The Best Arcades in Melbourne

Visit Australia's oldest arcade - and more.

Melbourne is known for its colourful laneways, but also for its majestic arcades. The city is home to several amazing arcades – all of which are in the city centre. Here’s the ultimate list of the best arcades in Melbourne.

Contents: Best Arcades
  Bourke St, City
Our Pick

Royal Arcade

Built in 1870, the Royal Arcade is not only Melbourne's most popular arcade but also the oldest in Australia. The Royal Arcade is a marvel to walk through, with checkered tiles and glass ceiling, making it a great photo opportunity.

Like most of the city's arcades, Royal Arcade is filled with small independent producers - many of which are confectionaries.

At the Little Collins St end, there are two giant carvings of the mythical figures, Gog & Magog: biblical figures that were said to be allies of Satan. They stand flanking a large clock that was designed by Thomas Gaunt, once 'the only watchmaker of the Australian colony.'

Visit on the hour and you'll see them both ring the bell.

  Collins St, City
Our Pick

Block Arcade

The Block Arcade is the finest example of a 19th-century shopping arcade in Australia. Originally called Carpenter's Lane - it features a mosaic floor, carved stone finishings and a beautiful glass dome centerpiece.

Inside are a collection of boutique retailers, including the iconic Hopetoun Tea Rooms.

Opened for in 1892 by the wife of the Victorian Governor, Lady Hopetoun, these tea rooms provided a place for women to relax in between their day of shopping.

The most magnificent feature of the Block Arcade is the glass dome. Architect David C. Askew was asked to take inspiration from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan - Italy's oldest active shopping centre - and it's a striking copy.

  Swanston St, City

Cathedral Arcade

Catherdral Arcade is small, but definitely worth a visit. On Swanston St, opposite St Paul's Cathedral, this tiny arcade acts as the entrance to the Nicolas Building.

Featured on both the heritage list and the national trust, the L-shaped arcade is home to several boutique clothing retailers.

Built in 1926 in the Greek revival palazzo style, the Nicolas Building is now a creative hub, home to boutiques, design studios and small start-ups. On level one you'll find the much loved Retrostar, known for its large collection of vintage clothing.

  Collins St, City

Manchester Unity Building

The Manchester Unity Building is our favourite building facade in the city. Built in 1932 during the great depression, it was a symbol of hope during a time of despair.

Upon completion it was the tallest building in Melbourne, standing at 64 metres. It was also the first building in Melbourne to have escalators, taking shoppers to the first floor 'without hassle.'

At night the tower lights up, and it has become one of the most popular sites for visitors during Melbourne Open House.

On the ground floor is a small arcade, which houses a cafe. The interior is beautiful, with the walls made of Australian marble, and the elevator doors of bronze.

  Little Collins St, City

Howey Place

Just off Little Collins Street is Howey Place, an arcade that stands in stark contrast to most others; it looks dingy and uninviting, but it has secrets.

Originally a nondescript back alley, Howey Place was revitalised in the late 1800's when Edward William Cole - owner of Cole's Book Arcade - decided to use his own money to give it a new life.

He added a glass, wrought iron canopy as well as glass-fronted stores that ran along the lane.

Now it's home to several venues, including Bar Americano - a tiny cocktail bar and one of the best laneway bars in Melbourne.

More expert tips by our tour guides:

The Best Laneways in Melbourne
The Best Views in Melbourne
The Best Arcades in Melbourne
The Best Parks & Gardens in Melbourne
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