The cafes, bars, live music venues, street art and boutique shopping of Melbourne’s laneways are loved by locals and visitors alike.
A visit to Melbourne is not complete without exploring the city’s laneways. From the heritage-listed Block Arcade to the rock-inspired AC/DC Lane – there’s a little piece of Melbourne’s puzzle hidden in each laneway. You find references to culture, both new and old, as well as the city’s passions – food, art, music and more.
Here are some of the most popular of Melbourne’s laneways, along with what you’ll find in each.
Melbourne’s Iconic Laneways
Best laneways for coffee and bars
One of the most famous Melbourne laneways, Degraves Street, is always busy. Whether it’s locals grabbing a coffee, workers on their lunch break or tourists passing through. The cobblestone pavement is a great place to stroll and take in the iconic sights, smells and sounds of Melbourne.
Hardware Lane’s cobbled pavement, with alfresco bars and cafés bring a European-style atmosphere. The lane connects Lonsdale and Bourke streets and often has live music which adds to the atmosphere.
Tattersalls Lane runs between Lonsdale Street and Little Bourke Street in the Chinatown district of Melbourne. It’s home to some fantastic Chinese restaurants, the most popular of which is Shanghai Dumpling House. There is often a queue in the evenings for the restaurant’s famous soup dumplings.
Centre Place is a pedestrian-only, bluestone-cobbled laneway between Flinders Lane and Collins Street. It was one of the first laneways to be refreshed in the 1980’s when a project was undertaken to revitalise the city’s laneways. There’s a great choice of tiny eateries, boutiques and graffiti. Stop for a coffee or bite to eat at The Soup Place, Cafe Vicolino or Hells Kitchen.
Meyers Place was the location of Melbourne’s first laneway bar. It was called Maers Place as well and is sadly no longer operating. However it did inspire a whole host of other laneway bars in Melbourne. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a Melbourne laneway without at least one bar in it these days.
Best laneways for street art
Hosier Lane has an ever-changing facade. The laneway is famous for it’s stencils, tags and murals that adorn its walls. This laneway is a must-visit for street-art enthusiasts or anyone wanting an awesome backdrop for their city photos.
Just off Hosier Lane you’ll find Rutledge Lane, which is a streetscape of art. It’s not just the building walls that have incredible street art, but the windows and wheelie bins, too. Take a stroll around the horseshoe-shaped lane to take it all in.
Union Lane is another great place to view Melbourne’s street-art. The laneway is part of a City of Melbourne street art project – and is a designated space for graffiti artwork on the surrounding building walls.
Best laneways for shopping
The Block Arcade
The Block is not just a laneway, but also a European-inspired shopping arcade. The heritage-listed arcade has mosaic-tiled floors, painted ceilings, wrought ironwork, pressed tin ceilings and a domed, glass ceiling. The arcade links Collins Street and Little Collins Street and connects to Block Place, another laneway with shops and cafes.
The oldest shopping arcade in Australia, Royal Arcade, opened in 1870. Its most famous retailer was jeweller Thomas Gaunt & Co. He created the giant clock house within the arcade and the two biblical figures Gog and Magog, who stand alongside the clock and strike bells every hour.
Melbourne laneways with memorable names
This short, laneway that runs off Flinders Lane between Exhibition Street and Russell Street. It used to be called Corporation Lane, but was renamed to honour the Australian band AC/DC. Members of the band filmed the video for It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) on nearby Swanston Street. When the new name was announced then-Lord Mayor John So said “As the song says, there is a highway to hell but this is a laneway to heaven. Let us rock.”
Dame Edna Place
Formerly known as Brown Alley, this laneway was renamed in 2007 in honour of Barry Humphries’ beloved character Dame Edna. Located off Little Collins Street between Elizabeth Street and Swanston Street, it has a cosmos of stars adorning its pavements.
Manchester Lane’s is named for the rag-traders, tailors and milliners who worked in the area at the time of early European settlement. The cotton that they used mainly came from Manchester in the UK. It was for that reason that today many Australians use the word ‘manchester’ to refer to bed sheets and towels. The areas industrial heritage is celebrated with the naming of Manchester Lane and a giant zipper pattern on the pavement.
On Tour with Go West
On a Go West Tour you have the opportunity to learn more about Melbourne and Victoria. Our day tours explore all of the best destinations in Victoria – including the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island Penguin Parade, Yarra Valley and more. You can also find out about Melbourne and it’s history and culture from our tour guides. Ask your guide what is their favourite laneway, or what restaurant or bar they recommend. Our tour guides are knowledgeable, passionate and we love sharing our city with our guests.
We also pride ourselves on exceeding industry standards for excellence and customer service. With 22 years in business, Go West Tours is still a family-owned and operated tour business and we are as committed to providing guests with an unforgettable experience as we were back in 2000. We are the most highly-awarded tour operator in Melbourne and we guarantee to provide you with an experience that is memorable for all the right reasons.
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au