Dating doesn’t have to leave a dint in your bank account. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost a dime at all. From art galleries to free concerts, picnics and coffee appreciation classes, here are 10 free date ideas that are perfect whether you’ve just swiped right or been together a lifetime.
Picnic at the Royal Botanic Gardens
For a relaxing, leisurely date visit Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Covering 94 acres, the inner-city oasis features 11 picturesque lawns, a lake, and two restaurants. Plan a romantic picnic at Picnic Point and waste away the afternoon watching punt boats glide across the Ornamental Lake. Afterwards, take a stroll through the many unique gardens including Guilfoyle’s Volcano or take the self-guided Herbarium Discovery Walk.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Birdwood Ave, South Yarra, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9252 2300
Peruse Melbourne’s Night Market
Since 1998, Melbourne’s historic Queen Victoria Market has presented the annual Summer Night Market. Held on Wednesday nights from November to April, the Night Market features global food traders, artisan and vintage stalls, live musicians and roving entertainment. In 2016, the Winter Night Market was launched as an alternative to the summer series.
Queen St, Melbourne VIC Australia +61 3 9320 5822
Catch a Free Gig
Melbourne has a thriving music scene with gigs on every night of the week. While there are plenty of ticketed events, there are also many free shows you can attend. Venues including the infamous Cherry Bar hold both ticketed and free concerts and every summer The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra presents Sidney Myer Free Concerts at the iconic Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
Climb the 1,000 Steps
Couples who sweat together, stay together, right? Well, at the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk you can test each other’s endurance while taking in the beautiful scenery within the Dandenong Ranges. Colloquially known as the 1,000 steps, the track was built to honour the men who fought and died on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in World War II. The five-kilometre uphill hike includes 776 steps and takes take approximately two hours for people of moderate fitness levels to complete.
For a culturally cool date, visit the National Gallery of Victoria; Australia’s oldest and most popular art museum. Established in 1861, NGV holds a permanent collection of over 73,000 works spanning numerous periods, disciplines, and styles. While you will have to pay to visit special exhibitions, the main collection is free to see. Art gallery dates also give you an external conversation topic to fill the awaked silences.
Seven Seeds Cupping
Run by Seven Seeds, public cupping is the perfect date for caffeine-addicted couples. Hosted by Seven Seeds coffee roaster, the weekly sessions take participants through the process of cupping, which involves tasting, scoring, and comparing coffees side by side. Located in Carlton, Seven Seeds is one of Melbourne’s favourite micro-roaster and cafes. They also serve an all-day breakfast menu.
106-114 Berkeley St, Carlton VIC Australia +61 03 9347 8664
Stroll along Southbank
For a simple date take a stroll through Southbank. Stretching along the Yarra River from Princes Bridge to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Southbank is one of Melbourne’s popular precinct with top restaurants, bars, high-end retailers, hotels and Crown Casino. Spend a lazy afternoon meandering along the promenade and watch the skyline light up. After dark, marvel at the Gas Brigades that send fireballs into the sky every night.
See Brighton’s Beach Boxes
Bask in the sun and tick off a major tourist sight at Dendy Street Beach — home to the historic Brighton Bathing Boxes. Dating back to 1881, these 82 colourful weatherboard sheds were originally used as changing rooms. Today, they attract locals and tourists alike. Take a splash in the water, snap a few photos in front of the colourful beach boxes and enjoy the spectacular views of Melbourne’s cityscape.
Visit Federation Square
Whether you love it or loathe it, there’s no denying that Federation Square is the heart and soul of Melbourne. Not only is the modernist piazza home to world-class museums and art galleries such as ACMI and The Ian Potter Centre, there are also numerous restaurants and bars. Additionally, Fed Square hosts an evolving variety of free events, including exhibitions, guided tours, classes and more. You can even pull up a deck chair and watch televised events on the Screen.
I’m Free Walking Tours
Discover Melbourne hand in hand with I’m Free Walking Tours. Independent and locally owned, the company offers a Melbourne Sights Tour where you’ll discover the history and explore some of the most iconic attractions in Melbourne. Departing twice daily, the walking tour includes Melbourne’s laneways, Block Arcade, Flinders Street Station, Bourke St Shopping Mall, Old Melbourne Gaol, Carlton Gardens and so much more.