Great places in Melbourne to have brunch and explore the city

Breakfast bagel at NBHD Neanderthal, (photo by UrbanSpoon)
Breakfast bagel at NBHD Neanderthal

Melbourne has a fiercely competitive brunch scene. It’s a serious business, and as such brunchers are spoilt for choice with exceptional quality being the base standard. Any ‘best of’ list is highly contentious, so we’re not even going to attempt it. But if you find yourself with a lazy Saturday stretched ahead of you, here are some ideas to while away the weekend like a true Melbournian.

 

1. Smashing avo and gorgeous gardens – Picnic and the Botanic Gardens

Picnic, MelbourneBlink and you miss it - it's easy to wander past this great cafe on busy Toorak Road without even noticing it, except perhaps at the weekend when tables spill out onto the pavement in an attempt to accommodate the volume of punters. If you do walk on by you'll miss possibly the best avo smash in town. Perfect poached eggs and a drizzle of pesto compliment the generous mashed feta and avocado, and the coffee is great to boot. If you're hungry, the deliciously naughty beer battered chips which accompany the sandwiches, wraps and burgers will satisfy, or if you want something lighter the quinoa salad is superb. This place is light and bright, and the staff always seems to pick the perfect soundtrack to create a chilled atmosphere.

 

Tip: go on a Saturday morning to catch some great acoustic live music from talented locals.

See a map to Picnic

 

What to do after

Just ten minutes’ walk from Picnic is the entrance to the Botanic Gardens. Beautifully kept, these sprawling gardens are so tranquil they feel like medicine for the soul. Follow the themed trails (eg. the Herbarium Discovery Walk, or the Aboriginal Heritage Walk), or simply lose yourself – take a blanket and relax next to the lakes. Keep an eye out for the occasional glimpse of Melbourne’s city skyline peeking through the trees.

 

Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

 

 

 

2. Be a foodie – NBHD Neanderthal and Prahran Market

Breakfast bagel at NBHD NeanderthalDescribed in one critic's review as the 'wild child of South Yarra', this new kid on the block will win you over with banter and coffee with a kick. It seems to be the place of choice for locals with pet pooches, so if you're a wannabe dog owner come here to get your fill of puppy love. But be warned. Go hungry. The menu is fearsome, particularly the confrontational Reuben. The breakfast bagel is becoming legendary with good reason.

 

 

Tip: head straight out to the courtyard at the back. It’s a hidden gem of a breakfast spot if you can get a seat.

See a map to NBHD Neanderthal

 

What to do after

First, let your breakfast go down. Seriously. Those mischievous Neanderthals love nothing more than seeing their punters having to secretly undo a button, and you'll need to have recovered sufficiently to appreciate the sights and smells of our post-brunch activity suggestion.

A few doors down the road you'll find the entrance to Prahran Market, Melbourne's oldest market. Here you'll find fresh local produce from fruit and veg to meat, fish, bread and cheese, and a host of other specialist traders. Spend some time taking it all in, then do a little shop for dinner. Tip: take cash!

 

 

 

3. Atomica and an artists’ market

Brunch in AtomicaLively Atomica on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy was one of the first combined café/roasteries in the world, and now supplies coffee to a range of Melbourne’s best cafes. The café itself is always bustling so grab a seat where you can and order the Atomica Breakfast which is best described as a posher, more ‘Melbourne’ version of a full English.

 

See a map to Atomica

 

 


What to do after

Rose Street Market, MelbourneA few minutes’ walk from Atomica is the Rose Street Artists’ Market, open Saturday and Sunday 11am-5pm. You’ll find a cosy little market offering handmade jewellery, vintage clothing, plants, art, homewares and more – lots of opportunity for unique gift shopping. 

 

Tip: stray off the main streets of Fitzroy and head down laneways and side streets to see some of the best displays of Melbourne’s incredible street art.

 

Melbourne street art

 

 

Read more about Melbourne here, or buy one of our Melbourne travel guides to take with you.