It's always a thrill entering Melbourne's hive of bustling, creative laneways, with their covert boutiques, famed restaurants, hole-in-the-wall cafes and astonishing bars.
Give 'Mainstreet' a miss and head down alleyways to find walls covered with stencil work, lightboxes and sculptures that point you to the door of 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 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. Meyers 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, and stop for video art at Screen Space.
Menfolk who give a hoot about the cut of their jib make their way to Somerset Place and neighbouring Rankins Lane for streetwear, bespoke footwear, made-to-measure attire, and good grooming at Comeback Kid and Captains of Industry. Ride away with a takeaway coffee and custom wheels from The Little Mule Cycle Company & Cafe.