25 COMPLETELY Free Things To Do in Melbourne in 2024

Photo of author
Article written by: Rebecca
Last updated:

Looking for free things to do in Melbourne? In my budget-friendly guide, you’ll find plenty of ways to save some cash.

There’s no doubt that visiting Melbourne can be expensive. I’m a Melbourne local, so yes, I know very well how expensive this city can be!

But, luckily, there are also plenty of free things to do here. From galleries to wandering, entertainment to gardens, here are 25 absolutely, completely free things to do in Melbourne.

And if you’ve got a little cash to splash, then check out my guide to cheap things to do in Melbourne, which has more money-saving tips.

This blog post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you).

1. Explore Fed Square

In the heart of the city is Federation Square, a hub for art and culture. There are always public events on here – and most of them are free. Check out the current schedule and you’ll probably find free music concerts, movie screenings, sports on the big screens, meditation sessions and exhibitions. 

It’s also a great space to sit and relax after a big day of exploring the city.

Fed Square is home to plenty of restaurants and bars – but as you can imagine, these can be quite pricey given the location, so won’t be good for your Melbourne on a budget itinerary!

Fed Square offers plenty of free things to do in Melbourne - including airing sporting events outdoors
Watching the Australian Open for free at Fed Square!

2. Get nostalgic at ACMI

ACMI (formerly the Australian Centre for the Moving Image) celebrates all things visual: cinema, television, video games and more. There are interactive exhibits and plenty of interesting displays to occupy you for a few hours and stoke your nostalgia.

While there are paid cinema screenings and exhibitions, there’s still a lot to explore in the free exhibits. See what’s on at ACMI for your Melbourne visit.

The ACMI is not only super fun – it’s completely free to visit

3. Ride the free tram zone

If you stick within the Melbourne city limits you can enjoy public transport without spending a dime! This is one of my favourite Melbourne travel tips, especially if you’re visiting on a budget. The Free Tram Zone has a pretty decent spread over the CBD (central business district) and you don’t need a myki card to use it. 

Even though Melbourne is a very walkable city, there are times when your legs may need a bit of a break, so a tram is the perfect way to get from one side of the CBD to the other during your trip to Melbourne (PS. I have guides to a weekend in Melbourne, 3 days in Melbourne and 5 days in Melbourne to help you plan your itinerary).

There are handy announcements that alert passengers to when the tram is about to leave the Free Tram Zone, so you won’t accidentally go into the areas of the city where payment (and a myki card) is required. 

The Free Tram Zone is fairly extensive, so you can see many of Melbourne’s major attractions for free

4. Take a tour on the City Circle tram 

Don’t miss a free tour of the city on one of Melbourne’s historic City Circle trams. These heritage W-class trams ply route 35, running every 15 minutes from 10am and 6pm.

There’s onboard commentary that provides background information about important Melbourne attractions and landmarks. The tram passes Melbourne sights like the State Library Victoria, Parliament House, Federation Square and the Melbourne Museum.

It’s like a free guided tour of Melbourne’s main sights!

The City Circle tram in Melbourne is free, and provides visitors with an overview of the main Melbourne attractions
The heritage W-class trams are completely free – and come with onboard commentary

5. Chill out in the State Library Victoria

One of the grandest buildings in Melbourne, the State Library is more than just a library. Here you’ll find not only books (obviously), but also Ned Kelly’s armour, famous Australian artworks and exhibitions about Melbourne and Victoria.

It’s free to enter the library and wander around. Make sure you stop in at the recently reopened Queen’s Hall and the La Trobe Reading Room (go up the stairs so you can see this domed room from above).

There are free daily tours of the library that walk visitors through the highlights of the library. Tours run twice daily at 10.45am and 1.45pm (book online to secure a spot).

The State Library has no charge to visit
Make sure you take the stairs so you can get this view of the library

6. Wander along the Yarra River

Melbourne’s Yarra River (traditional name birrarung, meaning “place of mists and shadows”) is a lovely place to stroll along.

Wander along here on a sunny afternoon, people-watching as you escape the busy city streets. Walking and wandering is definitely one of the easiest free things to do in Melbourne!

One of the free things to do in Melbourne also gets you outside in nature - strolling along the Yarra River
The Birrarung (Yarra River) is the perfect place to chill out in Melbourne

7. Sample Melbourne’s markets

While you can easily spend plenty of money at any one of Melbourne’s wonderful markets, just having a wander about them is completely free.

The Queen Victoria Market is one of Melbourne’s most famous markets – and the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere. The Prahran Market and South Melbourne Market (try the famous dim sims) are also great markets for foodies.

If you’re really on a budget, you can fill up on free samples. It’s definitely one of the tastiest things to do in Melbourne for free!

Save money in Melbourne by tasting a few samples at one of the Melbourne markets
Tasting plenty of samples at the Queen Vic Market (although this was on a paid Ultimate Foodie Tour – one I highly recommend if you do have some cash to splash!)

8. Explore the laneways and arcades

Melbourne’s laneways are historic, once providing horse and cart access to buildings as well as being places of dodgy dealings.

These laneways are now pockets of street art, hidden bars, great restaurants and cafés, and boutique shops. Meander through the most well-known laneways, including Hosier Lane, Degraves Street and ACDC Lane, for a free street art tour.

Head to the gorgeous Royal and Block Arcades for a stroll. These arcades both have ornate decorations and a lot of history.

Street art in Melbourne is great to photograph - at no cost!
Take yourself on a free street art tour through Melbourne’s laneways

9. Take a free walking tour

I think that walking tours in Melbourne are the best way to explore the city. Like many cities around the world, Melbourne also has a few companies providing free walking tours. These tours cover history, culture, street art and coffee. 

I’m Free has a couple of different tours that run daily.

Of course, while these tours bill themselves as free, they’re actually “pay what you want”, so you will need to budget something for this activity.

10. Remember at the Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance memorial honours those Australians who have served and sacrificed their lives for their country. 

Entry is free to this peaceful spot in the city, which is surrounded by gardens and also has incredible views from the steps. 

Inside, you’ll find the Sanctuary, along with the Stone of Remembrance for all those buried overseas and in unmarked graves. Come by at 10.30am to see the ray of light shine on the Stone of Remembrance at 11am (symbolising the end of fighting of the First World War in 1918 at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month).

Insider’s tip: The views of Melbourne’s skyline from the steps of the Shrine are amazing!

There's no charge to visit the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne
The Shrine of Remembrance is free to visit

11. Relax in beautiful gardens

Melbourne is blessed with many gorgeous gardens that are perfect for a peaceful stroll or a budget-friendly picnic.

The Royal Botanic Gardens is almost in the heart of the city. Here, you can wander around and check out the glasshouse, rainforest, native Australian and foreign plants, rose gardens and ornamental lakes. Or, there are free guided walks so you can learn about the beautiful plants, trees and flowers you’re looking at.

The heritage-listed Fitzroy Gardens to the east of the CBD is also a great space for unwinding and exploring.

Both are great free places to visit in Melbourne when you need a bit of an escape to nature.

It’s free to wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens

12. Get cultured at our galleries

As Australia’s “Capital of Culture” you can bet there are plenty of art galleries across Melbourne. And most of them are actually free.

The NGV International (National Gallery of Victoria) is the oldest, largest and most visited gallery in Australia, and free entry includes access to most of the gallery.

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Fed Square houses thousands of Australian artworks. It’s also free to enter.

The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art is another must-visit. As the name suggests, at ACCA you’ll find contemporary artworks that are designed to be provocative. Entry is free and there are free Art in Focus tours on Sundays at 3pm (ACCA does ask that you register in advance so they can plan their tours).

So, check out one of the many free museums in Melbourne as a way to save some money and get a dose of culture.

A free exhibit I visited at the Ian Potter Centre

13. Watch the sunset at St Kilda Beach

There’s no charge for watching a beautiful sunset, and St Kilda is the place to be when the sun goes down. Take a seat along the foreshore and watch the sun sink into the horizon over Port Phillip Bay.

At St Kilda Pier you can also spot the little penguins waddling back to shore at dusk (no flash photography allowed). This is one of the cutest free activities in Melbourne.

It’s also one of the best activities for little ones – check out my full guide to what to do in Melbourne with kids.

Sunsets are always free!

14. Wander Birrarung Marr

In the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people, Birrarung Marr means “river of mists”, a name that recognises the traditional name of the Yarra River – Birrarung – and the mist – marr – that often floats over the river.

Sitting alongside the Yarra River and Fed Square, Birrarung Marr is home to many sculptures, including the Birrarung Wilam installation which celebrates Victoria’s Indigenous cultures.

There’s also a children’s playground and there are often festivals depending on the time of year.

Shields representing the five language groups of the Kulin Nation at Birrarung Marr

15. Laugh at a free comedy show 

Laugh yourself silly about how much money you’re saving on your visit to Melbourne while you’re at a free comedy show.

A handful of the free comedy shows that can be found through the city are:

16. Rock out at Australian Music Vault

Immerse yourself in all things Aussie music at the Australian Music Vault. This exhibit inside the Arts Centre Melbourne has plenty of memorabilia, including concert posters and costumes worn by famous Australian performers.

It’s open daily, so you can visit for free no matter when you’re in Melbourne.

17. Catch some free live music

Melbourne is one of the world’s greatest live music cities – and there are a lot of free gigs.

With so many live music venues in Melbourne, the best way to find free gigs is to check out Beat (check the “free events” button to filter the free stuff). They’ll list the best free entertainment in Melbourne on any given day.

You can often find free live music around Melbourne

18. Take in a free show at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl

Still on music, in summer in Melbourne you can catch free concerts with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. This outdoor venue hosts performances throughout most of the year, but in January and February you can catch the freebies (book in advance).

19. Tour Melbourne Town Hall

Take a free tour behind the scenes of one of Melbourne’s most iconic buildings, Melbourne Town Hall.

Tours run twice a day weekdays (except Tuesday) at 11am and 1pm. You do need to book online to secure a spot.

20. Explore Parliament House

One for political junkies, you can watch a session of Victorian parliament at Parliament House

Even if you’re not interested in politics, this is one of the most prominent buildings in Melbourne, and architecture enthusiasts will love touring it to learn more about its history. Tours run multiple times a day on non-sitting days, with no bookings required.

Take a free tour of Parliament House

21. Hang out at a free festival

Before you book your trip to Melbourne, check out what’s happening across the city. At any given time you’ll find free street festivals celebrating our multicultural heritage, free art and photography exhibitions, free food festivals and more. 

Melbourne is an incredibly vibrant city with plenty going on, and these free festivals will definitely help save you money while still providing you the chance to enjoy the city. The only thing you’ll have to pay for is food and drinks.

22. Chill out at the beach

Nothing beats a day at the beach, and Melbourne offers some great options – all for free. Whether you’re looking to relax on the sand, enjoy a swim or just take in the ocean views, these beaches are perfect:

  • St Kilda Beach: Famous for its bustling pier and penguins, St Kilda Beach is a must-visit. It’s Melbourne’s most famous beach.
  • Brighton Beach: Known for its iconic colourful bathing boxes, Brighton Beach is great for relaxing, swimming or even a windsurf when the wind picks up.
  • Altona Beach: More of a local’s spot, this beach is perfect for families or those seeking a more peaceful beach experience.

Chilling out at the beach is a fantastic way to enjoy Melbourne’s natural beauty without spending a dime. Just pack a picnic, a towel, and your sunscreen, and you’re set for a day of relaxation and fun.

Even in winter, there are still plenty of people out walking their dogs or braving the freezing waters.

23. Go for a hike

Want to save some dough and get a workout? There are plenty of fantastic hiking trails in and around the city, ranging from easy walks to more challenging treks.

I’m always willing to lace up my boots for free at the 1,000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk. Yes, it’s very busy on weekends, but it’s a beautiful spot amongst the lush rainforest.

I also love the hikes at Warrandyte State Park – you will need a car to get to these spots, however.

Don’t want to leave the city? Then join the fit people on The Tan. Circumnavigating the Royal Botanic Gardens, this almost 4 km track is an iconic part of Melbourne and perfect for a leisurely walk or a vigorous run.

Hiking in the Dandenong Ranges – free other than the transport to get here!

24. Check out the street entertainers

On weekends – and most weekdays as well – Melbourne’s streets are graced by talented (and, um, not so talented…) street performers, turning the city into a dynamic stage.

From musicians and magicians to living statues and acrobats, you’ll usually find someone singing their heart out or strumming an instrument. The best spots for this free entertainment are the Bourke Street Mall and Southbank Promenade (particularly near the Southbank Pedestrian Bridge).

Of course, while this impromptu entertainment is completely free, you can always show your appreciation with a small donation.

25. Enjoy the people watching

Like most big cities, Melbourne is a melting pot of cultures, styles and personalities, which means there’s plenty of people-watching in the city.

From hurried businesspeople to leisurely cafe-goers, strolling tourists to fully made-up goths, people-watching in Melbourne is intriguing – and free.

On a sunny day, sitting on the lawn in front of the State Library Victoria is always a good people-watching spot. Grab some snacks and a picnic blanket.

Found this article useful? Consider buying me a coffee as a way to say thanks!

So, there you have it. There are plenty of free things to do in Melbourne to help your wallet. Which free Melbourne activities are you planning to enjoy when you visit?

Related posts

Before you go… you might like these other handy Melbourne travel blogs:

Best Melbourne resources


Save this guide to free things to do in Melbourne so you can plan your budget trip soon!


I’m Rebecca, a Melbourne local excited to show you the best of Melbourne. I've visited more than 40 countries and have a Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management. After living abroad for 8 years, I’m back home in Melbourne, rediscovering this city that I love and have missed. My aim is to help you find the best things to do in Melbourne.

Leave a Comment