10 coolest streets in Melbourne

People bustling around Smith Street, Collingwood

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted June 16, 2021

A round up of the best precincts to eat, drink, shop and be entertained in Melbourne. 

So, the 'coolest' street in the world has been announced, and... (drumroll please) - it's Smith Street, Collingwood. This may be news to some but, with its vast range of food and dining options, funky bars, artisan outlets and vintage shops, it's easy to see why this once 'working class' area has become the number one must-see street on Time Out magazine's world hotlist.

But in a city like Melbourne, declaring one street as the 'coolest' might be a little contentious. To even out the playing field, we’ve rounded up some other close contenders for must-see streets in one of the world’s most liveable cities.

Smith Street, Collingwood

EAT: If food's on your mind, then you've come to the right place. For those wanting an upscale experience, look no further than the swanky Panama Dining Room. That said, if you're more into a collaborative, 'eat 'til you can't eat no more' experience, head to the Old Kingdom for duck wraps a plenty.

Before you go, don't forget to head down Easey Street to check out Easey's; classic Aussie food that you can eat inside a real Melbourne train carriage – right at the top of the building.

DRINK | DANCE: If whetting your whistle is more your thing, check out the phantasmagorical Mr. Wow’s Emporium; a bar offering a range of drinks, games and free popcorn. Or perhaps you’d prefer a boogie in the street’s thriving bar scene, stopping at Yah Yah’s, Mollie’s Bar and Diner, or classic party jaunt The Peel.

SHOP: If you’re more of a daytime wanderer, have a stroll past Smith Street’s fabulous outlet walk for big brands at low prices, or consider dipping into the vintage end for fabulous finds at the Lost and Found Market or Smith Street Bazaar.

Degraves Street, Melbourne CBD

EAT | SEE: Come for the graffiti photo, stay for the food! One of Melbourne CBD's most iconic laneways, tourists come from far and wide to taste in the culinary delights that Degraves St has to offer. Famed for its cosmopolitan outdoor dining, 'Degraves' (as the locals call it) is packed with a myriad of café, restaurant, and drink options for your choosing.

Carlisle Street, Balaclava / St Kilda

SEE: Carlisle Street has long been known as Melbourne's cultural and cosmopolitan hotspot, with its live music venues, bustling eateries, shops, and hordes of interesting people to look at while you sip your morning latte.

EAT | DRINK: Whether it’s brunch at Las Chicas, a bite to eat at the intimate Radio Mexico, some fro-yo at Yo-Chi or some drinks and comedy at The Local Taphouse, there’s no shortage of cuisines to find on this outing in Melbourne’s inner south.

Brunswick and Johnston Streets, Fitzroy

SEE: Fitzroy seems to be one of those Switzerland-type suburbs where revellers from both the south and north can get along just fine. The corner of Brunswick and Johnston (we couldn’t pick!) has all the food, jazz and liquor you could want for the perfect reveller’s night out in this urban mix of gritty and glam.

DANCE: Let’s start with the party, because if you’re looking to dance the night away, there’s nowhere better than frisky Fitzroy. Whether it’s time for salsa and sangria at The Nightcat, live music at Bar Open, or you’re off to Melbourne’s home of hip-hop at Laundry Bar, the area is full of bustling nightlife in this inner-north locale.

EAT | DRINK: If you’re more of a ‘sit and chat on your night out’ kind of person, then Fitzroy still has plenty of fun and unique jaunts to satisfy your appetite. Whether you’re taking in sky-high views at Naked In The Sky or enjoying infused spirits and hors d’oeuvres at Naked For Satan down below, taking in a pint and parma at the 150-year-old Rainbow Hotel or getting your karaoke on at Rice Queen, there’s no shortage of vibrant locals to get your tipple on.

While small, also don’t forget to take a stroll off Brunswick St onto Gertrude St, featuring a bunch of independent retailers, bars, galleries and restaurants to explore.

Acland Street Village, St Kilda

SEE: The cosmopolitan Acland Street Village will always stay wonderfully eccentric and iconic to tourists and Melbournians alike. A stone’s throw from classic landmarks such as the rocking Palais Theatre, amusement hub Luna Park, penguins at St Kilda Pier and the Esplanade Markets, while the shop fronts are always changing, the eclectic vibe of quirky shops, restaurants and bars forever stays the same.

EAT: There's plenty of dining options on this inner south abode, which is (usually!) packed with international tourists and cuisine to match. Whether you want some Polish Monarch continental cakes, a trip down memory lane at rock n' roll café Abbey Road or a taste of some seriously decadent gelato at 7 Apples, there are global cuisine galore on Acland Street Village.

DRINK | DANCE: In summertime, the village is bustling, with food trucks and fire twirlers revelling at the St Kilda Twilight Market and revellers young and old taking in drinks, dancing and decadence across the village during Melbourne’s cultural St Kilda Festival. Have a drink at local haunts like corner mainstay The Vineyard, St Kilda icon Big Mouth or head around the corner to the one and only live music, food, and drink venue The Espy for a truly Melbourne experience unlike any other.

Stretching 22 kilometres, the Ballarat Avenue of Honour is the longest of its kind in Australia. More than 3700 trees represent the region’s servicemen and women who enlisted in the First Australian Imperial Forces for WWI.

Carlisle Street St Kilda. Image: Lisa Luscombe.
Sydney Road, Brunswick. Image: Melbourne Archive.
Degraves Street, CBD. Image: Tourism Victoria.
Graffiti art in Melbourne's trendy Fitzroy. Image: Melbourne Archive.
Chapel Street Bazaar in Windsor. Image: Tourism Victoria.
Barkly Street, Footscray. Image: Melbourne Archive.

Sydney Road, Brunswick

SEE: Bring out the beard and hide the branded lycra, because you’re in the hipster hub of Melbourne now. While locals may not love the moniker, all the classic stops apply when you’re heading to the revitalised north of the river. Think record stores and live music venues, quirky retailers, pubs, organic shops and bar hopping galore.

SHOP: Op-shoppers, assemble! The longest shopping strip in the southern hemisphere deserves your attention. Whether you’re looking to update your threads at vintage superstore Savers, a classic gem at Scavengers or something unique at Melbourne Vintage, there’s plenty of second-hand stores to keep even the most experienced thrifters busy all day.

DRINK: We could write a whole listicle on the bars of Sydney Road alone, but if you're considering a pub crawl, you'll be spoilt for choice with countless stops for every kind of pub dweller. Whether it's live music at classic pub The Retreat, an intimate cocktail at Bar Oussou or a (vegan) parma with mates at the sprawling Charles Weston Hotel beer garden just off Sydney Rd, this street's vibrant urban scene has a range of food and drinking options for any occasion.

Chapel Street, Windsor / Prahran / South Yarra

SHOP: The iconic Chapel Street region has long been recognised as one the most fashionable and fun streets to spend a day (or night!) on in Melbourne. A strip that travels through three suburbs, for shoppers, it’s best to start your ‘Chap lap’ at the vintage ‘Windsor’ end, with classic stops such as the Chapel Street Bazaar and a detour down the boho vibe of Greville Street.

EAT: If you’re just looking for a nice meal, Chapel Street is also home to a range of lively eateries, from the upscale Abacus to finding your own produce at the energetic Prahran Markets from Tuesday to Sunday.

DRINK | DANCE: Chapel Street is home to many of the south’s trendy bars and clubs, from tiki-themed cocktails at Jungle Boy to a boogie and a Marc-E-Marc cocktail at Revellers; there is no shortage of places to wine and dine. If you’re more of a movie buff, Chapel Street is also home to several theatres, including the single-screen classic picture house, the Astor Theatre.

Barkly Street, Footscray

EAT | DRINK: The West has been on a quest to make itself ‘The Best’, and with that in mind, there is no stop better than Barkly Street in Footscray. This foodie’s dream has everything you could think of, from the Plough Hotel for fancier pub cuisine; intimate and romantic dining at the Small French Bar; or some homestyle Vietnamese cooking and beers at Sapa Sister. For those looking for a cheeky vino, the street is full of hidden gems such as the eclectic Bar Josephine and local eatery Zymurgy. It won’t be long before the area becomes fully gentrified, so get in while you can!

High Street, Northcote

SEE: High Street Northcote is like Brunswick’s posher, more refined cousin if some of the grungy genes remained. Whether you want to take in a film at the 1920s themed Palace Westgarth or buy something bespoke from one of the many independent designers and collectives along this eclectic trail, there’s something for both the Brighton and Brunswick-bred crowd along this flowered lane.

EAT | DRINK: A mix of bars, cafes, shops and entertainment, this rich pocket of the North is a cultural hub for all ages. Whether you’re looking for a drink and a boogie at the Northcote Social Club, a food truck stop at Welcome to Thornbury or the family-run Bar Nonno, you’re sure to find a place to satisfy your appetite on High Street. 

Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne CBD

SEE: If you’re heading into Melbourne, it would be remiss not to mention one of the most popular shopping streets in the CBD. With live buskers, iconic statues, bustling trams and links to laneways and arcades, it’s easy to see why Bourke Street Mall is one of the main streets of Melbourne’s CBD.

SHOP: If you’re into fashion, you’ve come to the right place. Shoppers can get lost for hours in the Myer Basement or look at the latest designer collections at Bourke Street’s David Jones. The regular staples such as Sportsgirl and Melbourne’s flagship H&M, housed in the converted GPO building, one of the city's architectural stunners, are here, too – so make sure you have your walking shoes on and free hands for a day full of shopping galore.