Melbourne is famous for its laneways – its street art, cafes and bars - but if you’re new in town how do you know which laneways to explore?
The simple solution is to ask a local, and now it seems that a few enterprising Melbourne locals have realised this, with a number of tour companies now offering a creative range of walking tours.
Tour company Walk Melbourne has one of the city’s most unique collections designed by local foodie and passionate Melbournian, Monique Bayer. Her tours include samples of Melbourne’s best rooftop bars, dumpling houses, markets, coffee, chocolates and other sweet spots.
Weave into Melbourne’s rich Italian and Chinese immigrant history and you have an entertaining few hours full of sightseeing, storytelling, and eating.
Monique specialises in progressive dinners themed around different cuisines, including the recently introduced Dude Food Walking Tour, capitalising on Melbourne’s latest love affair with Americana-inspired food.
Donuts, hot dogs and hamburgers are on the menu over three courses at three North American inspired venues, starting at Trunk’s Diner on Exhibition St, with starters including spicy buffalo wings and mac n cheese.
Dinner progresses at the Grand Trailer Park Taverna in Bourke St, an indoor trailer park that serves a range of burgers, all creatively named, with an American story behind each one.
In between venues our guide shows us points of interest, such as Madam Brussels on Little Lonsdale St, the best little eateries in Chinatown, and she tells us a little about the Grossi family influence as we pass through the real Little Italy (here in Bourke St, not the more famous precinct on Lygon St).
For dessert, there is a choice of pumpkin donuts or apple pie at Nieuw Amsterdam, a classy New York-style bar and eatery on Hardware St.
Dumpling Discovery Walk
Another of Monique’s most popular walking tours is the Dumpling Discovery Walk, which cuts through the vast range of dumpling houses in Melbourne and shows you the best.
The walk is designed to show you a range of different dumplings at some of Melbourne's most authentic places and includes a sharing plate at each restaurant.
Want more of Melbourne's hidden gems? Uncover The Hidden Gems Of Melbourne
Make the most of Melbourne's suburbs. Local Love: Top 5 Melbourne Must-Visits
Coffee Lovers Walk
Monique, like most of Melbourne, is obsessed with coffee, so a coffee tour was an essential addition to her collection.
This two-hour walking tour takes you to places that really care about the origin, roast and brewing of the bean. It’s a great way for the home coffee enthusiast to explore espresso and a range of other brewing methods while drinking some great coffee along the way.
The Rooftop Bars Walk
I love rooftop bars, and I know Melbourne has many but like most non-Melburnians I have no idea where they are.
This tour is a great introduction to Melbourne’s rooftop bar scene, surveying the city’s top spots for cocktails with a view, and between stops, the tour takes in the laneways and street art of Melbourne.
Many of the bars are hidden from the street; you enter via secret doors, elevators and staircases – some of these places, even the locals don’t know about – and they all have a different vibe.
The Melbourne Experience (Foodie Indulgence Walk)
Other tours available showcase a ‘best of Melbourne’ experience, combining elements of each of these specialty tours.
The Melbourne Experience lets you can drink coffee, eat dumplings, sneak in a chocolate treat and finish it off with a drink on a rooftop. There's also the Melbourne City Wine and Dine tour, which showcases Melbourne’s best dining experiences, and allows opportunities to chat with the chefs, sommeliers and restaurateurs.