Creative, quirky and super-Instagrammable. There’s always something new to discover in Melbourne’s laneways and arcades. Explore these essential shops and eateries during your next city adventure with this free walking tour.
Driving in? Download a parking voucher for free parking between December 1 and January 3. This offer allows you to park for free in any green signed areas, with normal time restrictions applying.
The Block Arcade
A showcase of Victorian-era architecture, The Block Arcade houses stylish, eclectic shops. Where else can you discover the surrealist secret art collection of Dr. Seuss before perusing timeless designer pieces at Georg Jensen?
Enter via Block Place for picture perfect laneway dining at Brown Sugar Cafe, where seating spills onto the street for the ultimate al fresco breakfast or linger over lunch at Cafe Segovia. Pop down to Basement Discs pre or post-feast for vintage vinyl. There’s also the Charles Dickens Tavern, the perfect spot to sip an ale or recharge with a pub meal. Grab a scoop of Gelateria Primavera’s famous gelato from Barbarella Gelato & Wine for dessert. Want to take a treat home? Head over to Haigh’s for jumbo choccy frogs, nougat bars and truffles. If you can’t decide, grab one of their boxed selections.
At Gewürzhaus Block Arcade, spice is nice, as are their herbs, salts, sugars and teas. More material retail fun comes in the form of cosy quilts and scarves at The Alpaca Collection. Be sure to end your trip at Card & Caboodle, where a range of wrapping essentials awaits your new gifts.
One of Melbourne’s smallest laneways, Scott Alley is dotted with intriguing little shops. Start at Roule Galette, a tiny piece of France in the middle of Melbourne. French-accented waiters and Parisian ambiance will transport you to the bistros of Montmartre. There’s also a taste of Hanoi at Heartbaker Bun Mee, a Vietnamese cafe with some of the best banh mi in town. Choose from seven versions of the classic baguette, from crispy pork to vegetarian. Or go light with rice paper rolls.
Waltz down Cathedral Arcade’s narrow, L-shaped structure of graceful arches and stained glass. There’s a range of boutiques, including Kuwaii. Their fresh fashions are Melbourne-made and meticulously designed for functional, lasting wear. Or if you dream of taking it back to the ’60s (70s, 80s or 90s), don’t miss Vintage Sole on your way out. Cherry-pick a one-off accessory, track down a streetwear classic or dig up a designer find.
If you prefer to avoid the bustle of the city’s main streets, make a beeline for Manchester Lane. A range of independent designers are tucked into shoebox-sized stores, including Design a Space. From fashion to art, you’re bound to love something at this showcase of over 100 local designers. Then put your best foot forward at Bared Footwear – a unique spot selling chic shoes with sneaker level comfort. A little further along, The Sure Store’s range of street apparel will complete your look.
The historic Royal Arcade‘s grand design includes signature black-and-white tiled floors. Once you’re done snapping photos, make your way to Paint n Powder. A Royal Arcade icon that has been serving glittering glam for over 50 years. Drop in for fragrances, scarves, jewellery and more. Afterwards, stop by Koko Black or Agathe Patisserie for something sweet.
An unassuming laneway marked by the old-school Pelligrini’s Espresso Bar, Crossley Street hides its secrets well. Look for the pale blue doorway and neon pretzel to enter Lucy Folk‘s tiny jewellery shop. Her intricate designs include the beloved ‘anchovy’ series, bold gold looks and more. Cap off your shopping success with a Seven Seeds coffee and a cheesy jalapeno bagel at charming hole-in-the-wall, Traveller.
Mike Makatron’s vivid jungle mural is a highlight of Meyers Place, recently transformed under the Green Your Laneway program. Other reasons to stop by include Loop Roof, where the drinks and views are always refreshing. Stay on terra firma while taking a tasty little trip to Buenos Aires at San Telmo Restaurant. Or go Italian at the Waiters Restaurant, hidden up narrow stairs since before secret laneway joints were cool. The décor and food aren’t anything fancy, but that’s why so many Melburnians love it.
Centre Place and Degraves Street
Boasting street art, alfresco dining and eclectic boutiques, these are two of Melbourne’s most iconic laneways. Home to handmade Victorian produce and products, Clementine’s is charmingly local. For a burst of Florence, visit Il Papiro and marvel at their luxurious stationery. We’re talking wax seals and handmade paper products, fresh from Italy.
Quirky shoe fiends Fluevog are open for trade in their funky corner shop, fitted out with neon signs and eclectic designs. Sweet tooths should beeline to Little Cupcakes where there’s over 20 different types of sugary goodness to try. On the other side of Flinders Lane, Centre Place is always abuzz with diners, buskers and wanderers. Pass through and check out fashion favourite Kinki Gerlinki while you’re there.
Murals are massive here, but none are bigger than Steen Jones’ towering tribute to Melbourne. This bold design of roses and a butterfly looks like the wall has got itself a tattoo in honour of the city. On a much smaller scale, there’s also one of the last Banksy rats, which used to lurk all over the CBD. If you like dumplings (who doesn’t!), try Lee Ho Fook’s classy new-style Chinese.
Original Lanes and Arcades Walk
Skip the struggle and let Hidden Secrets Tours guide you on the Melbourne Lanes and Arcades Walk. This unique tour runs for three hours, encompassing everything from Fed Square to Lygon Street. Runs six days a week, departing 10am and 2pm.