48-hour itinerary: Fashion & fun
Revel in two days of shopping and supping
Sophisticated and contemporary are just two words to describe Hotel Lindrum, on the doorstep of all the city has to offer. Wander the streets and bluestone laneways to Mezzo Bar & Grill, to enjoy its southern Italian comfort food and warm ambience. From busy Bourke Street, climb the stairs to The Carlton and find eccentric décor of flock, velvet and taxidermied animals – perfect for late-night revelry.
Start the morning with toasted paninis, custard tarts and coffee at Journal cafe, where you'll be rubbing shoulders with local fashionistas and art students. From here explore the surrounding laneways and arcades in search of the perfect shopping experience. Lovers of vintage fashion and craft should explore the Nicholas Building for that special gift for someone back home. Australian designers and retailers abound in Flinders Lane at Alphaville, Green with Envy, Craft Victoria and Aesop. Want to get an overview of the best spots before you start? Join the Hidden Secrets Lanes and Arcades Tour. For international designers and brands under one roof, try the GPO, QV and Melbourne Central.
Take a leisurely cruise to Williamstown on the ferry. Get out on the water and see Melbourne in a whole new way as you wind your way through the Docklands and down the Yarra. Alternatively, spend a relaxing day exploring the beautiful bayside suburb of St Kilda. Enjoy a walk along the promenade, go fishing on the pier, or take the kids on the wooden rollercoaster at Luna Park.
Join the queue early at fashionable city eateries Mamasita or Chin Chin for excellent food and people watching, then move from side street to laneway to explore the city's music venues. Catch big-name acts at the Palace, Forum or Hi-Fi bar, or catch up-and-coming bands play late-night sets in sweaty clubs like Ding Dong Lounge or Cherry. Or order cocktails with the glamorous crowd at Eau De Vie.
Make like the hipster masses and have a late brekkie at 1000 Pound Bend. It's scruffy boho, a lot of fun and great value. When you're full and fully caffeinated, head to Gertrude Street and while away a few hours looking through the many little fashion boutiques, bookstores and gift shops where you'll find vintage clothes and plenty of work by local artists and designers.
Have lunch at the Press Club and discover the modern Greek cuisine that made George Calombaris a Melbourne favourite long before he became a household name on MasterChef. Head across the road and explore works by Australian artists at the NGV: Ian Potter Gallery. With a full calendar of changing exhibits as well as a renowned permanent collection, there is always something to inspire.
Melbourne has no shortage of dumpling houses, but the house speciality – xiao long bao, soup-filled meat dumplings – at HuTong Dumpling House is something special. This popular haunt is always packed with folks gorging on the folded parcels made on the premises. Wash the chilli down with a glass of wines at the laidback Meyers Place, the original laneway bar and still a firm favourite.
Get out in the sunshine and try out Melbourne's bike-share scheme. Pick up a blue bike, available in stands all through the CBD, then take a slow ride along the banks of the Yarra River.