Things To Do For Free In Melbourn
Melbourne is a vibrant city that offers many attractions for people of all ages. Fortunately, many of these activities don’t need to break the bank, as there are plenty of free things to do in Melbourne. From getting active outdoors to exploring museums and galleries, here’s our comprehensive guide on what to do without spending a penny.
Overview of Melbourne
Melbourne is a city full of life, offering various activities that cater to people from all walks of life. From exploring the street art in Hosier Lane, admiring the beautiful architecture in South Melbourne and the City Centre, or taking a selfie in front of the iconic Flinders Street Station, there are plenty of free things to do in Melbourne.
Queen Victoria Market is another popular destination that offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history. Visitors can stroll through the market and sample some of Melbourne’s finest produce while admiring the original gold vaults that once housed the city’s gold rush treasures.
Melbourne is also home to several art galleries that showcase a variety of contemporary and traditional artwork from local and international artists. The NGV International and the Ian Potter Centre are two of the most popular galleries in the area and offer free admission to permanent collections.
The city is also known for its ample green spaces like the Royal Botanic Gardens and Birrarung Marr, where visitors can enjoy a stroll or a picnic while admiring the scenic views of the Yarra River. Tourists can also take a free ride on the City Circle Tram to explore the city’s many attractions and get a feel for Melbourne’s bustling energy without spending a dime.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground is a must-visit destination for those interested in sports and history. Visitors can stroll through the stadium and learn about the history of Australian cricket, making it an excellent spot for sports enthusiasts.
How to Spend a Fun Day in Melbourne for Free
Melbourne is a vibrant city with many fun activities and attractions that won’t break the bank. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, there are plenty of ways to spend a fulfilling day in Melbourne without spending a single penny. Here are some tips on how to spend a fun day in Melbourne for free.
Start your day by visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens, one of the city’s largest and most beautiful green spaces. Spend time walking around the gardens and admiring the stunning flora and fauna. You can even bring a picnic and enjoy a relaxing meal surrounded by the natural beauty of the gardens.
Next, head to Hosier Lane, located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. This iconic street is famous for its ever-changing street art and graffiti, which showcases the talents of local and international artists. Take your time walking through the laneway and snap photos of your favorite murals to share with your friends on social media.
If you want to learn about Melbourne’s rich cultural history, head to the Queen Victoria Market. This bustling marketplace has fresh produce, handmade crafts, and unique souvenirs. Take some time to explore the market and its historic gold vaults, which once stored the city’s gold rush treasures.
For a change of pace, make your way over to Federation Square, a hub of activity and culture in the city. Free events and activities always happen in the square, such as live music performances, cultural festivals, and art exhibitions. Check the schedule before seeing what’s happening when you plan to visit.
End your day by taking a stroll down the Yarra River and enjoying the stunning views of the city’s skyline. If you have some extra time, take a free ride on the City Circle Tram, a great way to see Melbourne’s many attractions without spending a dime.
Flinders Street Station
Behold the majestic Flinders Street Station – a true icon of Melbourne that never fails to leave visitors in awe. This stunning railway station is located in the city’s heart and has operated for over 100 years. The station was opened in 1854, and it is the oldest railway station in Australia that is still in use today.
One of the standout features of Flinders Street Station is its stunning architecture. The building’s elegant facade boasts a combination of classical and modernist design elements, which make it a true masterpiece of Victorian architecture. The station’s central dome, made from copper and glass, is one of its most recognizable features.
Flinders Street Station is also a hub of activity in the city. With dozens of trains arriving and departing daily, this station is a crucial transportation hub for locals and visitors. It is also a popular meeting place, with locals referring to it simply as “Flinders.” In addition to its transportation services, the station also houses several restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it a great place to grab a bite to eat or shop.
City Circle Tram
The City Circle Tram operates daily, providing a hop-on, hop-off service that stops at some of Melbourne’s most famous landmarks and tourist destinations. Whether you’re looking to visit the historic Queen Victoria Market or take in the vibrant street art of Hosier Lane, this tram has got you covered.
One of the best things about the City Circle Tram is that it’s free of charge. That’s right – you can ride it as often as you like without spending a single dime. And if you’re interested in learning more about Melbourne’s rich history, you’ll be pleased to know that each team has an audio commentary system that provides information and fun facts.
Hop on the iconic City Circle Tram to effortlessly explore the buzzing heart of Melbourne. It provides a convenient and stress-free alternative to walking or driving, especially if you’re visiting the city for the first time and unfamiliar with the local transportation system.
Degraves Street is a charming and vibrant laneway in the heart of Melbourne’s city center. Its historic buildings, bustling cafes, and street art make it a popular destination for locals and tourists.
One thing that makes Degraves Street so special is its unique atmosphere. The street is pedestrian-only, so you can stroll along the cobblestone laneway and explore all it offers. The bustling cafes and restaurants spill onto the road, giving it a lively and welcoming vibe that invites you to sit down and relax.
Degraves Street is a mecca for foodies, with a range of international cuisine. From French crepes to Italian pasta, Thai curries to Japanese sushi, there’s something to please every palate. And if you’re a coffee lover, you’re lucky – Degraves Street is home to some of Melbourne’s best cafes, serving expertly brewed espresso and other specialty drinks.
But it’s not just about the food on Degraves Street – the street is also famous for its street art. Colorful and eye-catching murals adorn the walls, adding to the laneway’s eclectic and artistic feel. It’s a great place to snap some Instagram-worthy photos and immerse yourself in Melbourne’s creative culture.
For those who love shopping, Degraves Street has something to offer too. Boutique stores sell everything from handmade jewelry to vintage clothing, and you’ll find plenty of quirky and unique items you won’t find anywhere else.
Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market is a beloved icon of Melbourne, and it’s not hard to see why. This bustling market has been a hub of activity for over 140 years, and it’s still going strong today. The market is open five days a week and offers visitors a chance to experience Melbourne’s culture and cuisine.
One of the things that makes Queen Victoria Market so unique is its sheer size. Covering over 7 hectares, it’s one of the largest open-air markets in the southern hemisphere. Almost anything you can think of is for sale here, with over 600 traders offering a mix of fresh produce, specialty foods, clothing, homewares, and more.
Of course, the food is a big draw for many visitors. With over 60 food stalls and cafes, there’s something to suit every taste. You can sample delicious locally-made cheeses, taste some of Melbourne’s best coffee, or indulge in a freshly-baked pastry. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try more unusual offerings, like kangaroo or crocodile meat!
But Queen Victoria Market isn’t just about shopping and eating – it’s also a great place to soak up some of Melbourne’s history and culture. The market has existed since 1878, and many original buildings and structures still stand today. You can take a guided tour to learn more about the market’s fascinating history or wander around and enjoy sights and sounds.
Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane
Melbourne is known for its incredible street art scene, and Hosier Lane is a must-see spot for anyone visiting the city. This laneway is covered from top to bottom in vibrant murals and graffiti, making it an outdoor gallery of urban art. The works on display constantly change, so it’s worth revisiting Hosier Lane to see what new creations have been added.
The art on Hosier Lane is not just beautiful, though – it also often carries political and social messages. You might see a powerful rendering of a refugee child, a statement about climate change, or a tribute to a local hero. The constant turnover of art in Hosier Lane means that these messages are always fresh and relevant.
Just a short walk from Hosier Lane is AC/DC Lane – a tribute to one of Melbourne’s greatest exports. This small laneway is named after the legendary rock band AC/DC, who grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy. The lane is home to a striking mural of lead singer Bon Scott and several other rock and roll-inspired art pieces.
AC/DC Lane is not just a tribute to the band, though – it’s also a hub for live music in Melbourne. The lane is home to several venues that host local and international acts, making it an excellent spot for music lovers to catch a show.
Melbourne Museum and NGV International
Melbourne Museum is located in Carlton Gardens and is a fascinating heritage building that tells the city’s story through interactive exhibits and displays. The museum has several permanent exhibitions that showcase Melbourne’s natural history and culture, including the Forest Gallery, which displays the diversity of the state’s forests, and the Indigenous Cultures Exhibition, which celebrates the history and culture of Australia’s indigenous communities.
One of the main attractions of the Melbourne Museum is its collection of taxidermy animals, which includes Australian wildlife such as kangaroos and koalas. The museum also features an impressive array of minerals and fossils, including some of the oldest fossils in the world.
Next door to the Melbourne Museum is the NGV International, which boasts one of Australia’s most impressive art collections. The gallery strongly emphasizes 19th and 20th-century European and Australian art and contemporary art from around the world.
The NGV International has a vast and diverse collection of over 70,000 works, including pieces by renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Vincent Van Gogh. The gallery also hosts temporary exhibitions annually, showcasing works from international artists and collections.
Visitors to NGV International can also enjoy a range of guided tours, workshops, and talks, giving them a behind-the-scenes look at the gallery’s collections and exhibitions.
Both the Melbourne Museum and NGV International are accessible by public transport and are located just a short distance from the city center. Both venues offer free admission to their permanent collections, making them excellent options for those on a budget.
Melbourne Book Market
If you are a bibliophile, Melbourne Book Market is a must-visit destination. The market is located in the iconic Queen Victoria Market and is known for its vast collection of second-hand books, rare editions, and antique literature.
On Sundays, the outdoor sheds of Queen Victoria Market transform into a haven for book lovers, with over 5,000 books available for purchase. The books on sale cover various genres, including art, history, literature, cookbooks, and travel. You will also find an extensive collection of vintage comic books and magazines that will evoke nostalgia for some.
The friendly vendors are knowledgeable about their stock and are happy to help you find that long-lost book from your childhood or the rare first edition you’ve been searching for. The Melbourne Book Market is a great place to pick up a great read and a hub for book enthusiasts to share and exchange their love for reading.
Besides browsing the vast collection of books, visitors can also attend the free workshops the market hosts. These workshops cover a range of themes, such as poetry, writing, and bookbinding, making it a great way to meet like-minded individuals and improve your literary skills.
Admission to the market is free, and the friendly atmosphere makes it a great place for a relaxed day out. The market also provides an excellent opportunity for travelers to pick up a unique souvenir from Melbourne that reflects the city’s love for books and literature.
Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
If you’re looking for a way to immerse yourself in Australia’s rich cultural heritage, look no further than the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Located in the heart of Melbourne, the NGV Australia showcases some of the finest works of Australian art, featuring everything from traditional aboriginal art to contemporary installations. With free admission, this art center is an excellent place to visit, whether you’re an art lover or want to learn more about Australia’s cultural heritage.
Inside the Ian Potter Centre is a vast collection of art pieces, including paintings, sculptures, and video installations. Some of the collection’s highlights include artworks from iconic Australian artists such as Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, and Albert Namatjira. You’ll also find contemporary art installations from current Australian artists reflecting the country’s cultural diversity.
The Ian Potter Centre is more than just a place to look at art – it’s also a place to learn. The center offers a range of free tours and talks that enable visitors to gain more significant insights into the artworks on display. You can learn about different art styles or the history of a particular painting from an expert guide.
In addition to the exhibitions, the Ian Potter Centre also features an onsite gallery shop where you can purchase unique souvenirs and art books. The center also provides visitors with free access to Wi-Fi, making it easy to share photos and experiences with friends and family.
State Library Victoria
Founded in 1854, State Library Victoria is one of Australia’s oldest and most important libraries. It houses over two million books, newspapers, maps, and other items, making it a veritable goldmine for researchers and avid readers. But even if you’re not a bookworm, there’s plenty to see and do at the State Library Victoria.
One of the library’s biggest drawcards is its stunning architecture. The La Trobe Reading Room, in particular, is an iconic Melbourne landmark. Completed in 1913, this domed reading room is one of the world’s largest of its kind, and its intricate design makes it a must-see for anyone interested in architecture and design.
But the State Library Victoria is more than just a place to look at books and buildings. There is also a range of free events, exhibitions, and tours. You can take a guided library tour, attend a talk or workshop, or even see a live performance in the library’s breathtaking courtyard. The library’s exhibitions change regularly, so something new and exciting is always there.
If you visit with children, the State Library Victoria has plenty to entertain them. There’s a children’s literature section with books and toys, regular storytime sessions, and holiday programs.
Melbourne’s Parliament House is a striking example of Victorian-era architecture and a must-visit attraction for any lover of politics or history. Completed in 1856, the building is the home of Victoria’s state parliament and is a true masterpiece of 19th-century design.
One of the most impressive features of Parliament House is the Legislative Council Chamber, which boasts a stunning ceiling adorned with intricate gold leaf and intricate carvings. This chamber was the setting for the infamous 1992 ‘disallowance’ debate, which saw the state Liberal and National parties band together to vote down the Labor government’s decision to introduce gun control measures.
Other notable features of Parliament House include the Legislative Assembly Chamber, adorned with stained glass windows and a beautiful mural depicting the history of Victoria, as well as the Queen’s Hall, which is often used for public events and exhibitions.
Guided tours of Parliament House are available to the public and are highly recommended. Visitors can learn about the building’s history, architecture, and political significance. You can even witness parliament in action, with general question time being held in the chambers most days while parliament sits.
Shrine of Remembrance
The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne is a breathtaking tribute honoring the courageous souls who have fought and given their all for Australia in times of war and conflict. The Shrine symbolizes honor, gratitude, and reverence for the brave men and women who have served in the Australian military, protecting our freedom and way of life.
Designed by the architect Phillip Hudson and sculptor Paul Montford, the Shrine’s classical architecture and serene surroundings make it a must-visit attraction in Melbourne. The beautiful stone and marble structure is built atop a hill, overlooking the city’s famous Royal Botanic Gardens and the sweeping views of the Yarra River.
As you enter the Shrine, you are greeted by the Eternal Flame, which symbolizes the never-ending service and sacrifice of those who fought in conflicts worldwide. Visitors are encouraged to walk around the Shrine’s numerous galleries to experience the exhibits of war history and pay their respects to the fallen at the touching bronze statues.
One of the highlights of a visit to the Shrine of Remembrance is an ascent to the Balcony of the Shrine, which offers stunning panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas. The Balcony is perched 112 meters above sea level, and on a clear day, you can see Port Phillip Bay.
Another popular attraction at the Shrine of Remembrance is the Ray of Light ceremony, which occurs at 11 AM daily. The ritual involves a beam of sunlight passing through a hole in the roof of the Shrine, reflecting on the word LOVE in the Sanctuary. Activated as a tribute to the Australian soldiers during World War I, the Ray of Light Honour Guard ceremony is a beautiful and poignant reminder of the sacrifices the brave soldiers and their families made.
Melbourne is home to a diverse range of religious communities, and with this comes a beautiful array of churches and places of worship. Many of these churches are essential landmarks in the city, as they serve as religious institutions and are examples of stunning architecture and historical significance.
One of the most iconic churches in Melbourne is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, located in the heart of the city. This Catholic cathedral was built in the mid-1800s and is renowned for its Gothic Revival architecture. St. Patrick’s is a breathtaking and important cultural and religious landmark with its towering spires and stained-glass windows.
Another notable church is the Anglican Cathedral Church of St. Paul, located in the city’s central business district. This historic church was completed in 1891 and boasts a stunning Neo-Gothic façade. Visitors can take a guided tour of this magnificent cathedral and learn about its fascinating history and significance.
For those interested in Russian Orthodox architecture, a visit to Sts. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Cathedral is a must. This beautiful cathedral in South Melbourne features traditional onion domes, intricate frescoes, and ornate gold leaf work. The cathedral holds regular services in English and Slavonic, and visitors are welcome to attend and experience the rich traditions of this fascinating denomination.
Other noteworthy churches in Melbourne include the Scots Church, which dates back to the early 1800s and is famous for its stunning stained-glass windows. St. Francis Church, built in the mid-1800s, is an excellent example of Italianate architecture.
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne Town Hall is a historic and iconic building in the city’s heart. Built-in the late 1800s, this grand building has become a landmark of Melbourne and a symbol of the city’s rich cultural and architectural heritage.
The building was designed by prominent architect Joseph Reed and featured a stunning blend of Renaissance and Gothic Revival styles. The façade is adorned with ornate carvings, grand arches, and intricate details, making it an impressive sight from any angle.
One of the standout features of Melbourne Town Hall is its majestic clock tower, which stands tall at 70 meters. The clock tower houses a magnificent clock, which chimes every quarter hour and can be heard throughout the city. Visitors can take a guided tour of the building and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the top.
The interior of Melbourne Town Hall is just as impressive as its exterior, with grand halls and chambers showcasing the building’s rich history and cultural significance. The Main Hall is the centerpiece of the building, with its high ceilings, ornate decorations, and large pipe organ. The hall has been used for many important events, including royal receptions, civic ceremonies, and cultural performances.
Today, Melbourne Town Hall continues to be a hub of activity, hosting various events and functions for the community. The building is a popular destination for locals and tourists, from concerts and exhibitions to conferences and weddings. It is also home to the Lord Mayor and the Council Chamber, where critical civic decisions are made.
One of the hidden gems of Melbourne is located in the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens – The Conservatory. It can be easy to miss, but it is worth a visit. This charming glasshouse was built in the 1930s and is home to some of the most beautiful plant species in the world.
The Conservatory is just a few minutes from the CBD and is nestled in one of Melbourne’s most beautiful parks. The building is an architectural masterpiece, with interconnected rooms featuring stunning wrought-iron architecture and intricate glass windows.
Inside, visitors are treated to a jaw-dropping array of plants and flowers and stunning displays of orchids, ferns, and other rare species. The Conservatory is also home to an impressive collection of succulents and cacti, which make for a striking and unique sight.
One of the highlights of the Conservatory is its seasonal displays. The staff always celebrate significant holidays throughout the year, changing the exhibitions and installations to fit the occasion. At Christmas, the Conservatory is transformed into a winter wonderland, with poinsettias and other traditional plants synonymous with the festive holiday.
Additionally, history enthusiasts will be intrigued to learn that the building previously underwent significant restoration in the 1990s, with the interior restored to its original 19th-century design. As such, it tells a story of the evolution of horticulture and innovation over the past two centuries.
Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne are a true gem of the city. Spanning over 38 hectares, this beautiful green oasis is just a short walk from the CBD.
The Royal Botanic Gardens are home to an incredible collection of plants from all corners of the globe. Visitors can experience various landscapes, from the lush tropical rainforest walking trails to the more arid succulent and cactus gardens.
One of the most popular attractions in the gardens is the Ornamental Lake. This picturesque spot is a great place to stop and relax with a picnic on the lush lawns or stroll around the lake to admire the stunning water features and sculptures.
Plenty of activities and events are on offer at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Visitors can enjoy guided tours, bird watching, yoga classes, and open-air cinema screenings during summer.
Several significant buildings are located within the gardens for those interested in history. The striking Melbourne Observatory dates back to the mid-19th century and is now a fascinating museum of astronomy and meteorology. Visitors can learn about the rich history of Melbourne’s skyline and peek through the famous Great Melbourne Telescope.
The Royal Botanic Gardens also play a vital role in conservation and research. The gardens are home to several essential and endangered plant species, and their scientists are dedicated to researching and preserving these plants for future generations.
- Visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens to enjoy its diverse flora and fauna.
- Exploring the street art and graffiti in iconic laneways like Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane.
- Taking a leisurely stroll or picnic in the city’s ample green spaces like Birrarung Marr or along the Yarra River.
- Yes, you can visit art galleries like the NGV International and the Ian Potter Centre, which offer free admission to their permanent collections.
- Exploring Melbourne’s rich history at the Queen Victoria Market, including its original gold vaults.
- Attending free events or activities in Federation Square, which often hosts live music, cultural festivals, and art exhibitions.
- The State Library Victoria, known for its stunning architecture and historical significance.
- The Shrine of Remembrance, a poignant monument honoring Australia’s military history.
- Melbourne’s diverse range of churches, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, showcasing incredible architecture and history.
The Melbourne Book Market at the Queen Victoria Market is a haven for bibliophiles, offering a vast collection of second-hand books, rare editions, and workshops, all accessible for free.