There's always an exhilarating thrill to be had when entering Melbourne's hive of bustling, creative laneways with their covert boutiques, famed restaurants, hole-in-the-wall cafes and astonishing bars.
Make a break from the mainstream, down alleys covered in stencil work, lightboxes and sculptures that seem to exist only to provide the address for quirky bars. Check out Bar Americano in Presgrave Place, Section 8 in Tattersalls Lane, Croft Institute in Croft Alley and Cherry Bar in ACDC Lane. Find other unassuming addresses that reveal themselves to be velvety jazz clubs and flashy wine bars, or bare-bone student hangouts and dimly-lit hideaways.
Never forget those tried and true laneways, favoured for their reliability. Meyer's Place still hosts the eponymous bar plus no-fuss Italian amico Waiters Restaurant, while the Pellegrini's welcome to Crossley Street is an institution. Hardware Lane, Degraves Street and Centre Place are vying to feed you and ensure you look the part.
On the off chance that a tiny laneway isn't hiding a boozy dens or caffeine lairs, you're likely to find colourful street art as part of the annual Laneway Commissions. See anything from neon animals in Cocker Alley to video installations in Manchester Lane and paste-ups in Westwood Place.
More secret art can be uncovered in the galleries that line Guildford Lane. Duck into the old red-brick furniture warehouses and printing suppliers and find lofts showcasing temporary exhibitions, video art at Screen Space, as well as independent art and exceptional opening parties at Utopian Slumps.
Menfolk who give a hoot about the cut of their jib should make their way to Somerset Place and neighbouring Rankins Lane to Comeback Kid and Captains of Industry for streetwear, bespoke footwear, made-to-measure attire, and good grooming. Ride away with a takeaway coffee and custom wheels from The Little Mule Cycle Company & Cafe.
How to get there
By tram: Any tram along Swanston or Elizabeth streets.
Free Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle: Hop on and off at any of the 13 stops along the route. The complete trip takes approximately an hour and a half. The bus runs every 30 minutes between 9.30am and 4.30pm daily (excluding Christmas Day) and includes an on-board commentary.