8 Free Things to Do in Melbourne, Australia is a written by Sarah and Kris who blog about their travels at Jetsetting Fools.
Melbourne, Australia isn’t exactly known as a budget destination, but that doesn’t mean budget travelers should forgo a trip there. The city offers many sights and activities that don’t cost a cent! Here are eight free things to do in Melbourne.
Ride the City Circle Free Tourist Tram
Melbourne is a modern city with a complex public transportation system, quickly moving passengers from one place to the next. While most modes of public transport require a ticket, a ride on the City Circle Free Tourist Tram (Tram 35) is free of charge. The old, wooden tram cars rattle in a loop around the city. A brief, pre-recorded commentary provides quick facts and details about many Melbourne sights making it a great introduction to the city.
Explore Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market is Melbourne’s most vibrant market, taking up more than two city blocks. While it can be tempting to spend money at the market, it is certainly free to look around and the entertainment value is high. The buzzing halls of the QVM (as locals call it) have all the ingredients of a thriving metropolitan market; it’s where both locals and tourists do their shopping. In the Produce Hall vegetables and fruits are weighed from hanging scales. Inside the meat and seafood halls thick slabs of meat and fish are displayed in cases. However, QVM is more than just a green market; general merchandise is sold under the canopied tents. Everything from kitschy boomerangs to handmade leather bags are on sale. Hungry? Head into the Deli Hall for a quick bite to eat or if you have a sweet tooth get in line at the oh-so-popular American Doughnut Kitchen truck just outside the Produce Hall. On most weekends and Wednesday evenings, the market transforms into themed events with live bands playing and food stalls cranking out plates of hot food. Check the schedule on QVM’s website to see what’s going on.
Tour the Shrine of Remembrance
The Shrine of Remembrance was built in 1934 to honor those who served in World War I from the Australian state of Victoria (of which Melbourne is the capital). It occupies an elevated area within the Shrine Reserve; a grand pathway leads to the main entrance. The Sanctuary is inside the pyramid-shaped building with the Stone of Remembrance, a simple marker reading, “Greater love hath no man” in the center. The shrine has evolved and expanded over time to include a fascinating museum that features information and artifacts from all Australian conflicts. The Shrine of Remembrance is open for visitors to tour on their own, but also provides two daily tours free of charge. Don’t miss the upper balcony for views of the city and adjoining gardens.
Walk the Shoreline
Just a short tram ride away from Melbourne’s Central Business District are Port Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay. The bay is lined with prominent beachfront communities, which are linked by Bay Trail, a convenient shoreline path. It’s a 4.4km walk from Port Melbourne to St. Kilda – a trendy little suburb filled with chic shops and lively bars. Of course, on a hot day, a detour onto the beach and into the water may be in order.
Look for street art in the Laneways
The city of Melbourne was planned on a grid with alternating major thoroughfares and minor streets, now called laneways. The narrow streets were designed for deliveries and rubbish collection – hidden out of sight. As the city grew and buildings expanded, some laneways disappeared, while others became uninviting and seedy. In the 1990s, the city revamped the forgotten lanes, repurposing them into urban enclaves of art, trendy restaurants and hip bars. Graffiti is still illegal in Melbourne. The constantly changing art found in the laneways is commissioned and is constantly changing. The best places to see street art are Hosier Lane, Union Lane and AC/DC Lane.
Get an education on Ned Kelly
Melbourne was once ripe with outlaws – bushrangers, as they call them in Oz – and Ned Kelly was Melbourne’s most famous… or perhaps, infamous. His story sometimes borders on legend. You can get the facts at the exhibit of his life at the State Library of Victoria; better yet, take one of the free tours offered Wednesdays and Saturdays and let a guide explain fact from fiction.
Visit Parliament House
The Parliament House in Melbourne was built in 1856 and is where Victoria politicians create laws. When Parliament is in session, visitors are welcome to view the proceedings from the gallery. However, when the building is vacant of politicians, tour guides lead guests through the building for free. The tours include entry into the vestibule, library and both the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council Chambers.
Stroll the Botanic Gardens
Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens were founded in 1846 along the banks of the Yarra River in the city center. Today, the pleasant walkways and serene nature provide a retreat from the city streets and skyscrapers. The park features more than 8,500 plants, as well as lakes and picnic areas – and it’s always free to visit!
There is no doubt that some Melbourne activities come at a high cost – like a ride to the top of the Eureka Skydeck, an organized day trip to the 12 Apostles rock formations or a round of beers. But, with so many free things to do in Melbourne, visiting the city doesn’t have to break the bank.
Want more things to do in Melbourne (including paid ones)? Read The 21 Best Things to do in Melbourne, Australia.
Sarah and Kris are full-time travel bloggers at JetSetting Fools traveling the world since April 2014. They don’t just travel to simply mark off a checklist, but rather they like to dig in, meet the locals, learn the cultures and feel the vibe of a place. On their blog they provide information, advice and tips on sights and walking tours and include off-the-beaten-path adventures, history and stories along the way. Like them on Facebook and follow their journey via photos on Instagram.