At more than 7,695 sq. km (2,971 sq. miles), Melbourne is one of the biggest cities in the world by area, with a population of about 3.5 million. Following are the neighborhoods of most interest to visitors.
City Center -- Made up of a grid of streets north of the Yarra River, the city center is bordered by Flinders, Latrobe, Spring, and Spencer streets. There’s good shopping and charming cafes, and in recent years an active nightlife has sprung up with the opening of a swath of funky bars and restaurants playing live and recorded music to suit all ages. The gateway to the city is the Flinders Street Station, with its dome and clock tower, flanked by the Federation Square precinct.
Chinatown -- This colorful section centers on Little Bourke Street between Swanston and Exhibition streets. The area marks Australia’s oldest permanent Chinese settlement, dating from the 1850s, when a few boardinghouses catered to Chinese prospectors lured by gold rushes. Plenty of cheap restaurants crowd its alleyways. Tram: Any to the city.
Carlton -- North of the center, Carlton is a rambling suburb famous for Italian restaurants along Lygon Street with outdoor seating—though the quality of the food varies. It’s the home of Melbourne University, so there’s a healthy student scene. From Bourke Street Mall, it’s a 15-minute walk to the restaurants. Tram: 1 or 22 from Swanston Street.
Fitzroy -- A ruggedly bohemian place 2 km (1 1/4 miles) north of the city center, Fitzroy is raw and funky, filled with students and artists and popular for people-watching. Fitzroy revolves around Brunswick Street, with its cheap restaurants, busy cafes, late-night bookshops, art galleries, and pubs. Around the corner, on Johnston Street, is a growing Spanish quarter with tapas bars, flamenco restaurants, and Spanish clubs. Tram: 11 from Collins Street.
Richmond -- One of Melbourne’s earliest settlements is a multicultural quarter noted for its historic streets and back lanes. Victoria Street is reminiscent of Ho Chi Minh City, with Vietnamese sights, sounds, aromas, and restaurants everywhere. Bridge Road is a discount-fashion precinct. Tram: 48 or 75 from Flinders Street to Bridge Road; 70 from Batman Avenue at Princes Bridge to Swan Street; 109 from Bourke Street to Victoria Street.
Southgate & Southbank -- This flashy entertainment district on the banks of the Yarra River opposite Flinders Street station (linked by pedestrian bridges) is home to the Crown Casino, Australia’s largest gaming venue. Southbank has a myriad of restaurants, bars, cafes, nightclubs, cinemas, and designer shops. On the city side of the river is the Melbourne Aquarium. All are a 10-minute stroll from Flinders Street Station. Tram: 8 from Swanston Street.
Docklands -- Near the city center, at the rear of the Spencer Street station, this industrial area has become the biggest development in Melbourne. NewQuay on the waterfront has a diverse range of restaurants, shops, and cinemas. This is also where you’ll find Melbourne’s celebration of the dominance of Australian Rules football, the 52,000-seat Etihad Stadium. Docklands is accessible by the free City Circle Tram.
St. Kilda -- Hip and bohemian in a shabby-chic sort of way, this bayside suburb (6 km/3 3/4 miles south of the city center) has Melbourne’s highest concentration of restaurants, ranging from glitzy to cheap, as well as some superb cake shops and delis. Historically it was Melbourne’s red-light district. The Esplanade hugs a beach with a vintage pier and a lively arts-and-crafts market on Sundays. Acland Street houses many restaurants. Check out Luna Park, one of the world’s oldest fun parks, built in 1912, and ride the wooden roller coaster. Tram: 10 or 12 from Collins Street; 15 or 16 from Swanston Street; 96 from Bourke Street.
South Yarra/Prahran -- This posh part of town abounds with boutiques, cinemas, nightclubs, and galleries. Chapel Street is famous for its upscale eateries and designer-fash1ion houses, while Commercial Road is popular with the gay and lesbian community. Off Chapel Street in Prahran is Greville Street, a bohemian enclave of retro boutiques and music outlets. Every Sunday from noon to 5pm, the Greville Street Market offers arts, crafts, old clothes, and jewelry. Tram: 8 or 72 from Swanston Street.
South Melbourne -- One of the city’s oldest working-class districts, South Melbourne is known for its historic buildings, old-fashioned pubs and hotels, and markets. Tram: 12 from Collins Street; 1 from Swanston Street.
The River District -- The muddy-looking Yarra River runs southeast past the Royal Botanic Gardens and near other attractions such as the Arts Centre, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and Birrarung Marr parkland. It is accessible by the free City Circle Tram.
Williamstown -- A lack of extensive development has left this waterfront suburb with a rich architectural heritage. It centers on Ferguson Street and Nelson Place—both reminiscent of old England. On the Strand overlooking the sea is a line of bistros and restaurants and a World War II warship museum. Ferry: From Southgate, the World Trade Center, or St. Kilda Pier.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.