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Recently, I was a guest on a Melbourne hidden bars tour.
In this article, I provide an honest review of my experience and explain why I believe Melbourne hidden bar tours can be great value for money.
How to Experience Melbourne’s Hidden Bar Scene
Given the recent re-opening of Melbourne, following almost a full year of lockdowns, I was craving a memorable night out on the town.
Melbourne’s hidden bar scene always sounded really cool to me, but I’d never been to any of the bars because I didn’t know where to go or how to find them.
After all… most of them are hidden!
The coolest thing about Melbourne’s hidden bar scene is that a good chunk of the bars are located within close proximity. This makes it easy and convenient to walk between them.
One of the best ways to experience the hidden bars of Melbourne is by doing a group tour.
Personally, I found this to be a fantastic way to not only explore Melbourne’s hidden bar scene, but to also learn about some of Melbourne’s history, which makes it the city that it is today.
Back in the day, Melbourne was known to contain pockets of brothels and unlicensed bars. And despite the years that have gone by since, the city has held onto this history – with an active hidden bar scene that people of all ages can enjoy.
If you’re after a great adventure in the city, or simply a fun night out, doing a hidden bar tour in Melbourne can be a great way to go.
Here’s some information about the Melbourne hidden bar tour we did.
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Melbourne Hidden Bar Tour with Show Me Melbourne
Show Me Melbourne’s hidden bar walking tour was a really cool experience.
As part of the tour, we visited 3 bars – Little Lon Distilling Co, New Gold Mountain and Pizza Pizza Pizza. My partner and I also ventured to Berlin Bar after the conclusion of the tour for some added fun.
Whether hidden in an alleyway, at the top of a dark staircase or behind a nondescript door, Show Me Melbourne will take you to some of the best hidden bars in Melbourne CBD.
Each walking tour runs for three hours, giving you time to visit up to three different hidden bars which have been carefully chosen for their atmosphere, excellent service and delicious drinks!
To prevent you from biting off more than you can chew, they have capped the bars at three per night. This also allows them to alternate the bars they visit on each tour.
Currently, they offer Melbourne hidden bar tours on Friday and Saturday nights, however the remaining restrictions still have some impact on where they’re able to book.
What I loved most about this tour:
1) The Incredible Knowledge of the Tour Guides
Jess, the owner and tour guide, has an incredible knowledge bank when it comes to Melbourne’s history.
Being a natural history buff, she will be your bible if you want to learn about Melbourne’s hidden bar scene and how it all began.
Throughout the tour, she seamlessly intertwines cool facts and stories about Melbourne’s history, many of which I didn’t know – despite being a local.
You just don’t get this when doing your own self-guided bar hop.
2) You Get a Free Drink Token!
Another cool perk of Show Me Melbourne’s tour is that they give you a free drink token (of up to $25). You are free to use at any time during the tour and at whichever bar you please.
This is awesome as it gives you the chance to order and try something different that you wouldn’t usually buy yourself.
There are also some pretty cool and unique cocktails on the menu, so I’m confident that you won’t be short of delicious options.
3) Some Bar Food is Included
I don’t know about you, but when I drink I get HUNGRY!!
Keeping the needs of their customers in mind, Show Me Melbourne include a selection of bar food that you can enjoy at one of the venues during the tour.
Now, it’s not designed to be a BIG dinner feast, but it will keep the munchies at bay. You may still want to organise dinner after the tour.
Depending on where you go, the food options include pizza, wings or even a charcuterie board.
I thought that this was a thoughtful addition to the tour as it prevented people drinking on an empty stomach.
If you do want to eat out in the city somewhere afterwards, but don’t know of many good places, your tour guide will be able to recommend a selection of great restaurants nearby.
4) The Tour is Designed for People of All Ages
The tour is very accommodating regardless of your age, gender, dietary requirements etc.
Sure, there are some bars which require you to climb a series of stairs or that have entrances requiring some form of ducking and weaving, but, in general the tour was welcoming for people of all ages.
They are very accommodating of special dietary requirements, making it easy for you to get in touch with them if you do have certain food you can’t eat or other special needs.
The tour that I was on was diverse, with people of all different ages and backgrounds. It actually made the tour really fun and fuelled engaging conversation.
Their regular tours usually take a maximum of 8 guests, however they also offer private tours for groups of any size.
5) You Receive a Melbourne Hidden Bar Treasure Map At The End
Another thing that stood out to me about this tour was the willingness to share knowledge.
Many tour companies keep their sources quiet, but Show Me Melbourne were incredibly helpful and even provided a FREE list and treasure map of other hidden bars in Melbourne CBD.
This gave you the option to continue your bar hop after the tour, or save it for another night out on the town.
The list of bars helped Matt and I remember the name of the bar we wanted to go to (Berlin Bar) and gave us an idea of where to find it (you can also use Google Maps too if it is easier!).
If you would like to explore the hidden bars of Melbourne CBD, you can read more about Show Me Melbourne’s tour below.
Are Melbourne hidden bar tours worth the money?
In my opinion – absolutely!
These tours can be a great way to:
- Meet new people and have a relaxed social night out, without having to organise all of the details, bookings or plans yourself.
- Discover new places that you never would have known of or gone to otherwise
- Learn about Melbourne, from someone who has incredible insight to its history
- Experiment and try different flavours, spirits or cocktails that you wouldn’t usually buy
Given most hidden bars are, well, “hidden”, having a guide show you where and how to find them is extremely convenient. I can’t tell you how many times I would have walked by these bars, with no idea that they’re there.
If you’d like to join a Melbourne hidden bar tour yourself, you can learn more about Show Me Melbourne here.
If bar hopping isn’t your scene (unlikely given you’re here), there are some other Melbourne tours that they run including the Living Legends Racehorse Retirement Sanctuary Tour.
I did the Living Legends tour earlier this year. It was such a unique experience and a really nice way to learn about the many racing legends in Victoria.
You get to see them face to face and even feed them a carrot or two. .
Honestly, there are so many great things to do in Melbourne, all one needs to do is decide where to begin.