Australia Destinations Melbourne & Victoria

Five of the Best Markets in Melbourne

July 23, 2015

Whenever I travel to new cities, I tend to seek out certain constants. The landmarks cities are known for aren’t necessarily my sightseeing priorities. As a traveler who daydreams about living almost everywhere I go, I prefer sussing out the local vibe. I look for the coziest cafes, for cheap and delicious lunch spots and the best places to buy used books. I look for parks and local hikes, for scenic running routes and sunset views. And, wherever I go, I always make a point to check out local markets.

In Melbourne, there’s always a market going. In the summer and on weekends especially, there are almost too many to choose from. I’ve still got plenty on my must-see list for my next visit to Melbourne, but four months in the city gave me enough time to fall in love with a few. These are five of my favorites, the kind of markets I imagine being a regular at in my Melbourne fantasy life. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll stick around longer. A girl can dream.

1. Camberwell Sunday Market

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Camberwell Sunday Market is known for having some of Melbourne’s very best secondhand shopping. The morning that I made the trek from St. Kilda (it took nearly an hour by tram) was cold, cloudy and rainy. When I stopped at a store to ask where exactly the market was, the attendant on the floor told me that most of the regular stallholders hadn’t shown up because of the weather. For a moment, I was crushed.

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Still, I was there. I was determined to check out the market, and as it turned out, it was more than worth the travel time. I was blown away. Camberwell has, no doubt, the best secondhand clothing selection I’ve seen anywhere in Melbourne. If this was a slow day, I can only imagine the potential of the market when it’s completely on. I managed to keep myself to buying only two shirts for the sake of my backpack, but it wasn’t easy. The crop tops I bought have become two of my favorite go-to pieces, and they only cost me two dollars apiece. Two dollars! I paid with pocket change, literally.

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Even better than cheap clothing at a market? Delicious, cheap food! Camberwell had several food trucks to choose from, including one with coffee and hot, straight-outta-the-fryer jelly donuts for $1.10 each. I’ve never been a donut person, but a cold morning it seemed like the right choice. It was — I even had to go back for a second! Yes, had to. They were donuts to remember.

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When & Where:The Camberwell Sunday Market runs every Sunday in the Station Street Car Park in Camberwell from 7am to 12:30pm. The better the weather, the more selection you’re guaranteed. (This is probably a safe bet for most of Melbourne’s outdoor markets.)

2. Fed Square Book Market

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I’d read about the Fed Square Book Market before arriving in Melbourne. I’d planned to go nearly every weekend I lived in the city, but somehow between work and other plans, I never managed to get there until nearly the end of my stay. It’s probably for the best: if I’d gone any earlier, I’d have had far too many books to get rid of before leaving Melbourne.

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The market boasts more than enough selection for any bibliophile. A lot of the vendors specialize in certain genres, from Russian literature to philosophy and art to children’s books. Of course, there are plenty of contemporary fiction and classic literature selections if you’re just in the market for a good read on the road. I wasn’t supposed to buy any books (hey, it was an ambitious goal!), but after a great talk about Australian literature with one of the vendors, I walked away with both Nicholas Shakespeare’s In Tasmania and Albert Facey’s A Fortunate Life. I haven’t started either yet, but I know they’re worth the weight in my backpack. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t avoid packing a book or two (or three!)…

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When & Where:The Fed Square Book Market takes place in the Atrium at Federation Square and runs almost every Saturday of the year from 11am to 5pm. Just be sure to double-check before you plan on going during holiday weekends.

3. Queen Victoria Night Market

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During the day, the Queen Victoria Market is mostly too crowded, touristy and full of souvenirs for my taste. The Night Market, which runs seasonally during the summer and winter, is another thing entirely.

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The Night Market draws big crowds and features amazing local artisans and designers. Even if you’re not in the mood for shopping, it’s the kind of market to plan a night out around. There are heaps of food vendors to choose from, and while the lines are long, the food comes fast. I had a ridiculously good fried softshell crab burger. Plus, there’s beer, wine and live music. What more could you want from a market, really?

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If you do go during the day, the shops around M Shed seemed the most enticing — all local designers and foodie-worthy stalls. Queen Victoria Market is also home to the best smoothie I ever had in Melbourne. Seriously — it’s worth a day trip to Queen Victoria for Market Juice alone.

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When & Where:The Queen Victoria Night Market runs on Wednesday nights during special winter and summer seasons. You can check dates for upcoming seasons at their website here

4. The Rose St. Artists’ Market

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While Camberwell specializes in trash to treasure, The Rose St. Artists’ Market is all about celebrating local creatives. The goods up for sale are similar to those at the Queen Victoria Night Market, but Rose St. offers a more laidback afternoon vibe. It’s also in one of my very favorite Melbourne neighborhoods: Fitzroy.

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If you’re after gifts for friends and family back home (or for yourself!), Rose St. is the market I’d recommend. Between jewelry and clothes by local designers, household items like pillows and ceramics, art, photography and vintage finds, you’d be hard-pressed not to find something. The market’s on the smaller side, but the selection is impressive. Walking around made me wish I had an apartment to decorate in Melbourne.

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I didn’t see too much as far as beverages and snacks go, but no worries — Grace Cafe has you covered. It’s almost right outside the market’s entrance and features great coffee (including, fellow Americans, bottomless drip coffee!!), local and free range ingredients and really, really great sticky date pudding. It’s definitely a good way to end a visit to Rose St. Market before hitting up some Brunswick St. happy hours while you’re in the neighborhood.

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When & Where:The Rose St. Artists’ Market runs every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm at 60 Rose St. You can take the 96 tram from Bourke or 11 from Collins.

5. CERES Organic Market & Grocery

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This market’s a little different from the others I’ve included on this list. It’s not a big weekly event; rather, it’s a pretty special ongoing little market. I’ve written about how excited I was to discover CERES before, and you can bet that if I were a Brunswick resident I’d be shopping at this little market all the time.

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The produce for sale is all local and organic, and all the profits from the market and little grocery store support CERES’ non-profit work focused on environmental sustainability and education. There’s also a book exchange and regular special events including live music and a trash to treasure exchange. I haven’t made it to CERES for any of its special events yet, but you know it’s on my list. I really loved the little treats on offer at the store — I picked up some crazy delicious coconut and date bites, plus a shampoo stick that’s lasted through a good bit of travel so far.

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When & Where:The CERES Organic Market and Grocery is open everyday, from 9am to 5pm Monday-Friday and 9am to 2pm Saturday and Sunday. Take the 96 Brunswick tram route to the end of the line and CERES is just a short walk away.

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The best markets in Melbourne, Australia

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22 Comments

  • Reply Josh July 23, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Great piece! Melbourne has it all rain, hail or shine!

    • Reply Katie July 24, 2015 at 2:26 am

      Thanks, Josh! It really does 🙂

  • Reply Camille July 24, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Whaaat, there is a book market and I did not go? How did I not know about this?! Well, I thought I’d seen a lot of Melbourne in the days I was there but it looks like I still have a lot left to discover, and that calls for a next time! 🙂

    http://www.camilleinwonderlands.com

    • Reply Katie July 24, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      There is just SO MUCH to see there! Melbourne’s such an incredible city, definitely one of my favorites. I’ll always be looking for excuses to go back, too!

  • Reply Eden July 24, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    These all sound amazing! I love exploring markets. We have some here too in Toronto, but I’d love to visit Melbourne someday 🙂

    http://www.mintnotion.com

    • Reply Katie July 24, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      I keep hearing such great things about Toronto recently! I only just made my first trip to Canada last October — we explored Quebec. Would love to get to Toronto next time I get up there!

  • Reply Robyn July 25, 2015 at 2:48 am

    I absolutely adore Melbourne! Heading there against next week and can’t wait to check out some of these markets.

    Robyn

    http://www.thetechgypsy.com

    • Reply Katie July 26, 2015 at 1:49 am

      Me too, Robyn! I can’t stop raving about it. Hope you have an amazing trip!

  • Reply Julia July 26, 2015 at 1:31 am

    I have always been drawn to Melbourne and now these markets give me even more reason to go! The Night Market seems especially magical, with its lights, music and food booths:)

    • Reply Katie July 26, 2015 at 1:47 am

      Knowing from your blog how much of a foodie you are, I’m sure you’d love Melbourne! The culinary scene is incredible and diverse – Vietnamese, Japanese, Greek and Italian foods all have a major presence. Can’t wait to return to the Queen Vic Night Market later this year with my sister 🙂

  • Reply Chintan July 30, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Melbourne is on my list, i always thought that Melbourne is expensive then Sydney, but looking at these markets i am thinking that it would be great experience.
    Chintan recently posted…How to Find Last Minute Holiday Travel Deals?My Profile

    • Reply Katie July 30, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      I haven’t been to Sydney yet, but from what I hear both are fairly expensive to travel in. Still, Melbourne can be done affordably! Coming to Australia on a working holiday visa with the opportunity to earn money as you travel makes a big difference as hourly wages are pretty high, but even without working, Melbourne has enough cheap food and free outdoor exploring to make for a great visit.

  • Reply Katelyn July 30, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    I just came across your blog through Alex in Wanderland. I’m definitely bookmarking your site as I’m gearing up for my working holiday in Oz next March! I look forward to reading more about your adventures and hopefully learn a thing or two to prepare me. 🙂
    Katelyn recently posted…How to Get to Meteora from AthensMy Profile

    • Reply Katie July 30, 2015 at 4:52 pm

      So happy to hear it, Katelyn! I’ll be based in Broome for a few months, but will have plenty of adventuring covered by March 🙂 The working holiday visa is definitely an amazing way to explore Australia. Besides being expensive to travel in otherwise, there’s far too much to see to limit an Oz trip to a short vacation!

  • Reply Fashion Matters July 31, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    sounds incredible, ill be sure to check them out when I visit Melbourne.

    The Fashion Matters- Fashion & Travel Magazine
    Fashion Matters recently posted…Why I took the road less traveledMy Profile

    • Reply Katie August 1, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      Definitely do! For clothes especially, Camberwell is full of treasures.

  • Reply Susan Moore August 2, 2015 at 1:40 am

    Still haven’t made it Australia, I would love to visit Melbourne and explore the markets, the book market and artists’ market could easily capture my attention for an afternoon.
    Susan Moore recently posted…Going Nomadic – Forgetting Fear – Taking a LeapMy Profile

    • Reply Katie August 2, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      Australia’s a big trip! It’s so vast and so diverse that I think planning a visit can be really overwhelming. If you do make it soon, Melbourne makes for a really amazing city to start in. Most of the friends I’ve met traveling here agree that it’s their favorite city in Australia! The markets in this post definitely capture the vibe of the city.

  • Reply Naomi August 3, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Ahhh this made me super excited to go to Melbourne, I’m a sucker for cute & fun markets.
    Naomi recently posted…TOC Hostel & Suites, Madrid (review)My Profile

    • Reply Katie August 4, 2015 at 5:20 am

      Me too, Naomi! For me, awesome markets are always a major highlight of visiting new cities.

  • Reply Brooke August 4, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I loved all of the great variety of markets from used clothing to food trucks to local products to books! I would spend hours at each of these wonderful markets. It’s great to see Melbourne has such variety, not all cities have different kinds of markets.
    Brooke recently posted…Trailing Through NebraskaMy Profile

    • Reply Katie August 4, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      It’s too easy to spend hours at these markets. I spent one Saturday trying to hop between markets, and ended up making it to only two! They were worth lingering over.

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