10 Vibrant Free Things to Do in Melbourne, Australia
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Often dubbed as “the world’s most livable city”, Melbourne offers a wide array of experiences for every kind of traveller. From appreciating literary arts and Aboriginal galleries to food markets and nature getaways, Melbourne never runs out of places to explore and things to do. Known as Australia’s cultural hub, anyone can spend a whole week of grand ‘ol fun in this city for free!
Now, after spending ample time in this vibrant city, I’m here to let you know all of the amazing free things to do in Melbourne, and why you MUST give them all a try!
Free Things To Do In Melbourne
Get a Taste of Melbourne by Joining a Free Walking Tour
Organized by I’m Free Walking Tours, this walking tour gives you the chance to go around the whole city in just a few hours. Starting at the State Library of Victoria, the walking tour will take you through Federation Square, Chinatown, Carlton Gardens, and so much more.
Walking tours do a fantastic job of showing you the essentials of a city within a few hours, while also squeezing in a few hidden gems not many know about. An added bonus is meeting great company during the tour. Along with an enthusiastic tour guide, you’ll meet fellow tourists and curious Melbournians alike who you might find yourself striking lifelong friendships with.
Hop On and Off the Free City Circle Tram
Lucky for you, there’s a free tourist tram that will take you through Australia’s rich culture and heritage. Historical sites, markets, and public markets—what other city does this for you?
The tram runs throughout town and stops at the essential tourist attractions, such as the Flinders Quarter, Melbourne Central, Royal Exhibition Building, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and more of the city’s must-go-to spots. The City Circle tram runs from morning to night, every day of the week. Leaving every 12 minutes, it won’t be hard to catch the tram, which is a moving tourist attraction in itself.
Explore the Hidden Gems of Melbourne
Spend an afternoon exploring the hidden art alleyways and streets teeming with vintage coffee shops and arcades. Hosier Lane is an alleyway that is celebrated for its colourful and vibrant graffiti art. It’s a hotspot for the urban graffiti scene and the perfect place for an outdoor photoshoot.
Along Degraves Street, on the other hand, you’ll find yourself immersed into the 19th century with its elegant cafes and arcades. You’ll find quaint little shops, tailors, and tea rooms along this famous cobbled laneway.
Take Some Time to Appreciate the Arts
If you’re a fan of television film and visual arts, then prepare to spend a whole day at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). Open daily starting at 10 am, ACMI offers the public a chance to explore and engage with the art of the moving image. With various exhibitions, programs, creative workshops, live events and film showings, there’s never a dull moment at the ACMI.
After a day at the ACMI, spend the evening at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), which is known as Australia’s largest and most commonly visited art museum. Here, you’ll find sophisticated art collections from around the world, making it an absolute feast for the senses.
If you’re interested in Australian history and Aboriginal art, then the Ian Potter Centre is just the place for you. It showcases all kinds of Australian artwork, from historical to contemporary art, all of which have shaped the landscape of Australian art throughout the decades.
Photo by Peter Connolly / CC-BY
Get a Little More Literate
Spend a day buried in literature at the State Library of Victoria, which houses over two million books. Established back in 1854, the State Library of Victoria is Australia’s oldest public library.
After perusing a book or two, visit The Wheeler Centre to attend interesting and thought-provoking talks by the best thinkers of Australia. The institution hosts public events and conferences that are designed to provoke intellectual discussions and discourse.
Photo by WIL / CC-BY
Explore the Public Markets
Take the City Tram, get off at the Flagstaff Station, and it won’t take long until you find yourself at Queen Victoria Market. Here, it doesn’t cost a penny to have an interesting adventure. Explore the endless rows of market vendors offering a range of local and international delicacies.
Chelsea Market, located by the southern suburb of Chelsea, also offers a wide variety of goodies. From fresh fruit and vegetables to handmade products, there’s something here for everyone!
Spend the Afternoon by the Shore
If you’re tired of the city life and are craving the comforts of the sea, then look no further: St. Kilda is the perfect getaway for the day. Only a 20-minute tram ride from the city, there’s no reason not to stop by this must-see spot when visiting Melbourne. Here, you can explore the gardens and parks, as well as the variety of dining places, markets, and public events.
Make sure you walk or drive another 6 km along the beach walkway to check out the colourful Brighton Beach Boxes. Here, you’ll find one of the most colourful beaches in Melbourne so be sure to bring your camera!
Take a Nature Break at the Royal Botanical Gardens
Once the sun begins to sink, get some fresh air and take a lovely sunset stroll around the Royal Botanic Gardens. Home to nearly 9,000 unique plant species from across the world, this paradise within the city offers tourists an escape from the bustling city life. Walking through the breathtaking scenery and majestic foliage will surely help you find some inner peace and tranquillity.
If you’re looking for more gardens to visit, the Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury Gardens are a sight worth seeing. These gardens are the perfect spot to have an afternoon walk and take in the vast expanse of garden beds, trees, flora, and even a conservatory.
Photo by Travellers travel photobook / CC-BY
Take a Walk Along the Yarra River
To cap off your perfect day, take a relaxing walk along the famous Yarra River. Considered the “heart” of bright and vibrant Melbourne, this iconic river offers a scenic view of its outdoor picnic and barbeque places, restaurants, shops, and cruises sailing by.
Sunset Photo Opp at the Princes Pier
Head to the Princes Pier late in the afternoon and you’re likely to have the whole place to yourself complete with remarkable sunset views.
Along the bay near the old port, there are numerous opportunities for keen photographers. My favourite spot is where the pier’s restoration finishes. The new pier is shorter than the original, leaving the remainder of the pier without decking and the original pylons still intact. There are hundreds of them jutting out across the bay.
If a pleasant stroll along the waterfront is more your thing, you can find that here as well! It’s easy to get to, located at the end of the #109 tram line.
So, if you’re looking for a city to visit without having to shell out so much, Melbourne is just the place for you. In this vibrant and lively city, don’t be afraid to explore a little and try something new.
So, what are you waiting for? The city of Melbourne awaits you!
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