Australia & NZ

Melbourne’s Hippest Suburbs

While Melbourne city is a pretty hip place to be – with its atmospheric arcades, hole-in-the-wall bars, and the arty Yarra River precinct – suburbs like Fitzroy, St Kilda and these days, even Footscray, each have their own brand of cool. So step out of your Melbourne hotel, jump on a tram, and head out to the suburbs!

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Fitzroy may have lots its edge when the Punters Club closed down, but it didn’t lose its cool. With hundreds of bars, cafes and boutiques to choose from you can’t go wrong here. The main drag, Brunswick Street, is the place to be seen, ‘little Spain’ Johnston Street is home to tapas bars and an annual fiesta and Smith Street, with Greek bakeries, button shops and organic cafés, is wonderfully eclectic. On the city’s edge, Gertrude Street is home to some of the city’s best up-and-coming designers and vintage fashion.

St Kilda

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Once a notorious red light district, these days St Kilda is as close as Melbourne gets to sassy Sydney. But don’t be fooled by first impressions. Mythologised in song, and immortalized in television, St Kilda is more Brighton, England, than Bondi. Along Acland Street, away from the beach, you’ll find some of the cities best sweet treats. Then of course there’s the Espy, the Esplanade Hotel, iconic live music venue and now home to SBS’s Rockwiz. Oh if those walls could talk.


With its hills and winding High Street, Northcote is something of an anomaly in Melbourne. Just up the road from Fitzroy (on the 86 tram as anyone who has heard the tongue-in-cheek ‘Northcote (so hungover)’ will know), Northcote is cool in a low-key kind of way, with live music happening somewhere almost every night of the week, and lots of art gallery-cum-bar-cum-café spaces. The village of Westgarth, at the bottom of the hill, is home to some gorgeous boutiques.


Brunswick is where the Fitzroy locals escape to when they can no longer afford the rent. And while it’s not exactly hip – there are way too many old-man pubs and wholesale fabric stores to call it that – the Brunswick Festival in March has to be one of the best street parties in Australia. Brunswick East on the other hand, with its cool little bars, live music scene and Ceres – a sustainability centre by the Merri Creek – is definitely up there in the hip stakes.


For those who like their cool served with a portion of posh, maybe even a little pizzazz, the chronically misspelled Prahran is the place to head to. For many the axis of Chapel and Greville Streets is the centre of cool – with Chapel home to high-end designers, and Greville showing off Prahran’s funkier side. The Prahran Market is one of the best produce markets in the city and in summer the Prahran Baths are a great place to people-watch, enjoy a poolside latte, or maybe even swim!


Yarravile kitsch – Photo credit

This former working-class suburb is now something of an oasis amid the factories and shipping yards of Melbourne’s west. True to its name, Yarraville has a real village feel with its Edwardian and Victorian shopfronts and narrow streets. It’s also home to some great restaurants and cafes, bookstores and boutiques, and the atmospheric Sun Theatre, a restored Art Deco cinema that screens a mix of cult films and classics alongside new releases. Definitely worth a trip over the Westgate Bridge.

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