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Finding Your Feet in Melbourne - A Guide to the City's Suburbs

Finding Your Feet in Melbourne - A Guide to the City's Suburbs main image

It can take a while to get to know a city, especially if you're trying to get to grips with a whole new country and settle in to university. Melbourne's charm is often in its suburbs, and each one has its own unique character. So to help you find your feet here's a handy guide to take out some of the guesswork and point you in the right direction.


Central Business District (CBD)

Melbourne's CBD is a hive of activity that has something for everyone from tourists to long-term locals. At the northern end is Queen Victoria market, the largest open-air market in the Southern hemisphere, and a guaranteed place to bag bargain groceries. Head around Bourke Street for your fill of cheap, authentic cuisine in the city's Chinatown and to check out the beautiful old shopping arcades. Or for those after a sophisticated shopping experience, the luxury of Collins Street awaits. Wrap up your day with a fancy meal by the riverside just over the bridge on the Southbank.

To get your culture fix Federation Square is a must, home to the National Gallery of Victoria and the ACMI.  Equally impressive are the hard-to-spot laneways which Melbourne is famous for. Wander alongside the ever-changing graffiti in Hosier Lane or try Centre Place, which is crammed full of cafes and eateries. Still have time to explore? Jump on to the free City Circle tram and hop off wherever takes your fancy.

North Melbourne

Just a stone's throw from the CBD is North Melbourne, which maintains its old school charm with wide streets and colonial architecture. Errol Street is the main thoroughfare, home to great cafes such as Auction Rooms and the unmissable Mörk Chocolate Brew House. Take a leisurely stroll north or jump on the tram to relax in the impeccably maintained Royal Park or even visit Melbourne Zoo. 


Fitzroy, Melbourne

If you consider Melbourne a hipster's paradise, then Fitzroy is its beating heart. Those priced out by the increasing rent prices still flock here for the flea markets, independent shops and artists and eclectic nightlife.

Brunswick Street is the main drag, but a wander around the backstreets is guaranteed to reward you with hidden vintage gems or hole-in-the-wall patisseries. For night owls the Black Pearl is a great place to start with its world-famous cocktails, before carrying on to Night Cat for live music and salsa Sundays. Clear your head the next day with a stroll or cycle along the beautiful Merri Creek.

Fitzroy's foodie northern neighbor is a little more livable and a wonderfully eclectic and inclusive neighborhood.  Sydney Road is packed full of restaurants and is well-known for the array of kebabs on offer. Great news if you're after a midnight snack after listening to live music and knocking back a few beers at the local pubs. Two particular favorites are the old school Penny Black, and Howler with its amazing beer garden.

Walking distance to both RMIT University and the University of Melbourne, many students call Carlton home. It’s known for the Italian community on Lygon Street, which is teeming with restaurants offering all the pizza, pasta and gelato you could ever wish for. The area is also packed to bursting with local history - visit the Old Melbourne Gaol, Melbourne Museum or take a stroll around Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition Building, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Collingwood, Melbourne

Collingwood and Abbotsford
Home to many young professionals, these two neighborhoods have plenty of trendy bars, cafes and breweries on offer. For shopping and brunch options you won’t be disappointed on Collingwood's Smith Street, a hipster enclave home to many quirky shops such as Happy Valley and The Social Studio.

Neighboring Abbotsford is the perfect mixture of reinvented industrial buildings on Johnston St and beautifully green inner-city escapes. Visit Abbotsford's Convent (which holds various workshops and exhibitions), feed the animals at Collingwood Children's Farm or take a stroll around Dight's Falls Loop Trail.

An unmissable area for sports fans, this area is home to the 2017 Australian Football League champions, the Richmond Tigers. You easily walk over to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, aka 'The G', to immerse yourself in the atmosphere and catch a game. If AFL isn't your thing there's plenty more to occupy you. Explore the endless shopping opportunities on Bridge Street before reconvening with your mates at the Mountain Goat brewery or Royston Hotel.


St Kilda, Melbourne

St Kilda
Beachside suburb St Kilda is a cheerful escape from the corporate hustle and bustle of the CBD and famous for the old school amusements and rollercoasters at Luna Park. A popular spot for international backpackers means that you can find all sorts of cheap eats on Acland Street. Walk over the Esplanade and enjoy a day swimming and people watching at the beach. St Kilda also wraps around the southern end of Chapel St which is the place to head for a big night out.

South Yarra, Windsor and Prahan
Most definitely the fancier end of Chapel Street, visit these areas for classy brunches and chic shopping. There is a great organic food market in Prahran and row upon row of beautiful houses- hopefully you're lucky enough to live in one! Treat yourself to a Malaysian feast at Hawker Hall or some high-end Japanese cuisine at Mr Miyagi, before washing it all down with cocktails at Thundercat. If you're feeling up for a late one, carry on your night at the world-famous Revolver Upstairs nightclub.


Footscray, Melbourne

Always home to budget-savvy students, many more people are now flocking to the once overlooked multicultural suburb of Footscray, due to its burgeoning food and drinks scene and cheap rents. This is the place to come for authentic Vietnamese and east African cuisine, with the traditional Ethiopian fare at Cafe Lalibela a great place to start. If you're after a meat feast try Up In Smoke, then finish off your evening at Bad Love Club, a boozy late night bakery offering desert cocktails and delicious treats.

With its traditional cobbled laneways and strong sense of community, ambling around Yarraville feels like a journey back in time. No visit to this quaint suburb would be complete without catching the latest flick at The Sun Theatre. This art deco cinema has been a key community fixture since 1938, so sit back and relax amidst the traditional opulent decor whilst watching the latest blockbuster, with all the 21st century tech they could have only dreamed of back then.

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Keegan S, Chelsea D & 5 others saved this
Written by Chelsea D.

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