For all you backpacking bargain hunters out there, exploring wonderful melbourne doesn't have to hurt the hip pocket. here are 50 free things to see and do while you're in town.
- 1. Take a stroll around the Royal Botanic Gardens.
- 2. Visit the Shrine of Remembrance and get a great view of the Melbourne city skyline.
- 3. See the free exhibitions at the Ian Potter Centre.
- 4. Check out the free exhibitions and the world’s largest stained-glass ceiling at NGV International.
- 5. State Library Victoria – Discover the library’s history, go on a tour and check out one exhibition.
- 6. City Circle Tram – Take a free ride around the city and learn about the sites of Melbourne.
- 7. Take a self-guided tour of Melbourne's arcades and laneways.
- 8. Join a free walking tour of the city from Federation Square – they depart every day at 10 am and 2 pm.
- 9. Take a tour of Parliament House.
- 10. Head to Brighton Beach to check out the brightly painted bathing boxes
- 11. Check out the free winter fireworks at Docklands during July and August at 7:30 pm.
- 12. Appreciate architecturally impressive churches like St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Michael’s Uniting Church and the Scots Church.
- 13. Experience Melbourne’s mad music scene at one of the many free gigs around town.
- 14. Play board games at the pub with some new friends: find dates and venues here.
- 15. Test your fitness on the 1000 steps Kokoda Memorial Trail or stroll under the giant mountain trees in the Dandenong Ranges. Take the train to Upper Fern Tree Gully station, and the visitor centre is across the road.
- 16. Take a stroll around the colourful and vibrant Queen Victoria Market.
- 17. Fill your Wednesday evenings with great food, drink and live entertainment at the Queen Victoria Market's summer (November to March) and winter (June to August) markets.
- 18. Visit the Old Treasury Building, which hosts the original gold vaults where gold bullion was stored during the gold rush era.
- 19. Right next to the Old Treasury building is the Fitzroy Gardens, the perfect place to pack a picnic, see the Fairies Tree and admire the floral displays in the conservatory.
- 20. Head to St Kilda pier at sunset to see the fairy penguins return to land after a day at sea.
- 21. Visit some of our great beaches, such as St Kilda Beach, Elwood Beach and Black Rock Beach.
- 22. Keep fit with the locals by running the iconic Tan Track around the Botanic Gardens.
- 23. Visit one of our many markets in and around the city. There’s the Esplanade Market in St Kilda, South Melbourne Market, Rose St Artists Market in Fitzroy, Sister’s Market in Brunswick and Camberwell Markets, just to name a few!
- 24. If you like to LOL, hit up Spleen Bar on a Monday for their comedy night. While technically it’s free, they would appreciate a gold coin donation, so throw them a buck and settle in for a night of laughs.
- 25. Travel back in time by window shopping at the Block Arcade.
- 26. Get cultured at the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art.
- 27. Get your new hostel pals together for a free trivia night at Common Man on South Wharf, just a short stroll from Melbourne Central.
- 28. Sit in the TV studio audience of Family Feud – make sure you apply for tickets in advance as this is an in-demand event!
- 29. Relax and focus with Morning Meditation at Federation Square, every Thursday morning from 8-8.30am.
- 30. Visit the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) at Federation Square – they have a mix of free and paid interactive exhibitions
- 31. If you’re still stuck in the 90s and love your Nintendo 64, visit vintage arcade bar Bartronica for some Mario Kart, Super Smash Brothers and GoldenEye. They also have heaps of old school pinball and arcade machines.
- 32. The rides come with a price tag, but it doesn’t cost a cent to snap a selfie with the big grinning face that welcomes you to Luna Park in St Kilda.
- 33. Melbourne has some beautiful walks and hikes, so get outside and explore.
- 34. Melbourne is a festival city, and something is happening every month. So whether you’re into food, culture, movies, books or anything else, there’ll be a festival for you.
- 35. The Koorie Heritage Trust located at Federation Square is the only public collection in Australia dedicated to the art and culture of Australia’s first people.
- 36. Visit a bookstore – Readings in Carlton was named the International Bookstore of the Year in 2016. You don’t have to buy anything, just browse until your heart’s content.
- 37. Jump in a car and head out to Melbourne Airport to watch the planes fly over your head.
- 38. If you need some peace and quiet, head to a hidden park in South Melbourne. Find the corner of Park Street and Emerald Hill Place. Walk down Emerald Hill Place to a beautiful hidden park with trees and a ping pong table!
- 39. Victoria is known as the garden state. We have a plethora of gardens for you to relax in, including Carlton, Alexandra, Flagstaff and Fitzroy Gardens.
- 40. You must visit our stunning graffiti-covered laneways, including Hosier Lane, Union Lane and Degraves Street.
- 41. If you're interested in preserving our Australian flora and fauna, consider signing up for Conservation Volunteers – it’s accessible when you volunteer for one-day projects.
- 42. The Library at The Dock is a modern public library with many free one-off and regular events, including table tennis competitions, tai chi classes, and their Laughter Club. Check out their events page.
- 43. Up your Instagram game and take snaps of Melbourne’s unique architecture and buildings – we recommend Flinders St Station, Fed Square, Block Arcade and the Royal Arcade. You’ll be getting all the likes in no time.
- 44. If you’re a literature buff, make sure you stop off at the Wheeler Centre, funded by the creators of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks. They have regular events with authors, publishers and artists, which are usually free to attend.
- 45. If you love free outdoor entertainment, Melbourne is the place to be. On a Friday or Saturday night, as you walk from dinner to the bar, you’re bound to go past a busking musician filling the streets with their tunes. Generally, on weekends during the day, Southbank will have acrobats or magicians attempting to delight and amaze you.
- 46. Classical music aficionados, listen up! Federation Square has a free classical music concert on the first Monday of every month at Deakin Edge.
- 47. Sidney Myer Music Bowl is the place to enjoy opera, ballet, symphony and live music, one-offs, all while underneath the stars. They have free and paid events, so make sure you check out their website first.
- 48. There’s no better city in Australia to people watch. Melbourne has a diverse range of people walking its streets, you’ll never know who or what you’ll see next! So settle down on a bench and take it all in.
- 49. Take a stroll around Albert Park Lake and the Grand Prix track.
- 50. Once night falls, every hour on the hour until midnight, eight towers along Melbourne’s Southbank shoot the world’s largest fireballs into the sky. The starting time depends on the time of year, visit Crown’s website for details.
Not to be missed
Drinks in the Melbourne CBD
Melbourne nightlife is lively (and sometimes the day drinking is, too!). There seem to be endless options when it comes to drinking in Melbourne – from the riverside to rooftops and plenty of places in between. Visitors looking to party late into the night – or those who just want a good beer at the end of a long day of sightseeing – can find it in the Melbourne CBD.
The Best Melbourne Bars
The city’s iconic bars are one of the top things to see in Melbourne, Australia. For a classic Australian pub experience, visitors should check out historic spots, like Captain Melville or the legendary Cricketers Bar.
The Melbourne rooftop bars are incredible and shouldn’t be missed! Our top recommendations for rooftop bars are the nostalgic Madame Brussels and contemporary Rooftop Cinema. For unique craft cocktails, visit one of the themed bars, such as the eerie Croft Institute or East-Vs-West Berlin Bar.
The riverside is a great place to relax and unwind; our top picks Ponyfish Island and The Arbory.
Melbourne Craft Beer
A tip for beer lovers: The Melbourne craft beer scene is among the best anywhere in the world. Little Creatures, which is brewed in nearby Geelong, ranks as one of our all-time favourite brews. Most bars have heaps of craft beer available, so ask the bartender what local beers are on tap. Or, better yet, learn about Melbourne breweries on a Beer and Brewery Tour.
Eat Dumplings in Melbourne’s Chinatown
If you are wondering what to do in Melbourne city for food, put dumplings on your list! Dumplings are a Melbourne specialty – and there is no better place than Chinatown to indulge in the classic fare.
Chinatown occupies a stretch of Little Bourke St. in the northeastern section of the CBD and is one of the most popular places to visit in Melbourne. Ornamental gates, hanging lanterns and a string of Asian restaurants, shops and businesses line the street.
Visitors can sample various dumplings on a Chinatown food tour – or opt for the All-You-Can-Eat dumpling experience at the Dumpling House in Chinatown.
Dumpling House in Chinatown
Located on a dimly lit laneway in a brick building, the Shanghai Dumpling House entrance is marked with a bright sign. There was no kitschy decor inside the brightly lit space, in fact, there was barely any decor at all. Tables are pushed close together (maximising the number of diners), and drink lists are taped to the wall above the booths.
All just part of the experience! The busy restaurant is orchestrated by the hostess, who sits at the desk. She will direct you to a table and will take your payment on your way out.
The All-You-Can-Eat option is not listed on the regular menu and requires a minimum of 4 dinners, so inquire with the waitstaff. Once ordered, platters of food will start arriving at your table in an unstoppable stream.
For us, first, it was spring rolls, then it was pumpkin dumplings, followed by mixed vegetable dumplings, pork dumplings, shrimp dumplings and fried dumplings. Fried rice, fried noodles and pork buns were also delivered to the table.
We attempted to keep up with the hurried pace, devouring the contents of the plates to make room for more.
Our favourite dishes were the fried beef and pork dumplings and the steamed pumpkin dumplings. The pumpkin cake was exciting and a nice sweet end to the meal.
Spend a Day in Williamstown
Once home to the Victorian Navy, Williamstown is a little port town on the bay with quite the historical past. Visiting Williamstown is one of the exciting things to do near Melbourne, Australia.
The picturesque streets are lined with historic buildings, and the Commonwealth Reserve green space fronts the bay. Spending an afternoon in the historic town is a fun day trip from Melbourne.
Williamstown, Australia, is easily accessible by a Metro train or Ferry boat. Once in town, stop at the Hobson’s Bay Information Center for a booklet on Williamstown history, a town map, and three outlined walking tours.
Williamstown Sights on the Waterfront
Before ships could navigate the Yarra River, Williamstown was a famous port. It was home to the Victorian Navy, and many shipbuilders and remnants of that past can be seen along the shoreline. Walk the Gem Pier to see traces of maritime history and take in the views of the Melbourne skyline from across the bay.
The Timeball Tower on Point Gellibrand is another Williamstown sight. It was built in 1849 and used to ensure ships had accurate navigation for ocean crossings. It is one of only five working time balls that remain in the world.
The Williamstown community is highlighted by many historic churches, schools and government buildings that are still in use today. Victorian-era mansions line the waterfront, and Nelson Place is a beautifully preserved stretch of landmark structures, including the old Customs House.
The multicultural nature of Melbourne is exemplified by the various international districts, including Chinatown, the Italian-oriented Lygon Street and of course, the Greek Precinct. The Hellenic influence in Melbourne is encapsulated by the Greek Precinct, arguably providing you with your fix of the best Greek cuisine and atmosphere in the country.
Day or night, the area boasts everything Greek, from Souvlaki to fresh cups of Greek coffee. It’s not just food either, there’s plenty of shopping to be done, not to mention educational attractions like the Hellenic Museum. During the night, Lonsdale Street offers plenty of bars and clubs where you can enjoy dancing to Greek tunes and, of course, eat some late night (or early morning) Greek food.
We’d be doing Melbourne a severe disservice if we neglected to mention Wunderkammer when listing unusual things in the city.
At first glance, it looks like the Hunterian in London or the Science in Chicago, but here’s the twist – this is a shop, and the scientific oddities are for sale. So if you’ve always found yourself hankering after a set of antique dental pliers or, yes, a full skeleton, look no further. Most people seem content to browse, and it’s well worth a visit just to look at what money can actually buy here.
Of course, there are plenty of more obvious tourist attractions in Melbourne like Chapel Street, Federation Square and St Kilda beach, but to really get the best out of Melbourne, you have to experience its alternative and multicultural glory. Exploring the laneways, bar hopping above the city, and eating the best international cuisines is only some of what this great city has to offer.
In addition to the hidden laneways, above the streets of Melbourne are various rooftop bars. These classy joints are a perfect place to have a meal or share a couple of drinks, enjoying great views of the city and water, and discover yet another unique aspect of Melbourne nightlife.
They’re suitable for both a relaxed night out or just some chilled drinks at the end of the day. During working hours, the city may seem filled with corporate minds discussing business. When the offices are closed at night, you can kick back at a rooftop bar and hear the city murmur begin to transform into relaxation mode.
Possibly the most famous of the rooftop bars in Melbourne, Madame Brussels gives the impression of a swanky tea party complete with astroturf and seats like park benches. The friendly staff even wear cute tennis outfits.
There is an indoor ‘parlour’ area as well as an outdoor terrace, with excellent views over the city. Order one of their quirky cocktails or a selection of snacks while pondering the fact that Madame Brussels is named after an infamous local brothel owner.
One of the most incredible things you can do in Melbourne explores the hidden laneways filled with bars, cafes and some of the best street art around.
Hardware Lane is just one fine example, running between the essential Bourke Street to Little Lonsdale.
The cobblestone lane is closed off for traffic for most days and evenings, making it a great place to walk through and check out all the small shops and restaurants.
It really thrives at night, with many bars and cafes and usually accompanied by some live jazz music.
Whilst this is one of the more famous laneways, it is still a great place to have a taste of the true Melbourne and will most likely motivate you to explore and find some more trendy laneways on your own.
- State Victoria Library.
- Statue of Rememberance.
- Luna Park, please ignore the tourist in the middle of my picture.
- Brighton Beach.
- Degraves Street.
- Kokoda Memorial Trail.
- Flinders Street Railway Station.
- Pink Lake, Westgate Park.
- Maree Clarke: Ancestral Memories. Art. price 0 of 4. ...
- Ballarat International Foto Biennale. Art. ...
- Frozen. Theatre. ...
- Disney: The Magic of Animation. Art. ...
- Big Weather. Art. ...
- Treasures of the Natural World. Things to do. ...
- Patricia Piccinini: A Miracle Constantly Repeated. Art. ...
- Vincent van Gogh at The Lume. Art.
But if you find yourself strapped for cash, don't fear, there are plenty of free exhibitions held across an assortment of museums around the city, too. To help you find them, we've picked six of the best free Melbourne museums for you to visit this weekend. Stay up to date with what's happening in Melbourne here.