Melbourne, on Australia’s south coast, can be a pretty expensive city to explore. Hotels, alcohol and entrance fees quickly add up. We found it is possible to see this place on a tight budget though! Read on for our best tips. In this post, I will give you budget tips on several topics. Let’s start with the fun stuff, aka things to see and do, and read on for tips regarding transport, accommodation and food.
Things to do & see
Luckily, Melbourne has plenty of cheap or free things to do and see! Here’s our favourites:
Royal Botanical Gardens. These gardens are huge and totally free. There is a pretty lake, huge old trees and lots of well maintained walkways. Bring some food and have a picnic here. A great place to spend a sunny morning or afternoon.Shrine of Remembrance. Right next to the Botanical Gardens you will find this place that you can enter for free. There’s a museum downstairs and if you climb the stairs you can get on a balcony for views of Melbourne.
Brighton Beach & St. Kilda. From Flinders station, we took the train (using our Myki cards) to get to Middle Brighton. We had a look at the famous bathing boxes and then walked on the coastal path all the way to St. Kilda, around 6 or 7 kilometers. There we watched the sunset from the pier, after which we took the tram back to Melbourne. Not a free activity, but you only pay around 9 AUD (return) for transport.
Fitzroy. This cool neighbourhood also has a lot of street art of amazing quality! Besides that, the area has lots of cool bars, coffeeshops and restaurants, and cute old houses. Just wander around here and you’ll love it!
From & to the airport. The way most people go from the airport to the city center is by ‘Skybus’. A ticket costs 19 AUD per person though, so we decided to try our luck using public transport to get to the city. Turns out it is super easy, cheap and – depending on the location of your accommodation – almost as fast as the Skybus.
Here’s how it works. Buy a Myki card (this will incur a one-time extra fee) and put some money on it. The first 2 hours on all public transport will cost you 4,30 AUD, so 5 AUD should be enough for one way! At the airport, follow the signs ‘Public transport’ until you get to the bus station (near T4). Take bus 901 and get out at Broadmeadows Station. There, hop on the train to Melbourne and get off at the station closest to your accommodation. For the CBD that’s probably Flinders or Southern Cross. To get to the airport from the city, make sure you take the train to Craigieburn. Get off at Broadmeadows station and take bus 901 to Melbourne Airport.
Getting around. We walked mostly. In the CBD trams are free though so you can just hop onto them as long as you’re in the free zone. Outside of that zone, you’ll need to use a Myki card.
We found almost all our accommodation in Australia through Airbnb. In Melbourne we ended up renting a fancy ‘garden shed’ with a kingsize bed in it, with use of kitchen, garden and (our own) bathroom in the main house, for only €26 per night together.
Be flexible with regards to location if you want to save money. We stayed in Fitzroy, a hip suburb just outside the CBD, and really enjoyed the location! Lots of cool bars and restaurants, a short walk to the CBD and better value for your money.
If you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, you can use this link to get one and receive €25 discount on your first stay: https://abnb.me/e/ByiUFRhZVR
Food & drinks
We enjoy grocery shopping and cooking together during our holidays, AND it saves a lot of money. So we made sure we stayed somewhere with a kitchen and had our breakfast and dinner ‘at home’. For lunch we bought a simple sandwich or we brought lunch with us to eat in a park.
We found that prices at the supermarkets are more or less similar to Europe. We eat pretty simple dishes with lots of veggies (pasta, salads, wraps) and buy things like pasta, muesli, jam and salad dressing in larger sizes as supply. Also, we usually don’t eat meat. Doing this, we can put a decent dinner for two together for somewhere between 8 AUD (that’s just €5!) and 14 AUD.
We left enough budget to be able to get a coffee, icecream or a beer somewhere every day and occasionally go out for (a not too expensive) dinner. After all, it is still meant to feel like vacation!
Hopefully this post has been helpful. I am happy to answer any questions!