Known for a thriving arts scene, a kinetic coffee culture, and a populace that is international and multicultural (Melbourne ranks #25 in our People category, which takes into account the diversity of a city’s population and its citizenry’s Educational Attainment), Australia’s second biggest city takes time to get to know but rewards with delightful surprises, and plenty of opportunities to refuel on single origin, organic, fair-trade coffee along the way.
While Sydney is known for its laidback vibe and breezy style, Melbourne goes for edgy aesthetics and urban panache. For proof, explore a myriad of tiny alleys where the city’s spraycan artists turned dreary murals into colorful canvases. You might stumble upon a laneway, those locally loved narrow passageways open only to pedestrian traffic, with a charming little bar or an award-winning restaurant. Stop at MoVida for casual tapas and a lively vibe, or at Pastuso, a modern Peruvian grill that serves a killer ceviche and even better Pisco-based cocktails. Melbourne is also the birthplace of the flat white—you know, the latte drink that’s become so trendy that even Starbucks has it on its menu—and locals swear by a cup poured at micro-roaster and retailer Seven Seeds Roastery Cafe.
In the art capital of Australia, you can while away the morning at Gertrude Contemporary, a gallery that showcases the work of emerging homegrown artists, or you can lose yourself in the happening Fitzroy neighborhood, where the city’s street-art scene began in the aforementioned alleys. Don’t skip a visit to the Australian Center for Contemporary Art, an architectural icon designed by Roger Wood and Randall Marsh as a “sculpture in which to show art.”