Play Melbourne

Keep that grand slam buzz going long after the winning serve in an epic match by hitting Melbourne’s cafes, boutiques, restaurants and bars.

Melbourne saves its best for the Australian Open, with an array of art, culture and music events adding to the atmosphere when the Grand Slam reaches the pointy end.

The city’s lauded laneway life is just a serve and volley from Melbourne Park, allowing you to load up on caffeine and bumper breakfasts at quaint cafes before a five-setter, shop for clothes and accessories to look the part at centre court, or wind down in a hidden bar afterwards. Warm summer nights are perfect for outdoor drinks with friends to dissect the day’s play, for catching a local band in a bar, or sampling the city’s best fare.

Some of Melbourne and Victoria’s most iconic sights are just a short trip out of town, so you can pair your sightings of tennis stars with a look at local legends and be back in the city in time for the next contest.

Make sure you ace your Australian Open experience and check out the following lists of recommendations.

Summertime bars

Soak up Melbourne’s summery atmosphere while enjoying drinks with friends at the city’s best outdoor bars. Perch over the Yarra River with a beer, teeter on milk crates and pallets with a cocktail, sit up amid the skyscrapers with a G&T, or loom large over city streets with a cold glass of local wine on balmy evenings that feel like they could go on forever. Watch the sun set on a great day of tennis and city sights at these five summertime bars.

Rooftop Bar

Take in panoramic views of the CBD skyline at Rooftop Bar, set seven storeys atop the popular Curtin House. – View More

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Arbory

The river views from this train platform turned outdoor bar and eatery will stop you in your tracks from espresso hour till espresso-martini hour. – View More

 
Ponyfish Island

Clinging to a pylon beneath the pedestrian bridge over the Yarra to Southbank, you’ll find a pop-up oasis of beer, coffee and tasty toasties. – View More

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Section 8

So much more than two shipping containers in a car park, Section 8 is where Melburnians go for unpretentious drinks and delectable audio offerings. – View More

Section 8 Bar Tattersals Laneway
Bomba

Channel Spanish workers with a touch of Melbourne flair with authentic tapas atop the Bomba rooftop, where cocktails, cerveza and manzanilla flow. – View More

Bomba

Coffee

Like the merits of a serve-and-volley player versus the attributes of a baseline devotee, Melburnians are passionate about their preferred cafes and bean roasteries. Start your mornings in city laneways filled with the aroma of espresso, or venture into inner-city neighbourhoods to test the mettle of their offerings. Try some of the more scientific extraction methods, like syphon or clover, for a certain caffeine hit, or sit back and relax with a flat white and a finely crafted breakfast to prepare you for a day of tennis. Fill your cup at five of our favourites.

Dukes at Ross House

Start your morning with a dose of feel-good factor as a percentage of proceeds from your caffeine fix go back to social justice hotspot Ross House. – View More

 
Manchester Press

Get in line to praise Manchester Press, the huge lucent space softened with old timbers and quirky junkyard installations where coffee reigns supreme. – View More

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Brother Baba Budan

Have your caffeine and drink it too in a cafe named after a legendary coffee smuggler, where chairs hang high and the beans are roasted with pedigree. – View More

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Traveller

Stand and savour a coffee and dream about places you’ve been and those you’re yet to discover at Traveller, Seven Seeds’ Crossley Street outpost. – View More

 
Sensory Lab Collins

Get your specialty coffee, tea and toast from the professionals at the Collins Street lab. Single origin, blend, espresso or pourover, it’s a guaranteed good brew. – View More

 

Breakfasts

Just as Novak Djokovic and the Williams sisters have a refined routine for the morning of a big match, so you should stock up on a big breakfast to prepare for a day courtside at Melbourne Park. Luckily for you, Melbourne is a city that values the first meal of the day. Melbourne’s best breakfast spots place as much emphasis on their coffee as what’s on the plate, so you’re sure to be equally well fed and caffeinated. Try innovative takes on old favourites or mouth-wateringly bold concoctions that will become new favourites. Try these five for guaranteed great starts to the day.

Higher Ground

Make your way to Higher Ground to breakfast on next-level cafe cuisine. This daytime dazzler could be called Highest Ground given the bar they’ve set. – View More

 
Grain Store

A Flinders Lane eatery with plenty of sustainable, rustic goodness in store for breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch, including baked-on-demand cookies. – View More

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Bowery to Williamsburg

Give your day an all-American start on Oliver Lane, with bagels and lox, or a ‘schmear’, backed up by some true-blue, Melbourne-made Padre coffee. – View More

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Hardware Societe

Go Euro with traditional pastries, petit tapas and tantalizing sweet treats at this compact French-Spanish city eatery open for breakfast Monday to Saturday. – View More

Cumulus Inc

This loft-inspired restaurant, hatted by The Age Good Food Guide gets going early, serving up seriously satisfying breakfasts every day of the week. – View More

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Shopping

You’ll be spoiled for choice in Melbourne’s shopping precincts, with options for lovers of sport, fashion, literature, music, art and design. Small, vibrant shopping strips boasting a colourful and diverse range of traders dot inner city neighbourhoods, while the city centre’s laneways and arcades are treasure troves just waiting to be discovered. Independent local designers and fashion’s best-known names happily co-exist with vintage emporia and jewellery ateliers, ensuring you’ll look the part when you take your seat at centre court.These five recommendations will fill your shopping basket in no time.

Markets

There’s no better way to get into the thick of a city’s life than to traipse through its produce markets, makers markets and bustling night markets. – View More

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Record stores

Visit an independent record store in Melbourne – find second hand bargains, obscure new releases and live in-store performances. – View More

Pure Pop Records
Bookshops

Melbourne boasts more bookshops per head than anywhere else in Australia. Browse independent retailers stocked to the rafters with lovely literature. – View More

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Shopping centres

Explore our major department stores and shopping centres for the best choice of big brands, fashion, homewares, toys and electrical – all in one spot. – View More

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 Melbourne made

From local street wear and catwalk fashion to handmade jewellery, homewares and kids’ stuff, browse wearable souvenirs and gifts for the folk back home. – View More

 

Out of Town

Victoria is a compact state, so when you find yourself with a break between matches or nervously anticipating the final, you can head off on a short drive from Melbourne. Within a matter of hours you’ll be devouring fresh local produce while watching dolphins frolic off the beaches of Mornington Peninsula, watching the waddling penguins on parade at Phillip Island, or sipping wines among the vines in Yarra Valley’s boutique wineries. Take a bit more time and refresh body and mind in Daylesford’s day spas or drive the iconic Great Ocean Road. Here’s five experiences to get you raring to go.

Yarra Valley wineries

Sip, sniff, and savour fine wines within the hallowed walls of historic Victorian viticultural institutions, or discover secret winery gems. – View More

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Daylesford spas

Experience total relaxation in Australia’s spa capital, with a large variety of treatments, bathhouses and mineral pools, just an hour from Melbourne. – View More

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Phillip Island Nature Park

Meet Phillip Island’s famous penguins and experience that electrifying moment as you spot the first one emerge from the sea and waddle along the beach. – View More

Phillip Island Nature Park
Great Ocean Road

Drive one of the world’s most iconic scenic touring routes, the Great Ocean Road, spanning 243 kilometres along the stunning coastline of Victoria and home to the magnificent 12 Apostles. – View More

12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road
Bellarine Taste Trail

Treat your tastebuds to the best of the Bellarine Peninsula. Savour the local flavours at wineries, farm gates, provedores, restaurants and cafes. – View More

Events/Arts

It’s hard to believe there can be more happening in Melbourne during the Australian Open than the top-tier tennis, but beyond Melbourne Park there are more theatre, exhibitions, concerts and festivals than you can whack a ball at. Take the opportunity to see a blockbuster stage show or a touring exhibition that coincides with your visit. Wander through free public galleries for a whirlwind tour of the local art scene, join a gallery opening, and keep your eye out for installations and exhibitions in the unlikeliest places. See our four picks to get you started.

 Kinky Boots

Leg it to multi-award-winning musical Kinky Boots at the Regent Theatre for giggles, glamour and Grammy-winning show tunes by pop icon Cyndi Lauper. – View More

 The Book of Mormon

Book ahead to catch the Tony-award winning Broadway musical from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone at the Princess Theatre. – View More

National Gallery of Victoria

Get to the art of summer’s blockbuster exhibitions at NGV International. While away a morning at David Hockney: Current or at Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists. – View More

 
Public art

Take the City Circle tram or walk through city streets and laneways and along the Yarra River to see the city’s street art and public artworks. – View More

 

After dark

Follow up a day of Grand Slam tennis action with a night full of fun and activity. Fortunately, Melbourne puts on a show when the lights go out. Special menus for midnight dining? Yes please! Rare vintages in a plush wine bar? You betcha. Table service to your private indoor railway carriage? Every night. Add a handful of rock n’ roll bars for late-night dancing and perhaps some spicy snacks and cocktails to recharge, and you might find yourself rushing to be courtside on time the next morning. Check out some of our picks.

Toff in Town

Claim a booth in a train carriage and use the buzzer to order Thai food and fine cocktails all night, leaving only to catch a band in the stage room. – View More

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The Melbourne Supper Club

You just know a place is good when waiters go there for knock-off drinks. This favourite combines one of the city’s longest wine lists with a rooftop bar. – View More

Interior of The Melbourne Supper Club
Cumulus Up

Climb the stairs and treat yourself to fine wines, chic designs and a McConnell menu at this loft-style wine bar from the award-winning Cumulus Inc. team. – View More

 
Nieuw Amsterdam

Kick on till the nieuw day emerges at this sleek New-York style bar/eatery serving US classics and late-night libations every night of the week. – View More

 
Chin Chin

Give a big night out a recharge in the early hours with a feast of spicy Thai flavours and neon cocktails at Chin Chin, open every day until late. – View More

Chin Chin restaurant on Flinders Lane

Best kept secrets

There’s nothing like having a bit of local knowledge up your sleeve when you’re visiting a new city, and Melbourne’s network of laneways and arcades are hives of untold gems just waiting to be discovered. With our tips for five of Melbourne’s best-kept secrets you can have a truly Melbourne experience and gather starting points for your own local discoveries. Enter an inconspicuous doorway for a fine wine experience, find an edible green space atop a carpark, stumble across some quirky jewellery and unlock a very unusual cabinet of curiosities. Discover the city’s secrets.

Pellegrini’s kitchen table

Pellegrini’s has had its charming nonno and nonna vibe for more than 50 years, and nabbing a spot at the bustling kitchen table is still a Melbourne rite of passage. – View More

Pellegrini's restaurant
Lui Bar

When a table at Vue de Monde is hard to come by, Lui Bar isn’t a bad second bet. The bartender holds the keys to the Vue cellar, the snacks are sublime and the views to die for. – View More

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Switch Board Cafe

Wander beyond the foyer of the neo-Gothic Manchester Unity Building to find a cafe in a storage cupboard and experience Switch Board’s unique charm as well as fabulous coffee.  – View More

 
Abbotsford Convent

Stroll through the expansive gardens, see ground-breaking work in the galleries or take your pick of a bevy of gourmet delights at this creative haven on the city fringe. – View More

 

Neighbourhoods

It’s easy to get around Melbourne, which means it’s no trouble to make your way from Rod Laver Arena to explore the diverse inner-city neighbourhoods. Jump on a tram, take a train or stretch your legs and discover the distinct characters of the suburbs closest to the city. Whether it’s bohemian Fitzroy, beachy St Kilda, foody Richmond, or boutique Prahran you’ll need to give yourself plenty of time to unearth the best breakfasts and welcoming cafes, beguiling boutiques, top restaurants and buzzing bars. Here are five inner-city suburbs to explore between matches.

Fitzroy

Perch by the window in a Brunswick Street bar and celebrate the way that the more things change, the more they stay the same in this bohemian enclave. – View More

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St Kilda

Prepare to play in St Kilda, where you can kick up your heels by the seashore, by the stage at live music venues or on the whirligigs at Luna Park. – View More

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Richmond

You won’t go hungry in Richmond, whether brunching in a cosy cafe, Greek feasts, Vietnamese treats or pizza slices after a gig at the Corner Hotel. – View More

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Prahran and Windsor

Capture the independent spirit of Prahran and Windsor as you journey down Chapel Street, a treasure-trove of vintage finds, eclectic eateries and boutiques. – View More

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Collingwood

Peel back the inner-city onion that is Collingwood and discover layers of local history, infamous characters, quirky creativity and effortless charm. – View More

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Outdoor spaces

Melbourne is part of the Garden State for a reason – green spaces, floral displays, sandy beaches and the banks of the river are a big part of daily life. The Royal Botanic Gardens are a stone’s throw from the tennis action at Melbourne Park, and a calm, verdant space for between-match meandering. Relax on the banks of the Yarra River as swans and rowing teams glide by, or spend a while soaking up the atmosphere from Federation Square. Here’s where to go for some wide open spaces.

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Breathe deep and fill your lungs with the goodness of fresh air at Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens, or see the uniquely Aussie landscape in Cranbourne. – View More

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Federation Square

‘Fed Square’ is a public space buzzing with a daily program of events, restaurants and cafes and art. Grab a deckchair and watch the world go by. – View More

Federation Square
Melbourne Zoo

Experience a zoo visit like no other with up-close Wild Encounters tours, groove in summer to the ‘Zoo Twilights’ music performances, or just gush over new arrivals. – View More

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Fitzroy Gardens

Marvel at the tiny doorways of historic Captain Cook’s Cottage, the carved Fairies Tree, the model Tudor Village, and myriad fountains and statues. – View More

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Carlton Gardens

Laze around the water features in Carlton Gardens before summoning the energy to explore the adjacent Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building. – View More

Royal Exhibition Building in Autumn