Renowned for lively art scenes, world class museums, yummy food and breathtaking landscapes, Melbourne is a beautiful city that is on top of many travellers’ to-go list. The city is like an open art museum, with colorful street art adorning its laneways. It’s no surprise that Melbourne has been voted as the most livable city in the world for seven years consecutively.
That being said, traveling in Melbourne can be quite expensive, especially if you have a family in tow. However, with smart planning, you can still explore Melbourne on a budget, and take advantage of the many places you can visit for free! What are they? That’s where we come in to help. Read on!
Take the SkyBus from the airport to the city
Take the SkyBus to get from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport or Melbourne Avalon Airport. Starting from 1 April 2019, the bus also runs from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport to Melbourne Eastside, the eastern suburbs of the city. The SkyBus runs every 10 minutes to the Southern Cross Station (in the Central Business District), St Kilda and Franston. If you’re arriving late at night, it’s better to stop at the Southern Cross Station as it’s open 24/7 and from there, it’s easy for you to connect onto a metro or V/Line train, city trams or even a taxi.
Tip: If you’re staying in the CBD, be sure to take advantage of their free hotel drop-off service! Just ask at the kiosk next to the SkyBus drop-off zone in Southern Cross Station.
Take advantage of the free tram rides
The tram rides in the CBD are free, so just hop on and go! We’d recommend taking the Route 35, also known as the free City Circle Line, where it passes some of the popular landmarks and there’s also an audio commentary on board that provides interesting facts about the popular sites. It’s the perfect way to see the sights of Melbourne without having to pay a penny!
Explore Melbourne’s artistic laneways
Over the past decade, Melbourne’s laneways have undergone facelifts, turning them from dull shortcuts, to some of the city’s best spots to view street art . While you may not find Banksy’s work here, you’ll find colorful murals by local or visiting artists. Hosier Lane, opposite the Federation Square, is the most accessible laneway for street art in Melbourne. It’s best known as the center of Melbourne’s street art where almost every surface of the laneway is covered with art! Our personal favorite, however, is the AC/DC Lane, which was named as a tribute to the Australian rock band. The laneway features street art with music themes, so make sure to keep a lookout for your favorite musician!
Practice street photography in the city center
The city center of Melbourne is dotted with heritage buildings of different eras and architectural styles. From quirky buildings, old advertising paintings and futuristic structures, this city is filled with character and would make any street photographer trigger happy. We’d highly recommend Flinders Street Railway Station, the Federation Square, Block Arcade, the Nicholas Building and ANZ’s gothic headquarters. There are also plenty of interesting sculptures around the city so, keep a lookout on those too!
Chill at St Kilda Beach
Take a breather from the city scene and head over to the breezy St Kilda Beach for a different vibe of Melbourne. Stroll along the seafront promenade, head over to one of the many cafés along Acland Street for people-watching, and drool over old-school European style cake shops there. If you want to get your adrenaline pumping, the iconic Luna Park is a short walk where you can bring back memories of yesteryears by riding the carousel and scenic railway rollercoaster (for a price, of course).
Go art gallery hopping
There’s a good reason why Melbourne is Australia’s culture capital. It’s home to dozens of galleries and many of them are free! If you’re a fan of the arts, the National Gallery of Victoria is a must-visit. There are also smaller galleries that are worth a visit like the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art or Sutton Gallery. When you’re in Federation Square, be sure to check out Australian Centre of the Moving Image (ACMI). Noteworthy is a permanent exhibition called ‘Screen Worlds’ which tells the ever-evolving story of the moving image and features props, objects, and memorabilia used in Australian film and TV. Admission is free!
Find cheap eats at local markets
Whether you’re looking for cheap eats or souvenirs, Melbourne markets will not disappoint. You can find these markets selling fresh local produce, handmade crafts, secondhand treasures or gourmet hawker dishes, in most neighborhoods. It’s free for browsing, of course, but if you want to stretch that Australian dollar even more, there are usually plenty of food samples to go around with. Queen Victoria Market is popular among both locals and tourists, but there are also plenty of less touristy markets to check out across town. For a Parisienne flea market vibe, go to Camberwell Market, and if you’re around during the summer (December to February), go to the Night Market at Victoria Market for hawker-style food and live music.
Get a view of Melbourne skyline for less
If there’s one thing that Melburnians love, it’s their rooftop bars. Buy a drink (or two!) and you can get great views of Melbourne instead of splurging to get into the Eureka Skydeck. You can find rooftop bars from Rooftop Bar & Cinema at Swanston Street to Madame Brussels at the end of Bourke Street. There are plenty of rooftop bars in CBD, and you can soak up the view as much as you like!
So, who says you need to spend a lot to enjoy Melbourne? Follow these tips and you’ll have a stress-free vacation!
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