A trip to Melbourne doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

In fact, it’s entirely possible to enjoy everything the city has to offer on a shoestring budget - great news if you’re a backpacker in Melbourne!

Are you on a tight budget? Did you spend most of your dough on a big night out on the town last weekend? Need something to do?

Whether you’re a backpacker or in the city for a brief stopover, there are plenty of free activities to check out.

Here are just a couple of them - courtesy of our hostel in Melbourne!

Have a picnic at the Royal Botanic Gardens

  •         Its official address is Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra, but it’s probably easier to gauge its location from a map!
  •        Open daily from 7:30am to sunset

With the weather slowly warming, there’s no better time to put together a barbecue or picnic with friends.

The world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens are one of Melbourne’s proudest institutions.

And it’s not hard to see why - in addition to being one of the most beautiful public gardens in the city, it’s also an important player in horticulture, education, and science.

And did we mention that it’s 100% free?

Take a stroll through its iconic landscapes which feature native plants from all over Australia.

Featuring 38-hectares and over 8,500 plant species from around the globe, this is the perfect place to spend a warm spring day.

And if you’re hungry, you can even claim one of the barbecues that line the Yarra just outside!

Melbourne hostel

Experience art for free at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)

  •          NGV International is located at 180 St Kilda Road
  •          NGV Australia is located at the Ian Potter Centre in Fed Square
  •          Free entry
  •       Open 10am-5pm daily

Featuring 70,000 works of art with a variety of paintings, there’s something for everybody to appreciate at the NGV.

The permanent collection features photography, prints and drawings, sculpture, fashion and furniture from around the world and history.

From the real-life Egyptian sarcophagus on display upstairs to mind-bending modern art exhibit with works from Picasso and Warhol, the entire art world is well-represented here.

It’s not just overseas artists either: explore the history of Australian art through works by Australian artists like Eugene von Guerard, John Longstaff, Tom Roberts and John Russell.


State Library of Victoria

  •         328 Swanston Street, CBD
  •         20-minute tram ride from Urban Central

Even if you’re not a big reader, you’ll still see magic at the State Library of Victoria.

Featuring centuries worth of books, magazines, and music, the State Library is more than just a library.

For the history buffs out there, it’s a museum in itself!

Feeling a bit lost? Take a free guided tour that runs you through the library’s history, its archives, and exhibits.

Check their website for schedules of tours that run every Tuesday except public holidays.

Browse more free events here.

Just remember to keep it down - it’s still a real library, after all!


Take a trip on the City Circle tram

  •         Also known as the Route 35 tram
  •         Trams run in both directions every 12 minutes (approx.)
  •         Run from 10am to 6pm Sunday to Wednesday
  •         Run until 9pm on Thursday-Saturday
  •         Approx 1 hour to complete a loop

Melbourne has a thing for trams, in case you haven’t noticed.

Going off length, we’re home to the world's biggest, even beating many European capitals (bet you didn’t know that!)

On a tram, visitors have a novel way to explore the sights and sounds of Melbourne.

Passing by City Museum, Parliament House, Fed Square and Princess Theatre, this trip is like a who’s who of Melbourne landmarks.

Best of all, since it’s located entirely in the free tram zone, this trip is 100% free-of-charge!

Melbourne backpackers


  • Various locations, but some of our favourites:
  • Centre Place
  • Hosier Lane
  • AC/DC Lane (yes, really!)
  • Meyers Place

In most other cities, the laneways and alleys are seedy places that are best avoided.

Not so in Melbourne!

One of the things that makes us stand out from the rest of Australia’s capitals is how we’ve reclaimed our alleys and laneways.

In fact, you’ll find that some of our best restaurants, cafes, and clubs are hidden away in some laneway.

Exploring everything Melbourne’s laneways has to offer is a surprisingly fun way to spend an afternoon.

Discover the art and history that make laneways like Centre Place, Hosier Lane and Tattersalls Lane (among others) totally unique.


Queen Victoria Market

One hundred and forty years - that’s how long Queen Victoria Market has been around.

And during that time, Queen Victoria Market has been a staple of Melbourne. If you ask us, your trip to the city isn’t complete if it’s missing this piece!

There’s something for everyone here:

  •         Fresh produce to either nibble on or save for dinner
  •         Toys and souvenirs to take back home
  •         Affordable, locally-made clothing and cosmetics

You’re not obliged to buy, either. If you’re content to just window shop or check out its vibrant atmosphere, that’s fine too.


Explore the history of Australian film at ACMI

You might not know it, but Australia has a rich history of film and television.

For example, did you know for example that the very first feature-length movie in the world was filmed right here in Melbourne?

They’re all here: from long-runners like Neighbours and Play School to Mad Max, this is the perfect place for a trip down memory lane.

More interested in the technical side of things? There are also plenty of exhibits that teach visitors about different editing and special effects techniques too.

If you’ve got kids with dreams of making it in Hollywood, this is a great place to start.

Finally, there’s interactive entertainment. Explore the past, present and future of gaming with a mix of locally-developed gems and international releases.



Looking for an affordable accommodation in Melbourne?

Book Urban Central today!

Oftentimes, the most expensive part of a trip to Melbourne is the accommodation.

Thankfully, with Urban Central that doesn’t need to be the case!

We offer a range of accommodation options. From shared dorms to private rooms with hotel-level comfort, we’ve got a room for every budget.

Based in Southbank mere minutes away from the CBD, our hostel in Melbourne is the perfect place to rest up while you explore everything Melbourne has to offer.

Are you a backpacker in Melbourne looking for an affordable place to stay? Book a room with us today!