Famous for the delicious food, fun entertainment options and exquisite nightlife is St Kilda, a southern suburb in the folds of Melbourne. Named after a schooner, Lady of St Kilda, which was moored at the St Kilda Beach, it has always been Melbourne’s ‘Backpacker Hot Spot’ since ages. It stretches between the sandy ends of Albert Park and Elwood and has developed into a trendy and cosmopolitan hub. From the bustling Acland Street to the amazing landmark of Luna Park, St Kilda is quite an unexpected but worthy tourist destination nevertheless.
Luna Park is the ultimate landmark of St. Kilda, an amusement park adjacent to Port Phillip Bay. As recent as 2012, it completed 100 years of existence and therefore, has been an integral part of St. Kilda history and culture. It is a perfectly fun blend between heritage listed attractions and amazingly adventurous rides, inviting people of all age groups to relax and have fun. The entrance is through the giant mouth of a moon face, called Mr Moon and is the most photographed attraction of the park. There are a handful of function rooms and venues for parties, engagement, weddings and Christmas, available for hire. With the entrance fee of just $5, the mouth-entrance lets you access a world full of popping colours, carnival flair and historic and thrilling rides.
The Local Taphouse
St. Kilda is quite well-known for the Local Taphouse, an award-winning pub located on Carlisle Street. It came into existence in 2008 and has been pouring out its amazing and quality brews for the visitors ever since. It was declared as the ‘Best Beer Bar in Australia’ in 2019 and as reported by Time out in 2017, was ‘People’s Choice Best Pub in Melbourne’. It is jointly owned by Steve Jeffares, Guy Greenstone and Justin Joiner, with the aim of brewing more and better beers than Carlton and VB. They initially started with as much as 20 taps and has the unusually alluring ambience of a tavern. Good food, local wine & spirits and amazing service and quality craft beers – that’s what The Local Taphouse is all about!
St. Kilda Beach
Roughly 6 kilometres away from the Melbourne city centre is Melbourne’s most famous beach, St. Kilda Beach. This sandy paradise stretches about 2,300 feet, between St. Kilda Harbour and St. Kilda Marina. You will definitely see a happy swarm of walkers, rollerbladers and joggers on the beach, while windsurfers, swimmers and kite surfers can be seen having fun in the sparkling waters. One of the famous landmarks of the beach is the iconic St. Kilda Pier, with it sheltering St Kilda Harbour and a little penguin colony. The beach offers a number of refreshment options, right from good bars and quaint cafés. St Kilda Beach is really about sparkling waters, sandy beaches and an energetic and lively atmosphere!
The Wimpole family has been at the forefront of beer crafting in St Kilda for almost 80 years, thanks to Freddie Wimpoles. It is a hunter lodge-style bar, established over the old George Hotel site. It is named after Fredrick Wimpoles, who purchased the site and then became mayor of St Kilda and director of the Melbourne Co-operative Brewing Company in late 19th century. This new place is characterized by dark timbers, antler chandeliers and a wall tiled entirely with beer cans. The bar is complete with twelve beer taps, an extensive selection of brews, canned as well as bottled and more than 150 spirits. A beer garden, Foxtel, sports facilities and live music are just some of the many features of Freddie Wimpoles.
If you think you haven’t yet heard about Hotel Esplanade, let me make it easy for you – it is the universally popular hotel, known as the Espy. It was built in 1878, at the foot of the pier and has been one of the amazing and hottest gig venues in Melbourne, due to the transformation of Gershwin room into a live-music stage. It underwent a huge renovation recently, in 2018, which finally opened the fifth level for the guests, along with upgraded sound and lighting quality in the Gershwin Room. There are three stages in this ‘New Espy’ as well as two restaurants and 12 bars. Get ready to enjoy some amazing gigs and grilled performances in this vintage hotel, munching on pizzas and charcoal-grilled meats.
St Kilda Pier
If you want to look down over picturesque views of St Kilda, then St Kilda Pier is just the right place for you! It was first built in 1853 meant to be a private timber jetty and was later transformed into a public pier in 1855, after being destroyed. It has undergone many transformations until it reached the current design – that of 1944 feet pier, studded with stone groins. The pier houses many things, including the St Kilda Pavilion, the Marina of the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron and a small colony of fairy penguins. The pier is always full of people, either cycling or rollerblading around, even fishing or just strolling around, enjoying the tranquillity of the place. You can enjoy some snacks on the kiosk, count the lovely penguins or just simply take in the relaxing atmosphere.
St Kilda Esplanade Sunday Market
Beautifully located just on the beachside is the iconic St Kilda Esplanade Sunday Market. Reaching the market is quite easy, as it is just a 12-15 minutes ride from the city from the trams. It has been functioning since 1970, bringing a fine range of arts, crafts and amazing creations for you to own! There are more than 140 artists and craftspeople, who flood the place, beautiful and handmade products accompanying them, including original paintings, clothing, candles as well as hats, fine jewellery and even olive oil. It is open every Sunday, from 10 AM till 4 PM, whatever the weather is. The market also offers a Foodie Zone, where you can fill up your stomach after you have filled your shopping bags.
Way before Melbourne was filled with seafood shops and bars, Renan Goksin opened Claypots in St Kilda, with the vision of promoting the goodness of seafood in the area. It was opened in 1998 and climbed the ladder of fame pretty quickly, opening branches in different venues, including Evening Star and Barbarossa. The restaurant boasts of serving the best and freshest seafood dishes, while the bar provides a versatile and amazing range of alcohols. The service of the place is faultless and so is the relaxing atmosphere. It is not just a restaurant and bar, but also a cosy confluence point. Make sure that you pay a visit to Barkly Street, where this seafood paradise is located.
There are hundreds of reasons as to why you should visit St Kilda’s Acland Street – if you still deny all of them, I am already ready with the 101st reason! The street is the cosmopolitan centre of St Kilda and was one of the first streets formed in 1842 when St Kilda was refurbished. The north-west end of the street is dotted with residential buildings, with many of them boasting of architecture and style from the 19th century. Half of them are used as flats while the rest have been dedicated for other uses, such as the Linden Gallery. As for the south-east end, it is a perfectly fabulous commercial strip, including clothing stores, art and gift shops and homewares as well as some amazing cafés, restaurants and eateries. If you visit the place, you will definitely agree that Acland Street is the heart and soul of St Kilda!
Acland Street is tightly packed with amazing stores and eateries, with one of them being Monarch Cakes. The cake shop was established in 1934 and has been spewing out Polish recipes all this time. They make sure that the ingredients that go into the cakes are in their most natural forms; no wonder the taste of the recipes is unchanged after all this time. Monarch Cakes definitely has a historic streak, as it is a symbol of the Jewish migrants who settled in St Kilda when fascism was taking root in Europe in the 1930s. In fact, they made ordering cheesecakes and chocolate kooglhoupf a popular combo. Monarch Cakes is so well-known around that it is deemed to be one of Melbourne’s must-visit places.
Tucked away in the Acland Street is the unusual but nonetheless fascinating eatery, Matcha Mylkbar. It is a completely vegan restaurant, with an inviting atmosphere and Instagram-worthy interiors. The menu has gluten-free vegan dishes, popular dishes of it being burgers with bright-green buns, mushroom lattes and vegan eggs. The café, before opening, gained recognition from Instagram – especially for its unusual but appealing menu – playing a significant role in its popularity. Just recently, in the face of the global pandemic, the restaurant has also introduced ‘survival kits’, which consists of cook-at-home dishes and pantry staples. With their beautiful interiors and an amazing menu, even non-vegans make sure to pay a visit to Matcha Mylkbar.
Acland Street is blessed with good restaurants and one of them is Cicciolina, a bar and restaurant primarily serving Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. It is also vegetarian friendly, along with having vegan and gluten-free options. The restaurant has really thought everything through, as the bar area is separate from the main restaurant area and both of these areas provide absolutely amazing service. People are seen returning the restaurant for their Tuna Tartar, Sardine pasta, Linguine Vongole and Spaghetti Bolognese. A good and delicious selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will greet you at the bar if you wish to consume some with the amazing dishes. Cicciolina, as you must have gathered by now, is a true culinary gem of St Kilda.
Originally called Palais Pictures, the Palais Theatre is one of the famous and ancient attractions of St Kilda. It is a historic Picture Palace, one of the early 20th-century picture palaces to still function properly till this date. It was designed by Henry Eli White in 1927, replacing the earlier, same-name cinema which was unfortunately destroyed in a fire. It has the capacity to hold more or less 3000 people at a time, making it the largest seated theatre in the whole of Australia. The theatre has been included in the Victorian Heritage Register as well as the Music Victoria Hall of Fame and stands in the forefront of the entertainment scene of St Kilda, with more than 100 events conducted yearly.
Encompassing around 2.25 sq. kilometres is the beautiful Albert Park, located just a few minutes away from St Kilda. It includes the Albert Park Lake in its vast premises, as well as the Albert Park Public Golf Course, the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, sporting facilities, a well-maintained walking tack, almost 5 kilometres in length and a number of relaxing spaces. The park was, till 1864, the part of Yarra River Delta, before being transformed into the park that stands today. It has always been the locals’ favourite, not only as of the ultimate recreation spot but also for its amazing sports’ facilities. A natural paradise in the middle of urbanization – that’s what Albert Park is all about.
St. Kilda Botanical Gardens
These gardens might be Botanical gardens – however, St. Kilda Botanical Gardens has always been one of the most-loved wedding destinations. The gardens officially opened in 1861, having rebuilt over a gravel pit and rubbish dump. The entrance to the gardens is lined with breezy palm trees, which open up to spacious lawn areas and a couple of locations amazing for holding the wedding ceremony. Some of them is the beautiful rose garden, with roses blooming all around, the rotunda and the pergola. The garden has a beautiful ornamental pond as well as a Conservatory and an Ecocentre. If you are still having second thoughts on visiting the Botanical Gardens, keep in mind that the photos clicked here turn out to be absolutely amazing. You won’t be having second thoughts anymore, will you?
Full of liveliness and characterized with colourful shops and historic amusement parks is, perhaps, the best way to fit St Kilda in a nutshell. It has, in fact, attracted locals as well as tourists over all these years. If you need to get your fill of Australia’s hippest capital, then it is a good idea to start with St Kilda.