Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the coolest Melbourne suburb of them all?
Not only is Fitzroy the city’s oldest suburb (dating back to 1839), but it also holds that golden trifecta that we all wish for in a suburb — it’s charming, creative and packs a lot of personality. After all, this is where Melbourne’s alternative side comes out in full force – evident through the endless eating and drinking options at refreshingly designed venues, the many independent stores that have inviting windows and cheeky names, and then of course there’s the street art, where Fitzroy’s creativity seemingly thrives on every corner. Here are 10 reasons why Fitzroy comes high up on our cool list...
1. You can go go second hand shopping on Brunswick Street ...
If there’s a second hand shopper’s haven in Melbourne, then it has to be in Fitzroy — the suburb where the street-style game goes up another level. Most of the pre-loved fashion scene here, centres around Brunswick Street, where you’ll find decade old veteran Hunter Gatherer, slinging traditional quality vintage clothing, or one of Vintage Sole’s three Melbourne stores, selling contemporary trends and vintage staples from the racks, and of course there’s Yesteryear Vintage, a store dedicated to keeping the prices more affordable for the masses.
2. … or shop at boutique stores along Gertrude Street
But just in case you prefer to shop for shiny new things, rest assured that Fitzroy also has you covered. To visit one boutique store after the next, head on over to Gertrude Street, home to a string of small, yet ever so stylish boutiques, solidifying itself as a go-to among Melbourne's design lovers. Take for example, Handsom, a Melbourne-based brand that’s all about beautiful, well-made, understated garments, or Obus, holding a focus on pared-back tailoring, natural fibres and quirky prints. Oh, and there’s also an Aesop store located here which is well worth a visit, if not for the products, just to see how pretty it is inside.
3. You can sample specialty coffee with brunch…
Melbourne’s coffee snobbery infiltrates right across the city, and thanks to an influx of European cultures over its history, Fitzroy takes this café culture rather seriously. The local coffee scene is a competitive business, but a place like Industry Beans hits the right note, roasting their own coffee beans on site at their Rose Street café, where an indulgent seasonal food menu is also on the cards. Then you have newcomers like Slowpoke Espresso, trying to make a start, and succeeding, with locally renowned baristas bringing along their ever faithful clientele to the warm and light-filled space.
4. … or hold out for dinner at any number of restaurants
There’s no better way to measure the thriving pulse of a suburb than by sampling culinary offerings, and this is truly where Fitzroy shines. From elegant fine dining establishments like Andrew McConnell’s flagship Cutler & Co, to welcoming old pubs, like the Builders Arms Hotel, and cuisines ranging from creative fusions like Village People Hawker Food Hall to the tried and true traditional like Pizza Farro Fitzroy — this little suburb really has it all.
5. You can treat yourself to some Messina gelato
Messina’s famous gelato has become so popular, ever since it opened its first store in Sydney way back in 2002. And rest assured — all that fuss is very much deliciously justified. But it wasn’t until 2013 that Messina made its way to Melbourne, launching first in, you guessed it, Fitzroy. Today, there are still only three Messina stores in all of Melbourne (also in Richmond and Windsor), whilst Sydney now houses eleven in total.
6. You can go on a DIY bar crawl
Fitzroy's bar scene is booming, to the point that you can almost do a DIY bar crawl here, week after week, and never run out of amazing bars to visit. First on the list should be Fitzroy Social, a favourite along Brunswick Street amongst locals and locals at heart, serving Bloody Marys for $12 all day, during Bloody Mary Sundays. And you must also visit Naked For Satan, a Spanish-style bar, serving an array of vodka from an old distillery in Fitzroy.
7. And the rooftop bars are through the roof too
Heading to a rooftop bar on a balmy summer's afternoon is a favourite Melbourne pastime, and unsurprisingly, Fitzroy is home to some of the city’s very best. Take for example the long-standing Provincial Hotel, providing a trendy, summery spot to soak up views of the inner-north from high above. Or there’s the Naked In The Sky (the adjoined rooftop to Naked For Satan mentioned above), serving delicious eats, killer cocktails, and some of Melbourne’s best skyline views.
8. You can visit the Fitzroy Mills on Saturdays...
The Fitzroy Mills located along Rose Street holds two different identities — during the week, it’s merely used as an unassuming carpark, but come the weekend, it transforms into a farmers market where both locals and visitors come to gather. Open on Saturdays between 9am-2pm, stock up on the very best fresh produce, purchased directly from local growers and makers.
9. … followed by the Rose Street Artists Market on Sundays
Tucked just off Brunswick Street, the Rose Street Artists Market is also held in Fitzroy every Saturday and Sunday from 11am until 5pm. This is where some of Melbourne’s best emerging artists and designers offer up their work, including handmade accessories, jewellery, art and photography. Visit here to collect, source and commission unique designs in all forms.
10. And last (but not least), the street art is celebrated
Melbourne is considered as being one of the world's leading street art cities, and the street art that can be found in Fitzroy itself is partly to thank for this. So much so that strolling around one of Fitzroy's many cobbled laneways is like walking around a free public gallery — there’s almost always a mural or three to see. Don’t believe us? Just take yourself on a street art tour around the likes of Rose Street, Wood Street, and Fitzroy Street, and see for yourself.