So you already know that 2017 is a good year to visit Australia (if you haven’t read it yet, these 9 reasons will seriously give you a travel itch). It’s time to plan a trip and we have our eyes set on one of the world’s most livable cities: Melbourne!
Credit: Travel & Lifestyle
Melbourne offers so much to do, see and experience BUT this Victorian capital also ranks as the sixth most expensive city in the world. It can be a difficult place to enjoy yourself cheaply… unless you’ve got this list of 10 free things to do, in which case it’s totes easy!
1. Join free guided tours
Get a lowdown on what makes Melbourne what it is – for free! So, put on your walking shoes and experience the sights and sounds of Melbourne without spending a penny:
Melbourne Free Walking Tour
Credit: I’m Free Walking Tours
The knowledgeable guides from I’m Free Tours Melbourne will give you a crash course on the city’s history. The tour also covers things to see and do, the lane ways, art, cafe culture and hidden bars so you can experience Melbourne like a local.
#HHWT Tip: Tour starts at 10:30am and 2:30pm daily, and you don’t need to book a spot. The rendezvous point is in front of the Sir Redmond Barry Statue at the State Library of Victoria. Look out for bright green “I’m Free” T-shirts.
Parliament of Victoria Tour
Credit: wulanguritno on Instagram
On the days when the Parliament isn’t sitting, you can get free guided tours of this prestigious establishment. These 20 – 45 minutes tours run at 9:30am, 10:30 am, 11:30am, 1:00pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm and 4:00pm on weekdays (excluding public holidays).
Address: Spring St, East Melbourne
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 5:00pm
State Library of Victoria Tour
Credit: State Library of Victoria
I know, I know… visiting a library isn’t exactly what people do on holiday but the State Library of Victoria’s gorgeous architecture and beautiful heritage interiors is a sight not to be missed. Held daily from 2pm – 3pm (except public holidays), the tour takes you inside the architecturally stunning La Trobe Reading Room.
Address: 328 Swanston Street
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm (Mon – Thur), 10:00am – 6:00pm (Fri – Sun)
Melbourne Town Hall Tour
Credit: Melbourne Fresh Daily
Sit in the Lord Mayor’s chair, take in the majesty of the Council Chamber, and see the largest grand romantic organ in the southern hemisphere as you tour one of the city’s oldest landmarks.
#HHWT Tip: Bookings are essential and need to be made at least one day in advance by calling (03) 9658 9658.
Address: 100 Swanston Street
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm (Mon – Thur), 10:00am – 6:00pm (Fri – Sun)
2. See penguins waddle back to their nests in St Kilda
Credit: Evolve Tours
Bet you didn’t know there are penguins in St Kilda! Best of all, you can see them for free! The St Kilda Breakwater is home to the smallest species of penguin called Eudyptula minor, and you can see them swim and waddle back to their nests among the rocks of the breakwater at sunset, all year round.
3. Breathe fresh air at the Royal Botanic Gardens
Located in the heart of Melbourne’s city centre, the Royal Botanic Garden is an oasis with over 50,000 plants. Pack some lunch before heading here, as it’s easy to find a quiet picnic spot amongst its 36 acres of colourful blooms and lush greenery.
Credit: Melbourne Daily
#HHWT Tip: Check out the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden where kids can play, explore, splash, hide and dig!
Address: Birdwood Avenue
Opening Hours: 7:30am to sunset
4. Hop on a bike and enjoy a spin around Melbourne
Credit: Melbourne Bike Share
Melbourne is a cycling-friendly city with dedicated bike tracks. While there’s a holding deposit to rent a bike from Melbourne Bike Share, the first 30 minutes are free. You could technically break your journey into a series of short hops, picking up and dropping off bikes at different kiosks all over town.
5. See the city onboard the iconic City Circle Tram
The City Circle Tram is a free and easy way to get around central Melbourne without breaking a sweat. Just wait at any tram stop along the City Circle Tram route. The tram has audio commentary and stops at almost all the major hot spots such as the City Museum, Parliament House, Docklands, Federation Square, Melbourne Aquarium and the Princess Theatre.
Credit: Visit Melbourne
#HHWT Tip: Some trams, including the City Circle Tram, aren’t stroller friendly so it’s advisable to fold the stroller and carry your child. Download the tramTracker app – it tells you what kind of tram is coming your way.
6. Live the beach life at St Kilda
When you’re ready to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city, make your way to breezy St Kilda beach to witness a different kind of buzz. Wander along the seafront promenade…
Credit: Ares Nguyen
… snap a photo in front of Luna Park’s iconic grin…
Credit: Luna Park Melbourne
… and drool over the old-school European cake shops on Acland Street.
7. Go gallery hopping
Here’s something that could make art aficionados skip with joy: Melbourne has a thriving arts scene, with more than 100 galleries dotting the city! Temporary exhibitions tend to incur a fee, but many permanent collections can be seen for free.
The National Gallery of Victoria boasts an impressive collection with big names like Picasso Monet and Rembrandt.
Address: 180 St Kilda Road
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Credit: By Bidgee (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The Ian Potter Centre, just up the road in Federation Square, houses Australian artworks ranging from the colonial period to the present day. While you’re at Federation Square, pop by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image for an interactive history of film and TV.
Credit: Arch Daily
Still not sated? The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art on Southbank is where you’ll get to see contemporary artworks by local and international artists.
Address: 111 Sturt Street, Southbank
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 5:00pm (Tuesday – Friday) & 12:00pm – 5:00pm (Weekends & Public Holidays)
8. Learn yoga or Tai Chi at Federation Square
Need to strettcchh or feel zen after all that sightseeing? The Atrium at Federation Square offers free Tai Chi classes every Tuesday from 7:30am – 8:30am. After an hour of this, we reckon you’ll feel refreshed, rejuvenated and energised to explore the city again!
Tuesday is also when there’s a free yoga class at The Atrium. Running from 1:15pm – 2:00pm, these classes can help you to touch your toes in no time.
#HHWT Tip: Newcomers are required to arrive 15 minutes early to register and bring your own mats for yoga.
Address: Corner Swanston St & Flinders St
9. Wander along artsy alleyways
You probably won’t find Banksy’s work here, but Melbourne’s alleyways are notorious for its street art. With so many nooks and crannies to discover, keep your eyes peeled for surprises. Head to these locations to see some of the city’s best street art:
Hosier and Rutledge Lane, opposite Federation Square
Credit: LT Photography
Caledonian Lane, off Little Bourke Street
Credit: Geoff Wilson
Union Lane, off Bourke Street Mall
Credit: Angie & James Do Stuff
And these others:
- Rear of 280 Queen Street in Finlay Avenue
- 21 Degraves Street
- Corner of Flinders Lane and Cocker Alley
- 122 Palmerston Street, Carlton
- Centre Place, between Collins Street and Flinders Lane
10. Get caffeinated and learn more about coffee at the same time
It’s only apt that Australia’s unofficial coffee capital offers free “cupping” sessions for coffee aficionados. This is where you learn about coffee by sniffing and tasting it and so on. Check out Melbourne Cupping Sessions to find out which cafes are serving free tasting sessions when.
And there you have it, some of the things you can do in Melbourne that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Enjoy!