The Top 15 Free Things To Do In Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria state and also the unofficial sporting capital of Australia. This multicultural city is beautiful and home to some nice areas like public parks and narrow laneways for you to explore, and if you are a fan of coffee you will be happy to hear that the local cafes sell some of the best coffee in the world. Whether you want to spend the day by the beach, shopping in fashion boutiques, or visiting the top museums, Melbourne has something for you.
Traveling can be expensive no matter where you go with the combination of travel fees and hotel costs, which is why it is always a good idea to try and find free things to do when you are on vacation. If you are lucky enough to travel to this amazing city we can help you find the best free things to do, but one thing we suggest is using a luggage storage locker in Melbourne. When you are out and about, stow your extra bags away so you are not slowed down for a minute!
Walk Through the Royal Botanical Gardens
This Australian city is full of parks and greenspaces but by far one of the best is the Royal Botanic Gardens. The park was built back in 1857 and is an important spot for most of the local citizens. Lots of people enjoy coming here to work out or go for a jog but it is also the perfect spot for a picnic or lunch date. If you are interested, you can see if there are any free guided tours going on.
The gardens are separated into different sections that follow themes and in the center of it all, there is a beautiful lake. If you are on a family vacation with the kids they will love the Children's Garden which has a water fountain that you can splash around in during the summertime.
Stop by the Art Galleries
There are several art galleries around the city of Melbourne that are worth stopping by, and several of them even offer free entrance! Your first stop should be the National Gallery of Victoria which has an impressive permanent collection. Other than seeing the gorgeous artwork, you will love exploring the beautiful stained-glass atrium where they are displayed.
Another great gallery is the Ian Potter Centre which focuses on Aboriginal works of art and is located near Federation Square, which is full of other attractions as well. Check out the Australian Centre for the Moving Image if you have some extra time, or make your way to the Southbank to visit the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.
Appreciate the Architecture of Local Churches
The Melbourne CBD is home to many impressive buildings and you will agree that its churches are some that tend to stand out. The best one to visit is St Paul's Cathedral which you will find opposite Federation Square, so if you are in the area make sure to take a couple of minutes to come to see it in person.
The Scots Church and the St Michael's Uniting Church are located not too far away and should be the next stop on your list. Each cathedral is impressive on its own and most of them are free to visit if you attend service. St Paul's Cathedral requires tickets to see the galleries and tombs, but you can see the amazing architecture from outside for free.
Visit St Kilda Beach
If you are looking to take a break from all of the busy city streets you can take a day trip to the beach in St Kilda! Take a stroll along the coast, sit on the St Kilda Pier to take in the sunshine or watch as the fairy penguins march up at sunset.
Some of the water sports and hobbies that you can do here include swimming, fishing, kite-surfing and more. If you get hungry you won't have to go far to find food, since the surrounding streets are full of cafes and eateries. Right next door is an impressive amusement park called Luna Park that has thrilling old rollercoasters, although you will have to pay to use the rides. If you are in St Kilda on a Sunday, you will see the local craft market set up which is worth checking out.
See the Parliament House
Believe it or not, watching politicians navigate a debate in the Parliament House can actually be more entertaining than you think. You will have to check the schedule to see when spectating is allowed since some matters of the Legislative Assembly are closed to the public.
The building is decked in wood and leather detailing and it can be fun just to stop by and see what is going on. If you want to see the building you can ask about the free public tour! Anyone who is interested in law and legislation will enjoy this free activity.
Spend Time in Nature at the Public Parks
The best public park is probably the Royal Botanic Gardens mentioned above but if you are done walking through the 38-hectare park and are looking for some more greenspaces to enjoy you have quite a few options. An even bigger nature reserve is the Royal Park which is an impressive 180 hectares large!
The Treasury Gardens are also worth a visit and are located right next to the Fitzroy Gardens, so if you want to you can stop by both in one day. You can also check out the Carlton Gardens which is where the Melbourne Museum is located. If you have some extra time and want to buy a ticket you can explore the exhibits there.
Did you know that Melbourne is home to the oldest Chinatown in Australia? This small part of town is vibrant and lively, and we recommend spending an afternoon exploring the area which dates back to the 1850s.
Melbourne's Chinatown has been growing for 150 years now and over time has become home to small restaurants, shops and historic buildings. If you are traveling during the Chinese New Year, you can participate in the celebrations.
Ride the Free City Circle Tram
If you want to ride on one of the historic city trams or just want a free tour of the city you can grab a seat on the City Circle Tram. It is free for everyone and will bring you on a loop through the central business district, and you even get informative audio commentary that can tell you a bit about the city that you are visiting.
The route goes all the way from the City Centre to the Docklands by the waterfront so you will get to see quite a bit of Melbourne on your journey. The trams that make the loop are old with wooden chairs and leather hand straps that closely resemble the original trams created back in 1923.
Shop at Local Markets
The Melbourne central area has some great local markets happening all year round, and although you will have to pay if you want to take anything home, it is completely free to stop by and browse. Almost every neighborhood has its own market where you can find all sorts of things, from fresh produce to artisanal creations or secondhand items. You might even get to taste free samples of food, so you might as well visit to see what is going on!
The biggest market in the city is Queen Victoria Market which is located right in the City Centre. The South Melbourne Market is also great, and the Rose Street Artists Market is great for seeing artwork by local artists. During the summertime, you can enjoy street food, live music and entertainment at Queen Vic Market.
Visit the Shrine of Remembrance
Just off of St Kilda Road is the Shrine of Remembrance which was built back in 1934 in memory of all those who lost their lives during WWII. Historical exhibitions happen here often and can give you an insight into the history of the war.
This is also where most of the military ceremonies happen, like ANZAC Day. If you climb the steps to the top of the shrine you will see a beautiful view of the Melbourne skyline.
See Planes at the Melbourne Airport and RAAF Museum
If you are traveling into Australia by plane then chances are you will have already seen the Melbourne Airport, but it can sometimes be fun to stick around and watch the huge aircraft take off and land. If you have a passion for airplanes you should definitely visit the RAAF Museum!
The Royal Australian Air Force Museum is found in Point Cook and offers free entry, although they appreciate donations. You can see some pretty awesome displays and learn a lot about aircraft here. Make sure to ask about their guided group tours.
Go Sightseeing Around the City Streets
One of the best things about Melbourne is that the streets are quite beautiful, and taking a walk around the city is really worth your time. You can create your own free walking tour by planning out a route that stops by all of the best historic buildings, many of which are protected since they are considered to be heritage sites.
Some of the places that we recommend stopping by include the Block Arcade, the Nicholas Building, and the Flinders Street Station. Save some extra time to explore Fed Square which has lots of galleries, cultural centers and festivals going on regularly. If you don't want to plan a route you can just stroll through town to see all of the street art decorating the buildings. We've compiled a guide on all you need to know about getting around Melbourne so you can see every inch!
Attend Events at the Wheeler Centre
Make your way to Little Lonsdale Street to visit the Wheeler Centre which was built to celebrate the literary scene in Australia. If you are interested in literature then this is the best free activity for you, since guest speakers and free programs happen every day.
Stop by during lunchtime on Thursday which is when the lunchbox series happens. Anyone can come to tell their stories or discuss topics with their fellow citizens, and a range of conversations can be brought up. You can come just to listen or even get up and speak yourself!
Enter the State Library of Victoria
One of Melbourne's heritage buildings is the State Library of Victoria and it was founded back in 1854. Other than the fact that the building is beautiful with a grand domed ceiling you can also be impressed by the fact that there are over two million books on the shelves!
When you step inside you will be amazed by the La Trobe Reading Room. This room was the biggest of its kind during the time of its construction in 1913, and today it is still one of the most beautiful architectural sites in Melbourne. The building is shaped like an octagon and allows for natural light to enter. As for things to do, you can make your own self guided tour of the building using a map from the front desk or stop by some of the galleries and exhibitions going on. Free classes, speakers and workshops are great events to participate in as well.
Walk Along the Yarra River
A nice way to relax and unwind at the end of the day is to take a walk along the gorgeous Yarra River and its surrounding area. This is where some great street art and architectural delights are located, so take some time to walk around the perimeter.
The river is located in Yarra Bend Park which has picnic and barbequing facilities as well as walking and jogging paths for you to discover. The riverbank and park are free to enter, but if you have some extra cash we recommend taking a boat tour down the river to see the Melbourne city skyline from the water.
Visiting Melbourne on a Budget
Once you step foot in Melbourne you will understand why it is the most liveable city in the world. There are so many free things to do in Melbourne's CBD and whether you want to enjoy free outdoor entertainment in a national park or visit galleries in the bustling city center, we are sure you will have a great time in this Australian city.