Our top tips for Fitzroy, Melbourne

Get good digs, near Brunswick Street

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, is a magnet for trendy, alternative Australia

You can be sure that you’ll be a fan of this grooving little suburb, so best stay somewhere close. The general zone you should be looking for is Fitzroy, North Fitzroy, Carlton and Northcote. The rule of thumb is the closer to Brunswick Street, the better (this street is really the center of the action, as pictured). There are a few hostel options close by. Tramstop Fourteen Backpackers is highly rated and is along the main strip. Remember, by the way, that Aussies call hostels “backpackers”. 

Or you might opt for something a bit more up market, like a short stay apartment. There are quite a few around the area, although definitely not as cheap as the old backpackers… We are talking quiet, ambient and relaxing little nooks worth checking out, especially if you’re travelling as a couple and don’t mind spending an extra buck for privacy. You’ll also find a short stay arrangement a little closer to what it might be like to live in Melbourne.

Image/title credit: Glocal Photo 

Eat Laksa

A Laksa from Viet Rose is a superb introduction to multicultural Melbourne (and Fitzroy!)

Every time I go to Melbourne there are a few special treats that I just have to have. One is the Laksa from Viet Rose on Brunswick Street (head to 363 Brunswick St, Fitzroy). It costs about A$14 and you can get vegetarian, chicken or seafood with the option of rice or egg noodles! It’s  a bargain and I guarantee you will be satisfied if not addicted by the end of your meal (MSG purists, beware).

Image credit: LW Yang 

Coffee, pastries and pizzas are a must

Babka Bakery is the place to hit up for a great coffee and a pastry - mind blowing stuff in a trendy setting

One also can’t go stay in Fitzroy without grabbing a coffee and an almond croissant from Babka bakery (358 Brunswick St), trust me a super special rich treat! Also check out Bimbos Pizza (corner Brunswick Street & Rose Street Fitzroy). This pizza joint is cheap and delectable, with A$4 Pizzas of every kind under the sun after 3pm. There’s a pretty bizarre (read kinky) interior and a rooftop bar into the bargain.

Image credit: M Rayos via Facebook 

Thirsty?

Rook Returns, Black Cat and Bar Open are unique drinking options in Fitzroy

Feel like a quiet drink? Check out some of the many watering holes on Brunswick Street… You pretty much won’t have to leave Fitzroy if you’re after a chilled bar atmosphere. Many of the venues also have live music, generally for free but don’t pay more than A$10 entry. For something really low key try Rooks Returns (201 Brunswick St) or Black Cat (252 Brunswick St). The Labour in Vain is also an honorable mention (197a Brunswick Street, Fitzroy). After you’re buzzing, head over to Bar Open (317 Brunswick Street).

 Image credit: Frederick Dennstedt 

Fancy a stroll?

Edinburgh Gardens is a great taste of green near Fitzroy, Melbourne

Now that we have consumed everything and spent all of our precious dollars, fancy a nice stroll? It’s always nice going to the Edinburgh Gardens (Alfred Cres, Fitzroy North) to admire the very old trees and the very old buildings. If that stuff isn’t your thing, try the skate park to test your coordination. I often like to people watch there.

 Image credit: Cnmb 

Absorb a little history

Gold is just part of Melbourne's history. This mother of all nuggets was on display at the Melbourne Museum.

There’s a fantastic museum (Melbourne Museum Victoria, 11 Nicholson St, Carlton) where one can easily spend a whole day. If you’ve got a concession card, it’s about A$6 for entry. You’ll absorb the colonial history and learn about Melbourne’s first days as a port city, gold fever (check out this massive nugget, pictured) and the urban cosmopolitanism of later days. That giant legend of a thoroughbred Phar Lap is even in there. If music interests you, they have a pretty good history of famous Aussie bands formed in Melbourne. There’s some indigenous artifacts, photos and exhibits on the first story that are captivating and beautiful (but sad).

 Image credit: John Churchard 

Arty diversions

The National Gallery Victoria is known for its contemporary art collection and rich showing of Australian artists

The National Gallery Victoria is a good bet. I can’t remember if it has an entry cost or not but there is an extensive collection of artworks in here dating back thousands of years, from the very oldest of works to the most contemporary. It’s easy to get lost in here if you’re interested in artistic expression. {Editor’s note: Guys, we checked this and visitor’s access at both National Gallery locations in Melbourne is free. The two locations are 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne and Federation Square (the Ian Potter Center). More details here.}

 Image credit: Richard Potts 

Spa time

The community center is a great place to catch a spa or swim when in Fitzroy

If you’re in Melbourne during the colder days of the year it’s nice to go warm those bones in a spa right? Don’t have the money for a fancy retreat… that’s ok! There’s a local rec center “down the road” with a spa, sauna and steam room. It’s well worth the dollars if your feeling a bit worn down from all that eating drinking and walking… You can even do some laps in the swimming pool to shift that resistant hangover, whether winter or summer.

Image credit: Survivor 

Got no money? No worries

No cash? There's ways and means...

Before you drink your last dollar, why not go check out the Melbourne State Library in the city? This magnificent library (328 Swanston St, Melbourne) is just a short walk from Fitzroy, is free (of course) and they have an enormous collection! There’s also a lot of art work up stairs as well as free internet. Warm or cool, as appropriate by season, this is an awesome place to get your notes together, write friends and reflect.

Be on the look out when you’re wandering about in the evening for small exhibition openings. They often have cool works by young fresh artists/students who are just starting out. There will usually be free booze and snacks too (not to mention a buzzing atmosphere…) Or you can look up one of the universities near by and see if there are any student shows on (also lots of fun).

If you’re really stuck, Fitzroy is still fertile ground for dumpster diving and I’ve done a bit of that in my time. There’s a competitive busking scene and begging, without friends, is hard work.

Image credit: Michael Coughlan 

Mobility – you’ll be on trams

The tram system in Melbourne kicks ass and will serve your Fitzroy travel needs

Getting around isn’t a problem in Melbourne like it can be in other Australian cities. The trams are fantastic. Unfortunately they have now made it compulsory that you purchase a “Myki” (a special public transport card). I found this a bit frustrating on my shorter stays, as you used to be able to purchase a ticket on the tram (in reality however I just rode without a ticket). However if you do decide to invest in one of these Mykis, they are long lasting and pretty convenient. The other option is walking everywhere which can be pretty enjoyable most of the time, and completely doable if you’re only talking Fitzroy, Carlton and Northcote. I find taxis aren’t too bad for short journeys.

Getting to and from Fitzroy via the airport:

Most people land at Tullamarine, Melbourne’s main international airport. It’s always tempting to jump in a taxi when you’ve just escaped the sweaty tired crowd at the baggage claim, but if you are on a tight budget or just generally tight there’s a pretty efficient “SkyBus” that departs from the airport. There’s often one waiting and it costs about A$19 one way to the city. That’s a nice saving on a taxi ride (usually A$50-60).

What are your friendly tips? Don’t be shy. Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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