You don’t need to be a big spender to get the best out of Melbourne. From the National Gallery of Victoria to street art in the laneways, you can get a true taste of the second-biggest city in Australia without shelling out – just follow our guide.
National Gallery of Victoria
As you head up St Kilda Road, you will come across a monumental 1960s bluestone building on your left – NGV International, designed by Sir Roy Grounds. This and its other facility, Ian Potter Centre: NGV International, make up the National Gallery of Victoria, with its collection of more than 73,000 works of art.
Make your way through the arched entrance, behind the wall of water and towards the Great Hall to see the world’s most enormous stained-glass ceiling, which casts a kaleidoscope of colours onto the gallery floor. Aside from its permanent collection, NGV also holds exhibitions and special events such as the annual Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series and the Triennial, which features contemporary work from across the world.
State Library of Victoria
The State Library of Victoria is unmistakable. From the moment you first set eyes on it, you cannot deny its beauty; yet the outside can’t compare to its interior. The domed La Trobe Reading Room is exquisite, with natural light pouring in through the curved skylights.
It does not disappoint in the evening, either, as the soft light provided by artificial means draws you in. There is no better place to read your favourite book. And you should have no trouble finding it with more than two million books contained within the library’s collection.
If that does not sate your appetite, then indulge in some of the thousands of newspapers, manuscripts, audio, video and digital material on hand that spans a century of Victoria’s culture and history.
The State Library is also home to fabulous artworks and exhibitions with free guided tours available. Regular talks on topics from fashion to philosophy are also public, often with free or name-your-price ticketing.
Meander through the Queen Victoria Market
Through the historic sheds of Queen Victoria Market, Mosey discovers fresh produce, hot doughnuts, souvenirs, homewares, and much more scattered throughout the market’s many diverse precincts. There’s also an after-hours market every Wednesday night, which usually runs between November and April.
After nightfall, the marketplace comes alive with live music, delicious food stalls, cocktails and late-night shopping.
By day, look out for the art trails, as well as thought-provoking exhibitions and the Mini Market series, which focuses on a particular group of stallholders, such as those selling garden and outdoor goods or toys and kids’ clothes.
Explore ACMI's Screen Worlds
Located inside ACMI (the Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Federation Square, Screen Worlds is a free permanent exhibition that tells visitors the ever-evolving story of the moving image. The interactive exhibit features objects, props and memorabilia.
Displays explore the origins of cinema and where it’s headed, Australian culture and, more widely, how people are influenced by all things screen-related, from smartphones to video games.
Props on show include the original clock from the children’s TV show Play School (1966-present), Cate Blanchett’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in The Aviator (2004), and costumes were worn by Australian stars Kylie Minogue, Dame Edna Everage and Heath Ledger.
Listen to Live Music
Melbourne locals love listening to live music. Fortunately, this also ranks among the best free things to do in Melbourne (aside from the cost of a beer). In the city’s ACDC Lane, Cherry Bar calls itself “pretty much the best rock ’n’ roll bar in the world”.
It offers free admission for many of its gigs and often hosts big-name after-parties and rock stars. Another option is The Esplanade in St Kilda, which has free entry to its Basement bar most nights and is a great place to catch emerging rock acts. Other venues to check out include the beer garden at The Brunswick Green on Sydney Road.
Go on a hunt for public sculptures.
Deborah Halpern, who studied in Melbourne and has strong links with the city, is Australia’s most celebrated sculptors. Three of her colourful mosaics are on display in the town – Angel (1987)at Birrarung Marr, Ophelia (1992)at Southgate, and Portal to Another Time and Place (2005)at Werribee Mansion.
Other public sculptures to fit into your Melbourne sculpture trail include Bruce Armstrong’s Eagle (2002)and John Kelly’s Cow up a Tree (1999)in Docklands, Simon Perry’s The Public Purse (1994) outside the GPO building, and Petrus Spronk’s sinking building known as Architectural Fragment (1992) outside the State Library of Victoria.
Wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens
Escape the buzz of Melbourne’s city streets in the tranquil sanctuary that is the Royal Botanic Gardens. Spread across 94 acres (38ha), the sprawling gardens contain a collection of 10,000 plants – both native and exotic. With 11 lawns, there’s ample space to relax, unwind and decide what to do in Melbourne next.
There’s also a 3.8km (2.4m) walking and jogging track known as The Tan that circles the garden, which runs past the gardens’ main entrance and the Shrine of Remembrance war memorial. Reward yourself for completing the loop with a coffee from one of the cafes on Domain Road.
Get inspired at The Wheeler Centre.
The Wheeler Centre on Little Lonsdale Street, founded in 2008, is focused on celebrating and exploring Australia’s literary scene. Visitors can engage in programmes and listen to guest speakers.
Every Thursday at lunchtime, you can catch the free Lunchbox/Soapbox series, which provides a platform for curious minds to share stories and ideas – previous speakers have addressed diverse topics ranging from offshore detention to the environment, promiscuity and the viola.
Explore Melbourne's Southbank
Stretching alongside the Yarra River from Princes Bridge to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, the Southbank entertainment precinct includes some of Melbourne’s top restaurants, high-end retailers and the Crown Casino. Stroll down the promenade, where you can listen to buskers and gaze up at Melbourne’s skyline or watch river cruise boats leaving. At night, you can marvel at Crown Casino’s Gas Brigades, which send fireballs high into the sky every hour.
Beyond the modern office and apartment blocks, some historic buildings, including the 19th-century Victoria Barracks and the former Castlemaine Brewery on Queensbridge Street.
Take a ride on the City Circle Tram.
Many of the free activities in Melbourne involve walking, but you can also rest your legs by hopping on a tram – an integral part of the cityscape. The free City Circle Tram allows tourists and Melburnians alike to travel across the city, jumping on and off as they wish.
The fleet of historical W-class trams, first introduced in 1923, travels through La Trobe, Flinders, Spring, Nicholson and Victoria Streets, covering Melbourne’s central business district. There’s an audio commentary on board as well, revealing the attractions at each stop, as well as interesting facts along the way.
Find refuge in one of the city's churches.
Whether you’re searching for a peaceful refuge or seeking to admire their architectural feats, the churches and cathedrals are some of the more tranquil things to see in Melbourne. St Paul’s Cathedral, completed in the 1890s, is in the heart of Melbourne’s central business district.
Designed by English architect William Butterfield, the cathedral is an example of a neo-gothic transitional style. Nearby is the medieval-looking St Patrick’s Cathedral, which was built from 1858 to 1939. You’ll also find St Mary Star of the Sea Church and St Michael’s Uniting Church. These holy houses are impressive to look at and inspiring to visit.
Learn more about Indigenous culture at the Koorie Heritage Trust
The Koorie Heritage Trust is an authentic and immersive Aboriginal centre housed in the Yarra Building at Federation Square, near Flinders Street Station. It was established in 1985 when activists sued the University of Melbourne and the Museum of Victoria to return their Indigenous artefacts.
The centre seeks to educate visitors on Indigenous art, put Aboriginal culture and history at the centre of life in Victoria, and preserve its past. Showcasing the work of contemporary Indigenous artists using a range of media, the Koorie Heritage Trust is free to visit. It is open seven days a week, except for national and Victorian public holidays.
Head to St Kilda
Located 6km (3.7mi) southeast of Melbourne, the suburb of St Kilda is an idyllic seaside escape from the city.
Stroll down the shoreline to St Kilda Pier to spot members of the little penguin colony that calls this place home and admire the skyline views.
The bustling Acland Street nearby is a great place to grab a bite, and on Sundays, there’s a beachfront market too – or you can relax beside the avenue of palm trees in Catani Gardens. You can also walk around Luna Park for free but, of course, the activities cost extra.
Discover beautiful vistas from rooftop bars
The city’s best views are found at a height, making rooftop bars the prime spots to soak in a sunset and watch as the lights switch on across Melbourne’s cityscape.
Siglo offers views of St Patrick’s Cathedral and Parliament House, as well as a range of sophisticated drinks, including champagne, cocktails and premium spirits. With other options such as Madame Brussels and Naked in the Sky, you’ll be more than happy to spend a bit of cash on a drink or two when the bar comes with a view.
Explore the laneways for colourful street art
One of the most exciting places to go in Melbourne, especially if you’re into people-watching, is the labyrinth of laneways that snake themselves around the city. They have become some of the most sought-after real estate for artists looking for urban canvases. Splashed in bright colours, the magnificent murals of Duckboard Place and Union and ACDC Lanes are open to artistic expression and make for Instagram-worthy backdrops. Near the old Forum movie theatre, Hosier Lane is also a mecca for tourists taking street art selfies.
Discover aviation history at the RAAF Museum
Only 25 minutes from Melbourne at Point Cook, the RAAF Museum details the story of Australian aviation and is entirely free to visit. View historical planes including a GAF Pika drone, helicopters and several generations of fighters, from above in the aircraft gallery. The interactive Flying Displays are where you can witness heritage aircraft take flight every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday – aircraft that regularly impress visitors at this display include the Tiger Moth and the Mustang.
Pay your respects at the Shrine of Remembrance.
Built to honour Victorians who served during World War I, the Shrine of Remembrance now stands as a memorial to all Australians who have served in all wars and peacekeeping efforts, from the 1850s to today. Visitors are welcome to explore the monument at their own pace or join a guided tour, which costs $20. The memorial consists of many underground “galleries of remembrance” and exhibition spaces, which contain more than 800 objects, photos and uniforms illustrating the experiences of Australians who have served in the armed forces, as well as a Gallipoli landing boat.
Take a walk to see Melbourne's architectural gems.
Throughout Melbourne, you’ll find a juxtaposition of modern, Victorian and art deco architecture, with daring designers constantly pushing boundaries and expanding the cityscape. Walking around the city, you’ll come across plenty of quirky buildings that resemble a sculpture trail on a monumental scale, including Eureka Tower, Federation Square, the Manchester Unity Building and the Melbourne Theatre Company. Fed Square was completed in 2002 and incorporated both a deconstructive design and a modern minimalist style.
Tour Parliament House
Parliament House is an imposing, column-fronted building with impressive tiled floors and high, decorated ceilings. You can see Victorian decision-makers at work inside the legislative centre, which is open on both sitting and non-sitting days. The public can also view the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly from the public galleries or go on a free public tour. These are scheduled for when parliament is not sitting.
Scout the filming locations of your favourite TV shows
Many of Australia’s most iconic television shows have been filmed in Melbourne, including the soap Neighbours (1985–present), family drama Offspring (2010–2017), and comedy Kath & Kim (2002–2007). All outside shots of Ramsay Street are filmed in Pin Oak Court, Vermont South, for Neighbours fans. The non-free option is to do the Official Neighbours Tour, where you get to meet a Neighbours star (past or present). Filming for Kath & Kim took place at 4 Lagoon Place, Patterson Lakes. Offspring fans should visit Brunswick Street to see Dr Noonan’s surgery exterior and Emma Street in Collingwood to see the Proudman home.
Enjoy yourself at a festival.
Melbourne’s events calendar teems with festivals throughout the year, all of which offer free entertainment in addition to ticketed events. In March, there’s Moomba, which is Australia’s largest free community festival. There are nightly fireworks, celebrity monarchs and a parade, plus carnival rides and games galore. Other popular festivals in the city include the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Melbourne Writers Festival, Melbourne Fringe and Melbourne Festival, and Midsumma, the city’s LGBTQ pride festival.
Admire the Nature Beauty: 10 Day Trips Ideas from Melbourne
One of the busiest and most significant cities in Australia, Melbourne is a bustling metro home to millions of people from different parts of the world. Located in the south-eastern state of Victoria in Australia, Melbourne is known for its bars, restaurants, plazas, and more. Melbourne is also situated on the banks of the Yarra River, which provides the city with its water requirements.
There are also plenty of beaches around the city where you can have a great time in the city. There are many day trips from Melbourne you can take to enjoy a memorable and fun time away from the city.
Melbourne is surrounded by some gems of Australia’s natural beauty. From the ocean on one side to hills close by, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on day trips from Melbourne.
You can go shopping and enjoy the various public spaces within the city, so ensure you get your gang together and have a wonderful time in Melbourne and away. The city is well-connected to these significant attractions by road and other modes of public transport as well. Here are some must-visit attractions within Melbourne that you cannot miss
1. Puffing Billy Railway
A great place to enjoy day trips from Melbourne, Puffing Billy Railway is a fantastic experience for anybody looking to witness some of the rainforests in and around Melbourne. You can enjoy a visit to the beautiful rainforests of Emerald Lake Park before heading out to the country town of Gembrook. The trail traverses over bridges and picturesque scenery in the Wright Forest. You can meet some interesting characters on the railway and get to know one of the most popular attractions away from the city.
The Dandenong Ranges are another unique attraction you’ll pass through on the train. Take in the fresh, crisp air of the rainforest. It truly is a fun experience as you’re transported back to an older, simpler time when steam train travel was the norm, and everybody enjoyed each other’s company rather than depend on digital devices.
Enjoy wandering through cultivated farmlands around the area, where potatoes are still grown and take in the views of the eucalyptus trees surrounding the forest, making for a great time with friends and family on this fantastic day trip from Melbourne experience.
There are options available for romantic luncheons and dinners, along with a murder-mystery style tour aboard the train. There are also on-board musicians to serenade you and your partner, along with specially crafted beverages that are available for purchase if you’re interested.
Head over to 1 Old Monbulk Rd, Belgrave VIC 3160, to book your slot aboard the express.
2. Loch ard Gorge
Loch ard Gorge is a gorge that is one of Melbourne’s most popular attractions for day trips. One of the most popular stopping points for anybody visiting the Great Ocean Road, Loch and Gorge is home to plenty of unique natural attractions, including rock formations, orange beaches and beautiful views that stretch for miles. Many tourists visit here looking to understand more about Australia’s natural history. It is just around three minutes away from the legendary Twelve Apostles, located at Port Campbell National Park. It is a spot you must visit before heading over to the Apostles.
An iridescent bay cuts into an inlet of crystal clear, blue water and flanked by a yellow-washed cliff with lush greenery surrounding the spot. Loch Ard also has a fascinating history that spans back many centuries. The ship is named after “Loch Ard,” a clipper ship that ran aground on the Muttonbird Island located nearby. The boat was concluding a three-month journey from England and had only two survivors out of 59.
Head over to Great Ocean Rd, Campbell VIC 3269, to enjoy this wonderful attraction.
3. Mornington Peninsula
The Mornington Peninsula is a biosphere reserve in Melbourne, known for its natural beauty and winding slopes and valleys. These open out into the ocean and offer some stunning views of the waters. People visit Mornington for day trips from Melbourne, and they generally see to unwind and spend quality time with family and friends.
Tourists generally visit the Peninsula to take in the scenic views and sights of the beaches and have picnics throughout the year. The Peninsula is frequented more during the summers and has many seasonal attractions, as well. There are wineries spread across the area where tourists can visit and enjoy a bottle or two of vintage wine cultivated over the years. There are also other water sports available here, owing to the calm waters of the Western Port and Port Phillip. Melbourne has the most visitors to the region as they rent villas, camp, and share homes or private beach houses in the area.
A visit to the Peninsula is one of the best trips you can make from Melbourne, and you’re sure to leave with memories and photos for a lifetime!
This is the address of the Peninsula, in case you’re planning on visiting - Mornington Peninsula, VIC, Australia.
4. Yarra Valley
Yarra Valley is another beautiful tourist location you can visit on day trips from Melbourne. The majestic valley opens to green pastures and vineyards where you can spend quality time with friends and family. This splendid valley hosts festivals, orchards, wedding scenes, and so much more. It is a religious experience if you’re from Melbourne, as the majestic views are said to bring a calm vibe and a feeling of serenity to anyone who visits.
Surrounded by the Yarra River, the valley provides tourists with plenty of activities to choose from. Whether it’s cycling, safaris, business events, weekend getaways, and whatnot, Yarra Valley is a truly inspiring locale for anybody looking to delve into the cultural and natural backdrop of Australia. The region is also a hub for art and culture, with plenty of exhibitions, tours, and more available. You can also visit Yarra and spend time overnight staying and taking in the various attractions in and around the place.
Here’s where you need to be - The Old Courthouse, Harker Street, HEALESVILLE, VIC 3777, Australia
5. Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill is an open-air museum showcasing some of the unique attractions in the country and is a great place to visit for fun day trips from Melbourne. The Hill depicts the area’s unique history, commemorating the time gold was discovered in the region.
The region itself is planned out so that it resembles the 1850s – when it was first inhabited. It is home to some of the richest alluvial gold deposits globally. It is also a fun tourist attraction for anyone looking to let off some steam and enjoy a different type of holiday.
There is a winding creek present here where visitors can “search” for real gold. There are contemporary buildings and tents which look like they belong to an older era. The Gold Pour is another attraction where gold worth $100,000 has been melted and poured into a bullion bar, weighing 3 kilos.
There are also guided tours available here at regular intervals. The Red Hill Mine is one such tour where you can read about the story of a group of young Cornishmen when they discovered the Welcome Nugget. There are also 40-minute guided tours of the Sovereign Quartz Mine, with many underground displays available here.
Apart from these tours, there are also streets lined with hotels, shops, an old-school theatre, a blacksmith’s workshop, an apothecary, and so much more! It truly is a beautiful place to spend if you’re looking for day trips from Melbourne, so do head over the moment you get a long weekend!
Here’s the address - 39 Magpie Streetï¼Œ Ballaratï¼Œ Victoria 3350
6. Twelve Apostles
Probably the most popular tourist attraction in coastal Australia, the Twelve Apostles is a natural attraction that stands apart from the rest. Easily accessible on day trips from Melbourne, the Twelve Apostles are massive limestone rock formations on Australia’s Gold Coast and one of the most recognisable natural monuments in the world.
These unique formations were created due to erosion and saw many tourists visit and click pictures with guided helicopter tours. The magnificent view of the ocean and azure blue waters add to the overall majesty of the attractions, and it truly is a place worth visiting at least once. The apostles are also close to the beautiful coral reefs in Australia, which are known to be some of the most extensive reefs in the world, earning the nickname – The Great Barrier Reef due to its popularity.
A stack of the apostles fell in 2005, but scientists believe that more piles will form due to the region’s weather conditions.
This is the address to reach the location - Great Ocean Rd & Booringa Rd, Princetown VIC 3269, Australia.
7. Phillip Island Tourist Park
Day trips from Melbourne need to involve a visit to the Phillip Island Tourist Parkland; a conservation zone created back in 1996. The park is owned wholly by the Victorian State Government but is self-funding and governing. There are many commercial and tourist attractions that serve the purpose of animal research and conservation. The park is just a 1.5-hour drive away from Melbourne and covers plenty of other separate areas in its 1805 hectares of space.
Around the park include some fantastic attractions such as the Pyramid Rock, Seal Rocks, Cape Woolamai, Rhyll Inlet, Nobbies Center, and the Penguin Parade.
It is a great place to visit some of Australia’s local and indigenous creatures, including koalas, penguins, and many others in their natural habitat. Most of the park lies within the Phillip Island Important Bird Area, which BirdLife International has identified due to its importance in recognising and supporting the population of penguins, Pacific gulls, and other rare birds.
Here’s where you need to go - 1019 Ventnor Rdï¼Œ Ventnorï¼Œ Victoriaï¼Œ3922
8. Phillip Island
Home to the popular tourist attraction that is the Phillip Island Tourist Park, Phillip Island has plenty of other attractions for anyone visiting there for day trips from Melbourne. The Island is famous for the Rhyll Inlet is a little water reserve that features rare plants and animals from the region along with mangroves, birds, and ocean views. There is also a boardwalk to enjoy exploring the area up-close.
Nobbles Center is another popular attraction where you’ll be able to get close to some marine life with animals such as sharks, dolphins, and seals inhabiting the area from time to time. They also offer guided tours where you’ll understand the patterns and behaviour of these sea animals in the region.
Penguin Parade is the main attraction where little penguins arrive ashore from time to time and nest or relax by the cool breeze. The tickets are affordable and offer an excellent opportunity to visit and spend some quality time for anyone looking to learn and understand about Australia’s marine and local life.
This is the address to reach Phillip Park - Phillip Island, Victoria.
9. Great Ocean Road
One of the most famous roads in the world, the Great Ocean Road, is a self-driving route where, for three days, you can enjoy magnificent views of the ocean throughout. The road starts from Torquay and overlooks the beautiful Apostles en route. It ends at the historic fishing village of Port Fairy and is considered one of the most popular routes in the world owing to its scenic beauty. The Great Ocean Road is a beautiful experience to enjoy with friends and family and can be done at a leisurely pace, with plenty of stops present on the way.
You can visit the Torquay Surf City on the way home to the famous Rip Curl brand worldwide. You could also admire the surfers on Bell Beach and the Southern Ocean. There are green forests en route as well, where you can spot koala bears in the wild and interact with a few of them if they’re friendly. The ocean route has long, winding roads where you’ll be able to drive at a leisurely pace while taking in the fantastic views of the mountains and oceans that appear on the way.
Overall, it is a fantastic experience for anybody who loves to drive, making it the perfect experience away from the city.
The fragrant eucalyptus trees also make an appearance on this scenic drive as they are the spots where koalas dwell all day. You can also visit the collapsed London Bridge and learn more about the local history of the place on your day trip from Melbourne.
The scenic road is present in Great Ocean Rd, Victoria, Australia.
10. Dandenong Ranges
The Dandenong Ranges are an excellent place for day trips from Melbourne and is a series of low-lying mountain ranges. There are plenty of attractions here, from the village town, which offers shopping options for anybody visiting and looking to purchase local produce, trekking, and hiking routes atop this scenic location.
There are also some popular places to eat around the region, and you’re sure to get yourself integrated with some of the local cultures. The Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens features wonderful greenery and plants with some scenic routes to explore. The National Rhodendron Gardens are another attraction, featuring colourful leaves, plants, flowers, and more in a natural setting.
The Ranges are the perfect place to experience a memorable holiday with friends or family as you’ll be able to bond well. The trails and pathways are home to some rare and endangered species of animals.
The Puffing Billy Railway also passes through this location and offers you some great views on this historic train. Dandenong is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic, so make sure you pack a basket or two and enjoy the weekend in this beautiful tourist attraction.
Here’s where you need to be - Sassafras VIC 3787, Australia
- 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.
The city's Free Tram Zone extends from Queen Victoria Market to Docklands, Spring Street, Flinders Street Station and Federation Square. Travel on the City Circle Tram is also free. Hop on and off the historic trams as often as you like.