Sure, there are many free galleries to check out in Australia’s cultural capital. A visit to Melbourne without exploring the National Gallery of Victoria’s Collection should be a crime. But there’s no need to head indoors to see some truly contemporary work when the city offers one of the best collections of graffiti art in the world. Street artists make a beeline for Melbourne as the city council has designated areas for art, keeping the creators inspired and graffiti off undesignated city streets. The art is of an international standard and changes frequently, ensuring you’re always exposed to the latest talent. Street art hotspots include Hosier Lane, Centre Place, Croft Alley and the colourful Rankins Lane, among others.
Queen Victoria Market
Since the late 1860s, the Queen Victoria Market has been the go-to destination for delectable international delicacies. Whatever your stomach desires, you’ll find it here - cheese, olives, pastries, fresh produce, smoked meats and more. The heritage building that houses the markets is as remarkable as the food, offering visitors a peek into life in 1870’s Melbourne. On top of economic eats that don’t sacrifice on quality, you’ll find a calendar of events throughout the year. Most notably is the Queen Victoria Winter Night Markets, which run from early June to late August (and often sporadically throughout the year). These night markets offer winter goodies including spiced mulled wine, American-style barbeque and an eclectic range of knickknacks from throughout the ages.
Melbourne’s reputation for having four seasons in one day is unjust – the city enjoys extremely toasty summers. If you’re at a loose end on one of the city’s sweltering summer days, enjoy some true-blue Aussie pool culture at one of the many public baths. Not only are many a nod to the past, they’re a great way to cool off and experience a relaxing, beach-style sunbathing session. The Brunswick Baths provide a heated outdoor pool year-round for a rain, hail or shine swimming session; Fitzroy Swimming Pool is great for people watching and daytime partying with DJs on Sundays; and the St. Kilda Sea Baths is a restored, beach-side gem that opts for saltwater. Head to the charming Melbourne City Baths on a rainy day for some cooling laps.
Peek into the Past
Melbourne is a bustling modern metropolis full of cutting-edge contemporary art, architecture and design…but that doesn’t mean you can’t get lost in the past! There are many ways to step into yesteryear and beyond, ensuring you embrace all the city has to offer. Discover the city’s chic shopping arcades that date back to the late 1800s. Royal Arcade offers ornate decorations and quaint speciality shops; Block Arcade goes grandiose with a French Renaissance feel; and Cathedral Arcade boasts a snap-worthy dome. Still hungry for history? Get your Gatsby on with a trip to the Art Deco Alexander Bar at The Savoy Hotel on Little Collins; sip tea like royalty in the 1890s at the picturesque Hopetoun Tea Rooms; or marvel at untouched architecture from the early 1900s with a stay at the historic Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne.