melbourne on a budget

Melbourne is voted as the world’s most livable city. It is known for its world-class restaurants and cafes, galleries and museums, and as the cultural and sporting capital of Australia. This is just among the reasons why you should visit Melbourne.

However, this hip metropolitan city is also famous for its high cost of living. That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy Melbourne on a budget. So without further ado, here are the 7 fun and free things to do in Melbourne, Australia.

Related Read: Best Party Hostels In Melbourne

1. Enjoy the free trams in the city

tram free things to do in melbourne
Image by ralfskysegel | CCO | Pixabay

Melbourne has the largest streetcar network in the world, so it’s no surprise that getting on a tram is a huge attraction. There are two forms of free trams in the Melbourne CBD – Yarra Trams within the free tram zone, and the City Circle Tram. The City Circle Tram is specifically for tourists and takes you to all the major tourist attractions located around CBD including parks, Parliament House, shopping districts, theatres and of course, Flinders Street Station – all in the comfort and style of a heritage tram.

How To Find The Trams

Getting there is easy. You simply need to be within the boundaries of the CBD to find a City Circle Tram. They run both clockwise and anticlockwise and depart about every 12 minutes. They run daily, Sunday – Wednesday from 10am to 6pm and Thursday – Saturday from 10am to 9pm making them an ideal way to see the best of what Melbourne CBD has to offer.

Source: David Hutchison of Paid Survey Fanatic

More on City Circle Tram 

Melbourne’s City Circle tram (number 35) is a fantastic and free way for tourists to discover the many sights that the city has to offer. This W-class, heritage tram runs in a loop around the city’s centre. A complete loop lasts about forty-five minutes, during which a voice-over commentary will tell you all about the city’s major landmarks and attractions. The tram can also be used as a hop-on, hop-off service, letting you jump off at any sight you want to visit. If you have a couple of days for your Melbourne itinerary, this can be a good way to save money on transport. 

How to catch the City Circle Tram?

You can catch the City Circle tram at any of the specially marked stops throughout the city centre. But why not start at Flinders Street Station, Melbourne’s most well known icon? Simply hop on board the tram and enjoy your free city tour! The service runs in both directions, with trams arriving roughly every twelve minutes, between 10 am and 6 pm on weekdays, and up to 9 pm on weekends.
Source: Cindy of Free Two Roam

2. Check out the local wildlife in Serendip Sanctuary

serendip sanctuary free things to do in melbourne australia

Serendip Sanctuary just outside of Geelong and only 60km from Melbourne is a free wildlife sanctuary run by Parks Victoria. Everyone will love getting up close with the local wildlife in this small but delightful sanctuary. You can walk through the different animal enclosures and see the animals in their native habitat. The kangaroos and wallabies are chilled out, taking a rest under the shade of big trees. There’s a bird hide and wetlands home to 150 bird species. There’s a pond where kids use nets to fish for insects. There are no shops at the sanctuary, so pack a picnic lunch or bring some snacks. There are toilets, BBQ facilities and plenty of picnic tables.

Looking for more day trips from Melbourne? Check out the 
Mornington Peninsula Breweries!

How To Get To Serendip Sanctuary

To get there from Melbourne, take the M1 Freeway towards Geelong. Take the Avalon Airport exit. Turn right and drive over the bridge over the freeway. At the next T-intersection, turn left into Old Melbourne Road., then turn right into McIntyre Road. Follow the signs to Serendip Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is on Windermere Road.

Source: Sandra Muller of Heading for the Hills

3. Meet the Little Penguins on St Kilda Pier, Melbourne

Little Penguins St Kilda Victoria Australia free things to do in melbourne

There is a secret nightlife to be found in Melbourne, and it costs nothing to see.

Little Penguins inhabit the breakwater area at the very end of St Kilda beach. Head on down at dusk, go through the gate at the end where there is an information board and a donation box (not mandatory to donate). Read the signage on the history of the little penguins and how they came to live here.

Most people travel to Philip Island to see these cute little birds, but this is so much more special and does not take the best part of the day to do. Please do not shine torches at the penguins or use flash photography. Keep to the path and don’t go onto the rocks where they nest.

How To Get To St. Kilda Pier

To get there take Tram. No. 16 from Swanston Street, No. 96 from Bourke Street, or No. 12 from Collins Street (around 25 minutes) to St Kilda and walk down to the pier.

Source: Jane Barnes of Explore The Great Ocean Road

4. Have fun at ACMI Museum

Australian Centre for the Moving Image melbourne

ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) is an excellent free museum located in Federation Square in the centre of Melbourne. It’s lots of fun for all ages. The permanent exhibition is called Screen Worlds and details the 110 years of the moving image. It is about the beginning of film, television, games, the internet and the digital age.
It tells this story through screens, media and memorabilia. It is a lot of fun with many interactive exhibits including many game consoles and I find it fun to relive my childhood with the old games. The exhibits show the start of early Australian television as well as things like the evolving Australian accent. It is easy to spend a lot of time here.

How to get to ACMI

Getting to ACMI is very easy. It’s opposite Flinders Street station and on many tram lines. Federation Square is also home to a tourist information centre and many restaurants and bars. There is a cinema in the same building.
Source: Sharon Gourlay of Simpler and Smarter

5. Play at Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden

If you are travelling to Melbourne with kids, you will definitely want to visit the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden. This free garden is amazing for little ones with lots of space and activities for kids to play and explore nature. There’s a small creek and you can make and sail boats down it. There’s also a tree house and a vegetable garden.

It covers a large area with lots of different parts which makes it easy to get away from the crowds when it’s busy. It’s located in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens so you can also explore that in the same visit (also free) and close to the Shrine.

How to get to the garden

It’s easy to get here. The Botanic Gardens is by the Yarra River and just a short walk from Flinders Street station. You can also catch a tram here along St Kilda Road. The Children’s Garden is on Birdwood Avenue. Note that it is shut during the winter. It’s best to check the latest opening times before visiting.

Source: Joshua of Melbourne Family 

6. Hiking in the Dandenong Ranges

You do not have to look too far outside of Melbourne to experience the beauty of the southern alpine region, just head up to the Dandenong Ranges. The Sherbrooke trail in particular is an amazing 7km walk through low lying fern forests, and towering Stringybark gum trees. Keep an eye out for a family of wild kangaroos, quite common in this part of the woods. If you’re lucky you may even spot a rare lyrebird!

How to Get to Dandenong Ranges

Getting to the Sherbrooke trail couldn’t be any simpler. Hop on a train from Southern Cross Station right in Melbourne’s CBD heading towards Belgrave Station. Get off at Belgrave, end of the line, and walk 10 minutes to the start of the trail, just behind the iconic Puffing Billy train.

Source: Josh of The Lost Passport

7. Learn at the State Library of Victoria

Established back in 1854, the State Library of Victoria was one of the very first free libraries to be developed worldwide. Today it is a state-of-the-art facility boasting possibly the fastest free WIFI inMelbourne, stacks of books, a number of permanent and rotating exhibits and an area specifically for kids.

For families visiting the State Library of Victoria, seek out the Play Pod for under rights which offers a creative space focused around a chosen theme. It was Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are! when we visited, but changed regularly. The library provides the books, role playing equipment, craft supplies and resources you’ll need to create, play and read based on the theme. It’s all free and well worth stopping by.

One of the highlights for most visitors is the original armour worn by the infamous Ned Kelly, including his iconic mask. It is behind glad to prevent visitors touching it, but it is completely authentic and a historic wonder that surely can’t be missed.

How to Get to the State Library

The State Library of Victoria is super easy to find on Swanston Street with the city of Melbourne’s free team stopping right outside. If you prefer to walk, walk along Swanston Street from Flinders Street station with the Yarra River behind you and you’ll find it on your right after a few blocks (Melbourne is one of the easiest cities to get around as it was devised on grid system).

Source: Leah of Kid Bucket List

Looking to visit Melbourne soon and don’t know where to stay yet? 
Check out the list of affordable and awesome hotels in Melbourne

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