The best free things to do in Melbourne

Australia, in general, is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Hence Melbourne is no exception and costs can pile up pretty quickly when doing things in Melbourne. Melbourne is one of the best cities in the world to visit for its art, culture, parks and sporting events and it has been named the world’s most livable city many times over for its quality of life.

With a bit of creative thinking and looking, things can be done in Melbourne Australia on the cheap. So, what free things to do in Melbourne can we find?

Free things to do in Melbourne

Visiting Melbourne is an amazing experience but many visitors find costs adding up quickly. Overstretching your budget on your trip to Melbourne can quickly put a dent in your holiday plans but adding some of these brilliant free things to do in Melbourne to your Melbourne itinerary will make sure you have the best time without breaking the bank.

Visit the parks and gardens

Melbourne free activities include many green spaces and some right on the doorstep of the Melbourne CBD. Here we talk about 2 of the best parks in Melbourne. The Royal Botanical Gardens has something for everyone. There is an amazing Children’s Garden that contains water features, sculptures and a bamboo forest. To experience the flora of Australia there is a Forest Walk that showcases the trees, shrubs and flowers from all over Australia.

At the Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne, you will find the Fairy Tree. The tree was one of the original trees planted over 300 years ago. From 1931-to 1942 Ola Cohen carved Fairies into the trunk.

Paid Option – cheap things to do in Melbourne: Ride the Garden Explorer at the Royal Botanical Gardens.  What better way to discover this 38-hectare Royal Botanical Garden than a fun little bus. The small hop on and off bus with live commentary takes you at a leisurely pace so you can enjoy this amazing green space with views of the gardens and the city skyline around for you

A glass topped building set back through trees without leaves. In front of the building is a man sitting on a bench with the city skyline in the background. parks are one of the best free things to do in Melbourne.
Free Melbourne attractions in Parks and Gardens

When asked why she stated, “I have carved in a tree in the Fitzroy Gardens for you, and the fairies, but mostly for the fairies and those who believe in them, for they will understand how necessary it is to have a fairy sanctuary – a place that is sacred and safe as a home should be to all living creatures.”

The conservatory Melbourne has an amazing floral display that is open daily. Built 80 years ago it is one of Melbourne’s most popular free activities. Fitzroy Gardens with all its attractions is certainly one of the best parks in Melbourne.

Paid Option – cheap things to do in Melbourne: Cooks Cottage shipped all the way from England in the 1930s as a memorial to the man who discovered Australia. It’s not really known if Cook actually stayed in the cottage but it was certainly owned by his parents in the village of Great Ayton, Yorkshire, England.

Free activities in Melbourne – City Circle Tram

The City Circle tram service operates within Melbourne’s central business district. The service runs in a circular route passing major tourist attractions, such as The Parliament, Fitzroy Gardens, The Melbourne Star and more. The trams that ply this route run in both directions approximately every twelve minutes between 10 am and 6 pm Sunday to Wednesday.

An old-style Melbourne city tram on a rainy day in Melbourne. Catching the free city circle tram is one of the free things to do in Melbourne
Free fun things to do in Melbourne include riding an iconic tram

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday the hours are 10 am – 9 pm. The trams stop at Flinders Street > Harbour Esplanade > Docklands Drive > La Trobe Street > Victoria Street > Nicholson Street > Spring Street > Flinders Street. This is certainly a great way to see the heart of Melbourne.

Sit back, relax and see the sights of the city. Get off when you would like to explore or visit Melbourne attractions and get back on. It’s a mini Melbourne city tour. Melbourne free tram services run in the CBD area. Jump on jump off any tram in the Melbourne CBD for free. I would rate this one of the top free things to do in Melbourne. See the Melbourne Tram map here

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Things to do in Melbourne for free – walking tour in Melbourne

Like many cities around the world, Melbourne has a free walking tour. The free tour of Melbourne runs every day at 10.30 am and 2.30 pm lasting around 3 hours. We have found the free walking tours worldwide are amazing as the guides work off tips.

People walking down the alleyways of Melbourne
A Melbourne free walking tour is fun and educational

While the tip is appreciated it is not mandatory. You will find the guides really put in and go the extra mile to entertain, they work hard for the tips on this Melbourne city tour. The Melbourne free walking tour leaves from the statue of Sir Redmond Barry in front of the State Library of Victoria.

Discover more of Victoria: 11 fun-filled day trips from Melbourne you have to do!

Free things to do in the city of Melbourne: Have a BBQ!

Free bbq Melbourne? Yes, please! Free BBQs are located all around the city for you to throw a snag, chop or even a dim sim on the BBQ. Grab some bread and coleslaw, chuck a snag in some bread, add sauce and away you go! Two of the best sports in Melbourne for a bbq are Birrarung Marr and Docklands Park. Birrarung Marr is an amazing spot to get your bbq Melbourne on with the city skyline view rising straight up above you.

The free BBQs on the north bank of the Yarra offers great views of the city and the Botanical Gardens. The Docklands Park at Victoria Harbour features public art and the play journey interactive playground to keep the kids busy. We suggest catching the city tram to Docklands/Harbour Town to go ice skating, shopping or viewing the city from the Melbourne Star. Afterwards, have a bbq…what is more Australian than that?

Shopping in Melbourne at the Queen Victoria Market

Queen Vic Market is a place you can spend hours wandering around. It’s a full variety of markets selling meat, vegetables and all matter of various goods from homewares to luggage and souvenirs. The market covers 17 hectares which makes it the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere. A doughnut van has been selling jam doughnuts from the same spot for the last 50 years. You must try one, they are amazing!

The souvenir pavillions at the Queens Victoria market with all of their wares out the front on a bright sunny Melbourne day, not a cloud in the sky!
The market, maybe the oldest of free things to do in Melbourne city

One of the fun things to do in Melbourne at night is visiting the Queen Vic night market in the winter months. The Queen Vic night market features food trucks and performers. A free 10-minute tour is available for first-time visitors. The tour runs 4 times a day, Tuesday through Sunday at 10 am,11 am,12 pm and 1 pm.

The Queen Vic market hours are varied but are as follows.

DaysFresh produceSpecialty Shops
MondayClosedClosed
Tuesday6 am – 2 pm8 am – 2 pm
WednesdayClosedClosed
Thursday6 am – 2 pm8 am – 2 pm
Friday6 am – 5 pm8 am – 3 pm
Saturday6 am -3 pm8 am – 3 pm
Sunday9 am – 4 pm9 am – 4 pm

Fun free things to do in Melbourne: visit the Melbourne beaches

Free Melbourne outdoor activities don’t get any better than visiting some of the amazing beaches on Port Phillip Bay. The most famous of Melbourne’s beaches are at St Kilda, 9 kilometres out of the city centre. You can access St Kilda by tram from the Melbourne CBD.

St Kilda beach features calm water as do all the Melbourne beaches. Sandy bottom shallow water makes this a safe and ideal swimming spot for families.

The waterfront Port Melbourne and South Melbourne beaches are closest to the CBD. The water-front Port Melbourne features playgrounds, beach tennis as well as walking and bicycle paths.

South Melbourne Beach is popular with families, sunbathers and swimmers. At South Melbourne beach you see people fishing and playing beach volleyball. Why not have some fish n’ chips at one of the South Melbourne Beach cafes while you are there?

Paid Option: St Kilda is home to the only fun park Melbourne has, Luna Park. Luna Park St Kilda is a throwback to yesteryear with the world’s oldest continually running wooden Roller Coaster. There are many things to do in St Kilda while you are out this way.

So many people on the beach enjoying the stunning weather and walking along the boardwalk at St Kilda beach
The beach at St Kilda is one of the best Melbourne Free activities

The St Kilda Pier for Little Penguins

The St Kilda Pier is great for a walk and views of Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay. At the end of St Kilda Pier lies a Penguin Colony. The penguins are best seen early morning and late at night.

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Visit the amazing Melbourne Street Art

Once upon a time visiting street art or graffiti would have been an unusual thing to do in Melbourne, not anymore. Melbourne is world-famous for its street art. Places like Hosier Lane are known worldwide for their ever-changing street art.

Hosier Lane is an alive canvas for Melbourne artists. Places like AC/DC Lane and laneways off Flinders Lane between Russell Street and Swanston Street are all home to this form of artwork.

Bright and colourful street art in Melbourne on a brick wall down one of the famous laneways.
Some of the best free stuff to do in Melbourne is exploring laneways for art

With the recent arrival of concrete bollards as a terrorist precaution, the Melbourne City Council has encouraged artists to paint these concrete barriers into artworks. The National Gallery of Victoria at St Kilda Road and Federation Square has many free exhibits to view.

From modern artworks to rotating displays throughout the year. The unknown famous artist Banksy has been to Melbourne. The Banksy Melbourne artworks can be found in AC/DC Lane. A number of the Banksy Melbourne stencils have been destroyed over the years with only 2 remaining.

Visit Phillip Island. The best detailed guide on things to do on Phillip Island

Koorie Heritage Trust

Australia is home to the oldest living civilisation in the world and at the Koorie Heritage Trust in Federation Square, you can discover this amazing culture for yourself. The Wurundjeri People are the Traditional Owners of the Land that Melbourne (Naarm) is located on and here you will find displays on how life was for the Wurundjeri people before it was colonised.

The Ian Potter Center

The Ian Potter Centre is an extension of the National Gallery of Victoria at Federation Square. This small campus of the NGV has free entry for all and features a selection of artworks for you to admire.

Melbourne for free – The State Library of Victoria

While many people would not put a library on their list of places to visit in Melbourne it has to be one of the best free things to do in Melbourne. Here you will find the original Ned Kelly armour as well as many displays, exhibitions and galleries.

If you are looking for free things to do in Melbourne with kids you will find storytime, yoga for kids workshops and other amazing things for them to do throughout the year.

Free comedy night on Mondays at the Spleen Bar

Everyone loves a good laugh, right? Monday nights at the Spleen Bar are for you if you want a good night out. While the night is free, the entertainment and hospitality industries have done it hard over the last few years so we ask if you can have an extra drink and leave a little something if you love the show.

Birrarung Marr

Visiting Melbourne with kids or just need somewhere for a 5-minute rest? Birrarung Marr is one of Melbourne’s newest green spaces and is located right near Fed Square.

One of the sculptures on Birrarung Marr reaching for the sky with the Eureka building in the background. It has faces painted all over it with many different poses
Take a walk along Birrarung Marr during your free days out in Melbourne

Here you will also find artworks by local indigenous people with views of some of the most popular places in Melbourne. There is an upper and lower terrace that incorporates grassed sections as well as sandy sections.

Free things to do in Melbourne today – Walk, jog, cycle the Yarra River

The Yarra River like most rivers in cities around the world is the life of Melbourne. Join hundreds of people enjoying a stroll, run or cycle along the Yarra River during the morning, day or early evening. You can also find a patch of grass to sit on and watch the teams as they row up and down the river practising for their next competition.

Free things to do in Melbourne: The Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance is located in Kings Domain on St Kilda Road, Melbourne. This amazing memorial is all about remembering the soldiers who have defended Australia throughout all the conflicts this country has been involved in.

The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne is a sandstone building with 8 columns at the front of it. The roof rises and appears to flatten at the top. It is one of the most educational free things to do in Melbourne for all ages.
Learning about history is one of the cool things to do in Melbourne

The Shrine has some amazing exhibits both physical and multimedia. The Galleries of Remembrance is amazing with its displays of over 800 uniforms, weapons and artifacts from the wars. The amazing Gallipoli landing multimedia show was both emotional and informative. The view from the top of the Shrine towards Melbourne is amazing. You can see the botanical gardens and the Governor Generals’ residence.

Find a free trivia night in Melbourne

Trivia is one of the hottest crazes right now and with the hospitality industry taking a heavy hit the last few years pubs and clubs all over Melbourne are hosting free trivia nights to get customers back in the doors. For only a couple of drinks with friends or to meet some new ones a trivia night in Melbourne is a great way to spend an evening.

Road trip Victoria: Our easy drive North East Victorian road trip itinerary will guide you!

Visit some amazing Melbourne Churches

While many people won’t seek out churches unless they are in Europe some of the churches in Melbourne have taken inspiration from overseas and the interiors are stunning. Architecture lovers will find the outsides just as marvellous. St Paul’s Cathedral across from Flinders Street Station is one of the most popular and so is St Patrick’s.

Free Things to do in Melbourne: Southbank

Southbank runs from the Princes Bridge near Flinders Street Station down to the Melbourne Convention Centre. You will often find street performers working this strip of the city. Southbank events both inside and outside are on all year round.

An evening photo of Southbank with the lights from the hotels and riverside restaurants reflecting off the Yarra River
Take a walk along Southbank for free things to do in Melbourne at night

We all have to eat and Southbank restaurants in Melbourne are very popular places to eat day and night. Having a Southbank breakfast and watching the city come alive is very popular among locals and tourists.

Crown Casino Melbourne letting off their balls of fire into the air is one of the fun things to do in Melbourne at night.

Free stuff to do in Melbourne – See street performers in Bourke St mall

Bourke St Mall is also a hot spot for street musicians and artists in the Melbourne CBD. During the day and into the early evening you will find some amazing acts for free.

Join a scavenger hunt

This is one of the newest ways to discover things about a city you are visiting or even new sights for locals. A scavenger hunt is a great way to wander a city while learning all about it and Melbourne scavenger hunts are amazing.

Old Treasury Building Melbourne

Located in a stunning 19th Century building is the Old Treasury Building Museum. It holds an arrangement of Victorian and Melbourne history that will delight anyone who visits. This is one of the best free things to do in Melbourne.

Free places in Melbourne – Check out Albert Park

For sports lovers, a visit to Albert park and a walk around the track is a great way to experience the Grand Prix without the massive crowds! You can also walk around Albert Park Lake.

The Australian Music Vault

Located in the Melbourne Arts Centre this museum showcases the rise of the Australian Music scene with interactive displays as well as iconic items from some of the biggest names in Australian music. If you love a good Aussie rock song or a pub anthem this is one of the best free things to do in Melbourne.

Discover More: 23 spectacular Melbourne tourist attractions you can’t miss

Free things to do in Melbourne CBD – Arts Center Melbourne

During the year you might be lucky enough to catch a free exhibition, concert, market or display at the Melbourne Arts Center. It always pays to have a look at their website to see what they are offering.

Visit the NGV – free to do in Melbourne

For art lovers, a visit to the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) is a must. This amazing collection of artworks from all over the world is a great way to spend some time. the permanent exhibitions are free and so are some of the visiting exhibitions.

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Free public transport in Melbourne

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As you can tell they’re really is a wide range of free activities to do across the city of Melbourne. Did I mention that public transport within the Melbourne CBD is free to all as is the Wifi network? The Melbourne bike-share program like many worldwide allows one to rent a bike for a small price and return it to one of many docking stations across the city. Melbourne is a little different than most places in the fact by law you need to wear a bike helmet.

Bike helmets come standard with the bikes you are renting. For further information on what is happening in Melbourne, I would be constantly checking the following sites. Whats on Melbourne is a site run by the Government. Time out Melbourne is always a great resource for happening and upcoming events in the City.

You will find Melbourne a city of contrast from modern to classical, from busy streets and roads to quiet parks and gardens, from street art to Monet and Picasso in the museum from Michelin stars to street treats. There really is something for everyone with every budget. We hope this article has given you some ideas for free things to do in Melbourne.

If you are in Melbourne and thinking of seeing more of our beautiful country then here are some ideas with 100+ Things to See, Do & Experience in Australia!

Getting to Melbourne

  • Melbourne is the second biggest city in Australia. Melbourne International Airport is 23 kilometres from the city centre.
  • Melbourne is serviced by many international airlines and budget carriers Jetstar. Scoot and AirAsia just to name a few. You can check the prices of international flights to Australia with Kiwi flights. For domestic flights, check with Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia.
  • There is no direct public transport link with Melbourne Airport.
  • You can catch the Skybus or you can book an airport transfer in a private car
  • You can book a rental car and have it waiting for you at Melbourne Airport.

Getting around Melbourne

Myki is Melbourne’s ticketing system to travel on the city’s trains, trams, and buses. International and interstate visitors coming to Victoria can buy a Myki Explorer pack to see free stuff in Melbourne. The Myki pack combines a ready to use Myki card, visitor information and special offers for travellers. It’s a great option for visitors who choose to explore Melbourne and regional Victoria by public transport! You need to touch your Myki card on and off when you use the public transport system. Inside the Melbourne CBD, you can use the trams, which are free to get around on.

Where to stay in Melbourne

  • Melbourne has accommodation options for every budget from Hostels, to apartments and hotels rooms
  • Hostels in Melbourne can start from as little as $21 a night for a shared dorm room.
  • Hotels in Melbourne generally start from around $100 a night for a double room and increase incrementally as the luxury rating rises towards 5 stars. Google states that 3-star averaging $113, 5-star averaging $314 for a night stay.
  • You can compare and book your stay on Trip Advisor
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If you are looking for more amazing and best places to visit in Victoria or more travel in Victoria destinations Explore Victoria has some more articles below for you to check out. If you have an idea, attraction or top spot feel free to leave us a comment or email us at contact@explorevictoriaaustralia.com


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