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Do a modern version of "the block", a century-old form of cruising Melbourne's arcades that to this day takes in cutting-edge artwork, independent fashion, imported music and stunning design.

Block Arcade and Royal Arcade

These days you're not walking endlessly around Block and Royal arcades, unlike your forebears who were trying to escape the prying eyes of their elders. You may still start at Block Arcade, which links Collins Street and Little Collins streets via a glass canopied, mosaic floored laneway. Slaver over the cake displays at Hopetoun Tea Rooms, then continue into Block Place for al fresco eating options, and rollicking tunes at Basement Discs.

Cross over to Royal Arcade, nodding to the giant statues of Gog and Magog and set yourself up with babushkas, board games, bling and super style from Marais and Somedays.

Manchester Unity Arcade and Cathedral Arcade

Your new-fangled "block" doesn't end there. Cover your tracks back over to Collins Street and head for Manchester Unity Arcade. Marvel at the bespoke tile work, black-marble friezes and tablets, and ornate elevators of the ground-floor arcade, a grand entrance to the art deco, neo-gothic Manchester Unity building.

From here, meander one block along Swanston Street to Cathedral Arcade, with the dome, stained glass and leadlighting that the name suggests. Browse the wares at Kuwaii and Obus, and ride the lifts up to the Nicholas Building ateliers, studios and galleries.

Campbell Arcade

Slip beneath Degraves Street to Campbell Arcade and be surprised by The Dirty Dozen, a glass-cabinet exhibition space that lines the walls and gives commuters something to smile about. Also proffering reasons to smile is Cup of Truth and its seriously excellent coffee; indie fashion at Cats Meow and Corky Saint Clair; big beats at Wax Museum Records; and Sticky zine world, which almost defies description.

With all the cafes, bars and restaurants scattered around "the block", you can maintain your energy levels, and do it all again.

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Things to do

Arcades

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Agathé Pâtisserie Petite

Behold the flaky, buttery bounty of this minuscule French patisserie located in Royal Arcade.

Corky Saint Clair

Art meets life and then gets madly meta as you find yourself browsing Corky's shop in real life.

Gewurzhaus

Find everything from black truffle salt and kibbled chickory root to good ol' Aussie meat pie spice.

Cup of Truth

Go underground for barista-brewed coffee so smooth you won't want to get it at street level again.

Marais

Ascend the stairs to a sartorial haven of French glamour with achingly cool, covetable collections.

Kuwaii

Feel the magnetic pull down Cathedral Arcade towards Kuwaii's timeless and beautiful womenswear .

Sticky

Get stuck into zines at Australia's undisputed headquarters for lovingly photocopied publications.

Obus

Drench yourself in colour, and dresses, coats and pants, at this distillery of cutting edge fashion.

The Melbourne Shop by Lumbi

Take home stylish souvenirs: Melbourne-themed prints on clothing, accessories, canvas and homewares.

Blindside

Nestled in the historic Nicholas Building, this artist run space presents an ever-changing program.

Hopetoun Tea Rooms

Raise a pinky to founder Lady Hopetoun as you dine the 'old-fashioned way' at this house of fine tea.

The Basement Discs

Pick up new releases and find rare titles from the world's best folk, blues and country artists.

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