Discovering Melbourne’s hidden secrets

Melbourne is Australia’s second-largest city and capital of the state of Victoria. The second you arrive in Melbourne, you’ll immediately be swept off your feet by its infectious energy; at times brazen, often funky but always omnipresent. You can’t miss it!

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The Melbourne skyline as seen from the banks of the Yarra River.

On my previous visit in 2008, I remarked:

Melbourne is a city with aspirations and you can tell. It’s a large city with loads of character, a laid-back pace and a lifestyle that oozes quality. Magnificent Tudor and Victorian buildings graciously reflect the city’s colourful history while impressive skyscrapers and other buildings by world-renowed architects boast the city’s prosperous present. Upon arrival, the visitor might notice the car license plates which read: “Victoria: The place to be”. I wouldn’t disagree.

Since then, the city has developed in leaps and bounds, with an astounding array of cultural and culinary offerings. I was really impressed back in 2008. This time, I was simply blown away! The culinary, fashion and design landscapes in particular have flourished beyond recognition. And the coffee scene is arguably second to no other!

Melbourne’s hidden lanes and arcades

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Stunning architecture in Melbourne.

Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) is a vibrant grid of boulevards and lanes. The main streets are lined by a dizzying array of grand Victorian buildings and shiny skyscrapers. These are packed with an equally impressive variety of shops, restaurants and cafés, but venture into the lanes and arcades that connect the main streets and you’ll discover some of Melbourne’s best secrets! If you don’t have much time to explore the back lanes and arcades on your own, I can highly recommend a walking tour with Hidden Secrets Tours Melbourne. I did the Lanes and Arcades tour and loved it! The tour, which lasts a whole morning and ends with lunch (optional) is the ideal way to learn more about Melbourne’s heritage and discover its many hidden gems (think amazing street art, quirky cafés, independent designers and historical tales). Follow me on the tour:

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The tour started at the city’s main square, Federation Square. Our first stop was the underground passage in Flinders Street Station where we discovered a traditional hairdresser and some of Melbourne’s best coffee!

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The tour continued above ground, along Degraves Street and Centre Place, both packed with quirky retail shops, restaurants and cafés. Loved the laid-back atmosphere in these lanes.

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Melbourne’s back-alleys are home to amazing street art, like this electric piece in Centre Place.

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From the lanes of Centre Place, we entered into a gleaming arcade: the Centreway Arcade, with its designer shops.

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We crossed Melbourne’s main street, Collins Street, and found this gorgeous arcade: the Block Arcade, also home to one of Melbourne’s best-loved tea rooms.

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The Hopetound tea room cakes!

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Our next stop was the stunning Royal Arcade, where we stopped at Suga, a fab candy shop, and had a delicious cup of hot chocolate at Koko Black.

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Design your own candy at Suga!

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A dazzling array of chocolates at Koko Black – and their hot chocolate is absolutely divine!

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We passed more terrific street art; this one’s in Union Lane.

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Our guide entertained us with historical tales and anecdotes.

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Our guide showed us lots of fascinating shops like this hidden haberdashery…

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… and Melbourne’s largest vintage clothing store.

Along the way, we passed many intriguing shops, cafés and restaurants – I was just bowled over by the great variety and eclectic styles. I was equally excited by the thriving independent retailer scene – small shops selling all sorts of clothing, furniture, ornaments and jewelry. Add to that the gorgeous architecture of the arcades and the terrific street art! This walking tour truly opened my eyes to a side of Melbourne that I, perhaps, would not have seen due to the limited amount of time I spent there – four days are simply not enough to explore this incredible city!

Note: this trip is part of the iambassador #MelbourneTouring project in partnership with Tourism Victoria and Royal Brunei Airlines. Velvet Escape maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.

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10 Responses to “Discovering Melbourne’s hidden secrets”

  1. Drew | The Hungry Partier 13/02/2014 4:13 am
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    Awesome post!! Melbourne is on the top of my bucket list. I will visit once I am done exploring Asia ;)

    Cheers and happy travels!

    Drew

  2. Ian 10/02/2014 7:25 am
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    My relatives live in Melbourne. I must ask them to take me there one day! Based on your post, it looks like a great place to visit.

  3. Heather 31/01/2014 2:52 pm
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    Melbourne is a very posh city … lots of places to get tonnes of awesome experiences for your travel dollar it seems!

  4. Keith Jenkins 30/01/2014 5:45 pm
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    Hi Nicole,
    You may be biased! Haha! But seriously, Melbourne IS one of the coolest cities around. I love its energy! Hidden Secrets Tours is a really good company – I truly enjoyed the tour and would recommend it to anyone.

    Hugs,
    Keith

  5. Nicole 30/01/2014 5:31 pm
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    I may be biased saying this but Melbourne is by far one of the coolest cities I’ve visited to and it really is just going from strength to strength, especially with a lot of small bars popping up and of course host of the White Night/Nuit Blanche event (first in Australasia – whoop whoop!)

    I keep hearing really good things about this tour company from visiting friends, and now you, and as a place that’s my adopted home (I’m from lil ol’ Adelaide, South Australia) I really need to choose a few tours and discover the history and some of the hidden secrets of the city I now call home.

  6. Keith Jenkins 30/01/2014 3:41 pm
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    Haha, you sure are Kirsty! :-) Next time, I hope to meet up with you in Melbs!

    Hugs,
    Keith

  7. Kirsty Wilson 30/01/2014 10:43 am
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    Marvellous Melbourne! It offers so much and it’s one great city to live in. Aren’t I lucky? ;)

  8. Keith Jenkins 29/01/2014 3:27 pm
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    Thank you for your comment Renuka! I would love to return to Melbourne and explore more of it.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  9. Renuka 29/01/2014 2:34 pm
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    Although I could explore very little of Melbourne, I loved it. I guess, Melbourne carries its essence everywhere, whether you explore it more or less. Nice pictures!

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