Get set for winter weekends in Melbourne. Welcome back to bookshops, bars and pubs, cosy corners, couches and flickering fireplaces.

Wander undercover, through Victorian arcades. Shop independent boutiques and big brands. Stop for cheese, craft brews and gin joints. Dive into steaming bowls of spicy pho and cocktails after dark.

Friday night

Start your weekend like a local, with a Pellegrini's coffee on Bourke Street, before threading through laneways packed with artworks for some shared seafood dishes at Cumulus Inc. If you prefer something spicy, head to the bustle of MoVida Next Door for Spanish wine and tapas.

Cross through Federation Square and over the Yarra river, to join the steady flow of pedestrians along Southbank Promenade. Take in twinkling views of the city lights and shimmering reflections .

Join a cocktail masterclass at legendary 1860 bar, or let the bar-person know what you love and let them work their magic with classic recipes, wonderful ingredients and modern flair.

Later, grab a quick bite at a late-night diner. Slurp pho until sunrise at Straight Outta Saigon eatery, or find burgers, yakitori and toasties 24/7 at Butcher's Diner. Stop in at Bomba's rooftop bar for some music and excellent city views, or pop into Byrdi for native ingredient nibbles and cocktails until late.

Saturday morning

Eat your way through Queen Victoria Market. You'll find food halls and market sheds bursting with buyers, sellers and fresh produce, locally made goods and great coffee. Graze your way from coffee stalls to artisan cheese and bakery counters. Don't miss local favourites, The American Doughnut Kitchen, and the borek and bratwurst shops.

Slept in? Take it easy with brunch at Manchester Press on Rankins Lane – a cosy café in the city’s heart. After 12:00, head to the deli at Farmer's Daughters. Hole up with a coffee and a good read.

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 hop across to NGV International's blockbuster exhibition: French Impressionism from The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Want more to explore, indoors? Don't miss Disney: The Magic of Animation at ACMI, Federation Square and Treasures of the Natural World at Melbourne Museum, just a short walk from the CBD, through Carlton Gardens.

Just a quick stroll away from the museum, on Fitzroy's Gertrude Street, pop in to Poodle Bar & Bistro. Snacks, mains and cocktails come easy at this restaurant and public bar, all afternoon.

Saturday night

Ready to take your seat in Melbourne's East End Theatre District? Don't miss Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – now playing. Pre-theatre, try spicy dishes from Thai eateries Chin Chin and Dodee Paidang. Pop to Embla in the CBD for a wonderful selection of wine. Late dinner? Get your fill of barbecued bits at Belle's Hot Chicken, Fancy Hanks or Le Bon Ton.

Sunday morning

Jump a tram to nearby neighbourhoods, and explore leafy streets, cafes, bakeries and patisseries, record stores, wine bars and boutiques. Discover Carlton Gardens; Rose St Artist's Market, 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 The Estelle or Marquis of Lorne for warming specials. Or check out the sharing menu at Old Palm Liquor in Brunswick East.

Sidestep the sidewalk to explore undercover heritage arcades in the CBD. Head to The Block and Royal arcades for chocolatiers, dress makers and jewellers, then on to St Collins Lane for big brands. Take flyovers connecting Melbourne Central to Emporium and the Bourke St Mall. Cross to Centre Place and Degraves for cafes and Flinders Lane for the best boutiques.

Sunday evening

Ease into Sunday evening at a cosy bar with top-notch food. Take your pick of Embla, 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.