Cruise the length of the CBD (almost) through Melbourne's arcades – rain, hail or shine. Uncover cutting-edge artwork, independent fashion, imported music and stunning design.

Campbell Arcade

Slip beneath Flinders Street Station and Degraves Street to Campbell Arcade, where you'll be surprised by The Dirty Dozen and Capsule, a glass-cabinet exhibition space lining the walls, and giving commuters something to smile about. Further reasons to smile are the seriously excellent coffees from Cup of Truth; big beats at Wax Museum Records; and a world of zines at Sticky Institute.

Cathedral Arcade and Manchester Unity Arcade

Pop up above ground, meander along Degraves Street and up Flinders Lane to Cathedral Arcade to find this hallowed space with dome, stained glass and leadlighting. Browse the wares at Kuwaii and Obus, and ride the lifts up to the Nicholas Building ateliers, studios and galleries.

Head on to Collins Street and the Manchester Unity Arcade. Marvel at the bespoke tile work, black-marble friezes and tablets, and ornate elevators of the ground-floor arcade, a grand entrance to the art deco, neo-gothic Manchester Unity building.

Block Arcade and Royal Arcade

Link through from Collins Street to Little Collins Street via historic Block Arcade, a mosaic-floored laneway sheltered beneath a soaring glass canopy. Slaver over the cake displays at Hopetoun Tea Rooms, then continue into Block Place for al fresco eating options, and rollicking tunes at Basement Discs.

Cross over to Royal Arcade, nodding to the giant statues of Gog and Magog and set yourself up with babushkas, board games, bling and super style from Marais and Ziggurat.

The Strand

Step back to the future along Elizabeth Street, making for the rainbow-like facade of the Strand on the corner of Lonsdale Street. Peruse big-name fashion at Cos and Onitsuka Tiger, or delve into the world of colourful indie resin jewellery at Dinosaur Designs.

To continue to cover the CBD under, well, cover, from Bourke Street you can zip through the bright lights of Myer into the Emporium shopping mall to connect with the Strand. From there, wend through Emporium and across Lonsdale Street into Melbourne Central for more stores and eats.

Lygon Court

A short tram ride north of the CBD, innocuous Lygon Court (on Lygon Street, near Elgin Street) is home to the perfect duo. Blow your mind (and tastebuds) on the array of sweet treats at iconic Italian cake store Brunetti, and ride the escalator to a purple-velvet seat at arthouse Cinema Nova. Sip a wine on the Nova Bar balcony, and eye up the next bestseller in the Readings bookstore window.

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