Melbourne excels when it comes to city secrets and hidden treasures. Seek out these sights on your next city wander.
3D street art
Melbourne’s street art isn’t quite a secret, but there’s always something new to check out. Particularly when street art is 3D. Visit Presgrave Place to admire its framed portraits and other artworks. Make sure you spot the tiny red door complete with welcome mat down at street level. It’s more than appropriate that a 3D statue of Bon Scott looms large in ACDC Lane. Head around the bend to find Banksy’s parachuting rat hidden in Duckboard Place. Then uncover peering eyes and cartoonish creatures in Rutledge Lane.
For more self-guided street art tours, see the street art walking guide.
Secret gardens within gardens
Melbourne is packed with beautiful public gardens. But it’s the little things that make these green spaces extra special.
Next time you visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, make a beeline for the recently revamped Fern Gully. It’s bliss to swing in the chair suspended in the Bird’s Nest hideaway. Or you can unwind on a stone seat in the Moss Garden, with its central ‘mother stone’ fountain.
For urban wetlands and plenty of birdlife, head over to Trin Warren Tam-boore in Royal Park. Allow around 90 minutes to follow the walking trail. Learn about the wetland’s role in recycling stormwater and spot one of the park’s endangered skinks.
Queen Victoria Gardens are just a hop, skip and a jump from busy St Kilda Road, but the tranquillity is magical. Watch water tumbling over rocks at the Lake Waterfall. Or try to spot John Olsen’s playful bronze frog leaping out of the gardens’ hidden pond.
Art Deco treasures
Unless you crane your neck and look to the sky, there’s a chance you could miss some of Melbourne’s most loved architectural treats. The city experienced a building boom in the 1920s and 1930s. That’s why it has some of the most impressive Art Deco buildings on the planet.
Look up to admire the zigzag rooflines on the following buildings.
Manchester Unity Building
The Manchester Unity Building is Art Deco Gothic, and the stepped corner tower is a stunner. Built in 1932, it was home to Melbourne’s first escalator. Take a walk through the foyer to admire the mosaic floors and metal elevator doors.
The 1960s Capitol Arcade takes its name from the iconic Walter Burley Griffin–designed Art Deco cinema upstairs. The 1924 theatre is a world wonder, renowned for its glimmering moulded plaster ceiling. Don’t miss the chance to attend a film festival event or screening at The Capitol when it reopens.
The Majorca Building is still as stylish as in its 1920s heyday. The apartment building features a blue terracotta facade with Spanish and Moorish influences. Swing by and snap a selfie under that iconic lamplit sign. Check it out with a bunch of others on a self-guided walk through arcades and laneways.
Melbourne has some truly one-off and minuscule coffee and snack establishments. For a quick caffeine fix in Degraves Street, pop into pretty-in-pink Tulip Coffee. There’s just enough room to swing a backpack. And for a sophisticated drink in a cool Italian-style bar, slink into Bar Americano in Presgrave Place. Look for the T-for-tabac sign at the end of the alley.
Want more tiny eating spots? See the hole-in-the-wall hotspots blog.
There’s more to Melbourne’s street art than spray-paint graffiti. The city’s neon signs add their own mystique to the CBD streetscapes, lighting up dark corners when the sun meets the horizon. A neon arrow points down to City Hatters tucked beneath Flinders Street Station. You’ll find more lighting highlights in the Melbourne neon hotspots blog.
Going green in Meyers Place
If you’re seeking an iconic Melbourne laneway, look no further than Meyers Place. Welcoming you into this tiny alley is an iridescent jungle mural by artist Mike Makatron.
Continuing the greener than green theme, vertical gardens cascade down from Loop’s rooftop bar. The bar is up on level 3, uniquely combining city views with a gorgeous garden setting.