Like a lot of Australian cities, Melbourne can be a daunting prospect for somebody traveling on a budget.
At first glance, it might look like Australia’s art, sport, and cafe capital is beyond your price range, but the great thing about Melbourne is that it’s completely packed full of fun things to do, even if you’re running on a tight budget.
Things to do in Melbourne on a Tight Budget
Ride the City Circle Tram
Melbourne is famous for its tram system, and one of the best ways to get around the city and see the sights is by jumping aboard the free City Circle Tram.
The City Circle Tram service takes you past some of the city’s most famous tourist attractions including the Princess Theatre, Parliament House, and the Old Treasury Building, as well as the shopping streets, malls and arcades.
You’ll easily spot the City Circle Tram route as it’s serviced by heritage W class trams, recognisable by their burgundy and gold colour. It takes approximately 48 minutes to complete a whole loop and you can jump on a tram every 12 minutes.
Pro Tip: The City Circle Tram uses a ‘hop on – hop off’ allowing you to come and go as you please and operates both clockwise and anticlockwise, making it super easy to get around.
If you want to see more of Melbourne, why not hire a bike and cycle around for the day? Melbourne is one of the top cycling cities in Australia and is home to a first-class bike share system making it easier than ever to get from A to B.
With 50 bike stations located throughout the CBD and beyond, you can simply hop on a bike from one station, and drop it off somewhere else. There are now even helmets attached to every bike to keep you safe!
Pro Tip: The Melbourne Bike Share website has a whole host of tour recommendations to help you explore the city. From foodie tours, to culture tours, you can download maps and guides to ensure you make the most of your cycle trip.
Check out the street art
Melbourne has a load of amazing art galleries and exhibition spaces, but some of the best art is out there in the streets. Known as “stencil capital of the world”, the city embraced stencil art at an early stage and it’s visible from the CBD to the suburbs.
Many of the world’s most famous international artists have contributed to the plethora of work in Melbourne including Shepard Fairey and Banksy, with laneways across the city including Hosier Lane and ACDC Lane boasting some eye-wateringly good street art.
Pro Tip: Look around online before you go and download one of the street art tour guides. They’ll give you a map of all of the laneways you need to see and show you what’s hidden away in places the tourists don’t know about.
Royal Botanic Gardens
If you’re lucky enough to catch some great weather in Melbourne, then make sure you check out the Royal Botanic Gardens. Built back in 1846, the gardens are an incredible 38 hectares in size and are home to over 50,000 plants. It’s an ideal place to stroll around the lakes, lie on the grass or soak up a bit of culture.
There are a variety of walks that you can take in the gardens including the Aboriginal Heritage Walk where you can experience the ancestral lands of the Koolin nation and discover how plants were used for food, tools and medicine, as well as the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden where kids can have a day they’ll never forget.
You might also spot some of the locals including black swans, cockatoos, eels, kookaburras, and more!
Pro Tip: Check out the free Winter Discovery Tour running from June to September for some seasonal secrets.
Queen Victoria Market
The Queen Victoria Market is one of Melbourne’s premier tourist attractions. Open five days a week, the market is spread across several blocks of the city and has over 600 retailers. The market features the usual fresh food shopping, but what really make it unique are its seasonal fruit and vegetables, Deli Hall for artisan cheeses and meats, imported gourmet foods, and organic coffee and wine. Not forgetting the hundreds of shops and stalls selling fashion and souvenirs where you can pick up something special to take home.
Top Tip: If you’re looking for a Melbourne hotel then the Queen Victoria Market is a good area to start. A short walk to the CBD and the fantastic Lygon Street restaurant quarter, the location is perfect.
Do you have any budget travel tips or cheap things to do in Melbourne you’d like to recommend?