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.
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?
There’s also Hopetoun Tearooms, the perfect spot to recharge with tea and cake. Simply follow the trail of people drooling over their famous window display. Or opt for a scoop of Gelateria Primavera’s famous gelato from Barbarella Gelato & Wine. Want to take a treat home? Take advantage of Beechworth Honey‘s tasting station. They have more than 30 flavours of honey to sample and buy.
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 Alpaca quilts at Creswick Woollen Mills. 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 six 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. Stay on the Melbourne-made trail at Obus. They have casual wear, footwear, swimwear, accessories and more for the modern woman. 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.
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.
The historic Royal Arcade‘s grand design includes signature black-and-white tiled floors. Once you’re done snapping photos, make your way to Hunter Gatherer. Featuring finds from Brotherhood of St Lawrence op shops across Victoria, staff are known for having a great eye for awesome pieces. They also stock local artisan jewellery and upcycled vintage items. Afterwards, stop by Koko Black or Agathe Patisserie for something sweet.
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.
Just opened in Degraves Street, cult shoe label John Fluevog is a must-visit. And for ice-cream lovers, Pidapipo offers year-round gelato goodness. On the other side of Flinders Lane, Centre Place is always abuzz with diners, buskers and wanderers. Pass through and check out quirky fashion favourite Princess Highway 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 Original 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.