While Melbourne may have recently been voted the world’s most livable city, the surging Australian dollar means that travel here is no longer the bargain it used to be. Thankfully, many of the city’s most iconic attractions cost nothing. Here’s six of the best:
1. City Circle Tram
The burgundy-colored City Circle Tram rattles around the city’s perimeter and provides commentary on passing attractions. You can jump on and off as you please at the designated tram stops.
2. Melbourne’s laneways & arcades
From the cutting-edge street art on Hosiery lane opposite Federation Square to the Victorian arches and specialty shops of the Royal Arcade, this is a uniquely Melbourne experience you shouldn’t miss.
3. Federation Square
Traditionally if you wanted to meet a friend in the city you would meet ‘under the clocks’ at Flinders Street Station. These days, you’ll meet on the steps at ‘Fed Square’. Buzzing 7 days a week, Fed Square is home to a number of major tourist attractions and enjoys a central position on the Yarra opposite Flinders St Station.
4. Queen Victoria Market
The Queen Vic market has been around almost as long as the city itself! As well as the usual knock-offs, touristy trinkets and fruit & veg, you’ll find a fabulous deli section, a food hall, quality souvenirs and specialty shops. It’s standing room only on weekends.
5. Royal Botanical Garden
The Royal Botanical Garden has several gates but it is best to enter through the main entrance opposite the Shrine of Remembrance (also free) on St Kilda Road. There’s a lovely gift shop and café here plus sculptures and a children’s garden. Stroll to one of the garden’s many lakes and soak up the tranquil surrounds in the shade of an ancient tree.
6. Yarra River
Starting from Crown Casino in the west, you can wander east along the entire length of ‘the Yarra’. This route will take you past the Southbank complex (The Art’s Centre, restaurants, shops and cafes) to the rowing clubs and flowerbeds of Alexandra Gardens. You’ll get great views of Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, Birrarung Mar and (if you keep walking) the Melbourne Tennis Centre on the other side of the river.