All Articles 4 Melbourne neighborhoods you don’t want to miss

4 Melbourne neighborhoods you don’t want to miss

From Fitzroy to Yarraville.

Claire Gallam
By Claire Gallam5 Apr 2024 6 minutes read
Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne
Fitzroy Gardens
Image: FiledIMAGE/Getty Images

I’ve been to more than 70 countries and hundreds of cities, and I’ve yet to find a place that mimics Melbourne’s sense of self and the vibrant energy that pulses through its streets. Its creative cuisine, eccentric art, and community spirit reflect its diverse population.

Although the city’s downtown is certainly worth a visit, I am always drawn to Melbourne’s neighborhoods: the street-art-laden alleyways and buildings of Fitzroy, the beachside vibes of St Kilda, and the warm small-town feel of Yarraville. These are the places where I feel most at home and offer a real look into the everyday life of local Melburnians. Here, guides to a few of my favorite neighborhoods to visit on your next trip.

Fitzroy

The conservatory at the Fitzroy Gardens
The conservatory at the Fitzroy Garden
Image: Tripadvisor/Petal

Known for its boho atmosphere and expansive parks, Fitzroy is the artsy heart of Melbourne. Located just northeast of the city center, it’s walkable and well served by the metro and buses, making it an excellent choice for a home base during your trip.

While you’re there, be sure to dive into Fitzroy's vibrant street art scene on a guided walking tour by Melbourne Street Tours to discover hidden gems and colorful murals tucked away in laneways and alleys. One of the city’s most popular pieces is the FitzRoy faces, off Cecil Street, which helps tell the story of the city's diversity. You’d be remiss not to shop while you peep murals and artwork along Brunswick Street. The Searchers record store looks and feels straight out of the '80's, and you can find Aussie-made designs at Arnsdorf and Gorman.

Arguably my favorite part of this neighborhood is Fitzroy Gardens. The 64-acre park is home to manicured gardens and historic landmarks, like Cooks’ Cottage, which was built in 1755 in England and transported to Melbourne in 1934. Be sure to visit the famed Fairies’ Tree, an intricate sculpture by artist Ola Cohn showcasing fairies, dwarfs, and other fantastical creatures.

Where to eat: To immerse yourself in the city’s rich coffee culture, pop into Proud Mary Coffee or Industry Beans. At Industry, you can book a coffee sampling experience, called cupping, for a deep dive into the city’s obsession with java. For lunch, grab a gourmet sandwich at Lune Croissanterie to eat on the go or sit down for Thai fried chicken and suckling pork bao at Rice Paper Scissors. For dinner, stop at Mukka Restaurant for biryani or curry pots, or Smith & Daughters for Spanish-inspired vegan eats. For drinks, head to Black Pearl Bar, The Everleigh, or Mr. Wow’s Emporium—all of which give you a glimpse into the nightlife of this vibrant neighborhood.

Hotel picks: The Larwill Studio offers contemporary accommodations inspired by the works of Australian artist David Larwill, famous for flamboyant pieces focused on shapes and stylized figures. His artwork can be found throughout the hotel, from the lobby to the hallways to the rooms. Its crown joy, though, is the view of Melbourne's skyline from the large windows. For a more budget-friendly option, consider staying at The Nunnery, a charming hostel housed in a converted 19th-century convent with cozy dorms and private rooms.

St Kilda

St Kilda Esplanade Market
The St Kilda Esplanade Market
Image: Tripadvisor/Management

Situated along the picturesque Port Phillip Bay, St Kilda is a vibrant seaside suburb bursting with charm. It’s best to get your bearings with a stroll along the iconic St Kilda Pier, where you can admire stunning views of the bay and catch a glimpse of the resident fairy penguins. From here, you can reach Acland Street, where you can pop in and out of the many boutiques, colorful cake shops, and art galleries along the street. If you’re visiting on a Sunday, don’t miss the St Kilda Esplanade Market, between Cavill Avenue and Fitzroy Street. Here, you can find everything from homemade crafts to vintage clothes and jewelry.

St Kilda is known for its beaches, with the most popular being St Kilda Beach, right by the pier. The golden stretch of sand fringed by palm trees has the best views of the bay but can get crowded on a warm, sunny day. If you want to escape the crowds, head to Middle Park Beach or Elmwood Beach.

Where to eat: Nobody does brekkie better than Sister of Soul, a plant-based restaurant with amazing veggie and vegan dishes and an Instagram-worthy interior. For a more al-fresco vibe, head to Republica for prawn pizza or fish and chips with a view of the waves. Radio Mexico is another fave, with a wide range of fresh fish tacos, chilaquiles, house-made guac, and strong margaritas. Make sure to sample treats from Acland Cake Shop or Monarch Cakes for dessert.

Hotel picks: The Prince Hotel has spacious rooms and some of the best views of Port Phillip Bay from its rooftop bar. For a more budget-friendly option, the Habitat HQ hostel provides a comfortable dormitory and private rooms, a lively social atmosphere, and a convenient location near St Kilda Beach.

Tip: Catch a spectacular sunset at St Kilda Beach or stroll along the iconic St Kilda Pier to spot little penguins returning to their nests at dusk.

Brunswick

A spread of dishes at Rumi in Melbourne
A spread at Rumi
Image: Tripadvisor/Management

The longstanding home of Greek, Middle Eastern, and Italian families, Brunswick is now also where you’ll find some of the city’s best Ethiopian, Lebanese, and Indian restaurants.

This is a neighborhood where you’ll spend much of your time outside. If you’re looking for more street art, you can head to Sydney Road, where the colorful laneways are adorned with striking murals and graffiti. Or, relax in the area’s green spaces like Gilpin Park or Temple Park. And at CERES Environment Park, you can tour the expansive urban gardens and shop at the organic grocery and café.

If you find yourself here during the first Sunday of the month, don’t miss the chance to shop local treasures and vintage finds at the Brunswick Community Flea Market, open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. If live music is more your jam, catch a live performance at Howler, a vibrant pub with an ever-changing lineup of music, comedy, and performance art.

Where to eat: If there’s one place you can’t miss here, it’s A1 Bakery. An institution since 1992, this restaurant-meets-bakery-meets–grocery store serves up some of the city’s best Lebanese breads, pizzas, and pitas. Another favorite is Rumi, where you’ll find a modern take on Middle Eastern classics like Persian meatballs cooked in tomato and saffron. Etta, featured as one of the World’s 50 Best restaurants, blends approachable Australian ingredients with inspired cooking, offering a daily changing menu and unique wines. And end your evening with a stop at Atticus Finch, a low-key local bar with a rotating beer menu.

Hotel pick: Founded in the 1880s, East Brunswick Hotel has a rich history. Built as a watering hole for locals, the hotel has gone through multiple iterations before landing on the beautifully restored 12-room boutique hotel it is today. In addition to rooms, there’s a dining room, piano bar, and upstairs cocktail bar.

Yarraville

Yarraville Gardens
The playground at Yarraville Gardens
Image: Tripadvisor/Crystalline4u

Named after the mighty Yarra River, this quaint suburb sits west of Melbourne’s city center and has a relaxed village vibe. One of the most prominent landmarks is the Sun Theatre, a beautifully restored Art Deco cinema. Catch a film in one of its historic theaters or enjoy a meal at the adjacent Sun Bookshop Café, where you can browse through shelves of books while sipping a flat white.

For a taste of local produce, visit the Yarraville Village Farmers Market, held on the third Saturday of every month. Here you can buy fresh fruit, baked goods, and artisanal products sourced from nearby farms. Afterward, stroll the streets of Yarraville Village to take in the eclectic architecture.

Nestled along the Maribyrnong River, you’ll also find the Yarraville Gardens, which offer ample green space and shaded areas, making it a haven for picnickers. Plus, the park has many winding bike trails that follow the river for cyclists and walkers alike.

Tip: If you visit Melbourne in March, be sure to stop by the Yarraville Festival, a tradition in the suburb since 1981, to enjoy local food, live music, a dog parade, and more.

Where to eat: Grab a coffee or a pastry at Wee Jeanie, a small, unassuming café that offers artisanal coffee and delicious bites, like coconut and passionfruit chia seed pudding. Right next to the Sun Theatre is Pizza d’Asporto, a family-friendly pizzeria with an extensive pizza and pasta menu and fresh baked focaccia. Treat yourself to dinner at Navi, a contemporary fine-dining restaurant known for its exclusive tasting menus. Don't forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to Cobb Lane Bakery for their hot cross buns, donuts, or fresh bread.

Hotel pick: While Yarraville has few hotels of its own, its proximity to the city center allows for easy access in and out. The InterContinental Melbourne is just a few miles away and offers a blend of heritage charm and modern luxury. Housed within a beautifully restored historic building, the hotel features elegant rooms, a rooftop pool, and fine dining at Alluvial.

Claire Gallam
Claire is a seasoned writer and photographer with a passion for food, beauty, and travel. Having spent time in more than 70 countries and hundreds of cities, she's happiest with a passport in hand and a ticket to someplace new. When she's not traveling, she's spending time with her energetic 5-year-old, testing new beauty and skincare products, photographing new recipes for her blog, The Realistic Nutritionist, writing, and exploring her new-to-her hometown of Chicago. Keep up with her adventures on the road or at home by following her on social media.