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10 free things to do in Melbs

Published October 28th, 2015

Who's keen for a bit of penniless sightseeing in one of Australia's best visitor-friendly cities? Although Melbourne is certainly not the cheapest place to live, this cultural hub offers plenty of free experiences for in-the-know travellers. Here's our selection of the best freebies to add to your Melbourne list the next time you venture into the city limits.

1. Hop on a bike

Melbourne is a wonderful city for cycling, with a large number of cycling paths. The Merri Creek Trail, which runs through the city's northern suburbs, and the Yarra Trail, which follows the Yarra River to the east of the city, are among the best. If you don't have your own bike, hire one using the Melbourne Bike Share Scheme – it is free if returned within 30 minutes.

Rolling out the concrete carpet! #bikemelbourne #sculpture #melbourne

A photo posted by Hannah Gee (@hannahblairgee) on

2. Hunt for street art

The city is known for its diverse and eye-catching street art, which is – of course – free to view. Hosier Lane, a cobbled pedestrian laneway in the city centre, close to Flinders Street, is among the most famous street art sites in Melbourne – expect plenty of other camera-wielding tourists. Others include Centre Place (between Flinders Lane and Collins Street), and Canada Lane in Carlton, just north of the city centre.

3. Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens

Established in 1846, these gardens on Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra, provide a window into Melbourne’s more genteel past. They enclose the Shrine of Remembrance and now contain about 12,000 plant species. Open from 7.30am to dusk every day.

4. Eat at Lentil as Anything

Technically it's not free, but this not-for-profit vegetarian restaurant has a very novel payment policy where guests "contribute what they feel their meal and experience is worth, according to their own financial ability". The original restaurant is at Abbotsford Convent, a charming collection of historical buildings and gardens that have been transformed into a cultural and learning centre, and well worth a visit anyway. Other branches can be found in Footscray and St Kilda.

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5. Browse the Queen Victoria Market

Operating since 1878, these markets are one of Melbourne’s marvels and a source of constant delight. Half the fun is chatting to the stallholders and soaking up the atmosphere. 513 Elizabeth Street, City. Closed Monday, Wednesday and public holidays.

Sundays require coffee. And lots of it. The guys at @marketespresso will get you sorted ☕ #coffee #vicmarket #melbourne A photo posted by Queen Victoria Market (@vicmarket) on

6. Sit in Fed Square

Visitors to Federation Square, in the city centre, are welcome to hang out and watch the big screens, which play music, films and sports, for free. There are also several free events, such as live music and dance performances, and complimentary Wi-Fi is provided.

7. Visit the Grainger Museum

Percy Aldridge Grainger is best known for the folk tune Country Gardens, but this museum reveals many other sides to an eccentric Australian genius. Located at the University of Melbourne, Gate 13, Royal Parade, Parkville. Open Tuesday-Friday, and Sunday, 1pm-4.30pm.

  "What is a radical artistic intervention?" We're glad you asked #patrickpound #graingermuseum #niteart   A photo posted by Grainger Museum (@graingermuseum) on

8. Head to the beach

Public transport isn't free (barring the City Circle Tram, which run laps of the city centre, passing several key attractions, including Flinders Street Station and the Docklands), but for a few dollars' bus or ferry fare, you can catch a ride out to St Kilda, for its wide sandy beach, city views, and great sunsets, or Brighton, home to dozens of colourful bathing boxes.

9. Relax in Fitzroy Gardens

These pretty, landscaped gardens, on the south-eastern edge of the city centre, are perfect for an afternoon picnic and very popular for weddings. They contain an ornamental lake, a rotunda and a band pavilion, and are home to possums, lorikeets and – at night – flying foxes. Cooks' Cottage, the home of Captain James Cook's parents, is also found here. In 1933, it was deconstructed brick by brick, packed into 253 cases and 40 barrels, and shipped over from North Yorkshire to Victoria, before being rebuilt in the gardens.

A photo posted by Hershey (@hershey_yu) on

10. Study at the State Library

The reading rooms at the State Library of Victoria are free. As well as reading books, you can watch films and listen to music. Monday to Thursday: 10am-9pm; Friday to Sunday: 10am-6pm.

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This article was written by Oliver Smith and Mark Chipperfield from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning UK English language broadsheet newspaper, published in London by Telegraph Media Group and distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally.