Spend a few days experiencing eclectic Carlton, which seamlessly blends heritage sights with youth-oriented culture. Located just north of Melbourne's central business district, this suburb is an easy and entertaining addition to any Melbourne sightseeing itinerary.
Begin your Carlton journey in its beating heart, the eclectic Lygon Street. Grab a morning coffee and a delectable pastry at Brunetti’s, a large-scale Italian cafe. The area's student population, owing to the neighbouring university, has supported a growing market of trendy book stores, artisanal shops and niche cafés along the main strip.
Walk east through streets lined with Victorian terrace cottages to the Carlton Gardens, one of Melbourne's finest inner-city parklands. Take the kids to the playground or picnic under sprawling Moreton Bay figs. In the gardens' centre, the huge Royal Exhibition Building cuts a photogenic figure. Next door, the Melbourne Museum, with its ultra-modern design, houses a range of entertaining and educational exhibits.
Venture to Carlton north to explore shady residential streets. Both Nicholson Street and Rathdowne Street feature charming “villages"; collections of intimate coffee houses, furniture stores and convenience shops.
Carlton's west is dominated by the massive Royal Park, a 72-hectare (181-acre) stretch of lawns, bushland and sporting fields. Take the kids to the Melbourne Zoo, which houses a collection of animals, birds and insects in the park's centre.
At dinner time, follow the crowds back to Lygon Street. Thanks to the suburb's rich Mediterranean heritage, this street features boundless options for Italian dining. Choose from excellent sit-down meals to late-night takeaway pizza. Other dining options include Vietnamese soups, Indian cuisine, French bistro-style meals and Turkish bakeries.
After a hearty meal, take a walk with ice cream or a frozen yoghurt treat; the street remains lively until well after dinner. The Nova Cinema is a great place to sit and relax after your meal, with cheap tickets to a range of art house movies.
Get into Carlton and navigate the suburb using efficient tram, bus or train services from most areas of the city.