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.
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
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
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-Fri 10:30am-9:30 pm
Etto, 261 Clarendon St, South Melbourne, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9696 3886
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.
For South Melbourne’s best Vietnamese street food, Wat Da Pho is hard to miss. Located along Clarendon Street, Wat Da Pho is an ideal place to feed a hungry appetite after a long day of walking and shopping. With both indoor and outdoor dining, this small space is both compact and charming. Hot and hearty pho is ideal for lunch and dinner, while spring rolls and frozen coconut water can also be enjoyed on a hot summer day. With friendly staff and fresh food, Wat Da Pho is a popular place to enjoy hip but authentic Vietnamese food.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-3:30pm/5:30-9:30 pm, Sat 12 pm-9pm
Wat Da Pho, 212 Clarendon St, South Melbourne, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9696 5605
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.
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 11am-4pm
Smart Artz Gallery, 2 Alfred Pl, South Melbourne, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9690 8872
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.
Opening hours: Mon 9am-2pm, Tue-Sat 9am-8:45pm
Red Petite, 194 Bank St, South Melbourne, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9699 6969
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 2pm-8pm, Wed 3pm-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