Tucked in between Fitzroy and Barkly streets in one of Melbourne’s most vibrant streets of St. Kilda, you will find the colourful and bustling Acland Street. Acland Street has made a name for itself through decades of hosting some of the city’s best restaurants, unique locals, and buzzing nightlife. If you’re not all the familiar with Acland Street geography, one of the best things to do in Melbourne is to spend a few hours, on foot, taking in all this street has to offer. Acland is known particularly for its old school cake shops, its contemporary cafes, and its myriad shoe and fashion stores, which can even be enjoyed through the windows! It’s almost impossible to pick favourites on Acland street, but read on for ideas on where to start, then simply follow your nose from there.
Europa Cake Shop - 81 Acland Street
Established in 1982, Europa cake shop has since been one of the favoured cake shops along the famous Acland Street cake strip. Originally, Europa began with traditional Polish cakes, donuts and danishes served alongside steaming cups of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. Today, they’ve adapted slightly to the modern market by adding vegan and gluten free options as well as cakes without yeast, dairy, egg, or gelatine. They’ve even started offering vegan hot chocolate! While many of the old school cake shops aren’t necessarily known for speedy and accommodating service, it all adds to the character and experience.
Monarch Cakes - 103 Acland Street
With recipes over 80 years old, Monarch Cakes offers Acland Street cake walkers the true old fashioned cake shop experience. Before entering you can stand at the brightly lit display window and decide which of the exquisite cakes to choose. Inside you will find traditionally made treats from Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, Austria, and even from France. If you’re going with a group then order a few cakes and taste them all, but don’t miss out on their famous chocolate Kooglhoupf that has become a local's’ favourite.
These are two popular cake shops along this bustling strip, but there are so many more to explore. Take an afternoon to peruse the cakes from the street and pop in to try the ones that catch your eye!
Leroy Espresso - 191 Acland Street
You’ll find the staff at Leroy Espresso serving up thoughtful contemporary food and sensory lab specialty coffee from 6am everyday, 365 days a year! If you’re taking a stroll to window shop Acland street then you might consider popping in here for their famous housemade organic chai, with homemade almond milk or even a shot of espresso. If its a hot day you might go for a cold-pressed juice, a smoothie, or a Kombucha, or come back later on for a cold beer or a creative cocktail. The menu is extremely thoughtful with locally sourced produce and cruelty-free meats. You’ll find plenty of options for the modern palate such as paleo cornbread, homemade vegan chickpea burgers, organic black pudding acai bowls, and gluten-free waffles. They serve breakfast all-day and have plenty of sweet treats of their own if you aren’t going for a cake walk afterwards!
Abbey Road Cafe - 129-131 Acland Street
Somewhat of an institution for locals and backpacker’s alike, Abbey Road Cafe is most known for its wild and wacky interior decor, its homestyle cooking, and soulful music. With walls covered in eccentric artwork and visual accolades to music legends, you won’t have a moment of boredom in the exciting establishment. The menu is filled from what the owners call “food from the heart” and consists of a range of contemporary Australian dishes served from 7am into the evening, moving from coffees and matcha lattes to reasonably price beers, ciders, wines and cocktails. If you’ve spent the day cake walking on Acland street then this is the perfect place to wind down with friends and family.
Eclectico - 163a Acland Street
Acland street is full of so many shoes and clothing shops it’s easy to get lost amongst brand names and mass produced fashion, but Eclectico is a different story. Head up the discrete stairway and step into their funky vibe with old school records playing and a friendly welcome from the staff. You might even be offered a freshly brewed chai tea! Here you can browse through handcrafted jewelry and clothing from Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Spain and even southeast Asia. This is the perfect shopping destination to find unique and unusual gifts, and a great place to chill out to vintage vinyl tunes, and take a moment to escape the hustle and bustle of Acland street.
Readings -112 Acland Street
The Readings stores around Melbourne are cherished by locals as one of the best real life book stores that is thriving despite the digital age. The friendly staff is always ready to help you find a certain title, or you can enjoy wandering amongst the shelves of best-sellers and old favourites, as well as an impressive selection of records. Look through the bargain table books, read new issues of your favourite magazine, or shop for a new moleskin journal to note down all your favourite Acland street delights that you want to return to.
There is no shortage of shops to browse, cakes to eat, or cafes to chill out in when it comes to Acland street. Many places open in the early hours and close in the evening or even late at night, so grab your family or a group of friends and spend the day exploring this lively pocket of St. Kilda, and go home with exciting new finds and happy bellies full of joy.