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It's always something new to discover in Melbourne's hive of bustling, creative laneways, with their covert boutiques, famed restaurants, hole-in-the-wall cafes and astonishing bars.

Bar finds

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.

Old favourites

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.

Visual arts

On the off chance that a tiny laneway isn't hiding boozy dens or caffeine lairs, you're likely to find an ever-changing outdoor gallery of street art. Check out the murals, paste-ups and stencils in the laneways off Flinders Lane between Russell Street and Swanston Street – don't miss Hosier Lane – and in Blender Lane, off Franklin Street. 

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 independent exhibitions.

Somerset preening

Menfolk who give a hoot about the cut of their jib should make their way to Somerset Place for bespoke footwear, made-to-measure attire and good grooming at Captains of Industry. Ride away with a takeaway coffee and custom wheels from The Little Mule Cafe.

Explore

City laneways

Destinations

Centre Place and Degraves Street

Idle the afternoon away by the bluestone cobbles at a Degraves Street or Centre Place cafe and become part of a Melbourne postcard scene.

Destinations

Crossley Street

There's great comfort in knowing places like Crossley Steet still exist, with the venerable Pellegrini's standing guard over quirky shops and cafes.

Destinations

Curtin House and Nicholas Building

The city's vertical laneways Curtin House and Nicholas Building each add a unique stamp to the scene with levels of boutiques, bars and eateries.

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Things to do

Laneways

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Meyers Place

Pop into this perennial favourite made from deconstructed timber, shag carpet and cast-off curios.

The Croft Institute

Kitted out with items from a de-commissioned hospital, Croft offers a clinical approach to partying.

Bar Americano

Knock back daytime espressos and nighttime cocktails in this standing-room only bar.

Section 8

Pull up a seat in his much-loved car park for unpretentious drinks and delectable audio offerings.

Hells Kitchen

Climb the stairs next to Jungle Juice and settle into a window seat in this perennial indie gem.

Captains of Industry

Get a haircut and have a coffee all while getting measured for a suit at this one-stop shop for gents.

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Eight of the best

Laneway coffee spots

Krimper

Get a dose of Australian architecture and design history alongside your Proud Mary coffee.

Dukes at Ross House

Get your coffee fix with a dose of feel-good factor from the combined forces of Dukes at Ross House.

The Little Mule

You'll be surprised at how often you feel the need to return to this weirdly welcoming workshop.

Operator 25

Purveyor of brunch and specialty coffee from Code Black Coffee Roasters, Operator 25 answers your call.

Patricia

Stand around with a serious but simple brew. Coffee here comes three ways: black, white and filter.

Manchester Press

Get in line to praise Manchester Press, the huge lucent laneway space where coffee reigns supreme.

Traveller

Savour a coffee and dream about places you've been and those you're yet to discover at Traveller.

Switch Board Cafe

Squeeze into the storage cupboard and experience Switchboard's unique charm as well as great coffee.

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