Queen Victoria Market
Queen St., CBD
One fast way to get to know a new city is through local markets. Queen Victoria Market has been feeding Melburnians since 1878, and these days, there is no space in the city that celebrates the city’s diverse culture better. Make a beeline for the Greek food purveyors—Melbourne has a massive Greek population—for souvlaki (colloquially referred to as “souvas”) and fork-tender chicken gyros. From there, amble from stall to stall and taste the local honey, cheese, and exotic fruits. For a closer look—and complimentary nibbles—take a food tour.
Hosier Ln., CBD
Melbourne has a New York City–style grit to it, and with that comes a thriving art scene. The city is saturated with galleries, creative collectives, and graffiti. Hosier Lane is an iconic stretch of mural in the East End. Like all great art sites that speak to a city’s identity, Hosier Lane is a meeting place and a hangout spot for the locals as much for out-of-towners. Wander the lanes at your own pace or take a tour for a more in-depth dive into what makes Melburnian artists tick.
The Twelve Apostles
Great Ocean Rd & Booringa Rd., Princetown
Four hours of gorgeously scenic driving from Melbourne delivers some of the most jaw-dropping sights you’ll ever see. Seven towering, craggy limestone stacks formed by slow erosion rise from the waves just off the Victoria coast. The best viewpoint is a spot on the Great Ocean Road called the Secret Apostles Lookout. (There were originally eight rock formations, but one collapsed due to erosion in 2005.) These tall monoliths are part of the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park—load up on veggies and focaccia at Queen Victoria Market to munch on in the park.
380 Lygon St., Carlton
On nights when only dinner and a movie will do, hit up Cinema Nova. The independent theater skews indie in its screening choices as much as possible, but Hollywood’s latest and greatest are regularly screened, too. Cinema Nova amps up the usual movie experience with plush, extra-roomy velvet seats to curl up in, a stellar wine list to sip on, and a gorgeous dining terrace with epic cheese boards to fuel the post-movie digest.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Birdwood Ave., South Yarra
Ninety-four acres of lawns, lakes, and native botanicals in the middle of a sprawling metropolis—sounds like a date to us. Transformed from swampy landmass to manicured flower beds in 1846, the gardens act as a community hub for locals and visitors alike. There are tours themed around plants and birds, boating on the lake (perfect for kids), forest bathing, and even projector movie nights on regular rotation.