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The 12 Best Neighbourhoods in Melbourne, Australia

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I was fortunate to call Melbourne home during a year of cultural and personal discovery. Melbourne is consistently ranked among the world’s most liveable cities and a place renowned as a food, coffee, and sports mecca.

During my brief stint living in Melbourne, I was captivated by its many neighbourhoods with street art, coffee shops, live music venues, and, of course, sports fans. In this entry of Budget Travel Plans, we’re highlighting the 12 best neighbourhoods in Melbourne.


Pub in Fitzroy
Photo by Aditya Joshi on Unsplash

Logic puts Fitzroy at the top of this list, if for no reason other than its age. As the first of Melbourne’s suburbs, designated in 1839, Fitzroy has a long history at the heart of Melbourne’s existence. 

Previously famed for its synonymity with hipsters so bohemian that they’d trip on their beards, Fitzroy endures as a neighbourhood of free thought and relaxed taste. It has a reputation for creatives, with streets lined with work-casual coffee shops and independent retail stores on Brunswick Street.

It’s also a prime location for food lovers visiting the city. So much so that Fitzroy is a perennial name in discussions as one of the best places to dine in the city. Names like Naked for Satan come to mind, a once-popular clandestine eatery for Fitzroy locals that now draws the attention of those further afield – visit the rooftop bar for cityscape cocktails.


Proximity sees Collingwood feature next on this list – it is Fitzroy’s neighbour to the east. 

As its immediacy would suggest, Collingwood shares many traits seen in Fitzroy. You’ll find eclectic bars, extensive dining, and an attractive blend of old and contemporary art culture in Collingwood.

Head to Easey’s for a unique dining experience. Here, you can grab beers and burgers five stories up in a decommissioned rooftop train carriage overlooking the city. Talk about a unique dining experience.

Collingwood is also home to one of three N. Lee Bakery locations in the city. They’re a local favourite and have one of the best banh mi’s in town.

Collingwood holds another dimension, though; one as the home to one of the AFL’s Big Four – the Magpies – Collingwood FC’s national nickname. Come game day, black and white jerseys fill the streets and bars. Collingwood’s long list of rivalries pits them as one of the most disliked clubs in the nation. Don the Magpie colors and join the dark side. 


Richmond, Melbourne
Image by Adrian Malec from Pixabay

Now, being on the subject of Aussie rules, it would be hard not to introduce Richmond to the discussion. Football is part of being a Richmonder. As such, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more AFL-mad neighbourhood. Richmond’s proximity to the MCG, no doubt, plays a role in this obsession. 

So, understandably, footy bars are not hard to come by in this multicultural suburb. But Richmond offers more than sport. Richmond hosts a bit of everything: bars, social housing, international restaurants, yoga studios, art galleries.

Check out Victoria Street for its Vietnamese cuisine. It’s so popular that the street is also known as Little Saigon.

East Melbourne

Parliament House, East Melbourne
Photo by Lennon Cheng on Unsplash

To bring this full circle to the home of the MCG, East Melbourne demands consideration. Whilst Richmond does enjoy proximity to the famous sporting ground, the stadium itself resides within the boundaries of the East Melbourne district.

As a neighbourhood, East Melbourne is home to sporting events and the Parliament House. The Parliament House itself has been the seat of Victoria’s Parliament since its construction in 1856.
With Parliament Gardens’ existence and the more extensive Fitzroy Gardens, East Melbourne also provides plenty of green spaces to take a step away from the realities of concrete monotony. Its wide streets and art-deco architecture can also provide relief, if needed, from the sight of CBD tower blocks.

North Melbourne

North Melbourne sees the continuation of the CBD-centric neighbourhoods – a district in transition. 

The neighbourhood has a deep history of working-class residency reflected in its contemporary aesthetic and cha. Here is where old manufacturing buildings find new life as industrial apartments. 

Art and culture in bloom are further hallmarks of this north CBD area. A large immigrant population fuels the growth of multiculturalism, whilst Arts House on Queensbury Street exists as Melbourne’s home of contemporary expression and entertainment.

South Melbourne

South Melbourne Market
Source: Adam Calaitzis on iStock

The last of the compass-defined Melbourne neighbourhoods on this list, South Melbourne wins high praise for its diversity of amenities.

First and foremost, the South Melbourne Market is a lively venue that commands all the senses. Cuisine scents. Market hollers. Crowded alleys. The market attracts locals and travelers for a reason.

See Clarendon Street for more conventional shopping. Or wander secluded backstreets to find unique wine bars to enjoy.

A comprehensive demographic enjoys residence on South Melbourne’s wide, leafy streets – the area is one of notable charm with its old Victorian homes and apartment buildings.

South Yarra

South Yarra is in the thick of it. Perhaps an intimidating description for some. But don’t be afraid of its hustle and bustle. People converge in South Yarra for a reason.

As host to Melbourne’s premier shopping strip, South Yarra sees many foot traffic each day. Some shoppers come looking to cop the latest styles in upmarket boutiques, whilst others dive into large shopping centers to immerse themselves in the experience.

Chapel Street, the heart of South Yarra’s shopping culture, sees old factories become the unique housing for the area’s shopping centers – an interesting note on a day’s exploration.

If shopping instead for a full stomach, the Prahan Market on Commercial Road beckons.

Shop, eat, wander, visit galleries, and watch the Yarra River flow. South Yarra provides.

St Kilda

St. Kilda
Photo by Biljana Ristic on Unsplash

St Kilda is the bohemian heart of Melbourne and was my home for three months. 

Being in St Kilda never felt far from home, with its aesthetic imitating 19th-century British seaside towns. Its suspension in a trance of enduring nostalgia is one of its greatest charms – the retro rollercoaster at Luna Park and the art-deco facade of the Palais Theatre being crowd favorites of both locals and passers-by. 

Perhaps the note of most uniqueness throughout this list is that no journey to St Kilda is complete without viewing the resident Little Penguin colony that calls the seaside pier home. 

St Kilda’s character is undeniable. 


Docklands Skyline
Source: iso100k on iStock

Modern. Young. Energetic. Docklands‘ youth as a designated neighbourhood mirrors its character.

To match the energy of the young professionals that have come to find a residence in the waterfront apartments, Docklands plays host to ‘the world’s busiest multi-purpose stadium.’ Marvel Stadium, formerly the Etihad, is a venue for music, sports, conventions, and everything in between.

As expected with its recent development, the retail and refreshment options are both well-regarded and plentiful.


As the Docklands’ reputation grows, Brunswick’s reputation as a thriving scene for artists and creatives is already widely established – so is its status as the foodie destination in all of Melbourne. 

A post-war immigration boom brought many flavors onto the Melbourne streets – Lebanese, Greek, Turkish, and Italian – flavors and influences now part of Brunswick’s very identity. 

With establishments like Record Paradise being such advocates for independent music and expression, it’s no wonder that Brunswick also boasts its artistic reputation. Visual art garners deserved support here, too, be it gracing backstreet walls or in laid-back galleries. 


Carlton Gardens, Melbourne
Source: FiledIMAGE on iStock

Not only is Carlton the famed home of Lygon Street (or Little Italy, as it has come to be known – a testament to its Italian influence and dining options), but it is also the historic epicenter of the Melbourne coffee boom. 

Coffee is a Melbournian obsession. The first European coffee machine was put to work in the 1950s in Carlton. 

Sixty years on, the Carlton streets – as with streets citywide – are forever infused with the caramelized aromas of arabica and Robusta blends. There is no place more fitting to enjoy a flat white. 


Another foodie destination and another neighbourhood on the rise. ‘Melbourne’s brightest jewel of the west.’

The diversity of Footscray’s cultural experience alone warrants its place on this list. It is a neighbourhood that seemingly transcends national boundaries. Feast on the flavors of Ethiopia, Vietnam, China, Mexico – the list goes on. 

The growth of the resident art culture owes much to the prevalence of the Footscray Art Community Centre – a hub for expression and experience.

Final Thoughts 

Culture exists at the very heart of every city around the world. But, even so, Melbourne’s passion for what defines it – art, coffee, sport – is uniquely intoxicating. Few times in my life have I experienced such a place.

Melbourne’s place on the list of most liveable cities in the world is rightfully earned. A city defined by diversity, renowned for its multiculturalism, and revered for its heart.

Cheer as 1 of 100,000 at the MCG. Reminisce of times past in St Kilda’s bohemian, seaside streets. Dine on international flavors at any one of the famous markets. Sip on a brew down Lygon Street. Be a face in the crowd at Brunswick’s Arts House. Do all of the above and beyond.

Be present. Perhaps that is the essence of what it means to be in Melbourne.

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