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11 Free Things To Do in Melbourne When You're on a Budget

Everyone loves a freebie, that’s a fact. Don’t get us wrong, we love top-notch dinners and extravagant nights out as much as the next person, but our bank balances (unfortunately) aren't quite as forgiving. 

But in a city as buzzy as Melbourne, there are plenty of events and fun things to do that won't cost you and arm and a leg. In fact, a lot of them are completely free. So if you're strapped for cash until payday, take inspiration from our budget-friendly edit. Your bank balance can thank us later.

1. Savvy stroll

Whether you like a gentle stroll or prefer your walks a little more strenuous, Melbourne has a scenic track to suit everyone. Soak up the buzzing atmosphere of a park track in the inner city or indulge in a spectacular beachside promenade. Don your comfy runners and head out to some of our  favourite tracks, like the Capital City Trail in Southbank or the ever-popular Tan. 

2. Bike on a budget

From urban laneways to winding riverside paths, Melbourne is a bike lover’s paradise – you just need to know where to ride. So grab your active wear and hone your cycle form on one of these beautiful bike paths  around town. Don’t own a bike? Melbourne Bike Share  starts at just $3 and there are docks all around the city.  

3. Get your art fix

There are so many free art galleries in Melbourne. Whether it’s paintings, photography or sculptures, you’re more than covered with the city’s array of exhibitions and gallery spaces (that won’t cost you a penny!). Check out our guide to the 2019 exhibitions you won’t want to miss out on, like the Baldessin/Whiteley one at the NGV or LOVE at the Immigration Museum, which showcases love stories across all ages, ethnicities and sexual orientations. 

4. A day in the park

Whether you want a stroll, a run or lets be real – a midday nap – Melbourne’s got a park for you. We’re lucky enough to have the Royal Botanic Gardens right in the middle of the city. Perfect when you’re in need of a little frolic for free. Or, for BYO picnics and lazing about with a good book, these beautiful parks tick every box. 

5. Beautiful beaches

Whilst Melbourne isn't famed for its beach culture, the stretches of surrounding coastline can pleasantly surprise, weather permitting. Offering the perfect escape from chaos of the city and (inevitably) the temptation of spending a fortune on food, clothes and well – just about everything really. 

See our full guide to the best beaches, our favourite being St Kilda. Don’t miss the sunset from the pier, which is the perfect vantage point to watch the world go by (and the penguins!). 

6. Window shop till you drop

Ok, so this one can be potentially dangerous for your wallet, but with a little bit of self control – window shopping can be quite a fun thing to do. Head to one of Melbourne’s many shopping strips for a day of window retail therapy. From the sleek boutiques of the Melbourne CBD (we love playing designer dress ups!) to the op-shops of Fitzroy, a day of window shopping can be a great way to check out what you want to buy later – when there’s a sale on, of course. 

7. Head to the markets

Keeping on the shopping theme, a walk around Queen Victoria Market is another great free thing to do in Melbourne, if not just for the tasty samples. You’ll be able to peruse the sheds of fresh fruit, veg, meat and dairy, and there are always stalls handing out free samples (linger a little longer in the cheese section for a frugal fromage binge.) 

8. Take a hike

Looking to go bush, but not venture too far from Melbourne? Check out our guide to hiking routes that’ll make you feel like you’re miles away from the hustle and bustle. Our favourite is The Werribee Gorge Circuit, complete with some steady climbs and river crossings, this 10km bush walk offers a genuine taste of outback all within an hour of the CBD

9. Money-saving music

Catching your favourite gigs can be an expensive business, given the pretty steep prices of music venues and festivals. However, there are a number of places across the city where you can watch live music for free. If you’re a purse-friendly muso, check out our guide to live music in Melbourne.  Our pick – Cherry Bar for a diverse range of rock, pop, techno, funk and punk every night of the week. 

10. Cheap jokes

It’s easy to get amongst free live comedy every night of the week in Melbourne. Head to Spleen Bar on Mondays, which often has drop-ins from top quality comedians like Wil Anderson, or put your name down at the open comedy mic at Caz Reitop’s Dirty Secrets in Collingwood. 

11. Library time

The State Library's extravagant Dome Reading Room may draw in the crowds – on any given day there are swarms of Instagrammers vying to get that perfect shot – but we’re just as happy to spend the day perusing and reading books as we are taking photos of them. There are also free daily tours of the library’s hidden spots and old rooms which are usually closed off to the public.  

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