There’s probably a very good reason why Melbourne is nicknamed “the Europe of Australia.” The city is so diverse, bright, and bubbling with a climate that isn’t as unbearably hot as Australia is often infamous for. Make sure you still bring your sunscreen, though! It’s also known as “the garden city” for good reason, and currently, it proudly holds the title of world’s most livable city, but unfortunately it’s also one of the most expensive. This can be a problem if you want to visit Melbourne but you need to do it on a shoestring.
Luckily for you, we’ve got some top tips for budget travel so you won’t have to take out a loan to enjoy what this vibrant city has to offer. Here are some of the best things you can do for free!
1. Visit Federation Square
If Melbourne has a beating heart, this is where you’ll find it. Federation square is an entertainment and culture hub, right in the centre of the city. If you’re looking for things to do in Melbourne and you don’t go here – you’re missing out. There’s always something going on for everyone’s taste, including street theatre, fashion shows, concerts – you name it.
There are also some top bars, clubs and restaurants nearby if you fancy spending a little bit of your hard earned cash, but walking around and soaking in the atmosphere won’t cost you a penny. If you’re lucky, you might get to see an event for free!
2. Take in the markets
One of the most fun things to do in Melbourne is to visit the many markets dotted around the city. In fact, most neighbourhoods will have stalls and stands selling everything from fresh fish to handicrafts and clothing, as well as cheap ‘hawker’ food stations that just lend themselves to budget travel. The Queen Victoria Market is perhaps the most well-known of these attractions. Affectionately named as ‘The Queen Vic’, the market has grown to become a food lover’s paradise and is the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere.
Get yourself there on a Wednesday for the bustling night market – and you might even be able to feed yourself on free samples alone! What can possibly be better than free food?!
3. Do a “free” walking tour
Walking tours have become a major attraction in many cities around the world, and Melbourne is no exception. Scour the web for information, or keep your eyes and ears open for meeting points around the city. Ask at your hostel for any recommendations and fellow travellers for word-of-mouth reviews too. Of course, you can always wander around by yourself for nothing – but for a small donation (which we would advise – these guys work hard for a living!) you can get insider knowledge. You can’t visit Melbourne and not learn about this awesome city, and a guided walking tour is the best way to do it.
4.Find some shade at The Royal Botanic Gardens
Although the climate in Melbourne is relatively mild compared to some parts of the country, if you’re looking to escape that sun, we can’t think of a better thing to do than to pay a visit to the city’s leafy botanic gardens.
Located near the centre and not far from the Yarra river, the gardens are world renowned for their flora and fauna, and it’s the perfect spot to simply stroll the many pathways through the plant life. We’ve heard it’s possible to get a free guided tour too – so that can’t be bad! As far as things to do in Melbourne are concerned, we always like the free stuff! Take a picnic and enjoy the great outdoors.
5. Go geek at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Speaking of free things, one of the most fun things to do in Melbourne is to visit the amazing (and totally free) ACMI – the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. The centre is dedicated to all things film and television, and is a real “hands-on” experience, with loads of interactive exhibits and displays. It’s a fascinating day out and is full of super cool installations that will delight every member of the family.
If you’re into film – or even if you’re not – this is a great way to spend…absolutely nothing! There are also two cinemas showing the latest releases – if you’re unlucky enough to get some bad weather!
6. Wander the Yarra
As we’ve previously mentioned, walking is perfect for budget travel, because it’s totally free! And one of THE things to do in Melbourne is to take a stroll along the Yarra river. The river runs through the heart of the city, and there’s so much to see and do if you just take a leisurely meander along its banks. Here you can see many famous Melbourne festivals (if you’re lucky enough to be in town when they’re on) or just simply spend an afternoon people watching.
There are also many trails for cyclists and jogging fanatics, as well as some stunning sculpture and art to find and explore – and it won’t cost you a bean!
7. Get your gig on
If you’re going to visit Melbourne, you simply must check out the music scene. Music is possibly one of the most popular pastimes of any Melbournite, and there is an outstanding selection of tunes and venues to choose from. Monday through Sunday, you can find free gigs and concerts all over the city and they pride themselves on being the live music capital of Australia. All you need to do is check out listings online, or keep your ear to the street to find out who is playing where. You never know – you might just find a massive international act playing a low-key gig somewhere for free – and we’d be very, very jealous!
You need to visit Melbourne. Go alone, go with the kids, go with a loved one, but just go. It might be something of a cliché, but it really does have something for everyone. The weather is awesome, the attractions are awesome, and the people are awesome. The place is just awesome! And thanks to our handy little guide, you’re now armed with some awesome tips for things to do in Melbourne without dipping into your pockets. Perfect for budget travel. We love the city, and we’re sure that you will too. Because it’s awesome – and so are you!