The South Melbourne Market has been a beloved fixture of the Melbourne landscape for over 150 years. The market first opened its doors in 1867, and it quickly became a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Today, the market is home to over 150 stalls, selling everything from fresh produce to handmade arts and crafts.
The market is also a vibrant cultural hub, with regular events and performances held throughout the year. So, whether you’re looking for a unique souvenir or simply want to soak up the atmosphere, a visit to the South Melbourne Market is an essential part of any trip to Melbourne.
The South Melbourne Market
Find the South Melbourne Market at 322-326 Coventry St in South Melbourne, Victoria. It is open every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (except on public holidays) and can easily be reached by Tram, Bus or Bike from the city center.
This quintessential village market is often likened to a smaller, more local version of the Queen Victoria Market. Even if you don’t need to restock the fridge, the market is still a great place to visit, as it is an experience in itself. Browse the stalls and grab something to eat or grab. You’ll need to allot about 3 hours to immerse yourself in the market.
Vendors at the South Melbourne Market
At the South Melbourne Market, you will be supporting local farmers and other small businesses. For something to eat or drink, check out the food hall located on the Coventry side of the market just next to the Deli Aisle, or the restaurants on the opposite side of the market along Cecil street. Foodstuffs, produce, and flowers are interspersed throughout the market, alongside clothing shops, leather goods shops and other specialty merchandise shops for pet food, art, toys, accessories and more.
The diversity of stalls makes it difficult to distinguish vendors into well-defined groups. However, that also means you will always find something to surprise and delight you at South Melbourne Market. View the full list of traders here.
Best Places to Eat and Drink at the South Melbourne Market
If you’re anything like us and your main reason for visiting the South Melbourne Market is to eat and drink, then you need to check out these stalls. They remain our favourites here.
- Agathe Patisserie: This French-style bakery serves flaky croissants, buttery baguettes and a wide array of pastries. You’ll see them baked before your eyes.
- South Melbourne Market Dim Sims: Often credited with spreading the popularity of dim sums across the city, this stall has grown from humble beginnings to an Australian icon.
- Atypic Chocolate: Find single-origin chocolate artisanally made at this South Melbourne Market vendor. They also have decadent hot chocolate on tap.
- Market Borek: This Turkish-style cafe serves up delicious Middle Eastern dishes like boreks, wraps, soups, salads and more. Find it in the Food Hall.
- Padre Coffee: For awesome coffee head to Padre. They are an institution in the city and roast all their own ethical coffee blends.
The market offers public Foodie Tours every third Saturday of the month or private tours on Wednesdays and Fridays for groups of 10 to 12 people.
Alternatively, you can try your luck with this multicultural markets culinary tour. It’s a great tour, but they only visit the South Melbourne Market on particular days of the week so you need to check in with them for availability.
Port Phillip Mussel & Jazz Festival
There is a full calendar of events at the South Melbourne Market, which you can see on their website. However, each year you can consistently expect to find the Port Philip Mussel & Jazz Festival hosted by the South Melbourne Market on the Labour Day long weekend.
This annual event brings together the unlikely combination of crustaceans and jazz music. Cecil Street is blocked off and the market comes alive with good music, cooking demonstrations, games and freshly cooked seafood. There are events for the whole family over the course of two days.
History of the South Melbourne Market
The South Melbourne Market is one of the oldest markets in Australia, with a tradition dating back to the 1850s. The area surrounding the Streets of Coventry, Cecil and York, where the South Melbourne Market is located, was originally called the borough of Emerald Hill. Therefore when the market was first officially opened to the public in 1867, it was given the name of the Emerald Hill Market before its name was finally changed to what we know many years later.
Residents of the area actually petitioned the local government to open the market. Their wish was granted in 1867, with rows of tin sheds set over 10 acres of property and inhabited by local farmers and vendors from surrounding areas.
It was an open-air affair, heavy with horse-drawn wagons carrying goods and livestock. In the early days, the market was open only on Saturdays. Many immigrants to Australia took up selling in the market. In fact, today multi-cultural cuisine continues to be a cornerstone of the market.
Over the years, the market has undergone several expansions and renovations to improve the premises however it has always retained its original character. This is true even despite the major fires and other disasters that have plagued the market.
Getting to the South Melbourne Market
Plan your bus or tram ride with Public Transport here. From the CBD the No. 96, No. 12, No. 109, and No. 1 Tram arrives at the South Melbourne Market. On the Bus, take the No. 236 Route.
There are two bike lines that run along Cecil Street and Moray Street, as well as places to lock up your bike at the market.
If you are driving, you can nab two hours of free parking at the market every Wednesday and Friday. The same goes if you arrive prior to 10:00 am on Saturdays and Sundays. However, after 10:00 am on weekends you will have to pay $6.00 for parking.
The South Melbourne Market is a thriving community hub. Whether you’re looking for fresh food, unique gifts or simply something things to do in Melbourne on the weekend, the South Melbourne Market is sure to hit the mark.