The Best Things to Do on Melbourne's Lygon Street

The welcoming exterior of this cosy Lygon Street bar
The welcoming exterior of this cosy Lygon Street bar | © Atticus Finch
Jordan Lane

The heart of ‘Little Italy’, Lygon Street has long been a favourite of Melbourne’s students and other locals. With so much on offer, visitors are spoilt for choice, and the only guarantee is having a good time.

1. Heartattack and Vine

Cafe, Tea , Pastries

The team behind Wide Open Road coffee, a Melbourne favourite, found the inspiration to open this cozy café and bar on a trip to Europe. Modelled after the day-and-night cafes of Italy, Heartattack and Vine is the best place to get your morning fix. They offer a range of speciality coffees, snacks, and light options for lunch. Come in the evening and settle in for a drink, whether it be a fine wine or something stronger, and mingle with the students who have almost definitely been there all day, working and appreciating the relaxed atmosphere.

2. Il Gambero

Restaurant, Italian

When in Little Italy, eat Italian. Il Gambero, towards the south of the street and opposite the green Argyle Square, does some of the best pizzas and pastas around, and for a reasonable price as well. They offer takeaways, so you can have your food in the park if it’s a nice day. Otherwise, the atmosphere inside is jolly and cheerful. The restaurant’s reputation draws in many special occasions and regulars, so it’s always busy and bustling with conversation. The only downside of this is that a booking is recommended if you want to eat in.

3. Readings


© Snipergirl / Flickr
If you find yourself with a few spare moments on Lygon Street, or have just finished the only book you took on your travels, go straight to Readings. This celebrated bookstore also sells music and DVDs, and is run by friendly staff who know their stuff and will always have a recommendation, ever-ready to lend a helping hand. They won Bookstore of the Year at the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards and Independent Book Retailer of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards in 2016 and 2017 for a reason. Endless hours can be enjoyed browsing their massive range.

5. Pidapipò Gelateria

Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream

Visit this venue during the day because after dinner, the line gets outrageous. This is no sacrifice, however. On a burning hot Australian summer day, grabbing a scoop or two from Pidapipò Gelateria is among the best ways to cool off. They’ve developed a cult following for the quality of house-made, artisanal gelato they serve, and the delicious flavours they come in, from traditional favourites to eclectic limited offerings. There’s no better place in Melbourne to tap into the sweeter side of Italian food culture. Their running Nutella tap is the perfect way to top it all off.

6. Cinema Nova


© Cinema Nova
Known as the home of quality art-house cinema, Cinema Nova is the place to go to see the greatest current films. Whether it’s the latest Academy Award-winning films, or other great contemporary cinema, this inner-city cinema will be sure to show some the best recent films in its 15 theatres. Cinema Nova also offers in-cinema dining opportunities, wherein customers can select a single or three-course meal served in style and comfort in one of their luxury cinemas. Cinema Nova is located in the Italian quarter on Lygon Street, where you can find many of Melbourne’s best Italian restaurants, perfect for a pre- or post-film meal. If you’re looking for somewhere to have a quiet drink to discuss the film, Cinema Nova also has the Nova Bar, a chic cocktail and wine bar, perfect for a relaxed drink.

7. Jimmy Watson's

Bar, Restaurant, Italian

An iconic Melbourne establishment, Jimmy Watson’s has been around since 1935, serving locals and in-the-know visitors alike. As with all restaurants on Lygon, Italian food is on the menu. But, looking beyond this, there are plenty of other options for all three courses of a great meal, as well as gourmet cheeses and drinks, with the venue doubling as a wine bar. On a good day, sit up in the Wolf’s Lair Rooftop Bar, and pick over sharing plates with friends or family. If you’re visiting in the evening, check out Thin Red Line, the new 1930s-styled bar upstairs that combines old-school charm with great service.

8. Atticus Finch

Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary

Exterior of Atticus Finch
Courtesy of Atticus Finch
Named after character in To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch does nothing to hide its creative aesthetic. The lure comes through a reputation for the best craft beers, boutique wines and cocktails around, with gourmet snacks to accompany, and once you’re in the door there’s no leaving. Sit in a comfortable corner, let your hair down, and have a great night. The fun atmosphere is helped by their record collection, on display for all to see and keeping the music going. Some nights a DJ can be found lifting everyone’s spirits even more.

This article was written in association with The Boar, a student publication based at the University of Warwick.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article