From cutting-edge designer clothes to culinary treats, there are plenty of great buys on offer at Melbourne's colourful markets.
By Ute Junker
You never know what you'll find at one of Melbourne’s markets. From vintage treasures to handmade stationery, and from second-hand books to super-fresh produce, the city's vibrant markets offer plenty of bargains. Most of the action takes place on the weekend, but some markets are also open on weekdays.
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Queen Victoria Market
The Queen Vic, as locals know it, has a truly regal status among Melbourne's markets. With more than 700 stalls spread across seven hectares (17 acres), there is plenty to explore at Queen Victoria Market. You can find clothes, jewellery and homewares here, but the market is best known for its extraordinary range of food stalls. Along with the freshest meat, fish and vegetables, you can buy tempting treats such as locally grown olives and handmade, reverently produced cheese. Among the market's most popular food items are grilled bratwurst from the Bratwurst Shop & Co, and the hot jam doughnuts from the American Doughnut Kitchen van. The markets are open every day except Monday, with extended hours on Wednesday nights during the summer and winter months. These night markets are truly one of Melbourne's hidden gems.
- Tuesday 8am – 2pm
- Thursday 8am – 2pm
- Friday 8am – 3pm
- Saturday 8am – 3pm
- Sunday 9am – 4pm
- Closed Monday and Wednesday
Rose Street Artists Market
Tucked down a side street in the shopping suburb of Fitzroy, the Rose Street Artists Market is the place to go if you're looking for one-of-a-kind gifts. Every Saturday some of Melbourne's best young creatives set up stalls here, including established local artist Sophie Perez and the team behind Retro Pop Homewares, known for their colourful printed cushions. You can also expect to find cute-as-a-button tiny earrings, chrome and glass terrariums, delicate rose gold rings, bandana bibs, beautifully moody prints, solid Japanese pottery, ropey, fragile ear cuffs, hand-drawn thick-cut thank you cards, fragile crystal rings, blonde wood mirrors, scarves of feathery Turkish cotton and more.
- Saturday 11am – 5pm
- Sunday 11am – 5pm
Fed Square Book Market
Book lovers will want to head to The Atrium in Federation Square on Saturdays, when the biggest book sale around, Fed Square Book Market comes to town. Melbourne's most experienced book dealers set up shop here, offering about 5000 new and pre-loved titles. You'll find books on almost every subject you can think of, from literature and history to gardening, art books and children's titles. Book signings by authors and illustrators are a regular feature, and buskers add to the atmosphere.
- Saturday 11am – 5pm
The Esplanade Markets
There's nothing quite like spending a Sunday by the sea, which makes a trip to St Kilda's Esplanade Markets the perfect way to end the weekend. There can be up to 150 stalls stretching along St Kilda's palm tree-lined Esplanade, including photographers, jewellers and fashion designers. Part of the fun is chatting with the makers about their wares. Keep an eye out for Prue Griffiths' handmade hats and hand-carved wooden money boxes shaped like kangaroos and parrots. Round off the day by treating yourself to a ride on the Luna Park roller-coaster.
- Sunday 10am – 5pm (October to April)
- Sunday 10am – 4pm (May to September)
South Melbourne Market
It's easy to get a little lost in the maze-like interior of South Melbourne Market, but that's not necessarily a bad thing with so many delights to discover. Melbourne's oldest market (in operation since 1864) is best known for its food offerings, from fresh produce to spicy paella and delicate French pastries. However, there are also stalls selling everything from skateboards to ugg boots. The market even has its own cooking school, with classes hosted by chefs from top local restaurants including Saint Crispin, Coda and The Press Club. South Melbourne Market is open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Night markets are also held on Thursdays from January to March.
- Wednesday 8am – 4pm
- Friday 8am – 5pm
- Saturday 8am – 4pm
- Sunday 8am – 4pm
- Closed Monday, Tuesday and Thursday
Camberwell Sunday Market
For four decades Camberwell Sunday Market has been the place to find the best vintage clothing bargains. It's a quick train trip from central Melbourne to Camberwell station, and the markets are just a block away. You will need to get up early to snap up the best items - the action is underway by 7am, and sellers start packing up around lunchtime. There are more than 300 stalls to browse and along with vintage clothing you will find antique toys, jewellery and second-hand books. The fact that you never know what you will find is part of Camberwell's charm; however, expect to find every era represented here, from art deco lamps to 1960s space age chairs, 1950s floral frocks to tribal inspired, hippie-era jewellery.
- Sunday 6.30am – 12.30pm
On the third Sunday of every month the Makers Market is held at the Abbotsford Convent, an arts precinct in the city made up of 11 historic buildings and gardens. The markets showcase the work of artisans including ceramicists, painters, sculptors, woodcarvers and painters; regulars include Ruth Connor, known for her striking hats and Hug Bell Ceramics. The separate Shirt and Skirt Market showcases the work of emerging fashion designers. After browing the stalls, take a walk through the lovely landscaped grounds. If you are feeling peckish, grab a bite to eat at Lentil As Anything, where the menu has no prices. You pay what you feel the meal was worth.
- Third Sunday of the month 10am – 4pm
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