A round-up of the best precincts to eat, drink, shop, and entertain in Melbourne. So, the 'coolest' street in the world has been announced, and... (drumroll please) - it's Smith Street, Collingwood. This may be news to some but, with its vast range of food and dining options, funky bars, artisan outlets and vintage shops, it's easy to see why this once 'working class' area has become the number one must-see street on Time Out magazine's world hotlist.
The colourful streets of Melbourne, Australia
As you take in Melbourne's attractions, you'll soon discover the boundless allure, colour and atmosphere of its streets. From the bohemian chic of Brunswick Street to the exotic sights and smells of Victoria Street, each has its character and identity.
Acland Street & The Esplanade, St Kilda
Situated right in the heart of the one-of-a-kind bohemian suburb of St Kilda, Acland Street and the Esplanade are sentimental favourites among locals and visitors alike. It is arguably the destination of choice that quintessential Melbourne Sunday experience. Typically, the day may go something like this – a brunch of bacon & eggs, a strong coffee, and a read of the Sunday Age at the Galleon Café, an institution among St Kilda locals.
After a leisurely walk down the end of St Kilda Pier to enjoy panoramic views of the Melbourne skyline and Port Phillip Bay, stroll back along the palm-lined Esplanade to Luna Park, one of the city's most enduring and colourful icons. This much-loved old fairground is modelled on New York's Coney Island, and the entrance is through a garish laughing clown's mouth. Nearby is the famous Sunday St Kilda Esplanade Market, where you can shop for custom-made jewellery, ceramic art or hand-made candles. Finish the day off with a pastry indulgence at one of Acland Street's famous cake shops or perhaps a refreshing beer at the Esplanade Hotel with great views over the bay.
Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia, known for its music, art centres and museums, and celebration and expression of art. It has been ranked, year after year, the most livable city, and it's not hard to see why.
Melbourne was the capital of Australia from 1901-1927. The capital then shifted to Canberra, which remains the capital today. In 1850 during the Victoria Gold Rush, Melbourne became the richest and largest city globally. In 1906, the world's first-ever feature film was shot in Melbourne.
Famous Streets Around the World to Explore
- Champs-Élysées. Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the world's most famous streets.
- Bourbon Street.
- Hollywood Boulevard.
- Abbey Road.
- Lombard Street.
FAQs About Streets In Melbourne
Victoria Street, Richmond
Victoria Street epitomises the cultural diversity synonymous with Melbourne. The city's growing Vietnamese community has transformed what was once a nondescript traffic route into what could pass for a back street of Hanoi. The smell of steamed Peking duck and incense lies heavily in the air, alongside a bewildering jumble of Asian supermarkets, family-run grocery shops, fishmongers, fruit stalls and Chinese herbalist shops.
If you love Vietnamese food, then Victoria Street is the place to go. Restaurants like Tran Tran, La Lot, Thanh Thanh make this one of the best value eating streets in the city. One of the finest Vietnamese restaurants is the original Thy Thy. This is one place where it's fun to be on a budget – and the crowded factor makes this gem even more authentic. Best of all, the service is fast, it's BYO (bring your wine or beer), and there's a wide range of affordable dishes on the menu. Take a wander down Victoria Street, and you'll soon realise why this area has become known as 'Little Saigon.'
Formerly a blue-collar capital in the city's northern shadow, the suburb of Fitzroy and, in particular, Brunswick Street is where Melbourne's alternative side is in full force. This inner-city mecca for all things cool and kooky is awash with people from all walks of life; hippies, animal activists, tourists, yuppies, fiddle-playing punks and characters sporting amazing feats of body piercing.
Wander along Fitzroy's main drag, for tonnes of vintage clothing stores, second-hand bookshops, and take your pick from an array of bohemian cafés and restaurants, like the popular vegan and vegetarian spot the Vegie Bar or stop into the Everleigh for some of Melbourne's finest cocktails. The iconic Provincial Hotel at the junction of Johnson Street is a popular bar and meeting place for further explorations on a night out. A few doors away are Bar Open, a hip bar where local talents play late-night music and performances in a small but intimate atmosphere upstairs. Brunswick Street happens to be one of the best people-watching streets in the city. So firstly, make it an afternoon as the street can be lifeless any earlier, as the locals aren't early risers around here. Then, find an appropriate café such as Rustica, Brunswick Street Alimentari or Stagger Lee's and armed with a coffee, you can settle down to watch the drama unfold on one of Melbourne's most free-thinking streets.
If you had a dollar for every time Centre Place has been photographed by tourists, you'd be very rich indeed. Lined by hole-in-the-wall cafes, reminiscent of somewhere Continental such as Rome, this laneway offers a variety of food experiences topped with buskers and street art.
This sloping alley with rough bluestone paving stones is the epicentre of Melbourne's street art scene. There are always visitors huddled along here taking photos, as the walls are like a textbook featuring every sort of street art - tags, paste-ups, stencils and enormous colourful murals. The art is even more concentrated in connected Rutledge Lane, which wraps back to Hosier in a U-shape.
Why should Chinatown miss out on the Melbourne laneway fun? This narrow alleyway lined with old brick buildings has plenty of atmosphere by night. Entering Little Bourke Street, the first eatery is Rice Workshop, serving tasty Japanese street food. Further up is Gaylord, an old-school North Indian restaurant. However, the stars of Tattersalls are a string of Shanghai-style Chinese restaurants. The most popular of these is the Shanghai Dumpling House, outside which you'll often find queues. Finish the evening at Section 8, an open-air venue that serves the drinks from a converted shipping container. A classier choice upstairs is Ferdydurke, serving Russian-style dumplings and upmarket hot dogs, along with cocktails and nightly music from DJs.
Coolest Streets In Melbourne
Smith Street, Collingwood
- EAT & SEE
- If a food's on your mind, then you've come to the right place. For those wanting an upscale experience, look no further than the swanky Panama Dining Room. That said, if you're more into a collaborative, 'eat 'til you can eat no more' experience, head to the Old Kingdom for duck wraps plenty.
- Before you go, don't forget to head down Easey Street, just near the Robert Burns Hotel, to check out Easey's classic Aussie food that you can eat inside a real Melbourne train carriage – right at the top of the building.
- DRINK & DANCE:
- If whetting your whistle is more your thing, check out the phantasmagorical Mr Wow's Emporium, a bar offering a range of drinks, games and free popcorn. Or perhaps you'd prefer a boogie in the street's thriving bar scene, stopping at Yah Yah's, Mollie's Bar and Diner, or classic party jaunt The Peel.
- If you're more of a daytime wanderer, have a stroll past Smith Street's great outlet walk for big brands at low prices, or consider dipping into the vintage end for fabulous finds at the Lost and Found Market or Smith Street Bazaar.
Degraves Street, Melbourne CBD
- EAT & SEE:
- Come for the graffiti photo. Stay for the food! One of Melbourne CBD's most iconic laneways, tourists come from far and wide to taste in the culinary delights that Degraves St has to offer. Famed for its cosmopolitan outdoor dining, 'Degraves' (as the locals call it) is packed with a myriad of café, restaurants, and drink options for your choosing.
Carlisle Street, Balaclava / St Kilda
- Carlisle Street has long been known as Melbourne's cultural and cosmopolitan hotspot, with its live music venues, bustling eateries, shops, and hordes of interesting people to look at while you sip your morning latte.
- EAT | DRINK:
- Whether it's brunch at Las Chicas, a bite to eat at the intimate Radio Mexico, some fro-yo at Yo-Chi or some drinks and comedy at The Local Taphouse, there's no shortage of cuisines to find on this outing in Melbourne's inner south.
Brunswick and Johnston Streets, Fitzroy
- Fitzroy seems to be one of those Switzerland-type suburbs where revellers from both the south and North can get along just fine. The corner of Brunswick and Johnston (we couldn't pick!) has all the food, jazz and liquor you could want for the perfect reveller's night out in this urban mix of gritty and glam.
- Let's start with the party because if you're looking to dance the night away, there's nowhere better than frisky Fitzroy. Whether it's time for salsa and sangria at The Nightcat, live music at Bar Open, or you're off to Melbourne's home of hip-hop at Laundry Bar. The area is full of bustling nightlife in this inner-north locale.
- EAT | DRINK:
- If you're more of a 'sit and chat on your night out' kind of person, then Fitzroy still has plenty of fun and unique outings to satisfy your appetite. Whether you're taking in sky-high views at Naked In The Sky or enjoying infused spirits and hors d'oeuvres at Naked For Satan down below, taking in a pint and parma at the 150-year-old Rainbow Hotel or getting your karaoke on at Rice Queen, there's no shortage of vibrant locals to get your tipple on.
While small, don't forget to take a stroll off Brunswick St onto Gertrude St, featuring many independent retailers, bars, galleries, and restaurants to explore.
Acland Street Village, St Kilda
- The cosmopolitan Acland Street Village will always stay wonderfully eccentric and iconic to tourists and Melbournians alike. A stone's throw from classic landmarks such as the rocking Palais Theatre, amusement hub Luna Park, penguins at St Kilda Pier and the Esplanade Markets, while the shop fronts are always changing, the eclectic vibe of quirky shops, restaurants and bars forever stays the same.
- There are plenty of dining options on this inner south abode, which is (usually!) packed with international tourists and cuisine to match. Whether you want some Polish Monarch continental cakes, a trip down memory lane at rock n' roll café Abbey Road or a taste of some seriously decadent gelato at 7 Apples, there is global cuisine galore on Acland Street Village.
- DRINK | DANCE:
- In the summertime, the village is bustling, with food trucks and fire twirlers revelling at the St Kilda Twilight Market and revellers young and old taking in drinks, dancing and decadence across the village during Melbourne's cultural St Kilda Festival. Have a drink at local haunts like corner mainstay The Vineyard, St Kilda icon Big Mouth or head around the corner to the only live music, food, and drink venue, The Espy, for a truly Melbourne experience unlike any other.
Stretching 22 kilometres, the Ballarat Avenue of Honour is the longest of its kind in Australia. More than 3700 trees represent the region's servicemen and women enlisted in the First Australian Imperial Forces for WWI.
Barkly Street, Footscray
- EAT | DRINK:
- The West has been on a quest to make itself 'The Best', and with that in mind, there is no stop better than Barkly Street in Footscray. This foodie's dream has everything you could think of, from the Plough Hotel for fancier pub cuisine; intimate and romantic dining at the Small French Bar; or some homestyle Vietnamese cooking and beers at Sapa Sister. For those looking for a cheeky vino, the street contains hidden gems such as the eclectic Bar Josephine and local eatery Zymurgy. It won't be long before the area becomes fully gentrified, so get in while you can!
High Street, Northcote
- High Street Northcote would be like Brunswick's posher, more refined cousin if some grungy genes remained. Whether you want to take in a film at the 1920s themed Palace Westgarth or buy something bespoke from one of the many independent designers and collectives along this eclectic trail, there's something for both the Brighton and Brunswick-bred crowd along this flowered lane.
- EAT | DRINK:
- A mix of bars, cafes, shops and entertainment, this rich pocket of the North is a cultural hub for all ages. Whether you're looking for a drink and a boogie at the Northcote Social Club, a food truck stop at Welcome to Thornbury or the family-run Bar Nonno, you're sure to find a place to satisfy your appetite on High Street.
Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne CBD
- If you're heading into Melbourne, it would be remiss, not to mention one of the most popular shopping streets in the CBD. With live buskers, iconic statues, bustling trams and links to laneways and arcades, it's easy to see why Bourke Street Mall is one of the main streets of Melbourne's CBD.
- If you're into fashion, you've come to the right place. Shoppers can get lost for hours in the Myer Basement or look at the latest designer collections at Bourke Street's David Jones. The regular staples such as Sportsgirl and Melbourne's flagship H&M, housed in the converted GPO building, one of the city's architectural beauties, are here, too – so make sure you have your walking shoes on and free hands for a day full of shopping galore.
Other Things To See & Do In Melbourne
- Dine on the move aboard the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant – a beautifully restored 1927 tram, which is now a luxury restaurant on tracks. Board the tram for lunch or dinner and enjoy fine cuisine and Australian wine—a unique way to see Melbourne. Bookings are essential.
- The Eureka Skydeck 88 has awe-inspiring views of Melbourne and the surrounding area – stretching 60km to the horizon from the Southern Hemisphere's highest viewing platform.
- For that true Melbourne sporting experience, head to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) or Docklands Stadium to watch an "Aussie Rules" (Australian Football League /AFL) game. Experience the spectacular excitement of the countries unique and favourite sport, where an average match can attract an almost capacity crowd of vocal – yet peaceful – supporters.
- The Moonlight Cinema is Melbourne's favourite outdoor cinema screening latest releases and classic films in the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens during the summer months. For an entertaining night out, pack a picnic and enjoy an outdoor movie on the lawns – it's like a day in the park, dinner and a movie all in one.
- Visit the Southbank precinct for the home of Melbourne art and culture – the Victorian Arts Centre and the National Gallery of Victoria's international collection. Federation Square fuses art with architecture while city laneways and precincts showcase the innovation and skill of local artists and designers. At the same time, any number of theatres, museums and events will introduce you to a new Melbourne.
- A visit to Melbourne would not be complete without visiting the Yarra River. New buildings, walks and parks have been created along its banks, including Riverside Park. For the best view of the Yarra River, take a walk to Princes Bridge, St Kilda Road; take a picnic at one of several spots along its banks or board a cruise along the River from Princes Walk (below Princes Bridge).
- Take a guided tour of The Royal Exhibition Building to discover the history of Melbourne's most famous landmark and Australia's first World Heritage-listed building.
- Check out, Queen Victoria Market. More than just a shopping mecca, this 19th-century market is a historic landmark, a tourist attraction and an institution for Melburnians. The 'Queen Vic' was opened in 1878, but the meat market building (except the Victorian facade) operated from 1866. On Wednesday nights (November–March), there is a night market with entertainment, bars, food outlets, unique arts and crafts, eccentric clothing, masseurs, tarot card readers, and more.
- For that essential day or overnight trip from Melbourne, explore the world-famous Great Ocean Road. Winding along Victoria's western coast, this classic coastal journey offers stunning ocean views, beachside activities, laid-back coastal towns and maritime villages. The star attraction is the Twelve Apostles – giant rock stacks that rise majestically from the Southern Ocean and are the central feature of the rugged Port Campbell National Park.
But in a city like Melbourne, declaring one street as the 'coolest' might be a little contentious. So to even out the playing field, we've rounded up some other close contenders for must-see streets in one of the world's most liveable cities.