melbourne shopping through a vintage arcade

Hey shopaholics, when you think of fashion shopping in Australia, I bet the first city that pops into mind is Melbourne. This city is a fashion paradise, and I'm here to guide you through its shopping hotspots. I have created a Melbourne shopping guide just for you. 

Every time I visit Melbourne, I set a day aside for shopping. Over the decades, I’ve noticed where shops have popped up and explored the locals favourite shopping districts. But the areas where you may have shopped before, have now disappeared or moved to another location. 

I've recently explored Melbourne's bustling streets on three separate trips this year. So trust me, I've got the inside scoop on where to find those hidden gems.  

I’ve outlined the areas below for you based on location and type of shopping experience. 

CITY CENTRE – ARCADE SHOPPING 

When you're in the CBD, fashion and other quirky shops can be found on every street corner. So don’t be afraid to wonder around and stumble upon little gems. 

But if you want a concentrated dose of retail magic or want to maximise your limited time, use the Bourke Street Mall as your centre. Then stay within the city blocks bordered by Collins Street, Elizabeth Street, Lonsdale street and Swanston Street. 

TG Tip:  Take note that shops in the CBD open mainly around 10am. Yay, sleep in’s!! 

Lets start with the Arcade shopping, followed by the multi storey shopping malls. 

The Block 

Melbourne shopping vintage style, with mosaic floors and ornate ceilings

The Block Arcade is a vintage treasure of pure old-world charm with its mosaic floors and ornate ceilings. Wander from Collins Street through to Little Collins Street or Elizabeth Street to discover an array of jewellery stores, homeware boutiques, locally made goods, and some snazzy cafes. You might also spot a couple of shoe shops if you're in the mood for some fancy footwork. 
 

The Royal Arcade 

Vintage style melbourne shopping arcade, with chequered flooring and glass dome ceiling

The Royal Arcade is another old-world charmed arcade. As you exit The Block Arcade on Little Collins Street, you’ll see the entrance to the Royal Arcade just to your right. The arcade extends all the way through to Bourke Street Mall. 

This place is a gift hunter's paradise with a delightful selection of unique shops. Get ready to bag some one-of-a-kind goodies for yourself or your loved ones. 

TG Tip:  While exploring The Block Arcade and The Royal Arcade, don't miss out on the charming hidden cafes tucked away in corners. Take a break from shopping and enjoy a cup of coffee or a delightful treat in these unique settings. 

St Collins Lane 

In stark contrast to the vintage charm of The Block and Royal Arcade, St Collins Lane is boasts a modern geometric style across three levels. 

The arcade extends from Collins Street to Little Collins Street, not far from The Block. 

It mainly contains the well-known high-end stores. Unfortunately, level 2 is currently quiet for now, practically empty. Perhaps a consequence of the long Covid lockdowns Melbourne experienced. Hopefully, the empty spaces will be brimming with life again soon. 

The food court can be found on the top level. 

TG Tip:  You can also find more variety of 'high end' stores along Collins St, in between Swanston and Exhibition Streets.

Collins234 

Further east along Collins Street form St Collins Lane, you’ll find Collins234. However, it doesn’t extend through to the next main street. You exit the same way you enter. 

This arcade contains a small group of intriguing shops, mainly fashion and beauty. 

However, the main drawcard is the large Dymocks store located on the Basement floor. Nice to see that physical books are not completely dead yet! 

 

CITY CENTRE – SHOPPING MALLS 

For the ultimate Melbourne shopping mall experience, we've got you covered with two fantastic options: 

The Emporium 

Modern styled, multi storey shopping centre

This luxury three-level shopping mall offers major retail therapy. The Emporium boasts a wide range of well-known mid and high-tier brands. And if you’re into sporting and streetwear, head to the basement level. 

You can access if from Little Bourke Street, opposite the northern end of the Myers department store. Or the other end at Lonsdale Street. 

TG Tip:  The Emporium offers free Wi-Fi throughout the centre. And keep an eye out for exclusive sales and promotions on their FB page.

Melbourne Central 

A towering brick chimney inside a glass and metal dome

Situated across the road from the The Emporium on Lonsdale Street, Melbourne Central is a shopaholic's paradise with its three levels of mid-tier stores. The centre piece alone is an attraction in itself.

If you need a breather, head to level 4 for some quality dining and entertainment options. 

Melbourne Central is also linked by bridge from The Emporium on levels 2 and 3.   

TG Tip:  These two shopping centres almost cover what you’d find in a typical suburban shopping centre, like Chadstone. If you prefer a large shopping centre feel instead, hop on the free Chadstone Tourist Shuttles that depart from Federation Square in the CBD. 

melbourne shopping through outdoor laneway filled with people

Laneways of Melbourne - walking tour

Get a local to show you the laneways of Melbourne and discover hidden art galleries, street art and interesting shops and cafes.

small group of women standing outside a store

This tour uncovers those hidden speciality boutiques and local fashion designer stores , as well as immersing in Melbourne’s café culture.

CITY CENTRE – OUTLET SHOPPING 

Who doesn’t love a good deal? I enjoyed outlet shopping in Los Angeles. Luckily Melbourne has you covered with two outlet shopping malls to choose from. Both showcasing domestic and international brands. 

Spencer Outlet Centre 

Located in the CBD precinct, right next to Southern Cross Station, is the Spencer Outlet Centre 

In this U-shaped shopping centre, you’ll find mid-tier shops offering lots of discounts.  

And a fantastic food court awaits you at the entrance to refuel your shopping energy! 


DFO South Wharf 

The larger of the two outlet shopping centres, DFO South Wharf offers a more diverse selection of stores. It has three distinct areas: 

  1. 1
    The entrance is a short arcade that consists of all your famous sporting stores eg. Adidas, New Balance, Converse etc. 
  2. 2
    At the end take the escalators down to the basement level for all the other stores. Ranging from clothing, shoes, outdoor, homewares. Plus, a small food court in the centre. 
  3. 3
    Level 3 mainly contains home furniture stores, so you can skip this if you don’t live in Melbourne.

And don’t worry about transport. Take tram #35 or #70 along Flinders Street and get off at stop number D5-South Wharf. Cross the road at the traffic lights and take the short walk to Seafarers Bridge. Only a 5-minute walk to the entrance of DFOs. 

If you have the time, its worth taking a leisurely stroll along the river from the CBD or South Bank, especially at twilight. 

melbourne city skyline from a bridge

View of Melbourne skyline from Seafarers Bridge

TG Tip:  If possible, plan your visit to the outlets during weekdays. The weekends tend to get busier. Also note that these shops open at 10am, as do the city centre stores. 

TG Tip:  Both outlets offer exclusive discounts to domestic and international visitors. Check out on their websites or in person at the information desk. 

QUEEN VICTORIA MARKETS 

A large shed with stalls and people underneath doing melbourne shopping

The only markets located in the CBD. So it is walkable, about 20 minutes. However, if you want to conserve your energy for exploring the vast expanse of the markets, take the free tram from the bottom of Elizabeth Street to the Queen Victoria Markets entrance. 

These markets have 4 distinct sections in heritage listed buildings. 

Meat and Fish Hall – as you cross the road from the tram stop, you will walk straight into the entrance of the seafood and meats section. 

Dairy Produce Hall – a side archway from the meat/fish section leads you into a completely different world. This hall is more than dairy produce. It’s lined with little shopfronts selling everything from hams, salami, cheeses, dips, fresh bread, pasta, sauces etc. You can also find coffee and a selection of small bites to eat for lunch. It’s worth visiting this section, just the Victorian style architecture. But if you’re staying in an apartment, this is where you will want to stock up on the staples. 

a small bakery store displaying various types of bread loaves and rolls

Make your way out the doors at the opposite end of the hall. Turn right and the open-air market under a huge shed is staring right in front of you. 

Fruit and vegetables – the right half of the shed are lined with small stalls selling their fresh fruit and vegetables. 

Speciality shopping – the left half of the shed you will find clothes, shoes, jewellery, perfumes, paintings, hats and locally crafted arts and crafts. I wouldn’t come here for the clothes/shoes but you can definitely find some unique gifts for yourself or family and friends. 

outdoor alley lined with bars and cafes

 More options for lunch are available at cafes along String Bean Alley. Or there are a selection of  food trucks in the centre of the shed offering all sorts of flavours. 

CHAPEL STREET - SOUTH YARRA

It seems that Chapel Street has lost some of its Melbourne designer stores over the years.  

I remember years ago that Chapel Street was THE place to visit for unique designer stores by Melbourne designers. So on my recent visit, it was disappointing to see most are now gone. Some replaced by your typical chain stores you’d find in the city or shopping centres.  

However, its still a fascinating street to explore. Chapel Street runs north to south. And can divided into sections by the major roads that intersect it along the way. Lets start at the northern end, at Toorak Road. 

  • Between Toorak Road and Commercial Street
    This is where you’ll find the majority collection of clothing and shoe stores. Don’t forget to recharge at one of the small cafes in between! 

TG Tip:  If you find yourself too busy shopping to stop for a drink or bite, there are public toilets inside Pran Central on the second level. 

  • Between Commercial Street and High Street
    This section contains more cafes. But keep an eye out for more unique shops and some secondhand stores. Even the number of the funky secondhand stores have reduced. 
  • South of High Street
    Everything south of High Street is mainly small restaurants and bars. Great nightlife. 
Suggested Itineraries: 

Focus on Commercial Street – Toorak Road section: 

For serious shoppers or those short of time, then take tram #72 from Flinders Street Station and hop off at the Chapel Street/Commercial St intersection. Head towards Toorak Road intersection and back for a clothing/shoes focused journey. 

Focus on High Street – Toorak Road section: 

I took tram #6 from Flinders Street station in the city and got off at the Chapel Street/High Street intersection.  I turned left into Chapel Street and explored all the way up to Toorak Road. Then strolled back on the other side of the road, back to High Street. I ended my afternoon with a well-deserved drink and meal at one of the bars south of High Street, before catching the tram back to the city. 

spacious modern hotel room with two double beds

When I want to stay in South Yarra, my favourite hotel is The Como Melbourne. Conveniently located on Chapel Street, close to the corner of Toorak Road. Prime position to boutique shopping and cafes.

 GENERAL TIPS FOR MELBOURNE SHOPPING 

  • Myki Card:  The trams within the CBD precinct are free. Use to your hearts content. But if you plan to explore Chapel Street, you will need to purchase a Myki Card. It’s a reusable smart card that you swipe each time you board and disembark from the tram, train or bus. You can purchase from vending machines at Flinders Street Station. 
  • Opening hours: Generally speaking, majority of stores, shopping centres and outlet stores open at 10am. 
  • Melbourne’s weather: Melbourne is known for its unpredictable weather, so be prepared for all seasons in one day. Carry a small umbrella or a light jacket just in case. 
  • Payment Methods: Most shops and malls accept credit/debit cards. But it's always handy to have some cash on you, especially when visiting smaller boutiques or market stalls. 
  • Shopping Bag: Bringing a reusable shopping bag is not only environmentally friendly but also practical. You never know when you'll find that perfect purchase, and having a bag ready can save you from carrying around multiple plastic bags. However, every purchase I made came with a store bag. Some were environmentally friendly bags. 

WHERE WILL YOU START YOUR MELBOURNE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE? 

So, there you have it—information and some extra tips and to enhance your shopping adventure in Melbourne. 

Melbourne's shopping scene caters to every shopaholic's dream, and it's all within easy reach.  

Armed with these handy insights, go forth and indulge in the retail delights this fashion-forward city has to offer. Happy shopping! 

Start planning your trip now with the following helpful links:

Flights - save money by comparing and booking flights at Skyscanner.
Hotels - find hotels on any budget at booking.com
Car rental - use Rentalcars to compare all the car rental companies on the one page
Tours - pre book your tours and activities at Viator
Attractions - save up to 55% on top attractions and museums with a Go City Pass.
Travel guides - get 10% discount on Lonely Planet guides and books.

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About the author

Lisa is a travel gypsy by heart, having already been to over 70 countries and still counting. Founder of Travel Groove, to share travel tips, tricks and knowledge with other travellers.

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