Opened in 1892, the Royal Arcade is Melbourne’s oldest shopping arcade. It’s a visual feast, with a lofty glass ceiling that streams natural light onto the delicate Victorian metalwork, and home to a choice selection of boutiques, jewelers, chocolatiers, and cafes.
A walking tour of Melbourne’s scenic laneways and historic arcades is a popular choice for visitors to the city. Exploring the maze-like streets with a guide will ensure you don’t get lost. Walking tours that include the Royal Arcade are often combined with other top Melbourne attractions such as a visit to Queen Victoria Market, a view from the Eureka Skydeck, or even a trip out to Phillip Island to watch the Penguin Parade.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wear comfortable shoes if you’re taking a walking tour—the cobbled streets of Melbourne’s laneways require sturdy footwear.
- Most shops in the arcade are open daily from 9am to 5:30pm, with reduced hours on Sunday.
- The Royal Arcade is fully wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The Royal Arcade is located in the heart of downtown Melbourne, within easy walking distance of landmarks such as St. Patrick's Cathedral and Federation Square. There are entrances to the arcade on Little Collins Street, Bourke Street, and Elizabeth Street. The closest tram stop is Bourke Street Mall (lines 86 and 96), and it’s just three blocks from Melbourne Central train station.
When to Get There
The arcade is open daily, and it’s almost always busy, especially during the summer months of December and January. The most atmospheric time to visit is during the Christmas season, when the arcade is adorned with festive decorations.
Architecture of the Royal Arcade
The Royal Arcade is the work of acclaimed architect Charles Webb, whose other masterpiece is the Windsor Hotel on Spring Street. Renowned for its Italianate style, the arcade is characterised by high arches, dramatic glass and wrought iron ceiling, and lavish gold trims. The memorable centerpiece is Gaunt’s Clock, flanked by gigantic statues of mythical gods, Gog and Magog, who strike the clock each hour. Additional highlights include the Victorian-era glass shopfronts and the grand Renaissance Revival-style entryway on Bourke Street.