A collection of the best things to do during a weekend in Melbourne, Victoria.
It only took five days for me to fall in love with Melbourne. It was 2016 and it was the first real time I’d visited the city – I’m discounting the experience I had as a bratty eight year old on a family road trip, in which I misjudged the place as “cold, miserable and grey”. To be fair, it was raining at the time and as an eight year old I was hardly going to appreciate many of the things that made me fall in love with the city as a 24 year old (Frangelico spiked chai latte’s, anyone?).
So when Sam suggested we escape somewhere special for the weekend near my 25th birthday, Melbourne was at the top of the list.
We would only have two days in the city, so I had to keep my hit list to the absolute essentials. Here’s what I chose to do with 48 hours in Melbourne.
Dumplings in Chinatown
We arrived to a crisp 9 degree evening, finally checking into our hotel just before 10 pm. Deliriously hungry, we found ourselves in Chinatown on Little Bourke St, drawn in by the overhanging lanterns and wafting smells of fried noodle. While I’m a meticulous planner when it comes to sightseeing, I allow myself a small thrill of spontaneity by choosing where to eat on the spot (I can be carefree in small doses!)
We decided on a place called the Empress of China, which was absolutely bustling at 10 o’clock at night (as a country girl, this sort of thing never fails to impress me). Not wanting to forgo variety just because we were a table of two, we ordered a huge meal of pan fried pork and vegetable dumplings, Shanghai steamed dumplings (my favourite), green beans with minced pork, and shanghai noodles with tofu and vegetables.
The Empress of China earns my personal endorsement because the food came out quickly (essential in my post-plane state of hanger) and was amazingly cheap for how delicious it all was – less than $50 for all that food + a Rekorderlig and a VB (when in Melbourne, right?)
Autumn leaves in the Carlton Gardens
I’m a sucker for parks because they combine two of my favourite things: being in nature and not having to pay an entry fee. We spent some time wandering through Carlton Gardens on our way through to Fitzroy, enjoying the backdrop of amber and gold autumn leaves above our heads.
The Gardens are also the home of the Museum of Melbourne and the Royal Exhibition Building (but I was mainly there for the leaves and the fountains).
Hipster Unlocked at the Rose St Artist Market
The Rose St Artists’ Market was one of the things I had enjoyed the most on our first trip, so it absolutely had to make the list this time around. I loved perusing the display of unique and quirky products that were actually crafted by the artist behind the stall. Although it was my second trip to the Market, I was still surprised by the array of individual artworks, ceramics, jewellery, soy candles and other handmade goods.
My absolute favourite purchase this time around was a little origami plane bracelet made by Dopamine. I also had to stop by Shadow Moon Creations and stock up on a selection of soy candles, including Caramel Brownie, Lemongrass Coconut and French Lavender. I discovered this stall on my last trip to the Market and they are some of the best smelling candles I have found.
Brunch time in Melbourne
48 hours gave us only two opportunities to eat brunch in Melbourne, and we did not waste those opportunities.
Our first brunch choice was in Fitzroy where we stumbled upon The Fitz – the wood fire inside provided a cosy respite from the fresh morning chill. I had to try the corn fritters (solid 8/10 fritter game) and Sam had smashed avocado (because who cares about real estate anyway?)
On our second morning I did my research and followed a 4.3 star Google review to Bowery to Williamsburg New York down on Oliver Lane. This trendy little hollow served a mean sweet potato hash and a pork fennel shakshuka that was a true force to be reckoned with. And the coffee? 10/10.
Beverage time in Melbourne
If my eight year old self appreciated red wine as much as I do, perhaps she wouldn’t have hated Melbourne so much. The cold weather had me searching for mulled wine, which we eventually found at Ponyfish Island, the unmistakable little bar perched in the middle of the Yarra River, halfway along the Southbank Pedestrian Bridge.
I was also tempted by a cheese board and Tempranillo (because who can resist a Spanish red!) at Riverland Bar.
Later, on a search for a warming chai latte we discovered Time Out Fed Square, which serves up a variety of spiked hot beverages. I enjoyed a Frangelico Chai Latte while Sam ordered the Baileys Latte (of course!). There’s nothing like a spiked latte to warm you from the inside out!
A trip to Melbourne wouldn’t be complete without a bit of wandering down the city’s notorious laneways. We unleashed our inner hipster in Hosier Lane, known for its bright and colourful graffiti (because if you haven’t posted on instagram from Hosier Lane, did you even go to Melbourne?).
I personally loved Degraves St – while not technically a lane, its alfresco dining and quaint overhanging signs earn it a top place on my Melbourne hit list. We spent our final night at Il Tempo, enjoying an Italian feast of pasta, red wine and one of the most indulgent berry cheesecakes I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Given our short time in the city, I’d say we packed quite a few highlights (and more importantly, food) into our trip. How would you choose to spend a weekend in Melbourne? Is there something you would absolutely, positively have to include in your list? I’m already thinking about my next trip and would love to hear your suggestions!