Melbourne is the second most populated city in Australia, but it’s far from a concrete jungle. Amid the skyscrapers and traffic lights is a funky, playful, and artistic aura that is never lost, no matter how many office workers occupy the cubicles above the street art and quirky cafes. These secret spots in the heart of Melbourne’s central business district exemplify the city’s charismatic nature, and you’ll leave with a much better understanding of the city and its locals if you put these destinations on your must-visit list.
Melbourne is one of the hottest street art capitals in the world, and the city’s colorful alleyways are some of the best places to discover the outdoor artwork. Legal street art is encouraged by the City of Melbourne, and many of the most impressive works sit steps from your Indigo hotel in the heart of the central business district. Hosier Lane is a place to admire (and snap photos of) long stretches of brick canvases showcasing countless different styles of street art.
Crossley Street isn’t just a must-stop restaurant, shop, or hole-in-the-wall pub. It’s an entire destination, and you’ll sound like a true Melbourne local if you refer to it as Pellegrini’s corner. Simply wandering along Crossley Street is an ideal way to spend several hours in the city, but you shouldn’t hesitate to pop inside the hip retail shops and trendy restaurants—and, of course, Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar for a cup of joe. Once one of Melbourne’s first red light districts, the former Romeo Lane (dating back to the 1850s) still holds much of its historic character.
The Trink Tank is one of those places that makes you think “only in Melbourne.” It’s Melbourne’s smallest art gallery, and it’s located steps from Melbourne’s smallest bar, allowing you to make an afternoon of Melbourne’s smallest attractions. The gallery, which is a roughly 8- by 12-inch window, showcases works from the city’s favorite artists and creators. Next door, Bar Americano became Australia’s first standing-room-only venue when it opened in 2011.
Princess Diana’s Bathroom
Only true Melbourne locals know that a bathroom created entirely for Princess Diana sits in the Arts Centre Melbourne. At Hamer Hall, you’ll find the Truscott Lounge, a space dedicated to John Truscott and decorated in his favorite colors. The lounge houses the sumptuous lavatory designed for Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s famous visit in 1983. Di opted to use the public toilets instead.
Many people unknowingly walk by the silver lift at 707 Collins Street, and you probably will, too, at first. This Melbourne secret spot is an unassuming elevator that will transport you to an entirely different atmosphere. One moment, you’re pushing the button and waiting for the door to open on Collins Street, and the next, you’re down in the Docklands, one of Melbourne’s favorite places for waterfront attractions, family fun, and live music.
Melbourne locals pride themselves on maintaining secret spots throughout the city, so whether you’re in search of the perfect cup of coffee, the best Asian street food, or an Instagram-worthy place to snap a selfie, you should keep your eyes peeled for underground gems around every corner.