Melbourne is voted as the world’s most livable city. It is known for its world-class restaurants and cafes, galleries and museums, and as the cultural and sporting capital of Australia.
This is just among the reasons why you should visit Melbourne.
However, this hip metropolitan city is also famous for its high cost of living. That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy Melbourne on a budget.
So without further ado, here are the 7 fun and free things to do in Melbourne, Australia.
7 Fun and Free Things To Do In Melbourne, Australia
1. Enjoy the free trams in the city
Melbourne has the largest streetcar network in the world, so it’s no surprise that getting on a tram is a huge attraction.
There are two forms of free trams in the Melbourne CBD – Yarra Trams within the free tram zone, and the City Circle Tram.
The City Circle Tram is specifically for tourists and takes you to all the major tourist attractions located around CBD including parks, Parliament House, shopping districts, theatres and of course, Flinders Street Station – all in the comfort and style of a heritage tram.
2. Check out the local wildlife in Serendip Sanctuary
Serendip Sanctuary just outside of Geelong and only 60km from Melbourne is a free wildlife sanctuary run by Parks Victoria. Everyone will love getting up close with the local wildlife in this small but delightful sanctuary.
You can walk through the different animal enclosures and see the animals in their native habitat. The kangaroos and wallabies are chilled out, taking a rest under the shade of big trees.
There are a bird hide and wetlands home to 150 bird species. There’s a pond where kids use nets to fish for insects.
The sanctuary does not have shops, so pack a picnic lunch or bring some snacks. There are toilets, BBQ facilities and plenty of picnic tables.
3. Meet the Little Penguins on St Kilda Pier, Melbourne
There is a secret nightlife to be found in Melbourne, and it costs nothing to see.
Little Penguins inhabit the breakwater area at the very end of St Kilda beach.
Head on down at dusk, go through the gate at the end where there is an information board and a donation box (not mandatory to donate).
Read the signage on the history of the little penguins and how they came to live here.
Most people travel to Philip Island to see these cute little birds, but this is so much more special and does not take the best part of the day to do.
Please do not shine torches at the penguins or use flash photography. Keep to the path and don’t go onto the rocks where they nest.
4. Have fun at ACMI Museum
ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) is an excellent free museum located in Federation Square in the center of Melbourne.
It’s lots of fun for all ages. The permanent exhibition is called Screen Worlds and details the 110 years of the moving image. It is about the beginning of film, television, games, the internet, and the digital age.
It tells this story through screens, media, and memorabilia. It is a lot of fun with many interactive exhibits including many game consoles and I find it fun to relive my childhood with the old games.
The exhibits show the start of early Australian television as well as things like the evolving Australian accent. It is easy to spend a lot of time here.
5. Play at Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden
If you are traveling to Melbourne with kids, you will definitely want to visit the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden.
This free garden is amazing for little ones with lots of space and activities for kids to play and explore nature. There’s a small creek and you can make and sailboats down it.
There’s also a treehouse and a vegetable garden.
It covers a large area with lots of different parts which makes it easy to get away from the crowds when it’s busy.
It’s located in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens so you can also explore that in the same visit (also free) and close to the Shrine.
6. Hiking in the Dandenong Ranges
You do not have to look too far outside of Melbourne to experience the beauty of the southern alpine region, just head up to the Dandenong Ranges.
The Sherbrooke trail, in particular, is an amazing 7km walk through low lying fern forests, and towering Stringybark gum trees.
Keep an eye out for a family of wild kangaroos, quite common in this part of the woods. If you’re lucky you may even spot a rare lyrebird!
7. Learn at the State Library of Victoria
Established back in 1854, the State Library of Victoria was one of the very first free libraries to be developed worldwide.
Today it is a state-of-the-art facility boasting possibly the fastest free WIFI in Melbourne, stacks of books, a number of permanent and rotating exhibits and an area specifically for kids.
For families visiting the State Library of Victoria, seek out the Play Pod for under rights which offers a creative space focused around a chosen theme. It was Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are! when we visited but changed regularly.
The library provides the books, role-playing equipment, craft supplies and resources you’ll need to create, play and read based on the theme. It’s all free and well worth stopping by.
One of the highlights for most visitors is the original armor worn by the infamous Ned Kelly, including his iconic mask.
It is behind glad to prevent visitors from touching it, but it is completely authentic and a historic wonder that surely can’t be missed.