Nine Frugal Tips for Having Fun in Melbourne

Melbourne is a beautiful city, but like all beautiful cities it can be very expensive. If you’re not careful, that is. I had a strict budget, I was careful – and here’s what happened!

Getting around Melbourne

Melbourne’s buses and trains aren’t expensive, but too expensive for poverty-stricken me. Luckily, the city is home to the only working trams in the whole of Australia – the City Circle tram goes around all the major landmarks and journeys close to most of the hotels too. It’s free, and is a tourist experience in and of itself! The trams are very pretty – I took lots of photos with them.

Relaxing on the beach

Beaches, of course, are free for everyone. St Kilda beach is popular (it has a Luna Park next to it as well) but I sought out some of the quieter spots in the city. Williamstown beach is lovely and very picturesque indeed. And the snacks sold there are both delicious and cheap! But it’s worth checking out every one of Melbourne’s beaches and seeing which one you like the best. Because – again – they’re all free!

Seeing the pulse of the city

Federation Square is where all the exciting stuff happens. It hosts festivals, theatre, great food – and free events. Free yoga classes and free ‘laughter sessions’ are popular! But there is something there for absolutely everyone – car exhibitions, basket making classes, art exhibitions and more!

Oh, and Federation Square is reportedly the world’s fifth ugliest building. But I liked it – and I hear most Melbournites do too.

Drop into the ACMI

ACMI

The other thing Federation Square holds is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, which has LOADS of exciting things to do and is – wait for it – free. This year, they had a David Bowie exhibition! And even more exciting for gamer ladies and gents, they have lots of interactive video games that you could spend all day on.

Eating cheaply

Victoria St

Drop into Victoria Street and you’ll find a ton of inexpensive Vietnamese restaurants, cafés and bakeries. The place is considered a hidden gem of Melbourne, and it very much is. There’s also lots of shops there that sell great Asian crafts and art.

Having a coffee

Do you want a coffee for FREE? Of course you do. Well, Melbourne’s coffee shops often hold ‘cupping’ events where customers try lots of different coffees and evaluate them. You need to do a little digging to find out which ones are happening near you, and you need to get there on time because they’re usually not bookable events, but they’re great fun!

Chilling in the park

Melbourne has nearly 480 hectares of parks! Excellent for those who like to be in the great outdoors. A lot of them contain children’s play areas too. (I didn’t go into them. Well, not much.)

Most of them are within walking distance from the center of the city – you don’t even have to pay to get there. Probably the most well-known park is the Royal Botanical Garden, which has a long history and lots of interesting plant and animal life. It’s completely free to get in and there’s a lot to look at.

Taking in some art

The National Gallery of Victoria is the oldest public art museum in Australia, and it’s fascinating, and it’s free! It showcases both old masterpieces and new, exciting art from local artists.

If you’re taking kids with you to Melbourne, you can take them here too! They may think it sounds boring, but it’s not – there’s plenty of craft activities for children. And it was packed full of budding tiny artists when I was there.

Getting creative with entertainment

Nights out are almost always expensive. But when I was at the St Albans Sports Club they held a QuizzaMe trivia, which I did very well at and didn’t have to pay for! They didn’t have pens and paper either, but rather buzzers that wirelessly processed your answers. Very technological!

Many of the bars in Melbourne also offer free live entertainment – drop into one of them and watch live local bands while enjoying your drink.

There you go – my Melbourne-on-a-budget story. I’m living proof that it can be done!

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About alexchester (68 Articles)
Alex Chester is an economist currently working on a few projects in Australia.

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