The best hidden bars in Melbourne (and how to find them)

The best hidden bars in Melbourne (and how to find them)

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One of the best things about Melbourne is its cool bar scene.

The laneways and hidden corners are the natural habitat for secret drinking spots and have nurtured many bars that have stood the test of time.

Now over the years, I like to think I have built up a decent address book of hidden bars in Melbourne. But, as we had been living in London for a few years, I decided I needed some help rediscovering what’s new in the city.

I joined Walks 101 on their Hidden Laneway Bars of Melbourne tour and made some great discoveries to add to this list.

More about the tour at the end of this article – it’s a great activity if you are visiting Melbourne for a few days or a long weekend. And, if you’re a local like me, the tour will open your eyes to even more of our city’s magic.

Best hidden bars in Melbourne CBD

melbourne secret bars

If you can’t see it from the street then it is pretty much hidden right? Melbourne has embraced laneway and rooftop bars with a passion.

And there’s something about a hidden bar that goes hand in hand with our street art culture. Duck down a lane covered in murals and find a new watering hole. It doesn’t get more ‘Melbourne’ than that.

Here are some of our favourites.

Ponyfish Island

ponyfish island - one of the best bars in melbourne

One of my favourite places to spend a lazy afternoon in Melbourne is on a pontoon in the middle of the Yarra River!

Hidden under the Southbank Pedestrian Bridge, on a sunny day there is no better place to relax with a beer or cocktail than Ponyfish Island. If you’re celebrating something special (or even just because!) you can order a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.

Ponyfish Island – Yarra Pedestrian Bridge

Gin Palace

Push back the velvet curtains at the entrance to the Gin Palace and your eyes are met with a luxurious lounge that is perfect for intimate conversations and musings about why gin is having such a moment these days.

At the Gin Palace they have championed our juniper tipple du jour for well over a decade and stock over 200 varieties. They make a mean martini too. 

Gin Palace – 10 Russell Place

Beneath Driver Lane

best hidden bars in melbourne

beneath driver lane menu

Newly discovered (thanks to the Laneway bars tour!), take a trip to New Orleans when you venture down the stairs to Beneath Driver Lane. 

Slide into one of the cosy banquettes and order yourself a Nitro Southside. This cocktail is as cool as a cucumber, using liquid nitrogen with theatrical effect. It’s not just for show either. This refreshing aperitif has the hallmarks of being the drink of the summer.

Beneath Driver Lane – Shop 3, Driver Lane

Click here to find out more about the Hidden Laneways Bars tour

Chuckle Park

The decor is pretty kitsch but the vibe is fun and relaxed. Pull up a bar stool at Chuckle Park and enjoy the outdoor atmosphere with a jug of sangria or two. 

This is a great place to catch up with mates as twinkling lanterns swing overhead. In winter there are heat lamps to keep you all cosy.

Chuckle Park – 322 Little Collins Street

Pizza Pizza Pizza

pizza pizza pizza melbourne

So hidden that you need a special password to get in, this bar hides behind a pizza by the slice joint. Pizza Pizza Pizza is not just a cute gimmick however.

Apart from the fun, I’ll be going back for their signature aged Negroni and chicken salt fries. Message me if you want the code.

Pizza Pizza Pizza – 16 Meyers Place

Berlin Bar

Having spent many an evening flitting from west to east Berlin without leaving Melbourne, I happily recommend this bar concept and their creative cocktails. 

Start your night in the luxe West German salon before venturing east to the bunker, passing Checkpoint Charlie on your way. If you’re more of a beer drinker you’ll be impressed by the stock of German brews. 

Berlin Bar – Top floor, 16 Corrs Lane

acdc lane melbourne
street art laneway melbourne

Cherry Bar

This one is for those of you who like your bars divey with a rock n roll legacy to brag about. Cherry is in AC/DC lane – of course.  It’s the kind of place you go for a beers to see live music or to party hard after a gig you’ve waited a decade for. Cherry has been a Melbourne institution for almost 20 years. Expect no fancy cocktails here.

Cherry – AC/DC Lane

Learn more about the Hidden Laneways Bars tour 

Eau de Vie

Taking inspiration from the Prohibition Era in 1920s America, Eau de Vie is more of an experience than simply a bar. Their cocktail theatre menu boasts the flaming ‘Ron Zacapa Blazer’ and other sensory creations on its outstanding list.

It would be quite rude to describe the elegant fare offered at EDV ‘bar snacks’. I’m quite obsessed with the eggplant chips, but you should also try the duck sausage roll. 

If you’re a whiskey lover, there is a secret bar within a bar where you can select your favourite bottle and have it stored safely for your next visit.

Eau de Vie – 1 Malthouse Lane

Bar Americano

presgrave place cocktail bar melbourne
secret bars melbourne

Charming Presgrave Place is a haven for quirky street art but look for the blue Tabbacchi sign and you’ll find one of the smallest bars in Melbourne.

This standing room only venue has a seasonal menu of classic cocktails mixed by some of the best bar tenders in town, if not the world… if I do say so myself.

Bar Americano – 20 Presgrave Place

Madame Brussels

One of the original rooftop bars in Melbourne, Madame Brussels is still going strong with its cheeky pink and white garden party.

This is the place to go with a gaggle of girlfriends to enjoy jugs of cocktails on the terrace served by staff in tennis whites. There are poached chicken sandwiches, raspberry cupcakes and fondue on the menu at Madame Brussels and honestly, it’s just darling.

Madame Brussels – Level 3, 59-63 Bourke Street

Loop Roof

Hovering over Meyers Place, Loop Roof is a casual rooftop bar great for late afternoon sips and getting your night started.

Pull up one of the colourful chairs in the outdoor garden terrace and relax with one of their environmentally conscious cocktails.

Loop Roof works with local businesses to use products that would otherwise be written off as waste. Make mine a Fig-ure it out sour.

Loop Roof – Level 3, 23 Meyers Place

best rooftop bars melbourne

Siglo Bar

Perhaps the most romantic bar in town, Siglo is a stylish bar with views over Parliament House and a European feel. Siglo is an emotional favourite of mine and a wonderful place for celebrations and date nights when you need to impress. 

Champagne or a dirty martini  is my drink of choice at this venue. If you’re hungry the polenta chips are not to be missed. In my opinion, it’s the best rooftop bar in Melbourne.

Siglo Bar – upstairs, 2/161 Spring Street  

About the Hidden Laneway Bars tour

walks 101 melbourne bar tour

Designed by Walks 101 founder “American” John, the laneway bars tour takes you on a three hour journey of drinks discovery around central Melbourne.

Jumping on and off trams and ducking in and out of alleys, John or one of his able team share highlights of Melbourne’s famous laneways peppered with anecdotes and fun facts.

Along the way you stop at four very different bars where you choose what you like. If you’re smart you’ll listen to the suggestions of your bar tender. They will match a beverage to your tastes.

make mine a manhattan whiskey bar melbourne

Even if you are not a big drinker (like me these days) the bars are happy to recommend non-alcoholic options.

In any case, the tour is as much about discovering Melbourne’s laneway culture as having a few drinks.

The tour starts at 3pm, so by the time it ends you are well and truly ready to continue your evening. You may even have made a few friends along the way.

hidden bar tour melbourne

Our tour group was a friendly mix of international and interstate visitors as well as country Victorians.

For more information and to book yourself on a tour visit the Walks 101 website.


Do you have a favourite bar in Melbourne?

And do you need to know a secret handshake to get in?


We love Melbourne (and live there!) – here are some articles to help you plan your visit


Disclosure – We were kindly invited on the Laneway Bars tour by Walks 101. As always, all opinions are our own. Untold Morsels assists our readers with carefully chosen product and services recommendations that help make travel easier and more fun. If you click through and make a purchase on many of these items we may earn a commission.  Please read our disclosure page for more information.

 
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21 Comments

  1. 9th November 2018 / 5:51 PM

    We live in Melbourne and love discovering new ‘hidden bars’. Not that we get out much anymore these days. Make sure you add Trinket Bar to your next visit – very cool! Cheers, Amber

    • 9th November 2018 / 7:40 PM

      Hi Amber, I was at Trinket on Tuesday! Loved the luxe cocktail vibe. Thanks for stopping by

  2. 22nd November 2018 / 8:37 PM

    We loved our weekends in Melbourne and would always include a trip to the theatre with a few bars pre and post show. I imagine many of the bars have changed hands since we were last there. Would love to go back! #farawayfiles

  3. 22nd November 2018 / 9:32 PM

    OMG this is so right up my alley! Pun intended. I love all the names – Ponyfish Island and Chuckle Park. This sounds really fun. I once went to a bar in Chicago in a residential neighborhood. We knocked and there was a slot opening for the password. inside – all Chicago cops. Interesting illegal bar run by cops. lol. This was fun to read. Thanks.

  4. 22nd November 2018 / 9:51 PM

    I LOVE the sound of ALL of them! I need to head to Australia very soon. I have not been.

  5. 23rd November 2018 / 12:13 AM

    What a fun time you must have had researching this post! I like the sound of the Berlin bar, education while you drink! #FarawayFiles

  6. 23rd November 2018 / 1:17 AM

    What a fun way to spend an evening! Although after four cocktails I might not have been in a fit enough state to admire my surroundings. The nibbles that come with the cocktails sound as delicious as the drinks here. #FarawayFiles

  7. 23rd November 2018 / 3:50 AM

    Oh, this must have been a fun tour, sounds like my kind of thing. I think the Berlin Bar sounds really interesting. I’ve pinned it, as I know we’ll make it to Melbourne one day. #farawayfiles

  8. 23rd November 2018 / 8:31 AM

    I have not been to Melbourne. I am not sure whether I would be able to carry on , but I loved the names of the bars. I particularly loved Pizza, Pizza Pizza and Chuckle bars. Thank you very much for sharing this post. #farawayfiles

  9. 23rd November 2018 / 6:35 PM

    I loved Melbourne! A friend took me to this basic, but nice rooftop bar, great views, might have been one of these, don’t remember the name 🙂 #farawayfiles

  10. 23rd November 2018 / 9:33 PM

    I remember visiting Madame Brussels years ago, it was the first time I had experienced a cool rooftop bar. Would love to check out the others
    #farawayfiles

  11. 23rd November 2018 / 10:28 PM

    I wish I had known about this tour when I was in Melbourne last month -will definitely be doing this next time we are down there! Looks like great fun and I love the bars in Melbourne! #farawayfiles

  12. 23rd November 2018 / 10:51 PM

    Chicken salt fries? Those sound intriguing. #FarawayFiles

  13. 24th November 2018 / 4:14 AM

    This is why I tell everyone who wants to visit Australia to go to Melbourne! Far out, I miss being able to catch an hour’s flight down there for all of this!

  14. 25th November 2018 / 4:16 AM

    I love the idea of this tour! I don’t know if I would be able to get a drink at every stop, at least not if I wanted to actually keep walking after, but the laneways and hidden spots seem so fun to explore. I’d like to hit ACDC Lane for sure, and the under bridge bar too. We went to a speakeasy in NYC once and all the drinks were served in teacups and coffee mugs… seems strange to drink your cocktail out of a teacup! #farawayfiles

  15. 25th November 2018 / 1:23 PM

    I’d love to do this tour! Melbourne is such a great city and all its laneways help give it such a fun vibe. In fact, when they started to do the Christchurch rebuild in NZ after the 2011 quake, there were lots of plans to try and replicate the feel of Melbourne by creating new laneways. There are a few but not to the same extent of course! Madame Brussels sounds like a fun place to enjoy some drinks with friends. I love that it offers fondue! #farawayfiles

  16. 25th November 2018 / 9:33 PM

    Great list of bars, I’m very out of touch with the Melbourne drinking scene now that I’ve been in London for 10 years, but I loved Gin Palace and Madam Brussels. I used to like going to Cookie and The Toff in Town but I’m not sure if they’re still there now. Looking forward to getting back to Melbourne again soon. #farawayfiles

  17. 26th November 2018 / 9:16 PM

    I have a few Malaysian friends residing in Melbourne, and they have mentioned about the city’s hip bars 🙂 As always, they are asking, when will I come to Melbourne for a visit? If I do, I will surely check out one of these bars in your list! #FarawayFiles

  18. 27th November 2018 / 12:07 AM

    Such a fun post, now all I need is to figure out how to get to Melbourne! I was in Nottingham recently and my sister in law was showing me all the hidden bars there, sadly only from the outside as we were short of a babysitter…..thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

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