24 Hour Guide to Carlton: Melbourne's Inner City Slice of Rome

Welcome to Carlton, the 'Little Italy' of Melbourne!

Or, 'Ciao, 'as the locals may say as they greet you with the quintessential double kiss on both cheeks. Yes, close your eyes, and you might as well be in Italy.

This neighbourhood has been home to a large population of Italian-Australians since the 19th century, when many Italian migrants began settling in the area. This influx of Europeans has brought a rich cultural heritage to the city, with numerous churches, businesses, restaurants, and institutions that celebrate Italian traditions. From bustling restaurants, bars, and cafes to art galleries and theatres, Carlton is a vibrant neighbourhood with something for everyone. So come and explore this cultural neighbourhood of Carlton in 24 hours with Locay.

Viva Italia!

Zagame's House


Check out this hip hotel in the heart of Carlton, Melbourne, the ultimate destination for travellers looking to experience the true essence of Melbourne's iconic Lygon Street.

With its modern interior design, luxurious amenities, and sustainable architecture, this vibrant hotel is the perfect spot to soak up the quintessential Melbourne ambience.

Designed by the cool hotelier brothers Victor and Robert Zagame, every aspect of their hotel is crafted to inspire you, from the artwork to the menu. In fact, not just you, but your furry friends are more than welcome to join the fun too!

Embark on a love affair with Melbourne's breakfast culture at the hotel's sidewalk, 1851 Coffee + Kitchen, where you'll discover an innovative seasonal menu specially curated with locally sourced roasted coffee from Mansfield Coffee Merchants. If you're looking for a more intimate experience, stop by the hotels well-known Lygon Wine Shop. Here, executive chef Chris Bonello has crafted a menu that celebrates both classic and contemporary influences, ensuring there's something for everyone. The hotel bar is more than just a place to grab a drink; it's a space where the stories and history behind each wine and dish come to life. With an extensive selection of Australian wines and spirits, you're sure to find something that catches your eye.

The hotel has a state-of-the-art gym perfect for fitness enthusiasts, while their focus on quality and community makes Zagame's House a must-visit destination, whether you are a local or a visitor to this character-filled region of Melbourne City.

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Doc Espresso

For a quintessential Italian breakfast, you can’t go past a caffe (espresso) and a delicious cornetto crema, which is a sweet pastry filled with vanilla custard. However, if a savoury breakfast is on your mind, the toasted sandwich filled with Asiago cheese, fresh tomato, double smoked leg ham, and house mayo is definitely a vibe.


Doc Delicatessen

How much do you love a delicatessen? I grew up going to the deli with my grandparents weekly. It was a regular outing, selecting the best olives, mortadella, bread, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, ricotta, oregano, and the list goes on and on.

DOC Deli brings you everything and more. With a curated selection of the best Italian imports and locally sourced products, this specialty grocery store is where you can pick up some authentic Italian delicacies like handmade pasta, the best tinned tomatoes you can find, fresh bread, salumi, mozzarella, fresh produce, and, let's not forget, the vino! It really is a foodie's gift shop dream.

Pranzo + Vino

Carlton Wine Room

Introducing the iconic Carlton Wine Room, your go-to bistro and wine bar in the heart of old Carlton, right on Faraday Street. This beloved venue has been a staple in the neighbourhood since 2011 and had a reboot in 2018 thanks to the dynamic hospitality duo of Andrew Joy and Travis Howe, formerly from Marion and Cutler and Co.

Their approach to the menu is pretty simple: food that works well with wine. Buon Appetito!


After lunch, take a stroll through the Carlton Gardens. Steeped in rich history and culture, this picturesque garden, which spans over 26 hectares, showcases a unique blend of Victorian and contemporary architecture. It is a reminder of the artistic grandeur that once adorned the streets of Melbourne during the Victorian era.

Home to a myriad of exotic flora and fauna and several significant landmarks, including the Royal Exhibition Building, it’s an integral part of Melbourne's cultural precincts and a hub for many community events such as concerts, festivals, and exhibitions.


Riposo is the Italian version of Siesta. After a full day out and about, it’s only wise to take an afternoon nap before the night ahead, in true Italian style.


Jimmy Watson's 

Aperitivo hour in Carlton is buzzing, and where else would you go but the oldest family-run wine bar and institution, Jimmy Watson’s?

Since its establishment in 1935, Jimmy Watson's has become a beloved cult classic for the people of Melbourne. Sit inside in the main bar or outside in the courtyard and enjoy a classic Italian drink, such as a Campari Soda, Garibaldi, or, for something a little stronger, a Negroni, before heading to dinner.

Eat, Cena

Di Stasio Pizzeria

This is number three of Ronnie Di Stasio’s venues. A more intimate and casual affair, but still very Di Stasio.

The menu features 10 different pizzas, rosse and bianche options baked in a wood-fired and gas rotary Marana Forni oven, a selection of antipasti and main courses, and of course pasta, pasta, pasta. Let’s not forget the dolci of soft serve gelato, zuccotto ricotta e pistacchio, crostata all'albicocca, or chocolate mousse. 

The courtyard bar revolves around a fountain imported all the way from the Roman countryside, giving it that extra touch of Italy. 


Cinema Nova

Cinema Nova came to life in August 1992 in Carlton as a partnership between two iconic movie theatres, the Longford Cinema in South Yarra and the Valhalla Cinema in Richmond and Westgarth.

It’s not your run-of-the-mill movie theatre. This hot spot is known for screening a wide range of eclectic and alternative films that you won't find anywhere else. From indie flicks to foreign films, international art-house cinema, niche documentaries, and everything in between, Cinema Nova has something for everyone. 

Locay’s top favourite is a documentary called Lygon Street: Si Parla Italiano, which means ‘We Speak Italian’. It captures the essence of this vibrant community with its buzzing Lygon street hub, which continues to shape the way the nation dines.

Late Night Supper + Nightcap

Heart Attack and Vine

At Heart Attack and Vine, the late-night menu revolves around cicchetti, which is a Venetian-style bar snack similar to tapas with its own unique flavours. It's the ultimate choice for snacking straight after the cinema and the perfect bar for a nightcap.

Ciao, Little Italy!

Simone Ramjee

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