Taneesha Davis is a writer and editor living on the Mornington Peninsula. Visit girlbossmag.com.au for more.
Published June 21st 2019
Experience all of Melbourne without breaking the bank
I'm just going to come out and say it; Melbourne is amazing. I love Melbourne and our city. I have travelled far and wide across Australia and nothing compares to the glow of the city at night, or the crisp fresh air as the city wakes. It is truly beautiful. However, living in this city can be expensive, and can be even more so if you're a tourist. That's why I've gathered up the ten most amazing things to do in Melbourne for free. You too can enjoy all that Melbourne has to offer - without the price tag!
If you're looking for the perfect photo for your Instagram, or just like to admire the creativity and art we foster here in Melbourne, there is no place better than Hosier Lane. Situated just across from Fed Square, here you will find some of the absolute best street art this city, and this country has to offer. Snap a pic or just take your time slowly going through every single artwork (there's a lot!), and you've got yourself sorted for the morning.
Other graffiti locations to discover include AC/DC Lane, Croft Alley and Meyers Place. You can pay for a guided tour across the city, but if you would prefer to DIY it, it is also entirely possible. Research beforehand and map out which graffiti lanes you would like to visit, and make sure to wander off a little bit. The best pieces are sometimes in the least touristy spaces.
Overall, St Kilda is a just out of the CBD location that is perfect for someone to visit on a budget. Make no mistake, there is plenty to do to splash some cash, like Luna Park looming over, and the many, many cafes lining the streets. However, it also homes a tiny colony of little penguins, which are able to be viewed after sunset for free every night of the year. Situated at the end of St Kilda pier, you can view the penguins usually making some noise and hiding within rocks. However, you may see quite a few in the water, walking across the paths or standing on rocks. It is a truly up close and personal experience with penguins without the cost. While you're in St Kilda, make sure to check out Readings bookstore, where you can browse one of our states most loved small bookstore.
Pack a picnic and enjoy the picturesque Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne CBD. The gardens are a landscape of beauty, stretching far and wide while staying close to the city, so you never have to venture far away. The Ian Potter Children's Gardens will keep young minds busy, and during school holidays plenty of free events are available for children and families. If you fancy a day trip, the 'sister' gardens down in Cranbourne are even better and very much worth the drive (and also free!)
If you're a Victorian with a health care card or pensioner, you may not know that you can visit Melbourne Museum and Scienceworks for free. Children also are able to come here for free, which makes this a really fantastic budget-friendly choice for families. At Melbourne Museum, you can learn about Australian and Indigenous history, visit the dinosaurs, and for children, the Pauline Gandel Children's Gallery is not one to be missed. A huge indoor and outdoor play activity for children, the Ian Potter Gallery is one of the best free playgrounds and activities for children in the state. At Scienceworks, there is usually a different event and display on every few months, but they have staples such as your chance to race Cathy Freeman or the busy kids play space upstairs. IMAX and the extra options at Scienceworks such as the planetarium and light show do incur a fee.
The National Gallery of Victoria is a haven for those that like to admire artwork from local and international artists. They like to have events here too, and they can range from free to paid. Entry into most of NGV is free, however, from time to time they will have paid exhibitions. They also host free activities for children, and all of the displays are admirable.
The second home of the NGV, is the iconic Fed Square building. Although it did give us a little controversy in the earlier building stage, it is a pivotal Melbourne location running free activities and events for all people, no matter the interest. There is a free NGV gallery (and usually a paid one, too), and is also a great place to hang out and relax. They have special screenings on the big screen from time to time, and the Yarra River walkway is right next to it, making it ideal for a warm Spring or Summer day.
There is always something happening in Melbourne, whether it be live music or comedy, there are free events scattered across this great city. From live music at Sidney Myer Music Bowl, or free stand up at The Highlander Bar, there is something for everyone. We always keep you up to date with all the latest budget-friendly events in Melbourne at WeekendNotes, so make sure to subscribe to our emails to find out the best free events happening in the city right now.
If you love the written word, The Wheeler Centre that adjoins the State Library of Victoria is not a stop to be missed. There are over 180 events held here every year, where writers and storytellers come and listen or share their own tales, be educated or educate, or just come to enjoy.
9. Queen Victoria Market
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
I know, you don't usually associate shopping with a free activity. But Queen Vic Market offers so much more than just stallholders at a market. It is a bustling hub of Melburnians, tourists, families, out-of-towners and more all coming together to enjoy the atmosphere. In certain times of the year they host free entertainment, and it's worth it to head down just for the free samples of the delicious goods.
10. Crown Casino & Southbank
Photo: Crown Casino
Again, this activity will rely on whether you want to splurge or save, and it's entirely up to you on how much you spend. But a walk down Southbank, particularly at night, is a must do to take in that Melbourne city culture and to catch street performers lining up down the Yarra to show off their talents. Crown also usually has some live acts in the Jackpot bar of their casino so you can catch a live gig for free if you can avoid the temptation of playing in the casino.
That's it! The ten best free things to do in Melbourne for free. Now you've saved so much money with these free activities, you can splurge on one of our amazing coffees!