Whether you’re a traveller who has yet to experience Melbourne – or a local who has spent their entire holiday bonus on novelty gifts and can no longer afford that post-Christmas getaway – there are an abundance of reasons to get out and explore the city formerly known as Batmania*.
Forty reasons, in fact. All listed here. Just waiting for you to mark them with an overzealous tick of accomplishment.
And if your bank account is looking emptier than a naughty kid’s Christmas stocking, you might like to start from the top where we’ve listed our favourite picks that’ll cost you zilch. Consider it our belated Christmas gift to you.
*Yes, that’s true. And yes, Melbourne is cool enough to pull off a name like Batmania.
Best Free Things To Do in Melbourne
(When all you’re retrieving from your pocket is old tissues)
Alfred Crescent, Fitzroy North VIC 3068
Spend a day dozing under the grand European elm trees and the surrounding hipsters in their local habitat will become but a distant blur.
A photo posted by Pauline Lucas (@pos_38) on
Corner Swanston St & Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000 Some say ugly. Some say architectural masterpiece. You be the one to decide.
Federation Square Melbourne A photo posted by Phil Simpson (@philsimpson89) on
287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
A modern interpretation of a historical icon, the Emporium will impress. Entry is free. Losing restraint may come at a cost.
Monday shopping motivation doesn’t get sweeter than this! If you fancy one of these marvellous macaron’s from the king of reimagined sweet treats, @zumbopatisserie find our roaming Bell Hop trolley until 8pm tonight. #emporiumchristmas #melbcbdxmas
A photo posted by Emporium Melbourne (@emporiummelbourne) on
Sunset in Melbourne #Melbourne #Yarrariver #sunset #SouthbankMelbourne A photo posted by kalet amengual (@kaletamengual) on
5. Hosier Lane
With graffiti more art-like; less juvenile delinquent-like.
A photo posted by Dr Nic – Sydney Pet Vet (@sydneypetvet) on
Birdwood Ave, Melbourne VIC 3001 Pay your respects to the soldiers who did us proud.
Shrine Of Remembrance. #Melbourne #eternalflame #shrineofremembrance #bluesky A photo posted by @samuel1984 on
Sassafras VIC 3787
You can attempt the gruelling thousand-step Kokoda Walk; or alternately admire the lush surroundings while remaining horizontal.
A photo posted by Janny (@jqnnyl) on
Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra VIC 3141 Chosen venue for the Moonlight Cinemas, more than 10,000 plant species from around the world and romantic guys wanting to propose.
328 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
If you love the smell of old books as much as the smell of Subway cookies, then this place is for you.
A photo posted by Alicia P (@mrfrankiejunior) on
Corner Flinders Lane and Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Like something out of a Harry Potter novel, this imposing structure is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Day 2 in Melbourne office #stpauls #design #architecture #melbourne A photo posted by @missem.88 on
Best Things To Do in Melbourne Under $20
(If it’s under a twenny, you just can’t lose. Right?)
117 Swan Street, Richmond VIC 3121
When your conscience is left feeling as clean as the wholesome food on your plate, you know you’re in for a winner. Tuck into the Cherry Tree organic slow cooked lamb joint with harissa for an evening feast ($18pp).
Forget the gloominess outside, we’ve got the warm weather vibes here at Feast of Merit ☀️ captured here is the Walking on Sunshine superfood slice by @nutritiondarling and a Summer Gold coffee made with Nicaraguan single origin beans from @st_ali. Tastes just like summer! #feastofmerit #ygap #socent #cafelyf #stali #nutritiondarling #superfood #summerfeels #healthy #rawfood
A photo posted by Feast Of Merit (@feastofmerit) on
Eureka Skydeck 88, Riverside Quay, Southbank, Melbourne VIC 3006 Nerves of steel or mind of mash? Either way, you gotta be bold or bonkers to experience the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing platform. (Adult Skydeck $19.50).
194 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3066 Stepping into this welcome addition to the Collingwood food scene is like stepping right into modern Vietnam. The tasty street food is only rivalled by the charming rustic interior. Try the rice paper rolls ($6 for two).
26 Errol Street, North Melbourne VIC 3051
Hit the Comic’s Lounge for a cheap-as-chips night of belly laughs. Tuesday 13th January sees the country’s top comedians try out new material to an enthusiastic audience ($15pp).
A photo posted by The Comics Lounge (@thecomicslounge) on
Cnr. Victoria St and Elizabeth St, Melbourne VIC 3000 A feast for the eyes as much as the belly, the Vic Market (as it’s affectionately known) is a bustling shopping and produce mecca. Head there on Wednesday nights in summer for a foodie extravaganza (5pm-10pm). Entry is free, but you’re sure to splash a twenny on some tucker.
Melbourne. #vicmarket #pretty #melbourne #playtime #sunshine #market #fun #city #colour #winter #playingtourist #melbwinter #seevictoria A photo posted by Hanah (@hanahheart) on
7 Templestowe Rd, Victoria 3105
Get all cultured and whatnot at one of Melbourne’s most important cultural institutions. Check out the current exhibition Arthur Boyd: Brides. (Adult admission $16).
A photo posted by Heide Museum of Modern Art (@heidemoma) on
18 Lower Esplanade, St Kilda VIC 3182 Whether it’s the hair-raising dips and bends (or the unnerving fact that it’s the world’s oldest continually operating roller coaster) this thing is sure to get your heart pumping. (Adult single ride, $10.95).
Things are heating up down at Melbourne’s Luna Park. We’re all ready for Melbourne United’s Family Fun Day, make your way down to meet the players and watch Ricki Lee perform! A photo posted by Luna Park Melbourne (@lunaparkmelb) on
Stall 91, Cecil St, South Melbourne VIC 3205
Made famous by the late chef Ken Cheng over 60 years ago, these steamed, fist-sized cases of pork-veg deliciousness are still sold in abundance at the South Melbourne institution ($1.60 each). And when you’re finished…
A photo posted by Adrian Fernand (@adrianfernand) on
9. Eat dumplings in Chinatown
342 Little Bourke St, Melbourne …Because dimmies and dumplings go hand in hand, right? Head to Shanghai Dumpling House for some of the best. ($15 all you can eat).
I love Chinatown #melbourne A photo posted by Nicole Levy-Atkinson (@nicolesatkinson) on
10. Catch a gig at the Espy
11 The Esplanade, St Kilda VIC 3182
There’s nothing like the lingering smell of beer fused with head banging beats. The iconic St Kilda venue is the perfect place to catch a grassroots performance while the sun sets over Port Phillip Bay in the background. Head to HOT PIECE Mini Fest featuring a rad line up of local acts ($13.60+bf).
A photo posted by The Espy (@theespygram) on
Best Things To Do in Melbourne Under $50
(If you have to, “borrow” a pineapple from your best mate)
Rathdowne St, Carlton VIC 3053 Nothing beats the cinemas. Except IMAX. Which is basically the cinemas on ‘roids. Check out the year’s hottest film, Interstellar for only $28. That’s Matthew McConaughey in space for those of you playing at home.
Ever wondered how a theatre like IMAX would go about upgrading their screen, projection system and sound system? http://t.co/qfllOvlPNe — IMAX Melbourne (@IMAXMelbourne) May 14, 2013
Ozmosis Harbour Town, 101 Waterfront Way, Docklands VIC 3008
The giant wheel that either mars the city skyline or enhances it (depending on which side of the fence you sit on) has had its fair share of problems in the past. Now its back, better than ever and there’s no doubting the attraction provides some stellar views of Melbourne. (Adult, $32).
A photo posted by Tiffany Garvie (@tjgarvie) on
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Brunton Avenue, Melbourne VIC 3000 View exhibitions that showcase the history of Australian football, cricket, the MCG, Olympics and stacks more. Definitely one for the sport fanatics who can recite stats from decades ago. (Adult, $30).
King St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Walk among more than 10,000 species, including one of the world’s largest saltwater crocs. There are plenty of other friendlier, less-toothy creatures to admire, too. (Adult, $34.20 online)
Dust of your dancing shoes, there is going to be a WHOLE lot of fun at Melbourne Aquarium these school holidays! http://t.co/mQa4Gk9L
— Melbourne Aquarium (@melbaquarium) March 23, 2012
Federation Square Flinders Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Melbourne’s hub of art, film and digital culture. Check out the upcoming David Bowie is exhibition, running from July–November 2015. (Adult, $25).
105 Pearl River Road, Docklands VIC 3008
Glide elegantly like an ice princess… or hug the wall like the scaredy cat you really are. Either way, laughs are almost guaranteed. Extra points for re-enacting a scene from Frozen. (Adult with skate hire, $26).
— Medibank Icehouse (@Ice_house) April 3, 2014
7. Catch a cricket game at the MCG
MCG, Brunton Ave, Richmond VIC 3002 If you’re lucky enough to be in Melbourne over summer, it’s a rite of a passage to attend a rollicking cricket match at the ‘G. BYO crazy outfit and Aussie spirit. (Adult Active Area A or B, $49).
377 Russell St,Melbourne VIC 3000
Spend ‘A Night In The Watch House’ on this one-hour night tour of one of the eeriest sites in Melbourne. Explore the original cellblock inhabited by the likes of Squizzy Taylor, Chopper Reid and various other unsavoury characters. (Adult, $38)
A photo posted by Jasmine Moseley (@jazintown) on
7/252 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Catch a flick at arguably the best rooftop in Melbourne, while sipping ciders and relishing the starry night. Cult classic Beetlejuice is showing on January 18th so get in quick. (Ticket, $22 +bf).
The Esplanade, Sorrento Fancy a trip outside of the big smoke? For only $22 return for adults on foot, you can jump on this hulking vessel and travel the short journey across the bay to the quaint little town of Queenscliff, where you can enjoy the day. The journey itself is worth it, with dolphins often escorting you along the way.
Port Phillip Bay 10.33am #queenscliffferry A photo posted by Barbara Luppino (@barbluppino) on
Best Things To Do in Melbourne Under $100
(Because sometimes you just need to splash out)
Springs Lane, Fingal VIC 3939, Australial
Experience heaven just 90 minutes from Melbourne at the idyllic Hot Springs. With two magnificent bathing facilities and a top-notch restaurant, you’ll never want to leave. (Adult Spa Dreaming Centre off peak pass, $55).
The sun is beaming through the clouds this morning. #peninsulahotsprings A photo posted by Peninsula Hot Springs (@peninsulahotsprings) on
2. Catch a show at the Palais Theatre
Lower Esplanade, St Kilda VIC 3182 The landmark St Kilda venue has been rocking since 1927 and has seen the likes of ACDC, Joe Cocker and the Rolling Stones. Catch legendary band Foreigner on Thursday 29th January for $99 (Silver Reserve Seating).
HUGH LAURIE- Sat 19 April, 2014 Welcome! #palaistheatre #st Kilda #marquee #hughlaurie A photo posted by PalaisTheatre (@palaistheatre) on
111 Spring Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Poise those pinkies! Serving traditional afternoon tea since 1883, the historic Hotel Windsor’s famous High Tea will have you feeling like royalty. Expect French sparkling wine, an indulgent dessert buffet and chocolate fountain. (Saturday–Sunday, $89pp)
Have you tried our new Afternoon Tea pastries ? #hotelwindsor A photo posted by Hotel Windsor (@hotel_windsor) on
165 Red Hill-Shoreham Rd, Red Hill South VIC 3937 Venture down to the Mornington Peninsula to this gourmet icon where you can eat yourself silly while enjoying the spectacular panoramas. For something different, partake in a pasta making master class so you can impress your pals at your next dinner party. ($65pp)
Lunch in The Shed from 12noon today. These yummy wood fired pizza and lots of other tasty treats will be available. Join us for a wine or two by the open fires. #morningtonpeninsula #morningtonpeninsulacafe #redhill #redhillwine #redhillvictoria #redhillrestaurant #pizza #coffee #theshed #redhillepicurean #epicureanredhill #epicurean #winetasting #morningtonpeninsularestaurant #thebakery #wine #familylunch #redhillwedding A photo posted by RedHillEpicurean (@redhillepicurean) on
Tramstop 125, Corner Normanby Road & Clarendon Street, South Melbourne VIC 3205
Forget the dreary tram commute into work each day; this unique experience will alter the way you look at public transport forever. Enjoy a three-course dinner while you cruise the streets of Melbourne aboard the first travelling tramcar restaurant in the world. ($80pp).
All aboard! #Visitmelbourne #Seeaustralia #tramcar A photo posted by Tramcar Restaurant (@tramrestaurant) on
6. Enjoy an event at the Arts Centre
100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3004 Sitting below the magnificent spire, this Melbourne icon showcases some of the world’s best artistic performances and exhibitions. Check out The Illusionists 2.0 magic show on 16–25 January 2015 (A Reserve tickets, $95).
#lunareclipse #artscentremelbourne A photo posted by Rod Meyer (@rod_meyer) on
7. Catch a show at the Regent Theatre
191 Collins St,Melbourne VIC 3000
Standing more lavish and grand than ever, the historic Regent Theatre hosts acclaimed stage shows such as The Lion King, We Will Rock You and Wicked. Catch the 80s cult classic Dirty Dancing from March 4th (A Reserve Seating, $94.90)
8. Dine at Chin Chin
125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
Modelled on the hawker dining halls of Southeast Asia, this little gem serves up tasty shared meals and mouthwatering bites. And if you can’t decide from the abundant menu? Just say “Feed me” and the team will serve up a selection of Chin Chin’s favourite dishes for $69pp.
A photo posted by @chinchinrestaurant on
9. A horse and carriage ride in the CBD
Swanston St, Melbourne For a taste of old-world charm, embark on a magical tour of the city via your trusty steed (and driver). A half hour ride is $100 and allows you to glimpse some of Melbourne’s most iconic sites (in the coolest way possible).
Enjoy a carvery lunch with a difference on Melbourne River Cruises ‘Spirit of Melbourne’. Cruise the Yarra River whilst enjoying an array of tasty dishes, fresh salads and delectable desserts. (Adult, $99)
Featured image by Kevin Poh