Melbourne is magic. Moody, hauntingly foggy gardens, intricate grafitti laneways, the most beautiful modern cafes, vibrant food, stylish inhabitants, bustling markets, I can see why everyone I met raved about Melbourne (and why my best Aussie-transplant-to-Houston baking goddess friend adores her hometown :)) I unfortunately encountered dreary, drizzly weather as Melbourne transitioned into winter during my visit and ultimately ended up cutting my visit short to continue chasing the sun in northern Australia via Surfer’s Paradise and Brisbane. Still, I managed to fit in a ton of delicious food, fun friend dates, shopping and exploring during my short stint in Melbourne.
If there’s anything that I took away from Melbourne, it’s that the cafe and breakfast scene is exceptionally strong which obviously means we (me and Melbourne) are meant to be and that I will be back sooner rather than later.
This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive three-day itinerary, just a little glimpse into what I did–hopefully it will provide a little inspiration/jumping off point for what to do/see/eat if you ever visit Melbourne (which you should TOTALLY do!)
do | what I did in three days in Melbourne
- Walked/shopped around Fitzroy: I loved the vintage shops; this (along with Richmond) is one of the hipster neighborhoods that was recommended to me and apparently has a fantastic hipster nightlife.
- Royal Botanic Gardens
- NGV Australia (free!)
- Flinders Street Station/Federation Square
- Queen Victoria Market: HUGE. Tons of food stalls (both prepared and produce) and lots and lots of clothing, trinkets, etc.
do | other things I would have done had I had time (in order of preference):
- Melbourne Street Art Tour: $69 AUD, or around $50 USD. I was signed up to take this tour, but ended up having to cancel when I left Melbourne early. Nomadic Matt says this was the highlight of his trip.
- Healesville Sanctuary: KOALAS.
- Great Ocean Road Tour/12 apostles: A long, windy drive from Melbourne and maybe not the best for those who get carsick (also, there are only three apostles left FYI) but apparently VERY beautiful.
- William Ricketts Sanctuary in Dandenongs: Also far from Melbourne, but off the beaten tourist track and reportedly an otherworldly outdoor trek with interesting, spiritual carvings.
- Rose Street Artists Market in Fitzroy
- State Library of Victoria
- Free guided walking tour at Fitzroy Gardens
eat | morning:
- Top Paddock: You MUST get the blueberry ricotta hotcake. It is the single sexiest thing I’ve eaten in life. Going here and eating this is not negotiable if you make it all the way to Melbourne. Beautiful modern aesthetic and gets PACKED during normal brunch hours (we went at 8:30am and were seated right away, but the restaurant filled up right after).
- Lune Croissant: They recently upgraded to a new, very modern and open space with a central glass enclosure where you can watch bakers measure croissant dough with rulers and place chocolate wands with razor precision. The $6 croissants are pricey, but incredibly worth it (and go before noon to ensure you get one!). High-quality ingredients and excellent technique yield croissants with the crackliest, shiny outer layers that collapse into an almost custardy, doughy interior layers in a bite. Named potentially the best croissant in the world by The New York Times.
- Proud Mary: Known for their coffee (full disclosure, I don’t really drink coffee. And they will look at you strangely if you don’t order coffee), but they also have a delicious spread of typical offerings–delicious things on toast, and really delicious hotcakes with inventive toppings that seem to change seasonally.
- Square and Compass: More great coffee, inventive toasts (hi peanut butter, tomatoes and salt + pepper peanuts), healthy omelettes, superfood salads, chocolate and ricotta hotcakes, and they sometimes carry doughnuts from Doughboy Doughnuts, which I hear are very worthy of checking out, though I unfortunately didn’t get a chance.
- Pressed Juices: Huge variety of cold-pressed juice that, if you’re lucky, a nice lady will let you try a million samples of, and some healthy bites. Perfect for a quick pick-me-up in between heavier meals.
eat | other
- Chin Chin: Small plates of really delicious, flawlessly executed Southeast Asian food. They don’t take reservations, so go for lunch or put your name in at dinner and plan to drink/snack elsewhere for a couple hours beforehand. Dubbed “the hottest restaurant in Melbourne” (circa 2016) by the expert foodies I was with, the food–from crispy-tender tofu spring rolls, tender and flavorful salmon, and a luxurious squash curry–totally measured up to those sky-high high expectations. I loved everything I ate here, and it was probably the best “real meal” of the trip.
- Hawker Hall: Inspired by the food and beer hawker halls of Singapore and Malaysia, this is a sister restaurant to Chin Chin. I found Chin Chin’s menu either slightly more appealing or pescatarian-friendly, but still highly enjoyed the prawn and ginger dumplings, gado gado tofu salad and roti apple pie here. Very close by to many other cool spots in the Fitzroy area.
- Mr. Miyagi: We went here for a pre-drink and snack while waiting for a table at Hawker Hall. Fun cocktails like a salted watermelon martini and Shinjuku Sling (vodka, passionfruit, pineapple, pomegranate) and perfect bites like miso-glazed rice paper encasing grilled eggplant (ugh, dream) and Himalayan salt slab cured kingfish that creates an increasingly salty product the longer you let the fish sit (as we were repeatedly warned by the attentive staff).
- Desgraves Street: Centre Place apparently supplies the quintessential “Melbourne laneways” experience, but this street was one of my favorites that I accidentally stumbled upon that offers a huge variety of adorable shops and eateries. I wanted to eat everything I saw (Doughnut Time Doughnuts, crepes, sushi); I ended up having tapas with a friend here one night at a tiny table under the light-adorned umbrellas and heat lamps, which all felt very French and romantic and AWESOME!
- Chinatown: Melbourne reportedly does Chinese food very well, and the Chinatown is vast and sprawling. Venturing down the alleyways is an adventure in itself, and appealing-looking dumpling shops abound. I ate a vegetable bun and noodle soup at a forgettable place, but I surely missed many gems.
- Gelato Messina: Still kicking myself for missing this, but this gelato was recommended to me by literally everyone. Next time it will not be missed.