Whether you want to wander through colourful laneways or catch a match at the legendary ‘G’, Melbourne has no shortage of iconic attractions – but there’s more to Australia’s capital of culture and sport than street art and stadiums. From hidden cafés in the Dandenong Ranges to underground gin bars in the CBD, our local legend, a Cristina Laria, knows how to do Melbourne differently. Check out her top tips and go like a local with us today.

local cafés

grab a cuppa at allpress espresso

Located in a refurbed warehouse on Rupert Street, this Collingwood café and roastery takes its beans and blends seriously. And while coffee is the core of its canteen-style menu, there’s still a small but solid offering of seasonal dishes available for breakfast and lunch. Grab a seat in the outdoor courtyard for a caffeine fix with a side of greenery or stay indoors to watch the roasting team at work. Either way, you’ll get a first-hand look at why Melbournians are so fiercely proud of their coffee scene.

local cafés

tuck in to street food at hanoi hannah

Open from noon till’ late seven days a week, this popular Vietnamese eatery isn’t limited to lunch time – but Hanoi Hannah’s light-filled dining room is best enjoyed at brunch. Fill up on modern classics like pork belly sliders and bahn mi, then catch a flick next door at Classic Cinemas. Housed in a historic building dating back to the 1880s, this refurbed theatre is a truly unique place to stay up to date with the box office.

local cafés

feast on local produce at the piggery

Planning on exploring further afield? Taking a day trip doesn’t mean you have to forgo a top-notch brunch. Head to the Dandenong Ranges and you can treat yourself to fine dining-worthy fare at The Piggery, headed up by acclaimed chef, Shannon Bennet. After a bite, book one of the on-site courts for a round of lawn bowls, bocce or croquet, or detour to the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk. Home to the famous 1000 Steps, this steep but short climb through the rainforest will have you ready for a second round of breakfast.


discover nature at cloudehill gardens

If you want to extend your day trip in the Dandenongs, make a pit stop at Cloudehill Gardens. Located in the quaint suburb of Olinda, this scenic garden and nursery is the perfect way to surround yourself with nature without having to tackle the 1000 Steps. And with an on-site restaurant overlooking the grounds, you can sample fresh-picked produce straight from the source.


stand up paddle board at st kilda beach

Just a short tram ride from the CBD, St Kilda makes it easy to get your dose of sun and surf without straying too far from the city. And with stand up paddle boards available for hire every day of the year, you can get your beach day and workout in one. Rather explore the port on foot? Follow the coastal walking track to Middle Brighton for unbeatable views from the foreshore.


see australian art at heide

If you’re more of an art buff than a beach bum, the Heide Museum of Modern Artis sure to impress. Simply known as Heide to locals, this historic venue is one of Australia’s most important cultural institutions, having been a site for artists to meet and collaborate since 1934. Today it’s home to a regular roster of exhibitions and events, with everything from maker’s markets to workshops happening all year round.

bars & restaurants

sip rose on tap at the imperial hotel

Melbourne is well-known for its unpredictable weather, but when the sun decides to shine there’s few better places to head than the Imperial Hotel. Thanks to its central location, panoramic city views and frosé on tap, this rooftop bar is a hit with locals and tourists alike. And with a menu of pub classics to tuck into if you get peckish, you can post up until the sun goes down.

bars & restaurants

grab a cocktail at below ground

Rather grab a drink after dark? You can’t go past Gin Palace. Tucked below Russel Street in the heart of the city, this dimly-lit basement bar is a Melbourne institution, with more than 20 years of cocktail making and shaking experience. Whether you sip on one of their signature martinis or set your sights beyond their selection of gin, this little-known watering hole is a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle above.

bars & restaurants

taste local wines at levantine hill

If you don’t mind leaving the city limits for your food and drink fix, Levantine Hill is a top spot to sample everything the Yarra Valley has to offer. Pop in for a guided wine tasting in one of their iconic barrel booths, then grab a bite from the all- day dining menu at Ezard. It won’t set you back as much as their signature degustation menu, and you’ll still get to dig in to dishes like truffled mac and cheese croquettes and gruyere-topped wagyu sliders.


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