Melbourne is a pretty awesome place to visit! If you don’t trust us check out the EIU’s Global Liveability Ranking. In 2016, it awarded Melbourne the title of most liveable city in the world for the sixth year in a row! Well, there must be something in the air! So, if you’re lucky enough to visit how can you make the most of the great Melbourne vibes? Seeing as Australia is generally not the cheapest destination we’ve compiled a list of our top 11 suggestions for free things to do in Melbourne, and they’re all absolutely free!
If you want to find more fun things to do, check out this great Melbourne travel guide – might also help with finding some cool places to stay in the city of cool.
Free things to do in Melbourne Australia
Take a stroll at the Royal Botanic Gardens
The gardens which are located on the south bank of the Yarra river take up 94 acres of land and consist of 10000 plant species. Head there to spend the day taking a stroll or having a picnic with your friends.
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A WEEKEND in the Gardens comes to Melbourne Gardens this weekend! The Observatory Precinct will be partly closed off for the event from Thursday 9 to Monday 13 March, but the Visitor Centre and Jardin Tan will be open for business as usual @aweekendofficial @jardintan #royalbotanicgardensvic #melbourne #aweekend
Appreciate the architecture
St. Michael’s Uniting Church, the Scots Church and the Gothic style St. Paul’s Cathedral are three impressive buildings that are worth a visit and all within walking distance of each other.
Soak up the sun at St Kilda beach
If you want to get out of the city head out to St Kilda beach for a more relaxed vibe. Go kitesurfing or if you’re not as energetic as that simply watch the kite-surfers from afar. Or sit in one of the cafes on Acland Street, treat yourself to some delicious cake and do some people watching.
Go to the market
There are so many markets in Melbourne and visiting them is a great way to absorb local life. They include Camberwell Market, Queen Victoria Market and the Rose Street Artists Market. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in summer head to Victoria Market at night to get some delicious food, do some late shopping and enjoy great live music.
Enjoy street art
Don’t let the opportunity to appreciate the street art in Melbourne pass you by. Head to the cobblestoned Hosier Lane which is the main base of Melbourne’s street art scene. Among others, don’t forget to check out 122 Palmerston Street, Union Lane, Degraves Street and Finaly Avenue too!
Visit great galleries
There are some really awesome galleries in Melbourne which includes the Ian Potter Centre which hosts some amazing Aboriginal works on the bottom floor. The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art is a true architectural masterpiece and definitely worth a visit. The National Gallery of Victoria is home to work by some of the biggest names in art. We also suggest for TV and film buffs heading to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Any fans of the hit Australian soap Neighbours which is of course set in Melbourne will be especially impressed.
Visit a rooftop bar
OK, you should buy a drink but entry’s free! And the rooftop bars in Melbourne are awesome so we couldn’t leave them out of the list. Some of our favourites for a drink or two with a view? Naked in the Sky, Rooftop at QT, Good Heavens and Feast of Merit.
Get a history lesson
At the Koorie Heritage Trust Culture Centre you have the chance to develop your understanding and appreciation the traditional life of Melbourne’s people before it was colonised by the British. In addition to the Centre’s permanent exhibition there are also different exhibitions during the year including work by Aboriginal artists.
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Aunty Marilyne Nicholls is about to start a weaving demonstration in our gallery at 1pm & we've also got live music by Neil Morris all for the Moogji Club People's Choice Award announcement! The award will be announced at 2pm – if you're around and about, make sure you come by to cast your last vote or purchase a work! Voting closes at 2pm, the Koorie Art Show closes tomorrow. #KoorieArtShow #KoorieHeritageTrust #weaving #MoogjiClub
Browse the books
With over two million books, visitors to the State Library of Victoria won’t be short of something to read. You can also gaze at some interesting documents and artefacts which include the armour worn by the famous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. The building is also pretty unique in its architecture.
Take a ride on the City Circle Tram
The City Circle Tram is free to ride and a great way to explore the city. Hop on and off when you like!
Enjoy a festival
Throughout the year there are many different festivals which offer both free and ticketed events. Among them are the Comedy Festival in April which guarantees a few giggles for those who like to have a good laugh. Movie buffs will enjoy the Melbourne Film Festival in July. In September, the city hosts the Fringe Festival and finally in the October the Melbourne Festival takes place which is all about arts, culture and creativity.
Go for a walk
Although Melbourne has the best transport network in Australia, it’s also home to plenty of fantastic walks. Do a trip around Albert Park Lake, which is where the Australian F1 Grand Prix is held annually. The lake’s skyline views are also pretty epic. For a more coastal vibe, get the tram to Port Melbourne and walk beside the beach to St Kilda, which takes about an hour. Like we said, there’s scrumptious cake (and cute penguins) waiting for you at the end in St Kilda.
Photograph the famous Brighton Bathing Boxes
The Brighton Bathing Boxes are synonymous with Melbourne. The 82 colourful huts are located along Dendy Street Beach in Brighton. Picking which hut to pose in front of will be the hardest decision you make all day. If visiting in summer, don’t forget your swimwear, as the beach is beautiful and calm.
Cheap eats in Melbourne
There are many free things to do in Melbourne and lots of cheap eats too. We recommend heading to Queen Victoria Market for a budget bite.
Grab a pastry or visit the Borek Shop for a traditional Turkish borek for $3. Another option is heading to Chinatown on Little Bourke Street.
Get a plate of dumplings to share for under $15 at ShanDong MaMa, or check out Shanghai Street or Hana’s Kitchen, which has lunch specials for under $10.
Getting around Melbourne
Melbourne’s public transport network includes trains, trams and buses. Within the city centre, Melbourne has a Free Tram Zone, which means all tram rides in this area only are free! But if you’re heading outside the city to explore places like St Kilda and Fitzroy, you’ll need to purchase a Myki card from 7/11 or the PTV Hub at Southern Cross Station. To get to the city from the airport, the best option is the Skybus, which departs regularly.
Here’s a fun fact for you: Melbourne has more live music venues per capita than any other city in the world. Check out the gig guides at Northcote Social Club, 170 Russell and Corner Hotel to see up-and-coming Australian musicians. To dance the night away, check out The Toff in Town, The Precinct Hotel and Brown Alley.
Where to stay in Melbourne
Sticking with the budget theme, two great hostels in Melbourne are United Backpackers and Space Hotel. United Backpackers is located in the heart of the city and has social events every night. Meanwhile, Space Hotel has dorms, private and ensuite rooms. A hotel option is the 4-star Atlantis Hotel, which regularly offers great deals. We’re talking $100 a night specials.
If you want to go all out and stay where celebrities hang out, Crown Melbourne is a casino and accommodation complex with three luxury hotels. It’s also home to fine-dining restaurants, nightclubs, a cinema – you name it!