A Cheapskates Guide to Melbourne, Australia - 10 Free Attractions to Save You Money

by AboutAustralia

Everyone likes to save money, right? I love visiting Melbourne, so over the years I've compiled a 'guide to free attractions' for cheapskates like me ;)

Cities can be notoriously expensive places, but not with a free guide to free and interesting attractions!

Check out my top 10 totally free attractions in Melbourne. Why waste your hard earned cash when you can stretch your dollar further. Enjoy!

1. Albert Park

Don't pay for sightseeing tours when you can DIY

Albert Park - Albert Road, South Melbourne - Free Entry

Albert Park is 225-hectares of stunning parkland which includes a beautiful lake with water activities, and a criss-cross network of walking and bike trails. It is located three kilometres from the CBD and plays host to many of Victoria's popular public sporting and recreational events. It also boasts a world class 18 hole golf course and driving range.

Enjoy a day out in Albert Park under shady trees and picturesque surroundings. Take a picnic lunch and enjoy some time out at the picnic tables and barbecue areas. There are also playgrounds for the children, restaurants if you get hungry on the run, and toilets throughout the park. Albert park is also recognized as an important sanctuary for wildlife and a diverse range of vegetation.

2. The Collins Street Art Gallery

Melbourne is well known as being a center for the Arts

The Collins Street Art Gallery - Free Entry

Melbourne is very well known around the world as a notable center for the Arts. The Collins Street Gallery at 411 Collins Street, was opened in 1988. You will find works showing contemporary artists at their best and key exhibitions from famous artists. There is also contemporary sculpture on exhibition. 

The gallery is known for its collection of bird carvings, fish and other Australian wildlife. The Gallery also has a comprehensive display of early Australian pottery which easily ranks among the world's finest collections.  

Please note, special short term exhibitions may attract an entry fee.

3. Federation Square, Melbourne CBD

Melbourne's meeting place on the banks of the Yarra River

Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne - Free Entry

Federation Square is located in Flinders St, Melbourne and is a recognized central meeting place for friends, colleagues, tourists, business people and artists alike.

Locals love the area for its rich cultural experiences, prominent architecture, great restaurants and the National Gallery of Victoria which is the home of the gallery’s ‘Australian Art’ collection.

It's also a great place to start a leisurely walk along the banks of the Yarra River.

4. Gold Treasury Museum

This outstanding museum depicts the history of Melbourne from the Gold Rush Days

Gold Treasury Museum - Spring Street - Free Entry

The Old Treasury Museum, located in Spring Street, is widely recognized as one of the most excellent public buildings in Australia. It underwent a significant restoration process before opening to the public in 1994.

It provides an excellent opportunity to learn about Melbourne’s history, art, and architecture in the city over the past decades since the building was designed during the 1850’s.

The exhibition is built around Gold and the buildings outstanding gold vaults. It also records other historical events as it provided offices to the Governer, Premier of Victoria, the Treasurer of Australia and the Auditor General.

The museum is steeped in tradition and to this day the Governor of Victoria continues to meet weekly with the Executive Council on the first floor.     

5. Cheap Eats at Lygon Street

Spend a free afternoon wandering the restaurants, cafes and bakeries of Lygon Street, Carlton

Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne - Free to enjoy the sights and sounds

One of the world famous ‘Eatery’ streets, Lygon Street is second to none if you’re looking for great food. Whilst the food is obviously not free, it is a great way to spend a couple of hours ‘window shopping’ the hundreds of different restaurants offering outstanding cuisine from around the world (including Australian!)

Before Lygon St became famous, it was a popular destination for students from Melbourne University, in search of good quality cheap and cheerful eats. It has retained its early charm, and cheap eats are still a major attraction of the area.

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6. National Gallery of Victoria

You'll be amazed at the quality and range of the collections on show

National Gallery of Victoria, St Kilda Rd, Melbourne - Free entry

The Natioanl Gallery of Victoria is the oldest and most visited public art gallery in the whole of Australia. Its collection covers thousands of years, and is a must see on anyone’s ‘to do’ list.

The museum is host to exhibits dating back to ancient civilizations right throught to present-day art and represents many different aspects, periods, and styles. The variety and quality of the collection is renowned, and you can visit from 10am – 5pm  (except Tuesdays). Special short term exhibitions may attract an entry fee.

7. Queen Victoria Market

Hustle, bustle and old world charm for the past 130 years!

Queen Victoria Market - Free Entry

The Queen Victoria markets are one of the best open air markets in Australia, which is why millions of visitors a year are drawn to the vibrant hustle and bustle and old world charm each year. Located on Elizabeth Street, the markets have been in operation for the past 130 years.

Fresh produce abounds with stunning selection including chicken, red meat, seafood and a wide variety of Delicatessen produce. 

Sundays is a popular at the markets for families when Queen Street is closed to traffic and outdoor cafes, entertainment and children’s rides take precedence.  It is more of a relaxed atmosphere as other stall holders prepare for the week ahead.

8. Melbourne's Royal Botanical Gardens

Spend a day exploring this botanical wonderland

Royal Botanical Gardens - Free Entry from 7.30am til sunset, every day!

Melbourne’s Royal Botanical Gardens is home to more than 10,000 different plant species and is located in Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra, very close to the CBD.

With over 36 hectares the gardens display over 50,000 plants year round. This stunning and picturesque setting draws tens of thousands of visitors per year.

The gardens also hold unique tours, showcase a collection of diverse plant species,   and has an enviable reputation as one of the world's premium gardens.  

The gardens are host to the Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden children can dig in the soil, build, imagine, create their own masterpieces, hide  and explore! 


9. St Kilda Markets

Magnificent location on the Esplanade

Between Cavell and Fitzroy Streets, St Kilda. Sundays - Free entry.

The Esplande Market at St Kilda has its own special atmosphere created by the Esplanade location and the outstanding artistic abilities of stall holders. The market started in 1970 and is held each Sunday. You’ll definitely find that ‘something special’ which has been hand crafted by established artists and craftspeople with exceptional talent.


10. Parliament House

Free public tours when Parliament is not in session

Parliament House - Spring St, East Melbourne - Free entry and tour 

Since 1855 Parliament House in Melbourne, has been the seat of the Parliament of Victoria. (Except for 1901 to 1928, when it was in use by the Parliament of Australia).

Parliament House is the biggest public building in Australia built in the 19th century. It is also one of the best illustrations of the public building design in the days of the British Empire. 

Be sure to phone ahead to make sure a free public tour is available 03 9651 89441  

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Updated: 02/29/2012, AboutAustralia
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jamessmith on 06/11/2012

This guide is very relevant in exploring Melbourne

Shaz on 03/04/2012

Hi DPW, Melbourne certainly is a special city with lots of free things to do. I must say I haven't been out along the St Kilda Pier, but it's on my list for our next visit! Sounds great!

DavidPaulWagner on 03/04/2012

A great list! I love looking at Melbourne's magnificent Victorian-era buildings, strolling through its magnificent parks and gardens, and walking right out along the St. Kilda Pier -- again, all for free!

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