31 Free Things To Do In Melbourne

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A LOCAL’S RECOMMENDATIONS

If you are planning to visit Melbourne, Australia, and are concerned that it might be a little pricey, think again, ‘cos there are a whole bunch of free things to do in Melbourne  that are fun and interesting, without costing a cent. You will love this extensive list of 31 popular attractions that I have put together for you. As a local, these are my personal recommendations for visitors to the wonderful city of Melbourne.

free things to do in Melbourne

MELBOURNE

Firstly, let me tell you a bit about the city. The population of Melbourne is currently 5 million (2019). It is known as the cultural capital and sporting capital of Australia. Maybe even the garden capital and music capital. Ok, I may have made up one or two capitals. But Melbourne is a very cool place to live and to visit as a traveler. No one stands out here, everyone looks like a local, no matter what language you speak, or what you wear. Aussies are generally very accepting of one and all. It’s a very friendly place and I’m sure you will feel right at home during your stay.

free things to do in Melbourne
View from Sofitel of Melbourne’s sports precinct and Yarra River

1. Tram

First thing on my local’s list of free things to do in Melbourne is a fun way to check out the sights of the city. Hop on the heritage maroon-coloured City Circle Tram which loops right around the city centre. You can ride all day for free if you wish, and hop off wherever you want, with stops at major attractions and shopping centres.

READ ALSO  What To Do In Ipoh

Tip: City Circle tram runs everyday and ceases at 6pm.

Snazzy TripsCity Circle Tram – photo credit

2. Flinders Street

See the historic Flinders Street Railway Station facade, dating from 1905. It was once the busiest train station in the world, and is arguably the most recognisable monument in Melbourne.

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Facade of Flinders Station

3. Gardens

There are a plethora of parks and gardens around the city in which to enjoy a stroll or a picnic.

The most popular one for tourists and locals alike is the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens on Alexandra Avenue. You can access the gardens from other entrances too. Admire the lovely lake with swans, visit the herbarium and the glasshouse too. The gardens are so big, you may need to download this map to find your way around. You can spend hours here, appreciating the diverse flora and fauna.

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Lake at Botanical Gardens – photo credit

Fitzroy Gardens is also a perennial favourite. There is a really cute miniature Tudor Village permanently on display here. Also, Captain Cooks Cottage is located here. Both of these attractions were donated by England and are quite enchanting. The garden even has a Conservatory, rotunda and fountain.

Original  9443091 AV41  B3A8744 z723pd7 2048X1152 Snazzy TripsCook’s Cottage at Fitzroy Gardens – photo credit

4. Shrine

Next to the Botanical Gardens you can pop over and visit the state war memorial, called the Shrine of Remembrance, which honours fallen Australian soldiers from all wars.

440px Shrine of Rememberance 11884180023 Snazzy TripsShrine of Remembrance – photo credit

5. Formula 1

Stroll around Albert Park Lake, part of the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix racing track. There is a 5 km walking path around the lake to enjoy and admire the views.

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Albert Park Lake – photo credit

6. Street Art

Explore Melbourne’s burgeoning street art in the many laneways and alleys. Hosier Lane, Centre Place, AC/DC Lane, Duckboard Place and Croft Alley, just to name a few.

free things to do in Melbourne
Hosier Lane

7. Arcades

Check out the historic shopping arcades, which are hidden gems of the city – Block Arcade, Royal Arcade, Degraves Street, and Centre Place.

free things to do in Melbourne

Block Arcade

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Royal Arcade

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Centre Place

8. Market

Wander around the iconic Queen Victoria Market, the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere. It has been the heart of Melbourne for 140 years. The historic market sheds are even national heritage buildings, believe it or not! You can browse for souvenirs, leather goods, clothes, toys, fresh food and heaps more.

In the Summer months there are Night Markets here with all types of cuisines on offer and a vibrant atmosphere.

Tip: Market is closed Mondays and Wednesdays.

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Melbourne Summer Nights Market

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9. Beach

Enjoy some sand, surf and sun, for free, at St Kilda beach, the city’s closest beach, which is only 3 km from the CBD. Maybe even catch a beautiful sunset.

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10. Esplanade

St Kilda Esplanade Market is held every Sunday, with heaps of stalls to peruse, selling all manner of goods, including quirky and eclectic wares.

free things to do in Melbourne

St Kilda Esplanade – photo credit

11. Luna Park

While you’re in St Kilda, snap a photo in front of the iconic Luna Park’s famous laughing entrance.

Fun Fact: Luna Park has the oldest continually operating roller coaster, the Scenic Railway, in the world. I assure you it is in perfect working condition.

12. Gallery

National Gallery of Victoria is an art museum that has free entry to the main halls. See the largest stained glass ceiling in the world and the front glass water feature.

13. Aboriginal Art

Want to see some Aboriginal Art? Wander over to the Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square, where you can see all types of Australian and Indigenous art.

14. Moving Art

Also at Fed Square is the Australian Centre of Moving Image (ACMI) where you can interact with the displays all about TV and film.

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ACMI – photo credit

15. History

While you’re at Fed Square you can see the Koorie Heritage Trust Cultural Centre where you can learn about Aboriginal history of this area.

16. Fed Square

Federation Square has heaps of other free activities on offer, such as yoga, laughing groups, musical performances and craft groups, just to name a few. Have a wander around and check out this weird and wonderful meeting hub of Melbourne.

free things to do in Melbourne

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free things to do in Melbourne

17. Museum

The Melbourne Museum is located on Nicholson Street, with the huge rubik’s cube on the outside. It’s the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere. Inside the main entrance is a free public display of Victoria’s and Australia’s history, including CSIRAC (an early computer built in Australia) and a massive skeleton of a Blue Whale.

free things to do in Melbourne

Rubik’s cube outside the museum

18. Yarra River

Strolling along the Yarra River is a favourite pass time for Melbournians. You can promenade around the precincts of Southbank, Southgate and South Wharf which are full of fabulous restaurants, bars, cafes and are great for people watching and just hanging out. There are often musicians and street performers entertaining passers by.

free things to do in Melbourne

19. Crown

Wander through the Crown Casino Entertainment Complex at Southbank and see the water fountain and light display at the main entrance.

free things to do in Melbourne

Crown complex and Yarra River

20. Great Balls of Fire

Want to see pyrotechnics? Don’t miss seeing the fire balls shooting out of 6 tall towers, every hour on the hour, outside the Crown complex on the waterfront in the evenings. An iconic part of Melbourne nightlife.

Tip: It gets pretty hot!

free things to do in Melbourne

Melbourne at night

21. Ship

See the Polly Woodside Ship, an old cargo vessel from Belfast, dated 1885. Located at South Wharf Promenade, along the Yarra River, it’s a favourite with boat lovers.

free things to do in Melbourne

Polly Woodside- photo credit

22. Docklands

Visit Docklands and enjoy a stroll along the marina and admire the yachts in the harbour .

free things to do in Melbourne

Docklands

23. Wheel

See the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, also at Docklands. Don’t miss the light display on the wheel every evening from dusk. It is the only observation wheel in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Melbourne Star – photo credit

24. Unesco Site

The Royal Melbourne Exhibition Building is a World Heritage Listed monument built in 1880, located in the city fringe suburb of Carlton. The whole UNESCO site includes the Carlton Gardens, the Melbourne Museum, Imax Cinema and an award winning children’s playground.

free things to do in Melbourne

25. Architecture

Explore some of the diverse architecture in Melbourne, the old and the new.

Some historic architecture to see: State Library, Parliament House, Treasure building, many churches, Melbourne Town Hall, Trades Hall Building, Old Melbourne Gaol.

Some modern architecture to see: Art Centre, Eureka Building, Melbourne Exhibition Building, AAMI Stadium.

26. Sculptures

Many public outdoor art sculptures are located randomly around the city. These quirky pieces from Australian artists include, ‘Cow Up a Tree’, ‘3 Founders of Melbourne’, ‘Public Purse’, and ‘Guardians’.

See how many you can find whilst walking around the city.

free things to do in Melbourne

Sculptures at Southbank promenade

27. Parliament

Take a free tour of Parliament House, on Spring Street, when Parliament is not sitting. You can even sit on the politicians benches (and sleep like they do!).

28. China Town

Wander down Little Bourke Street and enjoy the many shops, bars and restaurants serving all types of Asian cuisine. This is one of the oldest parts of Melbourne, dating from the 1850’s gold rush era, when Chinese migration first began.

29. Pink Lake

Did you know Melbourne has a salt water lake that turns pink? Bright pink! Located under the Westgate Bridge, it’s a beautiful site to take selfies. Read all about it here.

free things to do in Melbourne

30. White Night

One of the best free activities would have to be the fabulous Winter Art Festival, held every year for 3 nights in August, where you can see and experience many areas of the city come to life with dazzling displays projected on various Melbourne landmarks. Bright colourful lights, art, music, and dancing, transform the various locations into a spectacular feast for the senses.

free things to do in Melbourne

White Night at Flinders Street Station – photo credit

31. Myer

Last on my list of free things to do in Melbourne is a favourite with families. The Myer Christmas windows in the Bourke Street Mall are a huge attraction. For the whole month of December, the windows are on display, beautifully decorated in different themes, each depicting a story, which delight the child in all of us.

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As you can see, there are oodles of fun and exciting free things to do in Melbourne. I hope you enjoy some of these if you venture down under.

Short tours available

If you wish to take a tour to enhance your visit to Melbourne, here are some I recommend that are reasonably priced.

Be sure to check out my other Melbourne, Victoria articles.

See ya mate.

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21 thoughts on “31 Free Things To Do In Melbourne

  1. Farrah says:

    I’ve never been to Melbourne but I’m always down for budget travel and fun + free things to do! I’d love to go there someday!

  2. pip_says says:

    Oohh I love Melbourne, especially all the awesome street art and the Royal Botanical Gardens. I went several years ago but i really need to get back there asap, thanks for a great article. 🙂

  3. supal says:

    I’d definitely hang out at the beach all day and see some of the street art. Dying, however, over the free trams! We need more of those around the world!

  4. Melinda says:

    Wow! So many great free things to do. I would love to be there for White Night. Sounds fantastic and looks beautiful

  5. Aditi Sharma says:

    Touring Australia can be really expensive so it’s great to know about the free things to do in Melbourne. I am often surprised during my travels when many of the free, off-the-beaten path things end up being the highlights of my trip to the city. Would love to see the Winter Art Festival if we happen to be in Melbourne in August and I am definitely adding Royal Melbourne Exhibition Building to our itinerary. Thanks for sharing the details.

  6. Lisa says:

    I’ve yet to visit Australia, but I’ve heard that it can be very expensive. That said, it’s so useful to read a post about free things to do in Melbourne. You’ve given me so serious Oz wanderlust and I can’t wait to visit the beaches here!

  7. Medha Verma says:

    I visited Melbourne earlier this year and I am so happy to see that with the limited amount of time I had, I managed to see quite a few of the things you talk about here. I loved that the tram within the city centre was a free ride, that was so cool! Also, walking along the Yarra River promenade was something I really enjoyed. What I wish, from your list, that I had known about earlier, was that there’s a pink lake so close to the city! I would’ve definitely wanted to visit that.

  8. sunsetsandrollercoasters says:

    Melbourne is such a great city to visit! I had no idea there were so many free things to do… things that sound awesome! I’d love to explore the Yarra riverfront. It looks like a wonderful place to spend a few hours wandering and relaxing. The street art as well is so cool!

  9. mohanaandaninda says:

    Insanely handy article!! When travelling budget all the time, we long for fulfilling experiences that can add to our memories and yet don’t strain our pockets. The museums, arcade walks, street art hunts all look such wonderful ways of getting to know the city. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  10. Travel with Mei and Kerstin says:

    We’ve never been to Australia but have heard that it’s quite expensive there. So it’s good to know that there are so many free things to do in Melbourne! Also we had no idea that there’s a pink lake! We’d love to see that too. Thanks for this awesome post!

  11. Delphine says:

    Melbourne is such a vibrant city… much more than Sydney in some ways. My favourite free things to do are the street art and the galleries. I found some really great murals last time I was there. And the best thing is seeing the artists at work!

  12. Candy says:

    This is an amazing list of things to do for free. It’s always great to find things for free as the cost of food and lodging can quickly add up. I don’t think I’ve ever visited a city where the trams were free. Wish every big city did this!

  13. Susanne Jungbluth says:

    Thank you for the many nice tips! I have not been to Melbourne yet, but it would be a destination I would like to see. Your ideas are great.

  14. aniajames says:

    if I knew about this before our visit to Melbourne. We loved our time in Melbourne, though it was heavy on a pocket 😉 my girls favourite was City Circle Tram

  15. Sam Peach says:

    Melbourne looks like a dream! My ultimate bucket list destination. Since flights there are so expensive its nice to see there is so much to do in the city that is free :)! Thanks for sharing all of this useful information.

  16. trimmtravels says:

    You are definitely speaking my language. I love finding the free things to do in a city and not because I’m looking for “free” but because most of the time I find the coolest things about the city this way. Walking the city and staying outside really SEEING the city. I love arcades, street art and I would definitely have to check out the pyrotechnics and do some night photography!

  17. thewaywardwalrus says:

    I’ve met so many awesome people from Melbourne during my travels that I’m convinced that I’ll love it, especially with so many cool free things to do! Definitely helps on the wallet haha

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