This Melbourne rooftop bar walking tour will take you to four high-flying venues scattered across the city. You’ll learn some of the history of Melbourne along the way, see some amazing street art, and enjoy an included beverage at each bar. There are some stairs involved. Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
Please note: Walk Melbourne has recently discontinued this tour. You may like to visit the rooftop bars listed yourself, or browse all our available Melbourne walking tours here.
They say you can always tell a tourist in New York.
They’re the ones standing in the city’s streets looking up. In the same way, you can always tell a local in Melbourne. They’re the ones standing on the city’s rooftops looking down. Welcome to Melbourne’s high life — a flamboyant rooftop bar scene that’s the talk of the town.
Melbourne certainly isn’t the only city in the world with a penchant for creaking lifts and AstroTurf, but the city has certainly taken the rooftop bar concept and run with it. Today there are all manner of drinking establishments tucked away up in the city’s eaves. Want to know where to find Melbourne’s best rooftop bars? Talk to Monique Bayer — owner and tour guide at Walk Melbourne.
Monique is a published food writer, former barista and all round aficionado on Melbourne’s dining and drinking scene. One word of advice when joining one of Monique’s walking tours — have a pen and paper handy. You’ll want to scribble down the many restaurant recommendations you’re likely to receive.
Walk Melbourne offers five walking tours — each focusing on a different aspect of the city’s culinary and cultural fabric. The Melbourne rooftop bar walk takes in four contrasting venues located in different corners of the city. A beverage at each is included.
After meeting at Federation Square, it’s a very short walk to our first stop — the iconic Young and Jackson Hotel on the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets. The hotel has stood on this site since 1861, firstly known as the Princes Bridge Hotel and later as the Young and Jackson Hotel.
The first floor is home to another Melbourne icon — Chloe, painted by Jules Joseph Lefebvre in Paris in 1875. The 2.6 metre-high nude has hung in the hotel since 1909.
We continue up the stairs to our destination, the Rooftop Cider Bar. The bar has high walls and doesn’t afford amazing views, but it is a quirky, intimate space that offers eight ciders on tap and many more in bottles. In winter the warm mulled cider would no doubt go down a treat.
Our next stop is the much-loved Curtin Building in Swanston Street. Up on the roof, the Rooftop Bar is a friendly and funky space, inhabited by lots of interesting types. Hipsters rub shoulders with would-be hip hoppers. I don’t think I’ve seen a grown man dressed in white overalls (apart from a guy that just painted our house) since 1988. A few slightly uncomfortable looking suits complete the ensemble. It’s a whole lot of fun.
Heading up Lonsdale we make a beeline for Bomba — a Spanish tapas restaurant and rooftop cocktail bar. These guys have a saying: ‘What happens on the rooftop, stays on the rooftop.’ You have been told.
This is a chic, sophisticated affair, which clearly accommodates the more conventional after-work crowd. As we’re all getting a little peckish, everyone tucks in to some optional tapas. The patatas bravas are sensational.
The final stop on this Melbourne rooftop bar tour is another fine institution. Madame Brussels is reminiscent of a 1950s tennis club. How that relates to the infamous brothel owner Caroline Hodgson (known as Madame Brussels) of the late 19th century remains a mystery, but I’m sure there’s a good reason (or maybe not). This rooftop soiree is a fabulous flight of fancy, and the included Madame’s Fruity Double D Cup goes down a treat.
As the evening draws to a close and we prepare to descend to planet earth, I’m definitely left wanting more. This three-hour introduction to Melbourne’s rooftop bar scene deserves high praise indeed. It’s money well spent.
Adam travelled as a guest of Walk Melbourne.
Additional images: Bigstock
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.