The 10 Best Free Things to do in Melbourne

Experience some of Melbourne's best for nothing. Nada. Squat!
Content creator for hospitality & tourism. I spent a decade exploring Melbourne, and operated a walking tour company.
State Library of Victoria Melbourne 2
The Reading Room at The State Library

Melbourne doesn’t need to be expensive. Use our guide to explore awesome Melbourne attactions, completley free of cost!

Hosier Lane

Flinders St, Melbourne

Free

Highly recommended

Melbourne is well-loved for its amazing cobblestone laneways, and Hosier Lane is a perfect example. About 80 metres in length, Hosier Lane is filled with colourful street art from local street artists. Walk down the cobblestones and chances are that you’ll see an artist laying down some new art. Our favourite piece is by Adnate – he painted a portrait of an indigenous boy down the side of a nearby office building.

Hosier Lane frequently changes as old pieces are painted over, so plan some time in between your visits and chances are you’ll have a different experience.

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Cobblestone laneways, filled with culture. Explore them all!

Yarra River

Melbourne

Free

The Yarra River stretches for 242 kilometres, but there are just a couple of kilometres that Melbournians love. Running directly through the CBD, with Southbank on one side and Flinders Street on the other side, it’s a very lively area.

Walking along Southbank you’ll come across buskers, installations, and even Crown Melbourne’s Gas Brigade, a night-time show that shoots giant fireballs into the sky; one of the best things to do in Melbourne.

Carlton Gardens

Carlton St, Carlton

Free

Highly recommended

The Carlton Gardens is a world heritage-listed garden that spans over 64 acres, and is one of the best gardens in Melbourne. It is home to the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Museum, and IMAX Cinema.

The gardens feature ornamental lakes, flowerbeds, elaborate fountains and many beautiful trees; it is also a popular spot for picnics.

In the middle of the Carlton Gardens, you’ll find the Royal Exhibition Building, where the Australian federal parliament was opened back in 1901.

Related:

Once called the 'Garden State,' Victoria is home to many beautiful gardens.
111 Sturt St, Southbank

Free

The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art is exactly that; a modern building showcasing some of Australia’s more progressive installations. The building itself is a contrast between new and old; finished in 2002, the rusty steel façade contrasts with the shiny glass surface of the interior. Exhibitions are always free.

Birdwood Ave, Melbourne

Free

Highly recommended

The Shrine Of Remembrance, located in King’s Domain, is a memorial dedicated to all Australians who have fought in our wars. Built over 7 years, The Shrine was completed in 1934 and is the site of the annual observance of ANZAC Day.

Half the experience of visiting The Shrine is simply walking up its expansive front walkway; it’s an absolutely incredible monument.

Inside you’ll find several exhibitions showcasing stories and historic events from soldiers and the wars they fought in. Entry is free, however, we encourage making a small donation.

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Hidden bars, beautiful views, lush gardens, and so much more.
Spring St, East Melbourne

Free

Constructed between 1855 and 1929, Parliament House sits at the intersection of Bourke & Spring St and is Melbourne’s political hub.

When parliament isn’t sitting, they run free tours of the building every day. Each tour is limited to 25 people, and you’ll get to walk through the chambers and learn the history of Melbourne politics. After that, perhaps go for a drink at a nearby cocktail bar.

328 Swanston St, Melbourne

Free

Highly recommended

Right in the heart of the city is the State Library of Victoria, home to over 2 million books. It is a incredible building and houses a cafe, bookstore, art exhibitions and much more.

The drawcard is the Reading Room dome, designed to hold over a million books and up to 600 readers. It was officially opened in 1913 and was inspired by the British Museum in London and the Library of Congress in Washington. Upon completion, it made the State Library of Victoria the largest building of its kind in the world.

Now it’s a beautiful attraction, and very easy to spend an hour or so just wandering around.

Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne

Free

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is an art facility built to preserve and showcase Victorian, Australian and international screen content. ACMI rotates exhibitions regularly and often includes interactive works; at the time of writing, it’s home to a virtual reality experience.

ACMI also screens new release films on their two cinema screens. Tickets will cost you, but prices are reasonable.

National Gallery of Victoria

180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Free

Highly recommended

The National Gallery of Victoria is Australia’s oldest, largest and most visited art museum. Home to over 70,000 different works, you’ll find pieces from some of history’s most respected artists.

Their rotating exhibitions have celebrated Monet, Andy Warhol, Man Ray and many more renowned artists. The good news is, that the NGV constantly hosts free exhibitions, so you’re welcome to wander around and explore.

The NGV also runs the Ian Potter Centre, a gallery at Federation Square and home to their collection of Australian art. This is also a free exhibition

Related:

Local artists, cobblestone laneways and artwork by Banksy.

City Circle Tram

Melbourne

Free

Highly recommended

The City Circle Tram – also known as route 35 – is a free tram that constantly runs in a loop through the city centre. It’s a great way to explore more of Melbourne without having to pay for a ticket. You’ll travel past Flinders St Station and all the way past the State Library of Victoria.

Our Tip: This tram is 100% free; you won’t need a Myki card.

About the author:

Taylor B

Taylor B

Taylor was born and raised in Tasmania. He moved to Melbourne to study Film & television, and went on to start a marketing agency for hospitality. Whilst in Melbourne he also founded a walking tour company. He has a love for rock 'n' roll bars & New York-style pizza. In 2020 he was amongst the top 1% of Frank Sinatra listeners on Spotify.
Contents: Free Things

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