21 Awesome FREE Things To Do in Melbourne, Australia 2023
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy Melbourne. From the National Gallery of Victoria to the street art in the laneways, you can get a real taste of the second-biggest city in Australia without spending a lot of money. Just follow our Travel Pixy guide.
Building of the National Gallery of Victoria Art Gallery
As you go up St. Kilda Road, on your left you will see NGV International, a huge bluestone building from the 1960s that was designed by Sir Roy Grounds. The National Gallery of Victoria is made up of this building and the Ian Potter Centre: NGV International. Together, they hold more than 73,000 works of art. Walk through the arched entrance, past the wall of water, and into the Great Hall to see the world’s largest stained-glass ceiling, which casts a rainbow of colors onto the gallery floor. Aside from its permanent collection, NGV also hosts exhibitions and special events, such as the
State Library of Victoria
It’s hard to miss the State Library of Victoria. When you first see it, you can’t deny how beautiful it is, but the outside can’t compare to what’s inside. The curved skylights in the domed La Trobe Reading Room let in beautiful light from the sky. Even in the evening, it doesn’t let you down because the soft light from the lights draws you in. There is no place better to read your favorite book. The library has more than two million books, so it shouldn’t be hard to find what you’re looking for. If that doesn’t fill you up, you can look through some of the thousands of newspapers, manuscripts, audio, video, and digital materials that cover a century of Victoria’s Travel Pixy and history. There are also great works of art and exhibitions at the State Library, which offer free guided tours. There are also regular talks on everything from fashion to philosophy, and tickets are often free or you can name your own price.
Meander through the Queen Victoria Market
You can wander through the historic sheds of the Queen Victoria Market and find fresh food, hot doughnuts, souvenirs, home goods, and much more. The market has many different areas, or “precincts,” where you can buy things. There is also a market that stays open late every Wednesday night from November to April. After dark, the market comes to life with live music, tasty food stands, cocktails, and shopping until late at night. During the day, look out for art trails, thought-provoking exhibitions, and the Mini Market series, which focuses on a certain group of stallholders, such as those selling garden and outdoor goods or toys and kids’ clothes.
Explore ACMI’s Screen Worlds
Screen Worlds is a free permanent exhibit at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Federation Square. It tells the story of how the moving image has changed over time. There are objects, props, and memorabilia at the interactive exhibition. The exhibits look at the history of cinema and where it’s going, as well as Australian culture and, more generally, how people are affected by everything with a screen, from smartphones to video games. Some of the props on display are the original clock from the children’s TV show Play School (1966–present), Cate Blanchett’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in The Aviator (2004), and costumes worn by Australian stars Kylie Minogue, Dame Edna Everage, and Heath Ledger.
Listen to Live Music
Live music is very popular in Melbourne. This is also one of the best things to do in Melbourne for free (aside from the cost of a beer). On the city’s ACDC Lane, the Cherry Bar says that it is “pretty much the best rock ‘n’ roll bar in the world.” Many of its shows are free to get into, and it often has big-name after-parties with rock stars. The Esplanade in St. Kilda is another option. Most nights, it’s free to get into its Basement bar, which is a great place to see new rock bands. You can also go to the beer garden at The Brunswick Green on Sydney Road, which is another place to visit.
Go on a hunt for public sculptures
Building, Architectural Landmark
Deborah Halpern is one of Australia’s best-known sculptors. She went to school in Melbourne and has strong ties to the city. Three of her colorful mosaics are on display in the city. Angel (1987), Ophelia (1992), and Portal to Another Time and Place (2005) are at Birrarung Marr, Southgate, and Werribee Mansion, respectively. You can also visit Bruce Armstrong’s Eagle (2002) and John Kelly’s Cow up a Tree (1999) in Docklands, Simon Perry’s The Public Purse (1994) in front of the GPO building, and Petrus Spronk’s sinking building, Architectural Fragment (1992), in front of the State Library of Victoria. All of these sculptures can be found on a Melbourne sculpture trail.
Wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens are a quiet place to get away from the noise of the city streets of Melbourne. The huge gardens cover 94 acres (38 ha) and have a collection of 10,000 plants, both native and not. With 11 lawns, there is plenty of room to relax and think about what to do next in Melbourne. The main entrance to the garden and the Shrine of Remembrance war memorial are both on The Tan, a 3.8km (2.4m) walking and running path that goes around the garden. After you finish the loop, treat yourself to a coffee at one of the cafes on Domain Road.
Get inspired at The Wheeler Centre
The Wheeler Centre on Little Lonsdale Street was started in 2008 to celebrate and learn about the literary scene in Australia. People who come can take part in programs and listen to speakers. The free Lunchbox/Soapbox series happens every Thursday at lunchtime. It gives people with interesting stories and ideas a chance to share them. In the past, speakers have talked about topics like offshore detention, the environment, promiscuity, and the viola.
Explore Melbourne’s Southbank
The Southbank entertainment precinct runs along the Yarra River from Princes Bridge to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. It has some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, high-end stores, and the Crown Casino. You can walk down the promenade and listen to buskers, look up at the skyline of Melbourne, or watch river cruise boats leave. At night, you can watch the Gas Brigades at Crown Casino, which shoot fireballs into the sky every hour. In addition to the modern office and apartment buildings, there are also some old buildings, like the Victoria Barracks from the 1800s and the former Castlemaine Brewery on Queensbridge Street.
Take a ride on the City Circle Tram
Many free things to do in Melbourne involve walking, but you can also take a break on a tram, which is an important part of the city. Tourists and locals alike can hop on and off the free City Circle Tram to get around the city as they please. The historic W-class trams were first brought to the city in 1923. They travel through La Trobe, Flinders, Spring, Nicholson, and Victoria Streets, which cover Melbourne’s central business district. There is also an audio guide on board that tells you about the sights at each stop and other interesting facts as you go.
Find refuge in one of the city’s churches
Churches and cathedrals are some of the more peaceful places to visit in Melbourne, whether you’re looking for a quiet place to rest or just want to admire their architecture. The 1890s saw the completion of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is right in the middle of Melbourne’s central business district. The cathedral is an example of neo-gothic transitional style. It was built by the English architect William Butterfield. Nearby is the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which looks like it was built in the Middle Ages but was actually built from 1858 to 1939. You’ll also find St. Michael’s Uniting Church and St. Mary Star of the Sea Church. These religious buildings are beautiful to look at and moving to visit.
Learn more about Indigenous culture at the Koorie Heritage Trust
Art Gallery, Museum
The Yarra Building at Federation Square, near Flinders Street Station, is home to the Koorie Heritage Trust, which is a real, hands-on Aboriginal center. In 1985, activists sued the University of Melbourne and the Museum of Victoria to get their Indigenous artifacts back. This is how the museum came to be. The goal of the center is to teach people about Indigenous art and to make Aboriginal culture and history a big part of life in Victoria, as well as to keep its history safe. The Koorie Heritage Trust is free to visit and is open seven days a week (except on national and Victorian public holidays), with the exception of national and Victorian public holidays.
Head to St Kilda
The suburb of St. Kilda, which is 6 km (3.7 mi) southeast of Melbourne, is a beautiful seaside escape from the city. Walk along the beach to St. Kilda Pier to see the little penguin colony that lives there and take in the views of the skyline. Nearby Acland Street is a great place to grab a bite to eat, and on Sundays there is a beachfront market. You can also relax in Catani Gardens, which has an avenue of palm trees. You can also walk around Luna Park for free, but the activities will cost you money.
Discover beautiful vistas from rooftop bars
Bar, Contemporary, $$
The best views of the city are from up high, which makes rooftop bars the best places to watch the sun go down and the city lights come on in Melbourne. Siglo has views of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Parliament House and serves champagne, cocktails, and high-end spirits, among other drinks. When you have other choices like Madame Brussels and Naked in the Sky, you’ll be happy to spend a little money on a drink or two at a bar with a nice view.
Explore the laneways for colourful street art
One of the most interesting places to visit in Melbourne, especially if you like to watch people, is the city’s network of laneways. Artists looking for urban canvases have made them some of the most sought-after real estate. The beautiful murals of Duckboard Place, Union Lanes, and ACDC Lanes are full of bright colors and are open to artistic expression. They make great Instagram backgrounds. Near the old Forum movie theater, Hosier Lane is also a great place for tourists to take selfies with street art
Discover aviation history at the RAAF Museum
The RAAF Museum is in Point Cook, which is only 25 minutes from Melbourne. It tells the story of Australian aviation and is free to visit. In the aircraft gallery, you can look down on old planes like a GAF Pika drone, helicopters, and fighters from different eras. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, you can watch historic planes fly at the interactive Flying Displays. The Tiger Moth and the Mustang are two planes that often impress people at this display.
Pay your respects at the Shrine of Remembrance
The Shrine of Remembrance was built to honor Victorians who served in World War I. It is now a memorial to all Australians who have served in any war or peacekeeping effort since the 1850s. People can look around the memorial at their own pace or pay from $20 to join a guided tour. The memorial has many underground “galleries of remembrance” and exhibition spaces with more than 800 objects, photos, and uniforms that show what it was like for Australians who served in the military, as well as a landing boat from Gallipoli.
Take a walk to see Melbourne’s architectural gems
There is a mix of modern, Victorian, and art deco architecture all over Melbourne, and daring architects are always pushing the limits and adding to the cityscape. As you walk around the city, you’ll see a lot of strange buildings that look like giant sculptures. These include the Eureka Tower, Federation Square, the Manchester Unity Building, and the Melbourne Theatre Company. Fed Square was finished in 2002, and its design is both deconstructive and modern minimalist.
Tour Parliament House
Landmarks in architecture and history
Parliament House is a large, impressive building with a columned front, beautiful tiled floors, and high ceilings with decorations. Inside the legislative center, which is open on both sitting and non-sitting days, you can see how decisions are made in Victoria. The public can also watch the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly from the public galleries or go on a free public tour. These will happen when the parliament isn’t meeting.
Scout the filming locations of your favourite TV shows
Many of Australia’s best-known TV shows, like the soap opera Neighbours (1985–present), the family drama Offspring (2010–2017), and the comedy Kath & Kim, have been filmed in Melbourne (2002–2007). Fans of the show Neighbours should know that all of the outside shots of Ramsay Street are shot in Pin Oak Court, Vermont South. The Official Neighbours Tour, where you can meet a Neighbours star, costs money (past or present). At 4 Lagoon Place in Patterson Lakes, the TV show Kath & Kim was filmed. Fans of the TV show Offspring should go to Brunswick Street to see the outside of Dr. Noonan’s office and to Emma Street in Collingwood to see the Proudmans’ house.
Enjoy yourself at a festival
Throughout the year, there are a lot of festivals in Melbourne, and most of them have free events as well as paid ones. Moomba is the biggest free festival in Australia, and it takes place in March. There are fireworks every night, famous monarchs, a parade, and lots of carnival rides and games. Other popular festivals in the city are the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Melbourne Fringe and Melbourne Festival, and Midsumma, the city’s LGBTQ pride festival.
Topic: 21 Awesome FREE Things To Do in Melbourne, Australia 2023
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By: Travel Pixy