One of Australia's most cosmopolitan cities, Melbourne has a diverse and exciting dining scene and eating out in this vibrant city can be anything you want it to be. With just about all types of cuisine on offer, the variety of restaurants in Melbourne is astonishing and will see visitors coming back for more.
Although originally based on traditional British food, Australian cuisine has been strongly influenced by its Southeast Asian neighbours and elements of this can be seen in many Australian dishes. Travellers can enjoy sampling some of the most innovative and exciting fusion food in the world as Melbourne offers many of Australia's top-class restaurants. Korean, Japanese and Thai eateries abound in the city.
William Street is the place to go for authentic Indian fare. Chinatown, in Little Bourke Street, is the best for authentic Chinese food. Brunswick Street in Fitzroy boasts an eclectic mix of eateries where visitors will have a hard time choosing where to start. Downtown Melbourne is where the more low-key restaurants can be found, and the chic St Kilda and Chapel Streets are the trendiest restaurant districts for those wanting to sample Melbourne's latest nouveau cuisine.
Shopping in Melbourne is fun and varied as the city offers both enormous malls and department stores and small quirky side-street boutiques and speciality shops. From various shopping precincts, malls and markets, there are purchases available to suit all tastes, budgets and needs. Most stores are open all week from 10am; many stay open till 9pm on Fridays.
The main shopping strip is on Bourke Street with Bourke Street Mall at its heart, while the east end of the street has mainly fashion boutiques and bookshops. There are bargains galore to be found at Queen Victoria Market, while Melbourne Central is the place to find leading Australian and international labels. There are laneways and arcades throughout the city offering everything from magic spells and antique books to eclectic fashions and household goods. Chinatown, encompassing Little Bourke Street and the neighbouring lanes, offers Asian grocery stores, Chinese medicine, music and jewellery. The Sunday's Market at the Art Centre is good for unique jewellery, ceramics and glassware.
A goods and services tax refund is available to tourists so it is a good idea to keep receipts from large purchases - to qualify for the tax refund at the airport travellers need to have spent A$300 or more.
Melbourne has a vibrant nightlife encompassing cocktail lounges, pubs, underground dance clubs and international theatre productions. There is no one distinct party area; instead, various entertainment pockets can be found in Melbourne.
Melbourne's Central Business District was once very quiet after dark but the last few years have heralded a resurgence of nightlife in the CBD which is now home to plenty of bars and nightclubs. Hotspots in the CBD include King Street and Swanston Street.
The most famous nightlife districts are the Collingwood and Fitzroy neighbourhoods in northeastern Melbourne, where night-time entertainment venues centre on streets including Brunswick, Johnson, Smith and Fitzroy. The LGBT nightlife hub is Commercial Street.
The charming St Kilda neighbourhood is also a good bet after dark as the crowds of beachgoers tend to move into the pubs and bars as the sun goes down.