Melbourne, Australia, named the most liveable city in the world between 2011 and 2017 (it was just edged out of first place by Vienna in 2018), has also ranked as the world’s happiest. The word ‘eclectic’ certainly applies to this modern city and its unique culture, which encompasses gourmet dining, a vibrant live music scene, amazing street art (for which guided tours exist), sporting events aplenty and fabulous shopping opportunities.
Anthony Svirskis, CEO of TRIBE, a digital platform that connects brands with social media influencers, was born and grew up in Melbourne. Despite living abroad for large parts of his life, he says he’ll “always call Melbourne home”. He currently lives in South Yarra, a rapidly developing suburb just south of the main river that runs through Melbourne, and about 10 minutes from the Central Business District (CBD). Svirskis shares his tips on what to see, what to eat and what to do in arguably Australia’s coolest – and happiest – metropolis.
Breakfast and brunch are a cultural phenomenon in Melbourne. Some standouts are Top Paddock in Richmond, St. Ali in South Melbourne and Auction Rooms in North Melbourne.
For more than a regular hotel stay, check out the Art Series Hotels. Each hotel takes inspiration from a namesake artist and offers an immersive experience with art channels, tools and libraries to delight creative minds. Melbourne also has a QT hotel with bold interiors and a rooftop bar that attracts a crowd on the weekends.
Take a stroll up Flinders Lane, from Swanston Street onward, for some great restaurants – there are bars and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. My favourites include Supernormal or Chin Chin for Asian fusion and cocktails at the bar, or Cumulus for high-quality modern dining in a more relaxed setting. You can easily spend your whole evening, from pre-drinks to post-drinks, on this one strip. Crown Melbourne is probably the best destination for fine dining, with Nobu at the top of the list, closely followed by Rockpool. Your luck on the gaming floor downstairs might determine how extravagant you decide to be.
Asian-food fans should head to Chinatown in the CBD. A Din Tai Fung recently opened in Melbourne for those familiar with the chain, although HuTong and Shanghai Street are the most popular with the locals. Both are busy and entirely unpretentious, which adds to the experience!
If you love food markets, try South Melbourne Market and Queen Victoria Market. They’re the perfect way to spend a weekend morning tasting food from the variety of cultures that make up Melbourne. South Melbourne Market in particular is known for its fresh oysters, which you buy and eat at communal trestle tables.
Coffee is taken very seriously in Melbourne and ranks amongst the world’s best. Every local has their favourite café and brew. A few to check out are St. Ali in South Melbourne, Allpress Roastery in Collingwood and Industry Beans in Fitzroy. For a truly Melbourne coffee experience, ask for a ‘Magic’ – steamed milk poured over a double ristretto. A good Melbourne barista won’t hesitate when you ask for one.
Need a discreet meeting? Try the Grand Hyatt on Collins Street, the Eureka Skydeck in Southbank, State of Grace (and its hidden cellar bar) in the CBD, and the Moat, tucked beneath Melbourne State Library. For more conventional ‘after-hours’ business networking, try Arbory Bar & Eatery on the water in the CBD, Whitehart in the city, or the selection of bars at the top end of Collins Street.
So many cocktails, so little time! A few of the best spots have to include The Everleigh in Fitzroy, Beneath Driver Lane and Goldilocks in the CBD, and Republica in St Kilda for beach vibes. For a quieter drink, try Shadowboxer, a small suburban wine bar in South Yarra with a tasty menu and brilliant service. This part of the city is starting to see more bars and restaurants pop up to cater to the hundreds of apartments being built. Meanwhile, the best rooftop bar in Melbourne is Naked in the Sky in Fitzroy – the views are spectacular.
Don’t miss watching a game of Aussie rules football at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The game itself is unique to Australia and originated over 150 years ago on the very spot where the MCG currently stands. It’s a combination of football, rugby and gridiron football – you’ll probably need a local to fully explain the rules! The stadium holds 100,000 people and it packs out for the biggest cross-city rivalries and finals games.
Finally, if you have a couple of hours to spare, pack a picnic to take to the Royal Botanic Gardens or the banks of the Yarra River. There’s plenty of space, the atmosphere is relaxed, and people watching is at its peak.
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