Here’s an unusual way of discovering Melbourne – explore its multicultural side by visiting areas around the city, which are strongly influenced by migrants from around the world.
There is no need for a passport, expensive plane tickets or weeks of leave from work. You can travel the world even during one weekend. And while there, try the food, visit museums, have fun and don’t forget to buy souvenirs.
Located on Little Bourke St, between Swanston & Spring streets and marked by 4 decorative archways is Melbourne’s Chinatown. You’ll find there an abundance of Asian restaurants (the best ones usually have a long queue during dinner time), big Chinese Museum, interesting shopping options and colourful architecture.
For a coffee break head to Drystore Espresso which will keep you well-caffeinated but also has beautiful Chinese dresses hanging from the ceiling for you to admire.
A short tram ride away from the CBD (tram 12 and 109) on Victoria Street, between Hoddle Street and Church Street, you’ll find an array of Vietnamese restaurant (many of them offer very cheap food) and Asian grocers.
If you find yourself passing by around lunchtime, you will definitely be able to smell pho in the air. Try to resist, it’s impossible. It’s also the place to go for bánh mì – you can find them as cheap as $4 and they’re made freshly and to order.
No more than 15 minutes tram ride (number 8 and 1) north from the CBD, on a part of Lygon Street is Melbourne’s Little Italy. A place where sleek waiters will serve you coffee, where you can eat your weight in pizza, pasta and gelato and stock your pantry with many Italian goodies. If you have more time, pop into the Museo Italiano for a lesson in the history of the Italian community in Victoria.
Whenever I find myself at Lygon St, I feel like it’s siesta time and all I want to do I sit down in a cafe, do some people watching and indulge myself with food. It’s definitely a good place for some relaxing time.
A small part of Lonsdale Street, between Russell and Swanston street, is the official Melbourne’s Greek Precinct. It offers a choice of restaurants – many, if not all, with outdoor seating, Greek souvenirs shop (where you can buy everything from mugs, t-shirts and CDs to religious icons), a cake shop where you can get your baklava fix and a travel centre.
It’s also home to Greek festival featuring food and culture (in February).
I like to stroll down the Lonsdale Street to Kalamaki Street Food (about 10 minutes walk) for the best souvlaki in town washed down with a bottle of Mythos. [closed down permanently now]
Turkey, Middle East & Mediterranean
If you’re looking for a place where you can get yourself dressed for the next big occasion, then head to Sydney Road (starting from Brunswick Street end up to about Albion Road). Jewellery shops selling beautiful oriental necklaces, rings and earrings, a mix of boutiques with formal and bridal gowns are all there. You can also find shops with terracotta, ceramics, fabrics and carpets as well as an interesting mix of Middle Eastern restaurants and cafes.
We’ve also discovered our new favourite shop – Mediterranean Wholesalers, and FYI – $7 wine, a block of Italian cheese and freshly baked ciabatta make a great weekend lunch for 2.
This post was made in collaboration with Samsung: all photos were taken with the new Samsung Galaxy A5.