Melbourne was one of the more expensive cities that we spent time in and with each of the dorm beds being $25 a night, we had to be frugal in our spending during the day. When we were not cooking up a storm in the hostel kitchen, we set out to the streets of Melbourne to see what free activities were available for us to indulge in. As budget backpackers we always make it a point to check out the free events in each city before we even thinkt of paying for something. Melbourne was one of our more favorable cities due to the variety of cultural events, museums, beaches, food, and creativity that the city had to offer. Every street that we walked down was a new venture towards a cultural and artistic site. Spend a day getting lost in the city and you are bound to find so much public art and artistic performances all over the city. We hope these events and tips that we were able to experience will help you in your trip to Melbourne, Australia!
Monday night comedy at Spleen Bar
Every monday night at 8:30pm there is a free comedy show at the local bar Spleen with various comedic artists that hit the stage each week. When we went there were comedy artist that used flip boards, guitars, audience participation, and other various props. The show lasts about 90 minutes and beers vary form $5-11. It’s a great place to catch some laughs and check out Aussie humor!
Franklin Square is the perfect place to find some alone time in the middle of this bustling city. I know I know, its smack dab in the middle of the city, how can you get any alone time here?! Trust me, I spent several days in this spot and was able to get a lot done! Grab a coffee, bring your journal or book and spend some time in this square soaking up the sun. There are Ted talks on the big screen, events advertised each week, and plenty of people for people watching!
Queen Victoria Market
This popular market is open during the week every day, except Monday and Wednesday, until 3:00pm and until 5:00pm on the weekends. This is the cheapest place you can go to purchase local fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and grains! We stopped by the market on a Sunday, which in my opinion is the best day to go due to larger crowd, live music, and street vendors that are there. We spent a Sunday afternoon sampling foods from around the world, listening to acoustic performers, and taking in the atmosphere of it all. This is a must see if you are in Melbourne- come hungry!
When arriving to a new city, we always try to hit up any free walking tours that are available. It helps with hitting the main sites, getting a sense of direction in the city, and provides so much history and general information that you wouldn’t get without doing it! This four hour walking tour will take you all around Melbourne City Center with some fascinating stories, great views, and tips for the best bars and food around town! You can check out more information about the tour here.
There are several museums in the Franklin Square that you can go to for free. One of the most interesting ones that we were able to go to was the Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI). When we were there in April there was an entire exhibit dedicated to the evolution of film and TV. It was a fascinating display that started from the very beginning of moving image all the way up to today. The exhibit features a lot of interactive exhibits. I would suggest to put aside two hours of your day if you plan to see each interactive aspect of this exhibit.
Batman Night Market
The Batman Night Market is a short 15 minute tram ride outside of the city and is definitely not a tourist spot. The night market is held every Saturday from 4:00-9:00pm and is located 14-22 Gaffney Street. At this market you will find street vendors from all over the world, live music, and local artists selling their crafts. I would recommend grabbing some grub from one of the local vendors, a local beer from the bar, and enjoy the live music that is offered. When we were there in April there was a live band playing Spanish music and one of the artists was from La Paz! You can check out the market’s website: here
St. Kilda and Brighton Beach
There are two beaches in the Melbourne area that many of the locals go to. St. Kilda is a busy beach area that is about a 15 minute tram ride from the center of the city. The beach is situated along a pier with bars, restaurants, and shops. The pier near it is a popular spot to watch the sunset and catch a view of a penguin or two! Brighton beach is popular for it’s iconic colorful beach houses that are situated in a row alongside the water. In order to get to Brighton you will need to take a train from Flinders Station. I would recommend that you bring your own sandwiches and snacks because there are not many places to purchase lunch from!