My list of not so secret spots for your weekend city break in Melbourne.
From Fitzroy and Collingwood's best coffee, to it's iconic pubs, markets and delis.
Stay, eat, drink, shop and relax like a local in my 'hood.
Fitzroy, Fitz or Fitzy. All acceptable names, and when paired with an all black outfit, a café latte, and an “inner-city leftie” political lean, we'll have you fitting in just fine.
Melbourne, and it’s residents who rode out the world’s longest amount of time in lock down over the last 2 years, is making it's come back. Our once vibrant city that’s known for it’s food scene, creative culture, graffitied laneways, historic pubs, music venues and nightlife is finally open and buzzing again.
While we were confined to within 5kms and the 4 walls of our homes for the best part of the pandemic. There’s no complaints now about hardly having to leave the 3 or 4 blocks of Collingwood and Fitzroy that I call home, with the best of Melbourne’s coffee, food, and culture nearby.
So if you’re thinking about a little city break, here’s a few of my fave spots to help you hang, shop, eat and play like a local for the weekend, the week, or perhaps a little longer.
You wont need your car. Take a tram, hire one of the new electronic scooters you'll see zipping around the streets, ride a bike, skateboard, or just walk.
Shopping in Fitzroy and Collingwood is best done by wandering and discovering. You won't find big fashion brands and high end retailers - it's more focused on local independent designers, art, vintage, furniture and book stores.
Walking the loop from Brunswick Street, to Gertrude, to Smith and back down Johnston Street should help you find most of the gems.
Smith Street that separates Fitzroy from Collingwood was recently named Time Out magazine's "coolest street in the world".
While the local real estate agents have definitely cashed in on the title, I think we've got a little bit to go before we can claim it...
BUT it's got an increasingly awesome and eclectic mix of little vinyl record shops, recycled fashion boutiques, organic wine shops, international produce markets, drag and burlesque venues and grungy nightlife. So attracts a really diverse mix of people too.
Check out Grandfather's Axe, Modern Times, Angelluci and Smith Street Bazaar for showrooms full of beautiful mid-century, modern and antique furniture and art.
I love Nook Vintage and have fitted out my apartment with upcycled vintage furniture from their shop, sourced from all over Victoria and lovingly restored by the owners.
And of course Maa Interiors on Johnston Street where you can shop pieces from the Nouvelle Nomad collection, and Jacquie's earthy and eclectic homewares sourced from all over the world.
Heading back towards the city end of Fitzroy, tree lined Gertrude Street has more of an increasingly gentrified vibe, with art galleries, local small batch fashion designers, perfumeries and boutique grocers all moving in over the last few years.
You wont miss long standing local Rose Chong's colourful costume shop on the corner. The pretty painted shopfront at local ceramics brand Taek Away. And the fresh native blooms out the front of Morning Market brightening up the street.
Check out the @PeopleOfGertrudeStreet Instagram account
Then there's Brunswick Street. Traditionally Fitzroy's heart and soul.
By day Brunswick Street is still the best spot to shop for the established local fashion labels like Gorman, Aje, Bùl and Assembly Label who now have a re-worn boutique upstairs, to pick up pre-owned pieces for great prices.
There's plenty of boutiques for streetwear and denim labels, jewellery designers, vintage fashion and locally made t-shirt brands. Check out Homie on the corner of Johnston Street that's is a social enterprise helping the city's homeless youth with their profits
On weekends, make your way right down to Rose Street Artists Market and The Fitzroy Mills just off the back of Brunswick Street.
A great stop for shopping local artists and jewellery makers, some fresh veg and flowers, 2nd hand fashion and market atmosphere.
EAT / DRINK
We’re lucky to live in the middle of a concentrated area of some of the most diverse, and best quality eateries in Melbourne. Built by the waves of migrant communities, coffee snobs, and influential restauranteurs that make Melbourne the internationally recognised city that it is for food and dining.
If you’re in the mood for traveling with your taste buds you’ll find some of the best European style cafes, modern vegetarian concepts, gastro pub meals and Asian eats all within the same loop of Brunswick, Gertrude and Smith Streets.
For a quick bite, line up to grab a crispy pork Báhn Mì from any number of Vietnamese cafes and bakeries as you hit the pavement for a day of shopping.
Stop in at Tortas and Tacos for street tacos and a beer in the sunshine.
Or head to Nico's Sandwich Deli for New York style sandwiches, coffee and take away bloody marys. A newcomer to Fitzroy during lock downs, Nico's has a lunch time queue up the street, feeding the masses from a hole in the wall, and is now a popular local’s corner hang.
It’s pretty hard to find a bad coffee in Fitzroy. If you do I’ll be darned.
Try Archies, Industry Beans or Burnside for a coffee stop and some breakfast.
Or head to Terror Twilight for a great veggie breaky or lunch with tunes on vinyl, healthy broth bowls, and a “mushroom mind’ addition to your latte for clarity and calm.
You can’t miss the striped umbrellas and old school sign out the front - Nice people, great coffee, food & cocktails.
CIBI - is a must visit, beautiful Japanese design space, cafe and concept store. An expansive warehouse in the back streets of Collingwood serves a Japanese inspired breakfast or lunch, and plenty of tables available to pull out your laptop or notebook and stay a while.
Shop beautiful Japanese knives and artisan ceramics, imported sake and produce, gift packs, and design lead books while you’re there.
Alimentari - Is a long standing Melbourne food institution. European style deli with shelves stacked with produce and deli goods, and some of the best coffee, paninis, and porchetta rolls going round.
They have 2 locations, Brunswick Street for more corner cafe style, and the larger Smith Street venue. Take a seat in the floral canopied courtyard out the back and order a vino with with your meal.
Napier Quarter - In the back streets of Fitzroy amongst the historic old chocolate factory buildings and brick warehouses built for industry back in the day, that are now full of bougie appartments.
A typical Fitzroy heritage blue stone building turned Euro style corner cafe. Stop by for a glass of wine and charcuterie plate in a cute window seat or the cafe tables out the front.
For a special occasion or romantic meal head to Marion Wine Bar or Cutler & Co. at the top end of Gertrude Street. Make a booking for a Saturday night dinner or long lunch sitting curb side in the sunshine.
And for the coolest modern Japanese style eating
Neko Neko - for delicious vegan ramen and sashimi bowls
Shop Ramen - for a quick porky goodness style ramen in a cute diner on Smith street
And Wabi Sabi Salon for quirky interior and really really really good Japanese curry, bento and share plates.
And of course - You can’t visit Fitzroy without visiting the best of Melbourne’s pubs, all in the space of a few blocks.
There’s an iconic pub on just about every corner - all dating back to modern Melbourne’s industrial beginnings, and with the old UK style front bar, dining room, open fires and sunny courtyards.
With all the sticky carpet, footy memorabilia, urban cowboy bar-flies, and tattooed uni students pouring your beer that makes Fitzroy Fitzroy.
Some of the most iconic and locally loved pubs to try are:
The Standard - the local’s local. Biggest outdoor beer garden in Fitzroy so it's great for groups and relaxed pub meals
The Napier old school front bar and "Fitzroy heritage" decored dining room with open fire in Winter
The Marquis of Lorne affectionately known as the MOL. Great for a pint out the front, or a dinner with friends in the dining room upstairs.
The Builders Arms for an elevated pub lunch or dinner, and great wine list.
If all you’ve done is eat and drink for days (no judgement - that’s all I seem to do in Melbourne) you may want some time out to just be.
Fitzroy Swimming Pool is our local Summer time hang - set yourself up for the afternoon for a full Fitzroy cultural immersion, with the parade of locals sporting full body tattoos, budgie smugglers and hangovers. And then there’s the people there for actual swimming.
Sense of Self - inner city haven where they’re bringing back the ritual of communal bathing. A serene and calming warehouse conversion full of plants and natural light, with beautiful minimalist design, indoor heated plunge pools and steam rooms to relax in.
It's heaven for a few hours of calm.
And if you fancy a bit of yoga to round out your weekend, Good Vibes studio in Collingwood is beautiful - can highly recommend.
With it’s light space, minimalist style interior and zen rock garden. Classes are done to beautifully created playlists, mats are provided so it's easy to do a pop in, and with some great teachers.
Fitzroy isn’t known for it’s hotels - but worth noting that boutique international hotel The Standard is currently building it’s first Australian location on Rose Street opening later in 2022.
So instead - book a cool warehouse apartment or heritage style Air BnB in the back streets and live like a local for the weekend.
The Maa Fitzroy concept apartment is of course my fave - historic bluestone building with it’s heritage features and plant filled courtyard that’s been lovingly fitted out with Jacquie’s wares from around the world.
I often shoot my rugs here, making the most of the high ceilings and natural light for photography. Just be mindful of the steep winding staircase to get up to the apartment - these old houses weren’t so accessibility friendly back in the day.
So that's my little tour of Fitzroy - What have I missed..?! Probably lots!
There's so much to Fitzroy and Collingwood that you should absolutely plan to spend a long weekend here exploring. If you’re ever passing through I’d love to hear from you
And if you're local, hope to bump into you :)
Stay tuned for our next Fitzroy pop up location too. I'm on the hunt for something maybe a little bit more permanent.... so if you know the perfect spot please hit me up.
I look forward to welcoming you to Fitzroy!