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This list of my favorite things to see and do in Melbourne is perfect for anyone visiting on a budget. There are tons of freebies in the city and it’s easily walkable. Melbs is bursting with eclectic culture and unique sights!

Be sure to explore the nooks and crannies of this city; there’s so much to be discovered.

Here are 15 free things to do in Melbourne!

  • St. Kilda

Snag breakfast at one of the many amazing restaurants on Acland Street. I really enjoyed window shopping along this famous street.

There are some pretty eclectic boutiques and bakeries with delicious treats filling the windows. Hit the beach for a sunrise stroll and get a glimpse of Luna Park.

Starting bright and early on the beach in St. Kilda

Starting bright and early on the beach in St. Kilda

  • The St. Kilda Esplanade Sunday Market

Every Sunday, hundreds of artisans line the Upper Esplenade showcasing their artistry and craftsmanship. You can easily take a stroll here from Acland Street in St. Kilda and get an eye full of the colorful artwork.

The St. Kilda Esplenade Sunday Market

The St. Kilda Esplenade Sunday Market

  • The Royal Botanic Gardens

From the Esplanade, you can walk north past Albert Park Lake to The Royal Botanic Gardens. You could spend DAYS here exploring the massive gardens that cover over 36 hectares with more than 50,000 plants!

These are by FAR the biggest and most beautiful gardens I have ever seen.

You can grab a map from one of the kiosks located along the walkways, visit the visitor center or walk the paths and discover the gardens on your own!

The Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens

  • Flinders Street Railway Station

When you’ve gotten your fill of nature head north of the Botanic Gardens on St. Kilda Rd. and cross the Yarra River to the CBD (Central Business District).

The beautiful and bright Flinders Street Railway Station was the very first railway station in all of Australia! You’ll know you’ve arrived in the CBD when you cross the bridge and run straight into the station.

Flinders Street Railway Station

Flinders Street Railway Station

  • The Ian Potter Centre

The Ian Potter Centre is part of the art collection of the National Gallery of Victoria and is located in Federation Square near the Railway Station on Flinders Street.

It is free to enter and full of incredible art. The exhibits rotate but when I was in Melbs there was a beautiful exhibit on Aboriginal art.

The Ian Potter Centre

The Ian Potter Centre

  • The Australian Center for the Moving Image

Screen Worlds is a free permanent exhibit at the ACMI that follows the development of the moving image through the story of film, television & digital culture.

There’s even an interactive Timeslice experience here inspired by the iconic ‘bullet time’ sequence in The Matrix. 36 cameras snap shots as you jump, flip or strike a pose capturing a 360° video that you can email to yourself.

Needless to say, I spent far too much time here.

The Australian Center for the Moving Image

The Australian Center for the Moving Image

  • The CBD

The streets of the CBD are lined with tons of restaurants, cafes and shops. Don’t be afraid to explore the alley ways as you never know what you might stumble upon. The best part of Melbourne was unexpectedly finding hidden treasures!

(Don’t forget to enjoy the tastes of the delicious city! Check out my post on good eats in Melbs!)

Walk the streets of the CBD (Central Business District)

Walk the streets of the CBD (Central Business District)

  • The Parliament Gardens

After walking north through the CBD head east on Lonsdale St. until you reach the statuesque Parliament building. The gardens here may be small, but the Coles Fountain is worth a visit.

This work of art turns into a splash zone as kids and adults alike pose inside the water! For this exact reason it’s great for people watching and a good laugh!

The Parliament Gardens and Coles Fountain

The Parliament Gardens and Coles Fountain

  • The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens

Just north of The Parliament Gardens, if you take Nicholson Street, you will reach Carlton Gardens. Enjoy a stroll through the beautiful Victorian era gardens and get a glimpse of the impressive Royal Exhibition Building that sits behind an incredible French Fountain.

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens

  • The Melbourne Museum

The Melbs Museum is located in Carlton Gardens just beyond the Royal Exhibition so it’s an easy next stop. Ok so it’s not free… but admission is only $10 so it’s still budget friendly!

I never get sick of museums and could spend all day winding through the exhibits.

Aside from dinosaur fossils, the museum has rotating exhibitions as well as a particularly great exhibit, The Melbourne Story, that has over 1200 collection objects detailing the unique history of the city.

The Melbourne Museum

The Melbourne Museum

  • Fitzroy

Walking northeast from the Carlton Gardens you will eventually reach the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy. This area of the city is one of my favorites with lanes lined with vintage shops, intimate cafes and the Rose Street Artists Market on weekends.

Be sure not to miss brunch or a beer on Brunswick Street!

Explore the quaint and quirky in Fitzroy

Explore the quaint and quirky in Fitzroy

  • The State Library of Victoria

I am OBSESSED with libraries. There is something so nostalgic about ceiling high shelves lined with old books. This library takes the cake!

The dramatic 6 story La Trobe Reading Room contains more than 32,000 books! The library is absolutely stunning and the outside lawn is a spectacle in itself- packed with students and lovers alike.

The State Library of Victoria

The State Library of Victoria

  • Chinatown

Heading south of the library you will reach Little Bourke Street. Home to fabulous food and Melbourne’s Chinatown! This Chinatown dates back to the gold rush days of the mid 1800’s and is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world.

Stop by for a look at some Chinese history!

Chinatown

Chinatown

  • Melbourne Street Art

Make some detours along the way to discover the spray-painted city streets. You’ll never know when you might find something unexpected!

Melbourne’s Graffiti Management Plan establishes permits for artists and endorses their work in designated areas of the city. The artwork is internationally celebrated and is hard to miss.

Discover the Graffiti and Street Art around the City

Discover the Graffiti and Street Art around the City

  • Melbourne at Night

Last, but probably my favorite freebie, is strolling Melbourne at night. The City Lights Project, the intimate lighting of the alleys and the amazing nightlife make this city something to truly marvel at!

Marvel at Melbourne at Night

Marvel at Melbourne at Night

As you can see, Melbourne is not only a budget-friendly destination, but it’s easily walkable! Be sure to let yourself get lost, chat with some locals and discover your own adventures in Melbourne!

Here’s a map for referencing my favorite freebies!

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What are your favorite freebies in Melbourne?

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Kiersten Rich
Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.