Melbourne, Australia is a vibrant destination that you can enjoy without reaching for your wallet every time you want to do something. There are a lot of exciting things to do and see for free or a minimal cost, and we’ve rounded up 15 of them in this post.
Free Walking Day Tour
Go to Federation Square for a free walking tour around the city. A local guide will lead you to popular and off-the-beaten spots. Gather insider tips on where to eat or go depending on your personal preferences. Later, you can decide which places to go back to and spend more time. After the tour, you can give whatever amount you feel the tour was worth.
Explore Melbourne on a Bike
With 50 bike share locations around, you can pedal your way through various Melbourne sites. 24-hour bike access with unlimited 30-minute rides costs only $3. There’s a $50 holding deposit but long as you don’t exceed the 30-minute trip and properly dock your bike, you won’t be charged extra fees. Please note that not all bikes will come with courtesy helmets. Visit Melbourne Bike Share for more information about how the process works.
Enjoy Free Rides on the City Circle Tram
Experience the traditional mode of transportation in Melbourne – the City Circle Tram. Make sure to catch the free tram service at the marked stops. The City Center Tram may not be the most peaceful way to get around, but it sure is helpful. And who knows, you might meet fellow travelers.
State Library of Victoria
Opened to the public in 1854, the State Library of Victoria houses a massive collection of over 2 million books. Plus, the heritage building itself is something to marvel at. The library features an iconic octagonal Domed Reading Room. There are events throughout the year so be sure to check their website for details.
Stroll along St. Kilda Beach and Pier
Located 10 minutes away from the Melbourne Central Business District, Kilda beach attracts travelers of all ages for the myriad of activities it offers. Watch life go by and witness the breathtaking sunset at the end of the pier. If you love sweet delicacies, head to the hipster Acland street that’s famous for their cakes and coffee shops. You can also tour around the iconic Luna amusement park. Entrance is free so you only need to pay for the rides you want to take.
Check out the Yarra River Scene
It’s easy to spend in the Yarra River area as stores abound but it’s also possible to leave without shelling out extra funds. Stay outside of the shopping centers and catch the fire display instead. During the day, Yarra River also offers an exquisite view. For an alternative, you can also head to the South Bank and relax in the quiet beach at Sandridge Bridge.
Discover Local Life at Queen Victoria Market
Being a popular attraction since 1878 speaks a lot about Queen Victoria Market. This bustling open-air marketplace is filled with all sorts of goodies from fresh produce, to clothing, and jewelry. If you have your Sunday free, consider taking a trip here as the street’s closed to traffic and the atmosphere is less busy.
Get Lost Looking at Street Art
Over time, Melbourne’s alleyways have transformed into a canvas for creative self-expression. With artworks from both local and visiting artists, ordinary alleys have become a treasure to behold. There is plenty of street art all over the city, and among the favorite spots are Finlay and Hosier Lane. Have fun even if you get lost. That’s part of the adventure chasing street art.
Royal Botanic Garden of Melbourne
If you want a relaxed day in a lush green space, then head to the Royal Botanic Gardens. This sprawling 38-hectare site is great for an afternoon picnic or lazing around. Check out the different garden themes or join free guided tours. Or take the opportunity to catch up on morning runs around the garden perimeter.
The Australian Centre for The Moving Image
Originally named the State Film Centre of Victoria when it opened in 1946, this state-of-the-art facility attracts millions of visitors every year. Located in Federation Square, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image is open for visitors for free starting 10 AM daily. ACMI also hosts programs for kids. Check their website for updates.
Feast on Australia’s Visual Arts Scene
The Australian Center for Contemporary Art (ACCA) is free to visit for everyone. Drop by for a peek into contemporary visual arts from local and international artists. Established in 1983, this award-winning facility aims to bring inspiring art to a wider audience. Through ACCA, artists and supporters of visual arts can come together and share their ideas. Take note: ACCA is closed on Mondays.
Join the Locals at Melbourne Festivals
Whether you’re interested in arts, music, film, books, dance, or food, you’re sure to find some place to go in Melbourne. Use the City of Melbourne website to find events on dates you’ll be around the city. Be aware, though, that while you can join programs for free, you may still have to book slots. Better to check out event details in advance.
Visit the Shrine of Remembrance
This iconic landmark, built in honor of everyone who served during the First World War, is one you should not miss while in Melbourne. World War I veterans and architects Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop designed the shrine, beating 83 other entries in the New Memorial design competition held in March 1922. Go to the Shrine of Remembrance website for their calendar of events.
Check out the Gold at the Old Treasury Building
One of the finest architectural sites in Melbourne is the Old Treasury Building located at the top end of Collins Street, in the Central Business District. Built between 1858 and 1862, the three-story building was designed by the then 19-year old architect JJ Clark. Here you’ll find original gold vaults from the 1850’s gold rush era. Leaders at that time also held office at the building until they moved to 2 Treasury Place in 1878. Hence the building obtained its name, ‘Old Treasury’. This historic site offers free entrance so make sure to drop by. Note that it’s closed on Saturdays.
The Iconic Bathing Boxes at Brighton Beach
Head over to Brighton Beach to see the colorful bathing boxes that are everywhere. Built over ten years ago, these architectural features lining the beach remain standing in all their glory. A testimony to their unwavering popularity is their ability to command a hefty price tag despite the absence of electricity and running water.
See What’s Outside of Melbourne
Make the most of your time in Melbourne without draining your budget by starting with this list! And if you want to explore more of Australia, hiring a campervan is a great choice to see the land down under with more freedom and flexibility.