Your complete guide to going out in Melbourne
Photo credit: Billy Roberts Photography
As its proud locals will tell you, Melbourne is Australia’s undisputed nightlife capital. With a 24-hour party spirit that fits right alongside its world-class arts, bar and food culture, the city is a magnet for both touring artists and weekend clubbers escaping more staid cities.
Whatever you need – from an award-winning cocktail to a techno party with no curfew – Melbourne can provide. It’s near impossible to sum up this city in a list of recommendations, but these bars, dancefloors and late-night eateries will guarantee a good time.
Stroll down any laneway in Melbourne’s CBD or ask a local for tips and you’ll soon be sitting in a new favourite bar. Whether you’re in the city centre or venturing further out, good drinking is never far away.
What could be more quintessentially Melbourne than a “container bar” occupying an empty parking lot in Chinatown? With a strong music focus (depending on the night, it could be reggae, soul, hip-hop or deep house), the grungy outdoor courtyard gets a good workout in summer.
27-29 Tattersalls Lane, Chinatown 3000
Bad Frankie will upend your (probably justified) prejudices about Australian-themed bars. This little Fitzroy beauty, easily reached from the city on the 86 tram, features an array of intriguing local spirits and a whole menu of jaffles. Come for a drink, stay for the famous lamington jaffle.
141 Greeves Street, Fitzroy 3065
The Corner Hotel
If you’re hitting Melbourne on a bright summer weekend, the rooftop terrace at Richmond’s The Corner Hotel is a wise move. The Corner is one of the city’s stalwart gig venues (Gallant and Dillon Francis are among the acts coming up in 2017), but it doubles nicely as a beer garden and eatery. If you’re not sticking around for a show downstairs, several of the clubs on this list are a short drive away.
57 Swan Street, Richmond 3121
Loch & Key
Loch & Key has that cocktail you need between the party and the after-party. This spot, hidden upstairs at one of Melbourne’s oldest pubs (now called Captain Melville), serves serious libations until 7am on Friday and Saturday nights. And you wonder why Melbournians are stoked with their hometown?
Upstairs, 34 Franklin Street, Melbourne 3000
The main event
You know Revolver, The Toff In Town, Brown Alley and New Guernica from countless other Melbourne club lists. Here’s a selection of other venues used on the regular by some of the city’s most forward-thinking crews.
Glamorama bills itself as a “later than late venue” that specialises in excellent drinks and a savvy music policy. (AKA, exactly what you go to Melbourne for.) Think guests like Gerd Janson, Sonja Moonear and Palm Trax on a Funktion-One sound system.
393 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy 3065
Boney is a “bar and bandroom” captained by the team behind Melbourne greats like Revolver Upstairs and The Toff. It’s the kind of place that hosts live indie acts, hip-hop karaoke, comedy shows and also club nights with really good DJs. A very solid all-rounder in the classic Melbourne mould.
68 Little Collins Street, Melbourne 3000
When it comes to clubs with uncompromised music policies, Melbourne has got it made. My Aeon, which underwent a major renovation in 2016, fits neatly into that category. Boasting two club rooms equipped with Funktion-One systems, My Aeon is committed to underground music, from driving psytrance to heady techno and much more in between.
791 Sydney Road, Brunswick 3056
Hugs&Kisses is an interesting proposition: a “private members-only club” with an on-point music policy. With past guests like Mall Grab, Gunnar Haslam and Dopplereffekt, the place is open to “people of strong moral character and pleasant temperament”. If that describes you, fill out the form and anticipate your invite.
22 Sutherland Street, Melbourne 3000
The Bottom End
The Bottom End is another of those all-in-one venues that Melburnians should feel smug about, with a pub, US-style diner and heaving club under the same roof. This is a very unique dancefloor, too, welcoming Detroit techno icons and queer R&B parties alike.
579 Little Collins Street, Melbourne 3000
Over almost two decades, Melbourne mainstay Onesixone has facilitated countless dancefloor memories. The multi-story club in Prahan is still hard at it week in, week out, with the added bonus of its open-air rooftop in summer. Onesixone is also host to the Monday marathon The Breakfast Club, which powers gleefully on through the start of the working week.
161 High Street, Prahan 3181
The Gasometer Hotel
You could hit up The Gasometer Hotel for a beer and a simple pub meal, but we’re recommending it for a different reason. The venue boasts a band room with a retractable roof that allows for open-air partying in the summer. Try to make it for techno collective Bunker or super-popular Sunday session Daydreams, which draws lines down the block.
484 Smith St, Collingwood 3066
You’d be unsurprised at this point to learn Melbourne is also good at around-the-clock eating. Whether it’s a quick snack on the way home, a sit-in dinner after midnight or a fortifying bowl of ramen in the early morning, this city can show you the way.
We really only need three words for this recommendation: ramen all night. This intimate CBD restaurant is open 24 hours, fulfilling your desire for umami-loaded Japanese noodle soup whenever it arises. A bowl of Shujinko’s black ramen is truly the pre-breakfast of champions.
225 Russell Street, CBD 3000
Choo Choo’s at The Toff
Melbourne visitors are likely to end up at multi-level good time destination Curtin House at least once. If you’re catching a gig at The Toff In Town on level two, you’ll be happy to know its in-house Thai canteen is open until 5am on weekends.
2/252 Swanston Street, CBD 3000
Sometimes, after the clock passes midnight, you get that hankering for rich bistro fare. And that’s exactly what’ll you find at Nieuw Amsterdam, which keeps some classy late-night hours. Sure, it might make you a little sleepy before the club, but that’s nothing their Trinidad Pick Me Up cocktail can’t correct.
106-112 Hardware Street, CBD 3000
This basement-level “mezcaleria and dive taqueria” opened last year on Little Bourke Street (a few minutes walk from one of our club picks, Boney), and it’s a good one to keep in your back pocket. They serve tacos until 2:30am on weekends and you can prop up the bar with a mezcal creation until 3am all week.
Basement, 51 Little Bourke Street, CBD 3000
Melbourne, can it get any better for nightlife? In a city loaded with DJ’s, Artists and musicians, and people are flocking to the city to escape the turbulence of other cities, what’s the next big thing? Click here to check out what Melbourne’s House of Bacardi headliners think is in store for the future.