You don’t have to spend a fortune to see and experience Melbourne. In fact, there many things to do that won’t cost you anything. From museums to art galleries, yoga, and guided tours — these are the 10 best free things to do in Melbourne.
City Circle Tram
Introduced in 1994, the City Circle Tram is a free service that transports locals and tourists around Melbourne. Serviced by a fleet of heritage W-class trams, the route takes passengers through La Trobe Street, Flinders Street, Spring Street, Nicholson and Victoria Street. The tram ride also includes audio commentary describing some of Melbourne’s most famous landmarks.
Located in Federation Square, The Australian Centre for the Moving Image celebrates and explores the many forms of the moving image. Established in 2002, ACMI features two cinemas, multiple exhibition spaces, and the permanent and ever-evolving free exhibit Screen Worlds. Entry to ACMI is free; however, admission prices do apply for cinema programs and ticketed events.
Shrine of Remembrance
Opened in 1934, the Shrine of Remembrance is a state memorial built in honour of all Australians who have served in war and peacekeeping operations. Free to visit, the memorial houses various exhibitions containing over 800 objects, photos, and uniforms from the 1850s to the present day. For a small price, you can join a guided tour and further explore the Sanctuary, Crypt, and Galleries.
Shrine of Remembrance, Birdwood Ave, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9661 8100
Laneways and Street Art
Melbourne laneways are renowned for their ever-changing street art murals. From paste-ups to sticker art and stencils, Melbourne’s labyrinth of laneways are coated with thought-provoking images and messages. Even Banksy and ABOVE have left their mark in Melbourne. Some of the best areas to explore include Hosier Lane, Union Lane, ACDC Lane, and Duckboard Place.
State Library of Victoria
Opened in 1856, the State Library of Victoria is the oldest public library in Australia and one of the world’s first free public libraries. Today, the library holds more than two million books and 16,000 serials, and features seven reading rooms, spread across two acres. The library also contains the diaries of Melbourne founders John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner as well as the original armour worn by Ned Kelly.
Located on Spring Street, Parliament House is one of Melbourne’s most impressive buildings. When Parliament is not sitting, free public tours are conducted. Limited to 25 people, the tour explores the grand interiors of Parliament, including the Legislative Assembly, Legislative Council, Queen’s Hall, and the library. Express tours and architecture tours are also offered.
Spring St, East Melbourne VIC Australia +61 3 9651 8911
National Gallery of Victoria
Established in 1861 the National Gallery of Victoria is not only the oldest art museum in Australia but also the most popular, attracting more than two million visitors annually. In addition to major, temporary exhibitions, 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.
Ian Potter Centre
Housing NGV’s Australian Art Collection, the Ian Potter Centre showcases the history of Australian art from the Colonial period and Heidelberg School through to contemporary art, as well as works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. Located at Federation Square, the architecturally striking Ian Potter Centre is free to visit; however, fees may apply for special exhibitions.
The Old Treasury Building
Completed in 1862, the Old Treasury Building once held the fortunes acquired during the Victorian Gold Rush. Located on Spring Street, the 19th-century building is considered to be a prime example Australian Renaissance Revival architecture. Today, the Old Treasury Building acts a public museum showcasing the history of Melbourne and Victoria through original documents, photographs, and artefacts. Admission is free.
20 Spring St, Melbourne VIC Australia +61 3 9651 2233
Yoga at Fed Square
Free your mind and improve your physical wellbeing with free yoga classes at Federation Square. Presented by Derrick Leduc and Kaya Pilates Yoga Fitness the sessions are held on Tuesday afternoons in the Atrium and are suitable for all skill levels. Federation Square also hosts free weekly guided meditations presented by the not-for-profit community initiative, Calm in the City.