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Top 10 Free Things to Do in Melbourne

By Carly Williams

Updated April 23, 2019 Updated April 23, 2019

Melbourne is regularly named as one of the most livable cities in the world, and recently came third in the QS Best Student Cities 2018 ranking. Fortunately, studying or living here doesn’t mean you have to break the bank either.

With an array of art galleries, street art, music, theater, and historical landmarks, you won’t be short of culture or things to do in this bustling city. Here are some fantastic activities and attractions you can enjoy without spending a dime.

Ride the free tourist city tram

This is first on our list of free things to do in Melbourne because it should really be the first thing you do when you arrive in Melbourne. The City Circle Tram service not only provides a convenient way to get around the CBD, but also provides an audio commentary with information about major landmarks, history, and useful insider tips.

You can treat this bus as a hop-on, hop-off form of transportation, or take the whole loop around. Afterwards, you’ll know your ins and outs of the city and be better prepared for the remainder of your time in Melbourne.

Take a stroll through the Botanical Gardens

Conveniently located close to the city center, the Royal Botanical Gardens are home to spectacular landscapes, iconic buildings and a variety of beautiful vegetation. Located just outside the gardens is the Shrine of Remembrance, Victoria’s national war memorial, where you can pay your respects while admiring the panoramic view of the city. Enjoy a stroll through the gardens or bring a picnic and enjoy an afternoon in the sun.

Check out the endless number of galleries and museums

It’s no surprise that Melbourne has a hefty line-up of awesome galleries, a lot of which are free to enter. The National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, in particular, are two very popular institutions with several different exhibits that are always changing to keep you on your toes.

That’s just scraping the surface of the city’s free galleries and museums though, as there are over 100 galleries in Melbourne to explore, so you’re sure to get your hipster artsy fix.

Take a tour of Town Hall

If you’re into both history and architecture, a tour of town hall is an essential free thing to do in Melbourne. This institution has hosted guests such as Queen Elizabeth II, who came for tea in 1954, and The Beatles, who waved to thousands of screaming fans off the balcony in the 60s.

Both the immaculate stonework and fascinating history lesson will (hopefully) get you screaming with joy as well.

Travel to St. Kilda

Just a quick 20-minute tram ride outside of the CBD lies the beachside strip of St. Kilda, home to fine dining restaurants and quirky cafes, amazing shops and an abundance of European cake shops (seriously, there are like five on Acland Street alone).

Head to the oceanfront old-school fair of Luna Park if you’re seeking a thrill (although, those rides will cost you), or just take a stroll down the St. Kilda Pier and watch the penguins crawl up from the harbor at dusk.

There’ss also a market along the beach every Sunday that’s definitely worth travelling over to this breezy, sea front escape for.

Shop at Queen Victoria Market

Nearly seven hectares in size, the Queen Victoria Market is the largest air market in the southern hemisphere. From fresh produce to specialty shopping, this market has it all and is one of the top free things to do in Melbourne if you’re a real foodie. There’s also a night market that runs through the winter months.

Walk from St. Kilda to Brighton Beach 

If you’re looking for free things to do in Melbourne and also want to stretch your legs, this two hour coastal walk (or shorter if you bike) from St. Kilda takes you to the world-famous Brighton Bathing Boxes. If you’re short for time, you can also make the journey by train, which takes approximately 30 minutes, but it will cost you a few dollars.

Once you arrive, enjoy a day on the beach, grab a treat from the ice cream truck, and take a picture with the iconic and unique huts.

Check out the legendary street art

As well as the city’s extensive range of galleries, art lovers can also enjoy Melbourne’s fantastic street art which covers almost every nook and cranny of the city. Opposite Federation Square, you’ll find Hosier Lane, home to arguably the best street art in the city with no surface left untouched. Stroll down the cobblestones and take it all in, and then check out all of the other street art locations in the city.

Discover your new favorite band

Melburnians love their live music, and no matter your personal tastes, you’re bound to find free gigs pretty much every day of the week. Whether you visit a famous rock venue such as Cherry Bar, or come across a local artist jamming in the street, you’re guaranteed to discover something you love.

Get your bookworm on at the State Library

We end our list of free things to do in Melbourne with the State Library, but this isn’t no ordinary library, let me tell you. Built in 1856, the building has an undeniable beauty due to its stunning architecture and the natural light that pours through the dome skylight.

It’s so easy to spend the day here poring over one of the 2,000,000 books, taking one of the free workshops, or grabbing a map and taking a self-guided tour of the exhibition galleries. There truly is no better place to dive into your favorite book.

This article was originally published in May 2018 . It was last updated in April 2019

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