Australia Destinations Victoria

What to Do in Melbourne: 48 Delicious Hours in the CBD

what to do in melbourne

Melbourne CBD has all your culinary cravings covered: whether it’s a hatted meal in elegant surroundings or juicy dumplings in an unassuming hole in the wall – you’ll find something to suit your tastes in one of the 230 laneways that form the city’s vibrant grid.

You could spend days tasting your way through each and every corner of the CBD, but if you only have 48 hours to make the most of the city’s outstanding food scene, we’re here to help. When it comes to dining, this is the ultimate guide to what to do in Melbourne.

Friday: Evening

Melbourne is always buzzing on a Friday night, and you might want to join the locals for an after-work drink in one of the city’s most popular riverside venues: Arbory Bar and Eatery. Built on the disused Sandridge railway platform at Flinders Street Station, this is Melbourne’s longest bar, lining the banks of the Yarra. Espresso martinis and Aperol Spritz’ flow on-tap here, the burgers are juicy and there are plenty of beers to choose from.

Come summer, Arbory spreads onto the river, opening its sister venue, Arbory Afloat – a coastal-inspired floating oasis complete with a pool on the upper deck, serving Mediterranean-style shared plates and refreshing cocktails right on the water of the Yarra.

Saturday: Morning

The options for good coffee in the CBD are near endless: Industry Beans Lt. Collins, Dukes Coffee Roasters and Brother Baba Budan all have your need for caffeine fixed.

If you crave tasty treats to accompany your strong latte – how does lobster benedict sound? – Hardware Société is the place to start your day. Located right at the end of Flinders Street, this CBD gem offers creative breakfast fare matched with Padre specialty coffee – the perfect recipe for Melbourne brunch.

Saturday: Mid-morning

Fancy a mid-morning snack? Head to Brunetti Flinders Lane – an Italian pasticceria and Melbourne institution, originally founded in Carlton in 1991. The Flinders Lane café is the brand’s flagship store, the more glamorous sister to the original Brunetti on Lygon Street.  

This 300-seat, ultra-modern Italian eatery sits in the heart of the CBD and serves not only the finest Italian cakes and pastries but also savoury bites like pizza, pasta and delicious panini.

Saturday: Early afternoon

Gelato is always a good idea – especially if it’s 100% natural and made from scratch using fresh, high-quality ingredients, like the sort Piccolina produces daily. The gelato empire opened its first shop in Collingwood, followed by Hawthorn and St Kilda. Now, owner Sandra Foti is bringing her creamy, traditional Italian gelato to the CBD, with two shops opening in Hardware Lane and Degraves Street. We recommend you try the pistachio or hazelnut, both made from in-house roasted nuts churned into fresh, creamy gelato — top your flavour of choice with homemade nutella topping, on tap!  

There’s also a selection of super refreshing sorbetti and authentic Sicilian granita, all completely dairy free. 

Saturday: Mid-afternoon

After a long day of shopping and sightseeing, drinks with a view are in order. The list of sky-high bars is lengthy – Rooftop Bar and Madame Brussels are both worth a visit – but topping it is State of Grace’s funky rooftop bar.  

With impressive city views, succulent snacks and pizzas, and a long list of cocktails on offer (including a salted caramel espresso martini), this is one of our favorite afternoon hangouts. When the sun goes down, the lights go up in State of Grace’s hidden cocktail bar, accessible through a secret bookshelf… if you can find it, that is!

Saturday: Evening

You’re ready to hit the city for a night out, and Melbourne will spoil you for places to eat, drink and dance. Fuel up for the night ahead with delicious pan-Asian fare prepared by chef-restaurateur Andrew McConnell in the slick surroundings of Supernormal

Inspired by the cuisine of Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong, Supernormal’s menu features dishes such as dumplings, bao, pulled Korean BBQ pork, steaming ramen and, of course, the ultra-popular lobster rolls. Not sure what to order? Pick the banquet option, offering a selection of the Chef’s favourite dishes from the à la carte menu.

Saturday: Night

Take it to the 55th floor of the iconic Rialto building for a drink with a view at the ultra-glam Lui Bar. Perched 236m above the city streets, Lui Bar offers 360-degree views of Melbourne and an exceptional drinks list brimming with cocktails, wine, French champagnes and more. Get in early to bag a window seat and order a signature cocktail such as the unique Yuzu Paloma with tequila or Southern Spritz with smoked vodka.

Sunday: Morning

If you’re feeling a little worse for wear, Higher Ground will fix your problems with its award-winning dishes and masterfully made coffees. This Little Bourke Street favourite embraces industrial-chic with its tactile palette of terrazzo, cork, steel, stone and solid timbers. Its specialty coffee is equally robust and perfectly complemented by dishes of spanner crab benedict, ricotta hotcakes and seasonal avocado with vegemite. 

Feel like a cocktail with your breakfast? Bodega Underground’s boozy brunch starts at 11.30am and involves Mexican-inspired food and bottomless cocktails, beers and wine. A five-course menu of slow-cooked brisket tacos, Mexican chicken, churros and more helps soak up the booze. Or go vegan with plant-based delights such as mushroom empanadas and battered zucchini tacos.

Sunday: Afternoon

Melbourne loves a good high tea, so why not treat yourself to an afternoon of delectable desserts, exceptional savoury treats and bubbles at the chic Om Nom

Located within the Adelphi Hotel – the world’s first dessert-themed hotel –  Om Nom’s high tea is a modern twist on this centuries-old tradition. Don’t expect the usual scones and finger sandwiches: Om Nom will take you on a sensory journey through seven delicious savory bites and seven decadent desserts, all accompanied by French champagne and a selection of boutique teas.

Sunday: Evening

There’s no better way to end the weekend than by sinking your teeth into a slice of pizza – and 90 Secondi is the right place to do that. Brought to you by the team behind the acclaimed 400 Gradi, this boutique pizzeria brings a slice of Naples to Bourke Street and promises to deliver the most authentic pizza experience in Melbourne.  

All the pizzas here are cooked in a custom-made, woodfire oven shipped directly from Italy, and baked for no longer than 90 seconds – or 90 secondi – just as tradition has it. The result is a melt-in-your-mouth base topped with delicious fresh ingredients such as San Marzano tomato, mozzarella and aged Prosciutto di Parma. 

With 48 hours of incredible food ready for you, all that’s left to do is plan your next delicious escape to Melbourne CBD. Our final tip? Come hungry. 

Looking for more inspiration on what to do in Melbourne? Check out our guide to Melbourne’s Urban Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries and Five Unmissable Luxury Experiences in Melbourne.

Images courtesy of Visit Victoria.