In between Melbourne’s CBD and Bayside is South Melbourne, one of the city’s oldest suburbs. Dozens of multicultural restaurants and cafés make South Melbourne one of the best suburbs for good food, wine and coffee. With beautiful architecture, historical sites, a market place and beach, South Melbourne incorporates the best of this city into one small suburb.
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Visit South Melbourne Market for the best fresh food and produce
South Melbourne Market is the heart and icon of this suburb, bustling throughout the year. Abundant with some of the country’s freshest produce, this market is a one-stop shop for the best fruit and veggies. If cooking isn’t your forte, delicious international cuisine can be enjoyed in the surrounding restaurants. Turkish gözleme, Spanish paella and Vietnamese dim sims are just some of the many simple street foods served throughout the market. Quality cappuccinos can be enjoyed at Clement Coffee on a cold day, while Fritz Gelato serves up dozens of ice-cream flavours throughout summer. This lively marketplace incorporates all of South Melbourne’s best food, stalls and produce under one roof. Be sure to visit in summer when the venue is transformed into a weekly night market on Thursdays. Opening hours: Wed 8am-4pm, Fri 8am-5pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4pm South Melbourne Market, 322-326 Coventry St, South Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Have a picnic outside South Melbourne Town Hall
Listed with the Victorian Heritage Register, South Melbourne Town Hall is hidden away from all the suburb’s busy street corners and boulevards. Built in 1879, the hall is an attractive exhibit of Melbourne’s unique architecture. Just outside the building is a long patch of grass featuring a colourful rose garden, making it an ideal place for a quiet picnic. The hall is now home to the Australian National Academy of Music showcasing Melbourne’s outstanding musical talent.
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 9am-4pm
Enjoy coffee and cake at The Old Paper Shop
Featuring a cake shop, deli and café, The Old Paper Shop is an ideal place to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner in South Melbourne. It is hard to walk past The Old Paper Shop with mouth-watering sweets and cakes decorated across the window. Inside, you can enjoy a self-styled sandwich or salad from the fresh and extensive deli. Carefully crafted cappuccinos are also available from morning until midnight.
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 6am-10:30pm
Meditate at See Yup Temple
Built in 1856, the See Yup Temple incorporates a unique blend of European and Chinese architecture. The temple was built by the See Yup Society as a spiritual centre and has been a site of prayers and worship for over a century. The temple was funded by donations from society members, and the names of thousands of deceased and present donors are inscribed on stone tablets. Originally an 18th-century Victorian-style building, the temple has been infused with oriental elements, and the entire space is abundant with handcrafted artefacts from China. The inside is adorned with beautiful oriental décor and a misty atmosphere where incense sticks burn throughout the day. See Yup Temple is an ideal place to spend a quiet and curious morning in South Melbourne.
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 9am-4pm
See Yup Temple, 76 Raglan St, South Melbourne, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9699 7388
Sample authentic Italian pasta at Etto
Etto is all about authentic and simple Italian street food. Fresh pasta and sauces are made from scratch but are cooked to order and ready within minutes. Etto also makes delicious thin-style Napoli pizza, hot garlic bread and crisp salads. You can select your own pasta combination with 13 different sauces and 11 different pasta bases. Perfect for an outdoor lunch in summer, Etto also has a collection of cool Italian wine and beer.
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 12pm-9:15 pm
Etto, 261 Clarendon St, South Melbourne, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9696 3886
Take a walk on South Melbourne Beach
After a hectic day of shopping and eating, head down to South Melbourne Beach either by tram or a short scenic walk. This quiet but popular beach resembles Florida vibes, with palm trees, piers and rollerbladers passing by in every direction. The beach still radiates a local liveliness with fish and chip shops, plenty of beer and friendly dog walkers. Whether it’s a walk down the pier or a picnic on the sand, this beach is the best place in South Melbourne to enjoy a soothing sunset.
Visit Smart Artz Gallery
Hidden behind a laneway on Clarendon Street, Smart Artz Gallery features some of Melbourne’s best artworks. Converted from an industrial warehouse, Smart Artz is a chic setting ideal for enjoying low-key art and exhibitions. This hip space features paintings from self-taught contemporary artist Kim Kennedy who is Melbourne born and bred. The gallery also features original, hand wrought sculptures from Charles Rocco. Smart Artz also showcases the original piano of Dame Nellie Melba, listed as a national treasure. From live performances to original paintings, Smart Artz radiates the sophisticated vibes of South Melbourne.
Meet for Dinner at Red Petite
Red Petite is a tiny Thai restaurant squeezed between vintage terrace homes. Although small in size, Red Petite won’t fail to satisfy any kind of appetite. With a homely atmosphere and friendly staff, it is easy to relax at Red Petite without the hustle found in larger restaurants. Authentic Thai food ranges from stir-fried ground pork to fresh curries and salads. Simple Bangkok street food can also be enjoyed for lunch and dinner. With warm lighting, a cosy ambience and, most importantly, delicious food, Red Petite offers a homely dining experience.
Red Petite, 194 Bank St, South Melbourne, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9699 6969
Breathe history at the Emerald Hill Library & Heritage Centre
Historically known as Emerald Hill, South Melbourne is one of the city’s oldest suburbs. Set in the iconic 18th-century post office building, the Emerald Hill Heritage Centre sits alongside South Melbourne’s local library. The heritage centre focuses on aboriginal culture, local history research and Melbourne’s cultural heritage. Art and heritage exhibitions are also available throughout the year. The accompanying library also features frequent author talks, exhibitions and a comfortable outdoor setting to laze in the sun.
Opening hours: Mon 10am-6pm, Tue 12pm-8pm, Wed 12pm-6pm, Thurs 12pm-6pm, Sat 10am-2pm
By Jamal Ben Haddou
Jamal is studying journalism at Monash University in Melbourne. He loves all the food, music and culture this city has to offer so he thought he might as well write about it and share his experience. Jamal appreciates multiculturalism and talking to people about absolutely anything. You can follow him on Twitter, @jamal_ben1
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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.
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