Start your weekend with dinner and a show. Watch out-the-window projection art while you dine at Chin Chin. After-dinner, head to fortyfivedownstairs for independent theatre, or for old-school live music, prop yourself at Cherry Bar in AC/DC lane.
Fuel up at Bowery to Williamsburg and begin your art marathon in the city's key gallery precinct, in and around Flinders Lane. See contemporary indigenous art at Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi and purchase locally made works from gallery and retail space, Craft.
Stroll down to Federation Square to take in the views and superb collections of Australian art at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Don't miss the NGV Shop adjacent. Next door, if pixels are your favourite medium, immerse yourself in film, television and digital at Screen Worlds, downstairs at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).
See an ever-changing display of stencils, paste-ups, installations and murals on famous Hosier Lane. Admire artwork on the exterior walls of Movida Next Door, and step inside for some of Frank Comorra's legendary tapas.
After lunch, take a street art walking tour to see more of the city's urban art, or explore laneways on your own and keep an eye out for arty hidden gems.
Out of the laneway and up in an elevator, explore Swanston Street's historic Nicholas Building. It’s a creative hub jam-packed with studios, galleries and curiosities. Below ground, enter subterranean Campbell Arcade to check out installations by the Platform Artists Group, one of Melbourne's longest-running artist run initiatives. While you're there, Sticky and Corky Saint Clair are well worth a look.
Back on street level, take the footbridge across to Southbank, with time for a drink stop at Ponyfish Island.
From here, wander up to NGV International for one of the southern hemisphere's most impressive collections of European, Asian, Oceanic and American art. Gaze through the waterwall at the front entrance and admire the world's largest, kaleidoscopic span of stained glass in the Great Hall.
Take a short stroll to the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) on Sturt Street to see works by leading contemporary artists.
Snap up a table on the river terrace for aperitivo hour at Fatto. It's a perfect spot for river views and pre-theatre dinner if a show at The Arts Centre next door is on your agenda.
Debrief with a post-show nightcap at Arbory, the train platform turned outdoor bar and eatery stretching alongside Flinders Street Station's platform 13, and watch city lights reflected in the water.
Breakfast at Krimper before you explore the independent galleries tucked into converted warehouses on Guildford Lane.
For stylish souvenirs from local designers and makers, visit The Melbourne Shop by Lumbi in nearby Royal Arcade and Melbournalia at the top of Bourke Street. From here, catch a tram to Fitzroy and make your way to the Rose Street Artists Market for more locally designed everything.
Now you’re in Fitzroy, go for lunch with rooftop views at Young Bloods Diner, or try local favourites Smith & Daughters and Jimmy Grants.
After lunch, stop at the Sutton Gallery on Brunswick Street for an eyeful of contemporary art, visit a museum-shop-without-a-museum: Third Drawer Down, on George Street, for a fabulous collection of artful oddities, and seek out Smith Street's Happy Valley bookstore.
For a caffeine break, jostle beard to elbow with locals at compact Cafe Rosamond, or make your way to Keele Street's creative collective Compound Interest, a creative space that serves as a gallery, bar, speakeasy cinema, printing press and cafe.
As the sundowner hour arrives, join locals gracing the bar at the much-loved Grace Darling.
Stay on at the Grace for excellent pub fare and live music upstairs or go upmarket at one of Smith Street's notable restaurants: Saint Crispin, Easy Tiger and IDES.
A night here isn't complete without a cocktail from a champion mixologist, so stop off at The Black Pearl or The Everleigh to soak up a bit more inspired creativity before you head home.