The Best Things You Can Do For Free in Melbourne

Everyone always says that Melbourne is an expensive place to live, but it’s also one of the best places to be skint… as there are endless free activities to get you out and about. 

There’s no excuse not to be cultured in Melbourne. With free live music gigs, public art murals, free exhibitions and no shortage of gorgeous gardens to immerse yourself in, having a day off in Melbourne is never boring.

Here are the best free things to do in Melbourne.

Win Tickets to BWS Presents The Cool Room

Thursday 29 September
Narre Warren
The only thing we love more than a mid-week gig is one that’s so exclusive you have to win tickets to even attend. And that’s exactly what’s happening in Melbourne on September 29, with BWS hosting a BROODS gig inside a literal cool room

To win a double pass to the main event to see BROODS live as part of the BWS presents The Cool Room, visit bwscoolroom.com.au and enter your details. The prize also includes flights, accommodation and transfers for you and a mate (if you don’t live in Victoria). But you’ll have to be quick as there are only 30 double passes up for grabs to the Melbourne Cool Room.

Enjoy art history at the NGV

Just behind Flinders Street Station, sits a gorgeous 1960’s bluestone building, with cascading water features on either side, otherwise known at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). You can walk in and wander through the NGV’s permanent collection at any time, free of charge. Once you get inside the maze of art history, you may notice that your phone is out of reception… it’s all part of the charm. Being inside the NGV is an escape from the chaos that is the busy Melbourne CBD and allows us to relax and revisit some of our favourite classic artists and art pieces. Aside from its permanent collection, the NGV holds exhibitions and special events constantly, which you can pay a small fee for if it tickles your fancy in the moment.
For more info: Head to the NGV website.

Instagram / @melbourneskydeck

Visit Melbourne Skydeck’s New Virtual Reality Theatre

Melbourne Skydeck, formerly the Eureka Skydeck, is the highest observation platform in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s still the best way to discover Melbourne from a dizzying height and now, it boasts the largest virtual reality theatre of its kind in the world.  

The Melbourne Skydeck Voyager Theatre has 24 Positron chairs showing a bespoke filmthat takes guests through 16 iconic Melbourne and Victorian experiences.  The film features stunning scenery shot in Super 8K high definition, complemented by sounds, scent and movement accompanied by a score by local music legends Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill of Cat Empire. You’ll ride Luna Park’s historic wooden rollercoaster, smell freshly roasted coffee as they explore Melbourne’s laneways, enjoy the action of the Australian Open from a courtside seat at Rod Laver Arena and feel crisp ocean air on their face as they swoop over the Great Ocean Road. It’s all the Melbourne experiences you need, in the one place.
For more information: head to their website here


Zen out in the State Library of Victoria

Arguably one of the most beautiful buildings in the whole of Victoria, the State Library of Victoria is open to the public every day. It’s the perfect place to go and sit for a quiet moment of reflection, meditation or people watching. You can open up a library account once you arrive, if you wish to reserve or find specific books during or visit, or you are free to wander around and pick up anything that piques your interest.
For more info: Head to the State Library of Victoria website.


Go for a wander in the Royal Botanic Gardens

As far as botanic gardens go, these are pretty spectacular. Spread across 94 acres, Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens contain 10,000 different species of plant, both native an exotic. There’s also a 3.8km walking and jogging track known as The Tan, which goes past the main entrance and monumental Shrine of Remembrance, as well as an easy detour to some cute cafes on Domain Road.


Chill out at Carlton Gardens 

If you’re into the idea of going to some gardens but don’t want to venture into the city, Carlton Gardens are majestic. Set in between Rathdowne and Nicholson Streets in Carlton/Fitzroy, Carlton Gardens plays host a few different activities within its boundaries. There are public basketball and tennis courts, for those that want to get physical, there is a playground for kids (and adult kid’s at heart), multiple beautiful fountains and ponds to admire/set up a picnic in front of and Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building are right in the middle, if you feel like expanding your adventure a little further.
For more info: you can head to the Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building websites to see what’s coming up.


Listen to live music

Fortunately, live music happens all over Melbourne all the time, as if often free entry. Some of the best places to find great live gigs for free are: Cherry Bar, in the CBD, known for it’s headliner after parties and historic background of rock stars performing on it’s stage. The Esplanade in St Kilda, recently renovated and offering free live music in it’s Basement bar most nights, is especially great for summer evenings spent by the beach. The beer garden at The Brunswick Green on Sydney Road is also pretty epic, with constant live music, live jam sessions and super cheap drinks.

For more info: check out all the upcoming live gigs in Melbourne here


Meander through the Queen Vic Markets

The Queen Victoria Market is not only iconic, but an absolute joy to visit. With fresh produce, local producers and makers, epic pop-up stalls and tasting carts, the Queen Vic Markets are a place where you can shop for some of the freshest produce, taste what’s in season, get some cooking inspiration and experience a true farmer’s market experience. 

 QVM also offers same-day delivery through Queen Vic Market Online, allowing customers to browse more than 2,000 products from 45 Market traders from the comfort of home. You get same-day delivery if you order by 10am on any Market day (Tues, Thurs & Fri-Sun) to more than 220 Melbourne suburbs or contactless click & collect from a designated pick-up zone in the Market car park.

For more info: the QVM has always got something on, so definitely check their website for more info.

Get inspired at The Wheeler Centre

Founded in 2008, The Wheeler Centre is focused on celebrating Australia’s literary scene. They have exhibitions and engaging programs, which invite you to listen to guest speakers and ask thought-provoking questions. Every Thursday at lunchtime, you can catch the free Lunchbox/Soapbox series, which provides a platform for curious minds to share stories and ideas – previous speakers have addressed diverse topics ranging from offshore detention to the environment, promiscuity and the viola.

For more info: You can find out all the upcoming events at The Wheeler Centre on it’s website.


Be your best tourist self along Southbank

During summer, Southbank is full of delights that make you feel like a tourist in your own city. There are performers that sing, dance and do circus tricks by the waterfront, as well as light shows, fireworks displays and live music. All you have to do is walk down the Southbank strip, with a view of the Yarra River on one side, and entertainment on the other and honestly, you could be anywhere.

For more info: You can check the Southbank website for any official events, but it’s best just to walk down on a warm summer’s night. Anytime around Christmas and New Year is destined to be fabulous.


Take an old-fashioned ride on the City Circle Tram

Taking a tram ride is such an iconic Melbourne activity, especially the City Circle Tram, that has been running since 1923 and travels through La Trobe, Flinders, Spring, Nicholson and Victoria Streets, covering Melbourne’s central business district. There’s audio commentary on board as well, revealing the attractions at each stop, as well as interesting facts along the way. The tram itself is an old school tram, with the old-fashioned bell and everything. It’s a true experience.
For more info: You can find out where the stations are at the PTV website

Go on a laneway street art tour

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could explore some of the many laneways that are packed to the brim with street art, as an iconic Melbourne feature. The most famous, Hosier Lane, is located just off Flinders Lane in the CBD and attracts tourists from far and wide. A few others to note are Duckboard Place, ACDC Lane, Union Lane, Degraves Street, Rutledge Lane and Rose Street, however, you can pretty much just wander through the CBD, Collingwood or Fitzroy and you’ll find your fair share of incredible street art murals and hidden laneways – you might even find a bar or two!

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