One of Melbourne’s most popular and beloved destinations amongst locals and visitors alike, the Queen Victoria Market has stood proudly at the top of the city’s CBD for nearly 150 years. The market is a hub of activity and personifies all the things Melbourne is loved for, from their people to their culture and their food. Offering fresh goods, as well as specialty stalls, cafe and food options, every Melbournian has their own personal relationship with this bustling place.
With Veriu’s new boutique apartments Veriu Queen Victoria Market right around the corner, we thought it best we put together our Local’s Guide to this iconic place. So take a look and come see what all the fuss is about.
Listed on both the Victorian Heritage Register and the National Heritage List, the historic Queen Victoria Market has been servicing the city of Melbourne for nearly 150 years. The official opening was on the 20th March 1878. In the period before this, the site operated as a range of different markets including a live produce market, hay market, the lower market and the western market. It also acted as the city’s cemetery!
The Queen Victoria Market is a site of local significance for many different people, playing an important role in Melbourne’s social and economic history. Beginning as a wholesale market it has continually grown and developed, particularly in the 1970’s, when the market reinvented itself and has today become a hub of activity with over 10 million people visiting annually. It stands as the last remaining market from the great group of Melbourne’s central 19th century markets. Along with the Prahran and South Melbourne markets, it is one of only three Victorian era markets remaining.
The site of Queen Victoria Market was originally known as Burial Hill. For nearly 20 years between 1837 and 1854, this was the site of the city’s first official cemetery, Old Melbourne Cemetery. There are still an estimated 6000-8000 early settlers buried beneath the modern day market. By 1854 the site was deemed too close to the city and too small for Melbourne’s growing population and moved to a bigger site in Carlton. If you look carefully as you stroll around the upper market area, you may find small metallic disks embedded in the ground marked with the words “Old Melbourne Cemetery boundary” have been installed in the ground marking out the perimeter of the original cemetery.
With a footprint that takes up over two city blocks and seven hectares, this market is home to over 600 small businesses that operate under its umbrella. Like many of the world’s great markets, Queen Vic offers everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, bakeries, butchers, fishmongers, local and imported gourmet foods and everything else in between. Then there’s the non-food items, with stalls dedicated to clothing, designer leather, lifestyle and beauty care, electronics, household goods, pet care, toys and souvenirs. To top this off there is a fantastic food court offering top notch fare from all over the globe, most using the produce and products found within the walls of the market itself. The boutique apartments Veriu Queen Victoria Market calls this place home also, so you don’t even have to leave.
With so many things on offer, it would take days to get through and enjoy all of what Queen Victoria Market has to offer. We thought we’d narrow things down a bit and give you a sample of some of our favourite stalls within the market we keep coming back to, over and over again.
The spots to hit for the best fresh produce and take-home goodies:
Polish Deli: From smoked Polish sausage to soft potato pierogi and condiments from all over Eastern Europe, this stall has been looking after the Melbourne Polish community since the 60’s. Cold cuts are sliced on the spot to ensure the freshest possible hams and meats.
Happy Tuna: You really can’t go wrong among all fishmongers at QVM. These guys have been here since 1920 and are one of the standouts, with expert advice on all things seafood along with high quality fish caught straight out of the bay.
Bill’s Farm: Arguably one of the best cheesemongers in the country, this place has some of the best local and important cheese you will ever come across.
M&G Caiafa: A market staple, this corner stall has been baking and providing loaves to market-goers for over 40 years. Brownies, bagels, burnt Basque cheesecakes and warm croissants are just some of the crowd favourites from this busy little bakery.
Curds & Whey: From truffle-infused grana padano cheese to Warrnambool butter carved straight off the big slab on the counter, this place is a dairy wonderland. They also stock vinegars, passatas and other products that pair nicely with your cheese purchases.
G&C Produce: When it comes to fresh fruit and veg, Gus and Carmel Bressi are some of the most knowledgeable in the game. With a friendly smile they’ll guide you to the freshest in-season produce the market has.
If you’re after some fuel for a big day of shopping, a sugary treat, or that caffeine hit, look no further:
The Borek Bakehouse: Spicy lamb, spicy potato, spinach and cheese…take your pick. The women at this small shop must make hundreds of boreks a day, and there aren’t many left at the end. Know what you want to order when you get to the counter, as things move fast here.
Meet Sando: Japanese katsu sandwiches, need we say more. Fillings include mushroom, pork, egg, prawn and chicken. The team serves Proud Mary coffee also.
Market Lane Coffee: For your caffeine fix look no further than these local brewing stars. Located in the Dairy Hall, this is one of their eight outposts in Melbourne. They also sell fresh bags of roasted beans and brewing equipment so you can test your barista skills at home.
American Doughnut Kitchen: You will see the queue before you see this doughnut van, located on QVM’s Queen Street side. Don’t worry, the line moves fast, and the doughnuts are warm and fresh. You’ll want more than one!
Little League: Head down String Bean Alley for some of the best coffee around and a sweet treat or two. Don’t miss the egg and bacon pastries or dark choc and raspberry muffins!
Bratwurst Shop & Co: This iconic stall always has hoards of people gathered waiting for the fix of perfectly cooked bratwurst accompanied by any number of sauces, sauerkrauts and cheeses.
If you feel like taking a break from the busy market area, North Melbourne’s shopping precinct is only a short stroll away and has plenty of great spots to rest your legs and grab a coffee and bite. Check out our Guide To North Melbourne’s Best Cafes for some inspiration.
There are always plenty of specialty events happening at Queen Victoria Market. The Winter & Summer Night Markets are some of the busiest events on Melbourne’s calendar, with thousands swarming through the halls to try local food trucks and drink vendors. Lines get massive, but locals don’t seem to mind and it’s a great atmosphere.
Aside from the night markets, there are seasonal Book Markets, Craft Fairs, Rockabilly Retro Market and the String Bean Alley Christmas Night Market. The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and Melbourne Music Week often incorporate events within the market site and there’s even been a vintage Holden car exhibition.
If you’re interested in learning about different parts of the Queen Victoria Market, there are several guided tours including the Ultimate Foodie’s Tour, Sustainable Shopping Tour and the Seafood Lover’s Tour.
Check out the Queen Victoria Market’s latest events.
A few pointers to get the most out of your market day:
Arrive Early: Beat the crowds so you don’t miss out on the best produce of the day before it sells out.
Arrive Late: Some of the best bargains you will find will be at the end of the day when stalls are trying to offload the last of their produce. Vendors will often offer up great deals and you could walk away with trays of fresh seafood and or a box of mangoes for under ten bucks.
Take Cash: Some stalls may offer a discount if you pay with cash.
Reusable Bags: Be kind to the environment and bring a couple of spare reusable bags.
Make a Plan: Queen Victoria Market is big. It’s fun to wander, but if you’re time poor it’s best to come in with a plan. Check out the QVM Map so you can come prepared.
Take a Lap: Doing a tour of the different stalls and vendors before making any purchase decisions may pay dividends. You can compare the quality and prices of fresh produce between stalls, find your new favourite cheese shop or stumble across the best doughnuts you’ll ever taste.
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 6am-3pm
Saturday, Sunday 6am-4pm
Monday, Wednesday (closed)
Night Markets 5pm-10pm (seasonal)
Keep an eye on their trading hours as they often tend to open extra days around special events and public holidays.
Address: Corner of Elizabeth and Queen Streets, Melbourne 3000
How to get to the Queen Vic Market:
A short walk from the city centre, you can access the market via Peel, Franklin, Victoria and Elizabeth Streets. The market is also just a short walk from the Veriu Queen Vic Market apartments, which are the perfect base for exploring the market and Melbourne.
By Bike: There is free bike parking in and around the market. Bike Lanes run along Victoria Parade and Elizabeth Street.
By Car: Paid parking is available in the market’s open air and undercover car parks, both accessible via Queen St. For early birds, parking is free between 6am and 9am, and then $6 for the first two hours after 9am. Click through to check out the parking map and rates. There is free 1P and 2P parking in the streets surrounding the market but it can be pretty tricky to nab a spot on market days.
By Tram: There is a tram stop directly in front of the Queen Victoria Market on Elizabeth St. Trams 19, 57, 58 ,59 all travel along that route. You can check up to date tram timetables at the Yarra Trams website.
By Train: The Queen Victoria Market is only a 7 minute walk from Melbourne Central Station, which connects to all Melbourne train lines. Check the Public Transport Victoria site for schedule and times.
Now that you have a better idea of what Queen Victoria Market is all about, you’re equipped for a big day of eating, shopping and taking in the atmosphere of this cultural icon. If you’re visiting Melbourne, make sure you check out Veriu Queen Victoria Market apartments, for a great place to stay right on the doorstep of the market and city. And after a big day at the market, we have a guide to the Best Restaurants to Try in North Melbourne, just a short walk from the market and Veriu apartments where you can relax and dine at some of Melbourne’s best dinner spots.