Discover the hottest new restaurants, bars, exhibitions and events in Melbourne to warm you up this winter.
The days are shorter and there’s frost in the air: winter has well and truly arrived in Melbourne. But that’s no reason to bunker down and hibernate. Melbourne comes alive during the cooler months by doing what it does best – serving up world-class food, cultural events and festivals.
The city is constantly evolving with an ever-changing line-up of things to discover, which means there is always something new to uncover. Whether you’re a Picasso aficionado, a live music lover, or searching for that perfect restaurant for a cosy date night, read on to discover our pick of new things to see and do in Melbourne this winter.
Ready to explore? Discover our handpicked Melbourne escapes.
Food & Drink
Escape winter’s chill for an evening and get lost in the joys of Southern Italy at Tippy-Tay. You’ll find this eclectic restaurant at the back of Garden State Hotel off Flinders Lane. Warm, candlelit lighting and blushing bougainvillea create an enticing atmosphere, enhanced by classic Italian pop songs and the clink of glasses coming together in saluti (cheers).
The menu evokes images of family dinners along the Amalfi coast: white anchovies drizzled in olive oil, gooey burrata and warm focaccia bread, house-made linguini with lemon and basil, and the creamiest, tastiest tiramisu on this side of the equator. Top it all off with a cocktail (we suggest the Italian-American sour for a surprising take on an old classic) or house limoncello, or press the magic button for your own personal negroni fountain.
New to Southbank is Yarra Botanica, a two-level floating bar and eatery boasting spectacular city views from an excellent vantage point on the Yarra River. The ethos is all about supporting Melbourne-made, from an all-local liquor line-up using only the best Victorian drops to the freshest, seasonal produce of the grazing menu. Try the rainbow trout doughnut, a popular menu item featuring Yarra Valley caviar or opt for Mount Zero olives from the Grampians, hand-stretched burrata from Gippsland with green tomato and basil, or Portarlington mussels with garlic aioli. If you’re with a group, the metre-long boards of local cheese or charcuterie are easy winners.
Melbourne’s foodie landscape nabbed another winner in February 2022 when BKK arrived on the scene at HER. Located on the third level of this game-changing multi-storey venue on Lonsdale Street, the restaurant mimics the same calibre of style and quality of HER BAR, with a touch of southeast Asian flair. Putting the bang in Bangkok street food, the firecracker menu features jackfruit green curry with green banana, BKK crispy pork belly with tamarind dipping sauce, rock oysters with coconut cream and nam prik pao, and Thai tea tiramisu with rum, mascarpone and white chocolate. You can even grab a front-row seat to the fiery, open kitchen and watch as your meal is prepared right before your eyes.
From the founders of Mabu Mabu comes Big Esso, an all-day bar and kitchen dedicated to bringing Indigenous food and culture back to the banks of the river Birrarung (Yarra). Hop off the train at Flinders Street Station and cross the road to Federation Square where you’ll find this happy lunch spot.
Grab a seat at the communal tables and order share plates of saltbush and pepperberry fried crocodile, charred peaches with rivermint and native dukkah, or freshly shucked oysters (choose from natural, pepperberry mignonette or finger lime and rivermint varieties). With a sustainable, socially driven goal, Big Esso strives to work with producers led by First Nations, women or minority groups. Socially conscious dining never tasted so good.
Pearl Chablis & Oyster Bar
Could there be a more heavenly pairing than fresh oysters and a crisp glass of chablis? At Pearl Chablis & Oyster Bar, this special combination is celebrated. The swanky 30-seater bar is all about delivering a luxe experience, from ocean-green, velvet-covered bar stools to soft light boxes and a marble bar with a glass display cabinet showcasing the day’s oyster varieties.
The owner, Jeremy Schinck, has been collecting wine for 10 years and claims chablis is the most approachable style of chardonnay. The wine list is a journey into the French region with more than 500 wines to choose from. If you’re keen to try a different drop with your oysters, there’s also a handful of other wines including riesling and sancerre.
Lane’s Edge Wine Bar
Melbourne is renowned for its cool laneways, which conceal some of the best art, restaurants and bars in the city. Adding to the list is the newly revamped Lane’s Edge Wine Bar, a 30-seater located on the top-end of Bourke Street that redefines ‘cool’. The extensive wine list is a tug-o-war between renowned Australian and European regions, while there’s also ale, craft beers and cocktails for those who want something different (try the Melbourne Martini with South Melbourne’s Patient Wolf Gin). When your belly starts to rumble, never fear – there’s a drool-worthy Mexican-inspired menu to peruse. Feast on vegan or pulled pork enchiladas, tempura prawns with lime mayo and crunchy fries with aioli.
Arts & Culture
World premiere of The Picasso Century & Van Gogh Alive
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV International) is a treasure trove of globally renowned exhibitions, none so highly anticipated as the world premiere of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces® exhibition, The Picasso Century. From 10 June – 9 October, you can follow the incredible career of Pablo Picasso and pore over more than 80 works of art, with a heavy focus on the Surrealist period by the renowned artist.
Dive deeper into the art world and visit THE LUME Melbourne in South Wharf where you’ll find the interactive Van Gogh Alive experience. This sensory exhibition features a huge, animated canvas, step-by-step drawing classes of Van Gogh’s most famous works, plus a mirrored room full of sunflowers for that perfect Instagram snap.
Light: Works from Tate’s Collection
From 16 June – 13 November, see art in a new light at ACMI with its new exhibition Light: Works from Tate’s Collection. See how the elemental power of light has fascinated artists for more than 200 years through multiple artforms: historical paintings, transient light effects, crystalline sculptures, moving installations and award-winning moving images. It’s a mind-boggling experience crafted by curators from the UK’s beloved Tate museums that will alter the way you see light and how it can change a landscape, an object or a moment in a bewitching way.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Reimagined
Speaking of bewitching, be sure to check out the brand-new, shortened version of the world-famous Harry Potter and the Cursed Child theatre performance – only available in Melbourne. You’ll no longer need to block out an entire day to catch the original five-hour, two-part version – this breezy 3.5-hour show still gives you plenty of time for a leisurely dinner or day exploring the CBD beforehand.
With the thrilling magic and captivating storytelling of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Princess Theatre’s status as a cultural icon and one of Melbourne’s most recognised landmarks is indisputable. Come along for the magic and see the show along with a multi-course pre-show dinner at Robata when you book a special Luxury Escapes’ experience.
New live music venue in Thornbury
If you find yourself in Melbourne’s inner north on a chilly winter’s evening, follow the sounds of thumping basslines and jangling melodies to Shotkickers, the newest venue on Thornbury’s music scene. Shotkickers was created by a couple of local musicians, Christopher Windley and Mathias Northway, who wanted to create a space that ensures the enjoyment of both patrons and artists. Just 20 minutes north of the city, it’s an easy swing from the CBD for a guaranteed fun night of music and revelry. Come for the tunes and stay for the epic burgers, salt-rimmed margaritas and local craft brews.
Winter Night Market
Get cosy this winter with the return of the Winter Night Market at Queen Victoria Market. The flickering red sign is a beacon for those looking to get out of the cold and warm up from the inside out with a steaming cup of mulled wine or a spiced hot toddy.
What’s a night market without a great selection of street food stalls? Feast on everything from gooey, cheesy pasta to woodfired pizza, flavourful tacos and locally roasted chestnuts. You’ll also enjoy a rotating line-up of live music on the main stage, a Christmas-themed winter wonderland (during the market’s mid-season), and stalls selling jewellery, art, skincare, books and homewares.
Elvis: Direct from Graceland
Two hours northwest of Melbourne is Bendigo, a Goldfield town where cultural golden nuggets are yours for the taking. Exclusive from Graceland comes the highly anticipated Elvis Presley exhibition, which follows the extraordinary life of one of the most iconic public figures of the 20th century. Straight from the Graceland archives, see Elvis’ wide range of costumes, vintage memorabilia and personal items from his home. This is an unmissable experience for every Elvis fan. See it before the exhibition leaves on 17 July.