3 Days in Melbourne

10 February 2014
Read Time: 3.5 mins

It may be the capital of Victoria, but there are a few additional titles Melbourne could lay claim to: Capital of Cool, Hipster Heartland, Foodie Focal Point, the Axis of AFL, and so on. Melbourne is a much-loved weekend escape for many thanks to its diversity of cultures, forward-thinking fashions and endless hidden charms waiting to surprise and delight. If you’re planning to spend 72-hours in Melbourne, don’t lose your head in the labyrinth of CBD laneways – keep this insider's guide to Melbourne on hand, pack for the notorious four-seasons-in-one-day weather, hop on a tram and you’ll be singing the city’s praises in no time.

 Melbourne: shining like a beacon of culture and cool

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Day 1

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Morning / Afternoon

Melbournians love to wake up to a good cup of coffee, and they don’t throw that term around loosely! Widely regarded as the city roasting and boasting best cup of Joe in the country, Melbourne is home to literally hundreds of cafes so you won’t have any problem finding a spot for breakfast or brunch – the only dilemma will be deciding where to pull up a seat. Little Bourke Street, Little Collins Street, DeGraves Street and the laneways that web around each of these respectively are your best bet for a morning meal with a side order of people-watching.

Spend your first day in Melbourne getting your bearings around the CBD or, at the very least, submitting to the tangle of streets and just exploring at your leisure. Follow the trail of trendsetters weighed down by shopping bags to the Bourke Street Mall, tucked between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets. The city’s retail heart is home to massive David Jones and Myer department stores as well as luxury boutiques in the historic GPO building. If you’re the creative sort, amble into the Flinders Quarter just off Federation Square and peruse the independent galleries, cutting-edge designer shopfronts and endless hole-in-the-wall snack spots.

Evening

One of magnetic Melbourne’s biggest pulls is its chock-a-block events calendar. There’s always a reason to put your hands together, whether you’re having a chuckle at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, catching a cricket match at the MCG or watching the big hitters in tennis at the Australian Open come summer. Of course, AFL is the code the locals hold dearest, so don’t be afraid to catch footy fever during the cooler months. Don’t discount the ability of dual A-League soccer teams Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart to draw a decent home crowd either!

 A sample of Melbourne's iconic laneway street art

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Day 2

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Morning

During your quick trip to Melbourne, be sure to make the pilgrimage to the infamous Queen Victoria Market. Sprawled over two inner-city blocks, the 'Queen Vic' has been a Melbourne institution for more than 135 years. Visit this historic landmark to get a flavour of the Victorian capital by wandering the halls and arcades which house hundreds of traders, peddling all sorts of curios from bespoke kids clothes and American-style doughnuts to handmade candles and European smallgoods. While you’re there, pickup a made-in-Melbourne souvenir – edible or wearable, your choice.

Afternoon

Melbourne’s CBD has enough tricks up its sleeve to keep you entertained for days on end, but do yourself a favour and catch the tram around the bay to the beachside ‘burb of St Kilda for a little afternoon delight. Cycle, skate or stroll along the foreshore if the weather is in your favour before venturing onto Acland Street to ogle the drool-worthy cake shop windows and kitschy retailers. If you’re visiting in February, take advantage of the nine-day-long music, comedy and arts extravaganza when St Kilda Festival takes over the streets in celebration of summer. Otherwise, Luna Park is open every weekend if you’re up for a spin on the carousel.

Evening

Don’t be too eager to get back to the inner city just yet! After all, St Kilda is (according to The Age Good Food Guide) the most well-endowed fine-dining suburb in Melbourne. Fitzroy and Acland Streets and even the foreshore itself are home to a substantial palate of awarded eateries and top-notch watering holes. See if you can secure a reservation at one of St Kilda’s renowned restaurants like Cafe Di Stasio, Donovans or Circa the Prince, and don’t forget to check what gigs are on at The Espy (Esplanade Hotel) or the Palais Theatre.

 Take a sunset stroll along the St Kilda jetty

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Day 3

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Morning / Afternoon

There’s a niche for everyone in Melbourne, especially if you delve into the city’s fringe neighbourhoods. Spend your final daylight hours in Melbourne getting to know an urban pocket of your choosing. Perhaps student-centric Carlton will take your fancy, with its own slice of la dolce vita in along Lygon Street, colloquially known as Little Italy, and its penchant for cosy bookstores. Neighbouring Fitzroy is where the cool crowd flocks to be seen on Brunswick Street, hunting for vintage fashions and amping up their artistic cred.

Further north, Northcote has become a creative hub with cafes and bars aplenty, rivalled by Richmond to the east when it comes to which neighbourhood has the best choice of multicultural fare. Though, it would have to be western Footscray that takes the crown for its global delights thanks to waves of migration leaving their mark with Asian markets, Italian trattorias and even Ethiopian coffee houses. If you’re looking for a more laidback reprieve from the city sights, Yarraville’s village-like vibe and mix of Edwardian and Victorian architecture is just the ticket.

Evening

Channel your inner gourmand and get a taste of the latest foodie fad to sweep through the city that loves a nosh, like the sweet sculptures at Om Nom dessert bar or “extreme” nitrogen gelato at N2. When it comes time for a nightcap, suss out a bar with a difference, be it pop-up, rooftop or basement – Go Go Bar tucked under Chin Chin restaurant and 2013 Bar of the Year winner Black Pearl are safe bets for a good tipple. For a more star-struck kind of evening, secure your tickets to the Moonlight Cinema on the lawns of the Royal Botanic Gardens in South Yarra, or enjoy one last dose of culture at an evening showing at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg