Traditionally regarded as Melbourne’s Little Italy, this inner-city suburb offers so much more than European cuisine.
At any time of day, you’ll find Carlton bustling. Best known as the home of Lygon Street, the city’s Italian precinct, it has plenty of other opportunities for entertainment and discovery.
Adults and kids alike will love Melbourne Museum, with its vast galleries covering the history of Victoria. Ask any mum or dad about the Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery and they’ll rave about it. Children climb, hang, play and tunnel their way through a giant suspended playground, while bells, mirrors and interactive play toys fill the space. You could spend hours in the Children’s Gallery alone, before you even head to the other exhibition spaces. Of course, the Museum welcomes large-scale and niche touring exhibitions throughout the year, all of which draw crowds from near and far.
Talk a leisurely stroll across to Lygon Street — be sure to check out the Victorian architecture of the suburb’s terrace houses along the way. Following World War II, 150,000 Italian migrants made their way to Australia and Carlton became a popular meeting place. Lygon Street began Melbourne’s cafe culture; students, locals and international visitors all gather at places like Ti Amo for coffee and pasta. Across the road, grab a footpath table at Brunetti and feast on pastries while watching the world go by. La Spaghetteria is another favourite Italian spot, especially for visitors looking for an authentic Italian dining experience without having to pay the airfare to Rome.
There are plenty of other spots to eat and drink here — Milk the Cow is popular for cheese and wine matching — and King and Godfree is the perfect place for a roast Porchetta roll, glass or wine or deli produce plucked straight from the shelves. And a few minutes’ stroll from the Lygon Street thoroughfare, the chefs at Humble Rays combine sweet and savoury flavours with such class that you’ll never forget the experience of eating breakfast or lunch here.
As day turns to night, many of Carlton’s other dining hotspots come to life. Heartattack and Vine is one of Melbourne’s best tapas restaurants, and although people come here for the share plates, they stay for the vibrant atmosphere, the music and the friendly — and insanely talented — folk behind the bar.
One of Melbourne’s most critically-acclaimed restaurants takes pride of place on the corner of Faraday and Drummond Streets, just around the corner from Lygon Street. The Carlton Wine Room focuses not only on fine, European-inspired food and wine but also on exceptional customer service and attention to detail. Whether you’re out for a good time with friends or looking for an intimate corner with that someone special, a night at the Carlton Wine Room is a special experience indeed.
For a dalliance in the arts, the Ian Potter Museum of Art is part of the University of Melbourne and the largest university-based museum in Australia, while Cinema Nova is arguably Melbourne’s best independent cinema, showing arthouse films, Hollywood blockbusters and a wide range of theatre and opera performances on screen.
If history is more your thing, take a guided tour through the Royal Exhibition Building. Cap your day in Carlton off with a stroll through Carlton Gardens, gazing up at the beautiful trees and relaxing in the serenity of the park, just a street away from Melbourne’s city centre.