Shopping in Melbourne City
Whether you are shopping for the latest fashion, shimmering opal gems, handcrafted artefacts or exotic foods – Melbourne is the place to find it. Each day of the year the city draws large numbers of bargain-hungry shoppers from the suburbs and all around the world into its vast variety of consumer temples, arcades, boutiques, malls and markets.
The short strip of Bourke Street between Elizabeth Street and Swanston Street is known as Bourke Street Mall. The huge department stores Myer and David Jones take up most of the northern side of the Mall, but there are also hundreds of small shops – mainly well-known international and Australian labels such as Zara and Sportsgirl.
Collins Street, particularly the part between Elizabeth Street and Russell Street is the home of Melbourne's haute couture. Fancy shoe boutiques and elegant dress shops compete for shoppers' attention, among them international brands as well as unique local designs.
For a true Melbourne experience, slip through one of the lanes between Flinders Street and Bourke Street Mall. Nestled in-between the city's high buildings, these narrow and often dark strips of cosy coffee shops and authentic little restaurants are usually bustling with life. Many of the walls are painted in graffiti adding to its alternative flair.
Picturesque – and often quite historic – arcades run to both sides of Bourke and Collins Street. The Royal Arcade, connecting Bourke Street Mall and Little Collins Street, is Melbourne's oldest shopping strip dating back to 1869. It houses some of Melbourne's most prestigious shops and is worth a visit even if you're not planning to spend any money. For another history-infused shopping experience, check out the elegant Block Arcade off Collins Street. Its black and white mosaic tiles and glass canopy make for an old-English ambience – this Arcade was built in the early 1890s. The old-charm boutiques make an interesting contrast to the hip cafés and shops of Block Place, a small alleyway that connects Block Arcade with Little Collins Street.
Spanning across two city blocks, five levels and more than 300 shops, Melbourne Central is one of the city's largest commercial hubs – a place where you can find everything from famous international labels and local fashion to freshly ground coffee and delicious lunch meals. The structure of the centre was designed with the original layout of the Melbourne city centre in mind. Rather than one big shopping complex, Melbourne Central has been constructed as a network of arcades and laneways, each with its own character and flair. The original cone-shaped glass dome above the central place was erected in 1889. The tower in the middle is called Shot Tower and was originally designed to create bullets: liquid lead was dropped down inside the tower and formed into bullets during the free fall before splashing into a water basin at the bottom.
From Melbourne Central diagonally across Swanston Street and right next to the State Library of Victoria sits Melbourne's QV, another consumer temple outlined with a series of laneways. There's a large food court on the lower ground, which gets packed with city workers during lunch hours.
The Spencer Street Fashion Station next to Southern Cross Railway Station, adds a shopping hotspot to the western end of the city centre. You will find many famous brands such as Country Road and Cue, and quite often you can get good bargains here.
For another distinctive Melbourne experience, don't forget to check out some of the city's many markets. On Sundays most stalls at the enormous Queen Victoria Market sell jewellery, shoes and clothing. For locally handcrafted items check out the Sunday Market, which is held every Sunday from 10am to 4 pm on the lawn behind the Arts Centre.
The Queen Victoria Market is a fantastic place to pick up small gifts for friends and family.
You can also find Australian souvenirs in one of the many tourist shops along Swanston Street (near Flinders Street Station).
If you are looking for indigenous designs, visit the Koori Heritage Trust Cultural Centre on the corner of Kings Street and Little Lonsdale Street. Apart from the gallery featuring drawings from local Koori artists, the centre also operates a shop for authentic artefacts and souvenirs.
The National Opal Collection is a good address if you're intending to take home some Australian gemstones. There is a museum and showroom with lots of information about Australian opals. Tthe precious stones can also be purchased.
Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? For more shopping visit the new Harbour Town Shopping Centre at the Docklands or catch a tram up to close-by Smith Street in Collingwood for an abundance of outlet stores. Other popular shopping hotspots outside the city centre include Prahran’s Chapel Street and St Kilda’s Acland Street.