Lonely Planet barely talks about it and it’s not on TripAdvisor’s top 10 things to do in Melbourne, but ask any Melbournian where the hipsters gather and they would definitely direct you to Fitzroy. Home to the creatives, you could easily spend a day or two getting lost in alleyways blooming with street art, uber chic cafes and beautiful indie boutiques. I had the pleasure of calling this neighborhood home for 4 days while solo travelling, and fell hopelessly in love with the many hidden gems that Fitzroy had to offer. For a comprehensive list of what to eat, drink, and do in this awesome neighborhood, our hipster guide to Fitzroy is all you need.
Guide to Fitzroy
If you can only afford one meal in this neighborhood, let that be brunch. There are a staggering number of cafes here that afford excellent brunch, and I was rather upset that I was limited by the number of days I had to check out all the different options. My top favourites were the recommendations I received from my Airbnb host: Stagger Lee’s and Grub Food Van. Stagger Lee’s might look like your typical industrial cafe, but it dishes out the most gorgeous and Instagram-worthy dishes I’ve ever seen that taste as amazing as they look. What I love about this cafe is that their menu changes constantly to complement the best ingredients of the season! Similarly, the menu at Grub Food Van also changes seasonally, but what is truly special about this cafe is its design. Think Airstream van meets converted greenhouse and go check it out for yourself.
Apart from brunch, there are also excellent options for other meals. Fitzroy is home to the most eclectic mix of cuisines, and I thoroughly enjoyed a most authentic bowl of ramen at Shop Ramen and excellent sushi rolls at Momo Sushi (do go before 11am if you want try their special nigiri because those really run out fast!). Other highly-reviewed options that I really wanted to try but didn’t have the time to are Hammer & Tong (Modern Australian cuisine featuring a wicked soft shell crab burger), Sir Charles (Asian-inspired cafe with apparently fantastic brunch and coffee), Jimmy Grants (Melbourne’s best souvlaki bar) and Breizoz French Creperie (supposedly the best crepes in Melbourne!).
Your best experience in Fitzroy might well be getting a drink Naked in the Sky. Thankfully this is no nude bar, just a gorgeous rooftop bar with stunning views of the neighbourhood and downtown Melbourne. Seating options on the outdoor terrace are first come first served, so go early if you want to get a front row seat to the coveted sunset view. Apart from a wide range of cocktails and craft beers, they also serve a wicked range of pintxos and bar food. Check out their Facebook page for the latest promotions!
Just want a good ol’ watering hole? Check out Mr Scruff’s for excellent bar food and no-frills drinks amid a funky beer garden.
Do yourself a huge favour and try to get a massage from Gow when you’re in Fitzroy. Gow used to be an amazing chef, but picked up massage therapy as a way of sustenance when she was inflicted by a hereditary disease that caused her to lose her eyesight gradually. Despite the fact that she is operating out of her one-bedroom apartment on Brunswick Street, her gift for knowing exactly where your sore spots are and kneading them out skillfully will leave you feeling more relaxed and blissful than any amount of scented essential oils in a fancy massage parlour will. Any massage with Gow is a wonderful spiritual experience and I’m forever grateful to my Airbnb host for recommending me to her.
To book an appointment with Gow, call her at +61 0415 546 670.
For relaxation of another kind, venture a few streets east of Smith Street to the Japanese Bath House where you will actually have to get naked at Australia’s only traditional Japanese public bathhouse! Make sure to call ahead and make a reservation as only 6 people are allowed in the gender-specific baths at one time. Facilities include the hot bath, steam room, shower facilities and a recreational area where you can enjoy food and drinks after. After an hour of scrubbing, soaking and steaming, you will definitely feel cleaner and smoother than you have ever been in your life!
If you don’t feel like spending any money, people-watching and keeping your eyes peeled for the many interesting street murals along Fitzroy’s alleyways makes for a great afternoon activity!
It was both a blessing and a curse that I had bought most of the furniture for my new home before this trip because Fitzroy is SCANDINAVIAN HEAVEN. So many of these stores looked like they were lifted out of Pinterest and designed to tempt people like me into spending their life’s savings on one gorgeous table. While the goods sold are not exactly cheap, they are excellent for window-shopping, salivating, and dreaming about what you will come back and purchase when you are rich. Just take a walk down Johnston Street and you will see many of such stores, such as Proforma and Clickon Furniture.
For trendy designer boutiques, wander down the stretch of Gertrude Street from Napier to George and along Brunswick Street. Enjoy the juxtaposition of vintage clothing and minimalistic fashion, eclectic homeware and shopfronts with Scandinavian bowls displayed in OCD-inspired color coordination, dingy Asian groceries next to organic supermarkets. If you’re there on a weekend, make sure to visit the Rose Street Artists’ Market for unique artisanal goods. I honestly believe that the best way to appreciate Fitzroy is to go in search of its many hidden gems, so don’t be afraid to get hopelessly lost there.
If you are travelling solo or as a couple, I would highly recommend staying in what I believe is Melbourne’s most unique accommodation: a Mongolian yurt right in the heart of Fitzroy. This Airbnb option was a fantastic experience because of the wonderful hospitality I received from Saatia, be it in terms of her many awesome recommendations or her guidance on how to get around the city, as well as its fantastic location that really allowed me to explore so much of what Fitzroy had to offer easily.
That being said, Airbnb also offers a ton of other cool accommodation options in Fitzroy that range from converted factories and breweries to a glass loft in a tower (go figure). You can check out some of these options on my Airbnb Melbourne wishlist. To me, this variety is a testament of how fascinating and dynamic this neighborhood is, and despite staying there for 4 days, I can honestly say that there is still so much more to discover.
Need a visual reference of where everything is? Find it on our handy map from Postcard!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to Fitzroy! If you love Fitzroy too and have awesome recommendations for things to do there, please share them with us in the comments section below! (:
This article first appeared in ETSY Explores.