam had never been), and see so many wonderful things. We stayed 5 days, and there was much that we didn’t do or see (like St Kilda, the Bay, or the Dandenongs), but I’d say that 5 days was a great period of time, and we achieved a lot! Here’s a breakdown of our favourites.
Mamasita, Level 1, 11 Collins St, Melbourne. We ate here our first night on the recommendation of Reana, and it did not disappoint! Heaps of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. Tasty, tasty, Mexican. You have to get the corn.
Vegie Bar, 380 Brunswick St, Fitzroy. So good we ate their twice. The first time, I got the ‘Mostly Greens’ stir fry with tempeh (I counted 9 different green vegetables!!) and Adam got the most enormous burrito with all the trimmings I’ve ever seen. The second time, I got the vermicelli noodles (amazing) and Adam got the mee goreng (also amazing!). Finding this place was like finding people that spoke my language. Prices were reasonable and servings were gigantic. Did I mention their dessert cabinet? Yep, the chocolate vanilla fudge ticked all my requirements. Cannot recommend enough.
The Hardware Société, 120 Hardware St, Melbourne. We stopped in here for breakfast, and it was sensational. Adam got the most amazing looking mushrooms stuffed with goat’s cheese and roasted leeks, while I opted for the muesli. Good coffee.
Shakahari, 201-203 Faraday St, Carlton. Classic vegetarian food – curries, and lots of hearty fare. The dumplings in coconut broth were great.
Le Miel et La Lune, 330 Cardigan St, Carlton. Awesome menu – lots of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. Really good chai lattes. Super cute interior.
Brunetti, 380 Lygon St, Carlton. A Melbourne institution, and pretty much Adam’s idea of heaven. Pastries, cakes, biscuits as far as the eye can see. Adam sampled both the cherry danish and the custard filled cornetto, and raptured over each one.
Pellegrini’s, 66 Bourke St, Melbourne. Another Melbourne icon. There’s no fixed menu, just ask for what you like (lots of different pastas, lots of different sauces). And don’t forget to get a watermelon granita (I’m going to try and recreate this soon). Excellent, simple Italian – I remember eating there as a kid, sitting in the kitchen with my parents.
Lord of the Fries. These are dotted all throughout the city – and proof that just because you’re a vegetarian doesn’t mean junk food ceases to exist. Awesome vege burgers (and hots dogs) – usually I’m not keen on pretend meats, but the burger was delicious. And they do poutine (need I say more?) Lots of vegan and gluten-free options too. More than one visit was made.
Assembly, 60 Pelham St, Carlton. Super cute design and well thought-out coffee (and my friend Chloe works there!). No espresso though – step into the world of V60 coffee. A great experience, and very, very yummy brownies.
A Little Bird Told Me, 29 Little Latrobe St, Melbourne. This place was awesome – great coffee, great vibe. They sold delicious specialty chocolates and pastries.
Gewürzhaus, 342 Lygon St, Carlton. Herb and spice merchants – I practically lost my mind when I found this place. Their selection of spice, herb, sugar and salt blends is ridiculous. Viennese Christmas Sugar, Greek Grill Seasoning, Salle d’Italia, Shichimi Togarishi and Masala Chai Spice were all got and coveted.
Queen Victoria Markets, Corner of Elizabeth and Victoria Streets, Melbourne. Massive markets that sell everything under the sun. The delicatessen hall was definitely my favourite (all the olives and antipasti you could desire). Really good breads, fresh produce and takeaway food. Not open Mondays or Wednesdays.
Readings, 309 Lygon St, Carlton. After you’ve gorged at Brunetti, walk across the road to Readings. One of the best bookshops I’ve been to in a long time – awesome selection.
Hill of Content, 86 Bourke St Melbourne. Another excellent bookshop! Great selection of non-fiction. Cosy and comfy.
SEE & DO
National Gallery of Victoria. Go and see the stained glass ceiling. Great travelling exhibitions and the standing collection is excellent too.
Old Melbourne Gaol, 377 Russell St, Melbourne. Easily one of the top two things we did in Melbourne. The building is equal parts creepy, haunting and other-wordly. The information and lay-out inside is excellent. Lots of fun.
Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens. The travelling exhibition (of artefacts from ancient Afghanistan) was great, but the museum collection blew us away. Taxidermy galore (but is a modern display) with lots of context and great displays.
Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen. In the houses and gardens that belonged to art collectors and patrons Sunday and Arthur Reed, Heide is beautiful. Have a coffee and a snack in the cafe before going for a walk through the beautiful gardens and checking out the exhibitions available. Worth the train and bus to get there.
Catch a tram. They’re dorky and a bit slow, but quintessentially Melbourne.
Down Flinders Lane, absorbing the bustling atmosphere. Lots of cafes and places to stop and eat.
Past Flinders St station, over the bridge and through the parks to the Shrine of Remembrance.
Up Russell St, past the Old Melbourne Gaol. Keep going up Lygon St to the Melbourne General Cemetery.
To the Queen Victoria Markets, then make your way through the University of Melbourne. From the university, its a very short walk to Lygon St or Brunswick St in Fitzroy.
My favourite thing about our trip to Melbourne? Exploring the city with Adam – he’s the best travel companion, and it was so special to spend some time away together before the craziness of semester began.