What to do in Melbourne this Winter
Melbourne has unbeatable style and culture. It’s a creative hub where design inspiration runs wild and is the breading ground to some of the world’s best brands. I’m honoured to call this beautiful city home and love sharing my wealth of knowledge when it comes to giving insights on the amazing places it has on offer to locals and visitors alike.
This winter I’ve teamed up with Expedia to put together a list of the top places to visit in Melbourne, including must-visit hot spots and exciting featured events.
I’m a passionate bargain-hunter and self proclaimed shopaholic. The Queen Victoria Market is the perfect place to get your shop on this winter!
Known affectionately as ‘Vic Market’, the precinct has been the heart and soul of Melbourne for more than a century. A historic landmark spread over two city blocks, it’s a vibrant and bustling inner-city market where you can shop for everything from local and imported gourmet foods and produce, to cosmetics, clothing and souvenirs.
Market Lane Coffee – Market Lane specialises in one thing; delicious, great quality coffee! The fact that they have the coolest takeaway cups I’ve ever seen certainly helped me fall in love with this passionate and vision-forward local retailer. Start your market experience with a coffee brewed with their store-roasted coffee beans, served by energetic baristas who are also sure to serve you up a cup of Melbourne love.
The Epicurean – Located in the deli hall, The Epicurean is jam-packed with delicious cheeses, specialty antipasti and gourmet meats to satisfy even the toughest crowd. I discovered these guys on one of the Market foodie tours and they’re the place to go to stock up on goods for a weekend celebration with friends.
String Bean Alley – one of the newest retail destinations in the Queen Vic Markets, this funky alley is made up of repurposed shipping containers packed full of local designers. It’s a unique shopping experience that will enlighten your creative juices.
Top Winter Events at Vic Market
Winter Night Market – The Winter Night Markets are one of the most unique food experiences in Melbourne. Running every Wednesday night throughout winter, you’ll find an array of mouth-watering eats along with snack-sized short films at the Market Cinema. Expect to see plenty of local homeware designers, offering everything from candles to nail polish. My tip – don’t walk past the Wine and Cheese Bar!
Hunt & Gather Food Tour – This tour is fantastic, I took Mum along with me as a Mother’s Day treat and we had a great time. If you’re looking to add a little inspiration to your cooking or you’re keen to hear about the best ways to select the produce you buy, this tour is for you! The down-to-earth tour guide will walk you through all the fresh product and specialty shopping areas, topping you up with great foodie knowledge and answering any questions you have along the way. Did I mention you also get to sample some of the best Market products? Pack your green bag and get ready to fill it up, because this two hour tour definitely needs to be on your Winter to-do-list.
Melbourne Central is a shopping landmark located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. Combining historic and modern architecture, the centre is an essential destination for any visitor wanting to experience the true ‘Melbournian’ shopping and entertainment experience.
Coop’s Shot Tower – Looking to take a glimpse of Melbourne’s history while getting your shop on? Coop’s Shot Tower is a classic example of where history perfectly entwines with modern day culture. Here you’ll find your favourite Australian retailers along with upcoming Melbournian designers and the perfect escape from the Melbourne cold. You can visit the Shot Tower Museum via the RM Williams store on Level 1 and while you’re there be sure to check out the giant Marionette watch hanging in Tower Square. Every hour the watch will treat you to some good ole’ Aussie charm with a rendition of the iconic melody ‘Waltzing Matilda’.
Mimco and Kikki K – Melbourne is a breeding ground for creative talent, with two of my favourite iconic retailers, Mimco and kikki.K calling Melbourne home.
A little over 10 years ago, Kristina Karlsson (kikki.K founder and stationery lover) opened her first retail store at Melbourne Central. The brand now employs almost 700 people as they continue to grow and take the world by storm.
Mimco first opened their doors to Melbourne back in 1996 and are now a regular local designer on show at Melbourne Fashion Week, with a huge product base of lust-worthy handbags, shoes and accessories.
Top Winter Events at Melbourne Central
St. Jerome’s – The Hotel – If you’re after a truly unique luxury experience, Melbourne Central has one for you! St. Jeromes – The Hotel is now open offering you the chance to go glamping under the stars right in the middle of the city. Jerome Borazio, founder of multiple bars, a pizzeria and co-organiser of the brilliant St. Jeromes Laneway Festival is the brains behind this new hotel experience. Guests can choose to book a bell canvas tent classified as being either a standard room or suite. Each ‘room’ is completely furnished with an array of luxury items that you’d expect to find in any five star hotel room. If you are keen you best be quick – it’s only open for a limited time.
Travelling on a budget? Book online at Expedia.com.au for some sweet hotel deals in Melbourne.
LUX at Hotys Cinema – The perfect winter evening in Melbourne can be spent at the ultimate cinema experience at HOYTS LUX. You can relax and let your concierge team (yes, team!), spoil you with a private bar complete with cocktail and reserve wine list, plus a tempting gourmet menu. Grab out your diary and pencil in the HOYTS Girls’ Night Out at Hotys LUX on July 8!
Melbourne’s Federation Square (affectionately known as Fed Square to locals) is home to a fantastic range of restaurants, bars and specialty stores. This iconic architectural structure and contemporary public space is the perfect place to enjoy the sunshine on a winter’s day.
Fed Square can be found on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Street, across the road from Flinders Street Station. It’s easily reached by train, tram, bus, boat, bike and car.
Transit Rooftop Bar – Are you a fan of Espresso Martinis like me? If the answer is yes, then Transit Bar should be the first bar on your Melbourne list – for the ultimate Martini. Whatever your flavour, the drinks here are on par with the worlds best cocktails and the food is perfect for sharing. With amazing views over the Yarra River and beyond, this iconic hotspot is sure to treat you to a night of fun in the heart of the city.
Mr Burger Food Truck – Burger lovers rejoice! Home to Melbourne’s best burgers, Mr Burger will make you forget about the diet and want to sink your teeth into one of their juicy gourmet burgers. Serving burgers (of course), as well as delicious chips and drinks to go, this Food Truck keeps it simple with carefully considered, quality ingredients.
National Gallery of Victoria – The NGV’s Australian collection of art is housed within the grounds of Fed Square. You’ll find the International collection in the large National Gallery of Victoria building a short walk away on St Kilda Rd.
The NGV is the most visited gallery in Australia and it’s the perfect place to spend a chilly winter afternoon. Both gallery locations are definitely worth a visit, with a series of special events lined up for winter including the Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car exhibition and Lee Ho Fook at NGV food extravaganza.
Top Winter Events at Fed Square
Fed Square Book Market – Calling all bookworms! Melbourne’s largest weekly book market takes place in The Atrium at Fed Square every Saturday throughout winter. The Book Market features some of Melbourne’s most experienced book dealers as well as authors and illustrators, so be sure to check the website for updates on who will be in attendance when you are in town.
Momentum Energy River Rink – This is a brand new event and is being held at Fed Square’s River Terrace from 27th June – 19th July. Perfect for entertaining the kids during the school holidays, the outdoor ice-skating rink will be open from 10am-10pm each day. I’m definitely going to check this out!
Southgate is one of my favourite restaurant, shopping and entertainment destinations located along the banks of the Yarra River in Southbank. Only a few minutes walk to the Crown Resorts, Federation Square and Melbourne’s CBD, the centre looks directly across the river to the iconic Flinders Street Station. It’s the perfect place to spend the day shopping or ideal for meeting friends for a scrumptious, scenic lunch or dinner.
Bluetrain – My menu tip at Bluetrain is the taco sharing plate – it’s yum! I’ve been enjoying this restaurant for years and every time it’s a winner. It’s a local institution, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013. There’s a huge range of grazing plates, pizzas, pastas, burgers and dishes off the char-grill. This winter Bluetrain is also holding a few different events such as the free Bluetrain & Rutherglen wine tasting on Saturday 4th July.
Pure South – If you are after a really special dining experience Pure South is a stand-out. All products served are sourced from Tasmania, King Island and Flinders Island. This also extends to the wonderful wine list, with the majority coming from Tassie including Moorilla, the winery located at MONA. The staff are always delightful, and the Head Chef is Melbourne boy Ashley Davis who led London restaurant Hélène Darroze when they received two Michelin stars. It gets pretty busy so make sure to book your table in advance!
Top Winter Events at Southgate
Southgate Moveable Feasts – This is a fun way to sample three different Southgate restaurants – one for entrée, one for main course and the third for dessert. Each course is accompanied by a glass of wine of course! You can book for either a Sunday lunch or Monday night dinner. The Moveable Feasts are available until 3rd August.
Artusi Winter Masterclass series – The Italian restaurant Artusi has been open since mid-2014 and is known for it’s freshly made pasta and specialities such as suckling pig or whole roasted duck. This winter the restaurant is holding a few master classes for budding chef’s such as me! I’m seriously considering booking in for the Italian Chocolate Pudding Masterclass on 6th July. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
‘Souper Sundays’ at BearBrass – This one tops the list for best ‘Cheap Eats’ in Melbourne. Winter is here and delicious hot soup and red wine sound like a winning combination to me! Head into BearBrass each Sunday evening until 31st August, and savour one of three delicious soups with a glass of lovely red wine for $15. Talk about a bargain!
A stay in Melbourne would not be complete without a visit to the most famous racecourse in Australia, Flemington Racecourse. Located only four km north-west of Melbourne’s CBD, Flemington is a National Heritage listed site and best known as the home of the world-renowned Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Still in full glory during the cooler months, Flemington Racecourse boasts a calendar of feature winter race days, a Craft Market held on the last Sunday of every month and key event partnerships with Melbourne Food and Wine. A visit to the course is the perfect way to spend a day out with family and friends, while experiencing Melbourne’s rich sporting culture.
On your way to the racecourse, be sure to stop in at the Flemington shops for a bite at Laksa King. This must-visit Malaysian restaurant has nine varieties of the best Laksa’s in Melbourne (I’m claiming the world) it will fill your belly with warm deliciousness before a day at the track.
Top Winter Events at Flemington Racecourse:
Flemington Craft Market – This one is for all the crafties who love a good market gathering. Flemington Craft Market is a free event and runs on the last Sunday of every month. There’s the best of regional Victorian produce and crafts, with all products on sale made or grown by the stallholder. Market visitors can get their shop on for fresh produce and delicious gourmet foods, fashion or homewares.
Racecourse Tours – Go behind the scenes at Flemington Racecourse with a tour taking in the Flemington Heritage Centre, usually out of bounds jockey and steward rooms, the famous rose garden and a few of Flemington’s most historical points of interest. Each tour usually takes around one hour, bookings can be made either via email or phone.
David Bourke Provincial Plate Day – I love nothing more than heading trackside for a day of racing with my family and friends. The winter races are far more relaxed and a lot easier to move around than in spring, however it’s still a great opportunity to experience the fun, fillies and fashion at Flemington.
The David Bourke Provincial Plate Day takes place on Saturday 27th June, with six series heats and the feature race of the day. If you’re after a special dining experience on the day, the VRC and Melbourne Food and Wine are hosting a three course buffet lunch at The Panorama Restaurant. Special trains run direct to Flemington Racecourse on race days, so book your tickets and enjoy a fantastic day of entertainment!
Her Majesty’s Theatre
Nearing her 130th birthday celebration, Her Majesty’s Theatre is located on Exhibition Street in Melbourne’s East End Theatre District. The Theatre is an architectural landmark, a classic 19th-century theatre with red and gold decor and a must-visit for musical lovers and anyone who wants to experience the rich history of the city of Melbourne.
Her Majesty’s Theatre comes to life and sparkles, sparkles, sparkles this winter with the final performances of Strictly Ballroom. Dressed in bright, vintage style posters and flashy, film star lighting, the Theatre shines during the showing of Baz Luhrmann’s amazing new musical. It will have you smiling and laughing until your jaw hurts and clapping so hard, your hands will burn. The show was the perfect blend of professional production and down-to-earth, good family entertainment – it’s definitely one of my favourites so far this year!
Grab a bite to eat before the show around the corner (in Market Lane) at Hutong Dumpling Bar; a casual, cosy eatery with lanterns and exposed brick with full Melbourne charm, serving typical Chinese dishes and including the best dumplings in town.
Strictly Ballroom The Musical is playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre until 28th August, 2015.
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