The rugged up and ready bit

Rug up and roam on a long weekend in Melbourne this winter. Leaf through bookshops and basement bazaars or drop by bars and pubs with cosy couches and flickering fireplaces.

Wander undercover via Victorian arcades. Browse independent boutiques and big brands. Stop for cheese, craft brews and gin joints before diving into steaming bowls of spicy pho and cocktails after dark. There's nothing like a long winter weekend in Melbourne.

Friday night

Start your weekend like a local, with a coffee at Pellegrini's on Bourke Street, before threading through laneways packed with artworks. Linger at cosy wine bar Embla, or dial up the dining with fancy French-inspired fare at Reine & La Rue. If you prefer something spicy, head for the buzz of MoVida Next Door or Spanish wine and tapas, or tuck into flavour-filled share plates with native ingredients at Federation Square's Big Esso.

Head through Fed Square and cross the Yarra River to join the steady flow of pedestrians along Southbank Promenade. Take in twinkling views of the city lights and shimmering reflections.

If your winter weekend falls in early June, don't miss Melbourne’s hottest arts festival, RISING. With visual art, performance and public art installations, live music and dance, the city comes alive with almost every kind of artistic experience you can imagine. Kick things off at the neon-soaked Night Trade pop-up and see where the night takes you.

Later, grab a quick bite at a late-night diner. Slurp pho until sunrise at Straight Outta Saigon, or find burgers and toasties 24/7 at Butchers Diner. Stop in at BYRDI for native-ingredient nibbles and cocktails until late.

Saturday morning

Feast your way through Queen Victoria Market. You'll find food halls and market sheds loaded with buyers, sellers and fresh produce, locally-made goods and great coffee. As you discover deli stands and bakery counters, flower stalls and food courts, don't miss local favourites like The American Doughnut Kitchen and the borek and bratwurst shops.

Slept in? Take it easy with brunch at Manchester Press on Rankins Lane - a laneway cafe in the city's heart. Or head to the deli at Farmer's Daughters for fresh, seasonal fare and excellent coffee.

Saturday afternoon

Wrap yourself up in a stylish Melbourne-made scarf and take the tram down St Kilda Road to Melbourne's green heart: the Royal Botanic Gardens. Then stroll to South Wharf along the Yarra for LUME's dazzling digital display of modern and classic art. Langlands' all-day menu may tempt you on the way.

Want more to explore? Eureka Skydeck delivers incredible 360-degree Melbourne views. If you're in the mood for culture, check out the latest ACMI collection, or an exhibition at the famed Melbourne Museum. There's also the newly opened Dome Promenade at the Exhibition Building. It's been closed off for over 100 years! 

Time to head back to the city. Off Exhibition Street, pop into basement bar Juliet for cocktails and bar bites, or wine and dine bistro-style at the moody Bar Margaux

Saturday night

Booked your seat in Melbourne's East End Theatre District? See Sunset Boulevard or WICKED the Musical – they're both continuing a stellar run.

For pre-show menus, check out No. 100 on Flinders Lane for delicious Lebanese feasting, or head to Daughter in Law for incredible Indian food with a contemporary twist. Or if it's late dinner you're after, get your fill of barbecued bites at Belles Hot Chicken, Fancy Hanks or Le Bon Ton.


Sunday morning

Jump on a tram to nearby neighbourhoods, and explore leafy streets, cafes and patisseries, record stores, wine bars and boutiques. Discover Carlton Gardens; Rose St Artist's Market, Collingwood Yards arts precinct, Gertrude and Brunswick streets in Fitzroy; and Smith Street, Collingwood.

Sunday afternoon

Winter Sundays in Melbourne are for roasts and wine-matched long lunches. Check blackboards at Neighbourhood Wine, Estelle or Marquis of Lorne for warming specials, or kick back over a sharing menu at Old Palm Liquor in Brunswick East. If you find yourself on Smith St in Fitzroy, grab a scoop or two of weird and wonderful ice cream at Fluffy Torpedo.

Sidestep the sidewalk to explore covered heritage arcades in the CBD. Head to St. Collins Lane for fashion’s latest collections, stop at the Block and Royal arcades for chocolatiers and jewellers. Take flyovers connecting Melbourne Central to Emporium and Bourke St malls. Cross to Centre Place and Degraves for cafes, and Flinders Lane for the best boutiques.

Sunday evening

Ease into Sunday evening at a relaxed bar with top-notch food. Take your pick of HER Bar, Gimlet at Cavendish House or Bar Liberty and join the great debate: is it a bar or a restaurant? With food, wine and cocktails this good, we're happy to keep searching until we find the answer. For a bit of fun to finish the weekend, head to global food-meets-electronic-darts restaurant sensation, Oche.