The coolest (and most picture-perfect) places to eat, drink, see and do in Down Under’s most caffeinated metropolis
I’m not gonna lie: I may cringe at anything that bills itself as ‘hipster’ but really, I’m just a sucker for great coffee, indie gigs and grungy rooftop bars. And when it comes to taking short trips from Singapore, the
hipster city of Melbourne tops my getaway list. Australia’s largest cultural capital has everything that’ll please any snap-happy visitor (who also happens to appreciate a well-groomed beard) – beautiful coastlines, Kinfolk-style cafes, artsy ‘hoods, lush national parks…nuff’ said.
Staying connected on vacay is a huge priority for anyone who relies on Google Maps and/or updates their social media feeds with real-time photos of their trip, which is why I’m not one to scramble for a SIM card at the airport or lug a cumbersome Wifi egg around. My go-to? Singtel’s DataRoam Monthly Australia Plan, a monthly 1GB service that allows you to remain contactable via social media, chat and data-call apps while in Australia for only $10 per month. Cost effective and convenient!
Once you’ve got your data sorted, it’s time to give your friends a serious case of vacation envy with hipper-than-thou shots at these Melbourne spots. If you care about your coffee beans, love anything “artisanal”, “vegan” and “gluten-free”, read on.
Take that obligatory selfie at Brighton Beach or St Kilda if you must, but there’s more to offer over at the historic Williamstown, too. Explore the quaint, tree-lined streets of this pretty, coastal suburb or soak in the views of the cityscape from the town’s port. For more of Melbourne’s lush foliage and spectacular coasts, take a trip to the Grampians, one of Victoria’s most popular national parks, or go on a drive along the scenic Great Ocean Road.
To get best shots of the Twelve Apostles, avoid the overwhelming busloads of tourists by arriving early in the morning. Can’t drive? Then sign up for a guided tour with Hike & Seek, which calls itself the “anti tour” tour. They offer trips to Melbourne’s major nature attractions, where you’ll be embarking on an intimate road trip in a vintage 1974 VW Kombi van. How cute!
Impress your friends with your cultural know-how in Melbourne’s vibrant arts precincts. There’s the famed State Library Victoria, a gorgeous 19th century building that boasts a stunning dome ceiling in the iconic La Trobe Reading Room and over two million books in its collections. The National Gallery Victoria is an imposing modern landmark that hosts headlining summer exhibitions, such as an Ai Wei Wei and Andy Warhol retrospective. Look out for its up and coming NGV Triennial, which covers a staggering spectrum of creative practices from contemporary art to fashion, architecture and more. Want a more local-centric experience? Make your way to the tranquil Abbotsford Convent, Australia’s biggest multi-arts cluster comprising 11 heritage buildings and gardens, all sprawled over 16 acres.
You can find plenty of cool photo ops at some of Melbourne’s biggest cultural events, such as arts fest White Night Melbourne, Brunswick Music Festival’s Sydney Road Street Party or Melbourne Music Week. For more updates on the latest events, visit this website.
Be prepared to pack on a couple of kilos, cos’ this is where all diets end in a food coma. Melbourne’s famous brunch culture has spawned a few brekkie temples all over the city, and most dish out plates that are too pretty to eat (well, almost.) Hit up roastery-cafe Industry Beans for an ever-changing, seasonal menu of creative brunch fare or Seven Seeds for a solid cuppa in airy, industrial surrounds. Don’t forget to check out Vegie Bar – this vegan mainstay in Fitzroy serves delicious Asian-inspired mains and yummy smoothies.
The city’s also home to an incredible selection of celebrity chef restos and trendy establishments. Sure, you can join the queue at Mod-Thai mecca Chin Chin, but if you’re a foodie through and through, you wouldn’t want to miss dining at chef Andrew McConnell’s Cumulus Inc, a sleek, warehouse-style restaurant featuring well-executed, farm-to-table plates. While you’re in the CBD, pop over to Mexican taqueria Mamasita, a well-known institution that draws crowds with its earthy flavours and refreshing cocktails.
You might be tempted to stay in central Melbourne just for its sheer variety of places to eat, but venture further into its quieter suburbs and you’ll be surprised by what you’ll find. Tucked away in Carlton is Nora, a former brunch spot that has reinvented itself into an intimate degustation-only place with a boundary-pushing, Thai-inspired menu.
Nothing makes for a more droolsome photo than one of cocktails overlooking a glorious sunset. Enter Rooftop Cinema, an (you guessed it) open-air, rooftop cinema that screens acclaimed titles and well-loved classics in the heart of the CBD, complete with a well-stocked bar. Over in Fitzroy, Basque-style gastro bar Naked for Satan houses Naked in the Sky, another rooftop terrace overlooking the gentrified inner-city’s quaint Victorian-style buildings and repurposed industrial warehouses.
If you’re serious about your cocktails, “hidden” bar Eau de Vie combines bartending theatrics with classic drinks and an extensive library of whiskies. Lest you think we’ve forgotten all about the hipster nectar, garden-themed bar, restaurant and live music venue Howler is known for its excellent list of craft beers, such as Hitachino Nest classic ale on tap – their live acts are worth shouting about too, so be sure to suss out their lineup.
It can be a challenge to snag a seat at both Rooftop Cinema and Naked in the Sky (yes, even on weekdays), so if you’re heading over with your squad, be sure to make it a post-lunch affair. For reservations at Naked in the Sky, click here. (Rooftop Cinema doesn’t accept any bookings.)
Where to stay
For those who prefer a more cosy abode, Melbourne’s teeming with Instagrammable Airbnb accommodations (such as this one here.) Or, luxe it up at a swish luxury boutique hotel by Mr and Mrs Smith. Fancy a bit of glamping? The folks who co-founded St Jerome’s Laneway Festival have launched cool rooftop camping hotel, St Jerome’s – The Hotel, which features heated tents that come with lush beds and room service. Sweet!
Singtel DataRoam 1GB Monthly Australia Plan is available at $10 per month. Activate the plan instantly via the free My Singtel app on your mobile. With readily-accessible data at your fingertips, it’s time to hit the road!
For more information, check out their website.
This article is sponsored by Singtel.