Melbourne, the coastal capital of Victoria in Australia, has been consistently ranked as the world’s most liveable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit since 2010. Not only is the metropolitan city a leading financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region, it is also home to many significant historic cultural buildings and is a major centre for arts in Australia. In addition, the most liveable city is also proud to be one of the greatest coffee cities in the world. So you can’t say you have visited this bustling Victorian capital if you have not checked out its vibrant arts and cultural scene! Follow me with these 6 things you must do to enjoy the rich arts and cafe culture in Melbourne now!
Enjoy a free tour around the Central Business District with the City Circle Tram
There’s a lot to explore in Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) if you are into culture and history, such as the City Museum, Old Melbourne Gaol, the State Library of Victoria and many other fine pieces of architecture and arts festivals. With the City Circle Tram (route 35) operating in a circular route within the city centre and passing major tourist attractions, travelling in Melbourne CBD is convenient and free! Trams run in both directions at intervals of about twelve minutes, between 10 am and 6 pm from Sunday to Wednesday, and 10 am to 9 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Besides being able to enjoy a free tour around the CBD, do take some time to appreciate the cultural icon of Melbourne. These electric W class trams liveried in burgundy with gold trim were constructed over a span of 33 years from 1923 to 1956.
Head to Arts Centre Melbourne to discover great local artwork
Every Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm, the Arts Centre Melbourne’s lawn in Southbank will be particularly lively due to the popular Arts Centre Sunday Market. All 80 stalls at this market sell local handmade products ranging from arts and crafts to freshly made delicacies, making the market a favourite amongst arts buffs seeking exquisite finds for themselves or as gifts for their loved ones. You can get to this local arts and crafts market in the buzzing arts precinct in Melbourne with the free City Circle Tram. Just alight at the tram stop in front of Federation Square and it is a short walk over the bridge from the Square. As all stallholders at the Sunday Market rotate their stall positions regularly, if you have a favourite stall to check out, be sure to remember the stallholder’s face for your future visits. Otherwise, simply enjoy a relaxing stroll along St Kilda Road and along the lawn until you find your favourite! Who knows, you may be in for some new surprises!
Be pampered with the huge selection of coffee, cakes and desserts at Brunetti
If you are an avid cafe hopper, you cannot miss Brunetti, a traditional Italian cafe that has become one of the most noteworthy places to visit for an indulging cafe experience in Melbourne. Brunetti started operations at the Faraday Street location in 1985, and because of its growing popularity over the years, it has expanded to 4 more outlets across Melbourne in addition to its huge flagship store in Melbourne’s Little Italy, the Lygon Street precinct. If you can, head to the flagship store at 380 Lygon Street, Lygon Court where you will find a huge selection of Italian style coffees, pastries, desserts, gelato and mouth-watering savouries for you to take your pick from. There’s even more here than in the other smaller outlets in Melbourne. The selection is so extensive that deciding on what you would like to eat and drink becomes a time-consuming process, but that’s definitely a good problem to have isn’t it? Pamper yourself with the indulgent Italian food and beverages here, and take your time to chill out at this iconic cafe!
Check out the first gelato ice cream boutique in Australia
After a visit to the iconic Brunetti, you may be so full and bloated you don’t think you can stomach anymore food. Take some time to stroll along the shady Lygon Street and explore the place where Melbourne’s renowned cafe culture was born before you decide on your next cafe stop. Anyway, you may still be feeling full from the satisfying meal earlier on, but there’s always special room for yet another round of desserts isn’t there? Located at 163 Lygon Street, just an eight-minute walk, or 3 junctions down the street from Brunetti, is Australia’s first and longest-standing ice-cream boutique called Casa Del Gelato. Since 1980, this brightly-lit cafe has been offering more than 170 flavours of tantalising gelato ice cream, made with fresh fruit and natural ingredients, to its customers everyday. It also offers dairy-free options for those who may be lactose intolerant. Bet you can’t say no to such freshly-made natural ice cream, can you?
Indulge in some fine handmade chocolate at Koko Black
Koko Black, which started its operations in 2003 as a Melbourne-based and family-owned business, is a luxury chocolate retail cafe known for its artisan chocolate desserts. There are a total of 7 salons in Melbourne, with the Lygon Street and Collins Street outlets as the two larger ones with private function facilities. Koko Black also has salons in other parts of Australia, such as Perth and Sydney, as well as an overseas salon in New Zealand. Koko Black focuses on using only the best quality natural ingredients without any artificial additives or preservatives being used in its products, and it is also a proud supporter of local suppliers. Since Australia is a major agricultural producer, you can be assured that everything you pop into your mouth at this chocolate salon is made from fresh and quality local ingredients such as cream, butter and fruits. You can also look forward to indulging in some creative concoctions of cocoa with other ingredients that are not found elsewhere!
Sip a cup of coffee at the petite Flipboard Cafe
Flipboard Cafe, a tiny “hole-in-the-wall” cafe located on 141-149 La Trobe Street in Melbourne city centre, has been fast gaining popularity with coffee addicts and cafe hoppers since its opening in September 2013. If you don’t take a closer look when you pass by this quaint little cafe, you may actually miss it because of its unique design. Originally a 20-year-old unused shop-front window, the cafe owners who took over this unit cleverly transformed this space by shifting the paradigm of coffee houses from the horizontal to the vertical. It was changed into a tiny cafe of 20-square-metres across three levels, while retaining the central staircase as a feature in the shop. Nestled in the shop-front window of Brolly Studios and Benetts Lane Jazz Club, it is a niche cafe serving great coffee with beautiful coffee art from 7 am to 4.30 pm on weekdays, but it turns into a live Jazz Club at night. People-watch while you enjoy sipping a cup of flavourful coffee here, either in one of the cubbies on level 1 or by the window on the upper levels!
Immerse yourself in the artistic feel of Melbourne
There’s actually a lot more arts and cultural attractions and events to look forward to, as well as many other noteworthy cafes to visit to soak in the prevalent coffee culture in Melbourne. Start with the above 6 must-do activities and remember to pace yourself when touring Melbourne. Of course, do allow time to explore the world’s most liveable city so that you can fully enjoy and immerse yourself in its rich culture and arts in the city! Have fun!
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