Exploring Melbourne on a Budget
March 10, 2017
by Kerry Williams
Enjoy Melbourne Whatever Your Budget…
We’ve all been there – you decide to travel, you plan, you budget, you save up yet life happens and it doesn’t quite go to plan. The result? You land in a brand new country with way less funds than expected. You tell yourself it’s ok, you’ll stick to a budget. Then the plane lands in this amazing new city and all thoughts of budgeting go out the airport window – you just want to explore, adventure and soak up all this new place has no offer. And unfortunately that tends to mean spending money. The good news is that even in a more expensive country such as Australia, there are plenty of adventures to be had in Melbourne whilst still keeping your bank account happy.
Shrine of Remembrance
One free trip I would definitely recommend is a visit to the Shrine of Remembrance on Birdwood Avenue and St. Kilda Road. The Shrine itself is a beautiful piece of architecture (be sure to take some souvenir photos), built in 1934 as a memorial of Australians who have served their country in war and peacekeeping. Inside is a wealth of information, artwork and artefacts from the wars. The Shrine is open from 10am-5pm every day, with daily tours running at 11am and 12:45pm. Entry is completely free, however donations are welcomed. You could spend hours looking at the artefacts as it’s really interesting, despite being a little saddening, and there’s plenty to see and learn.
Once you leave the Shrine you’ll find yourself just a short walk away from another free venture: The Melbourne Botanical Gardens, one of the leading botanical gardens in the world. The gardens are located on Birdwood Avenue and are dedicated to conservation, display and enjoyment of nature. Visit any time between 7:30am and sunset daily to find more than 8,500 plant species amongst perfect lawns, tranquil lakes and a variety of trees. The result is a beautiful tropical oasis of colour and beauty. Even if you have little to no interest in nature and plants this is a beautiful walk and a great photo opportunity.
If you’re keen to soak up some more culture and information then head over to The Melbourne Museum, located in the lovely Carlton Gardens. Entry is $14 for adults however child, concession and student tickets are free. The museum is huge so you can easily spend hours there learning about evolution, science, dinosaurs, insects, the wars and the history of Victoria itself. So it’s a great opportunity to learn about the city you’re travelling in, which I found really interesting. There are two cafes on site to keep you’re hunger at bay whilst you explore, and don’t leave without a snoop around the gift shop. Relax after all that walking with a sunbathe or a picnic in the surrounding Carlton Gardens.
Queen Victoria Market
Don’t even think about leaving Melbourne without a visit to the Queen Victoria Market – aka the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere. The market is located between Peel, Franklin, Victoria and Elizabeth Streets and is easily accessible via the free tram. Soak up the atmosphere as you explore sheds selling all kinds of souvenirs, decorative items, clothes and more. Grab a bite to eat at one of the various street food stalls and experience food from all over the globe. Purchase your fresh produce at the best possible prices at endless meat, fish, fruit, veg and bakery stalls. The market is open on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However if you’re lucky enough to be visiting during the Aussie summer you cannot miss the night markets, every Wednesday night between 5-10pm from November to March. Enjoy a variety of amazing live music from rising talent over a few drinks and all kinds of street food, from souvlaki and burgers to paella to arancini, churros and more. Explore the stalls to purchase incense, homemade candles, printed t shirts and vintage goods to name just a small selection of what’s available. Entry is free although it can be difficult to control your spending once you’re in. A night out not to be missed!
Food and Drink – Brunswick Street
When you’re tired of adventure and just want to kick back with a drink and some cheap dinner, Melbourne has plenty of options for the budget diner if you hunt for the deals. Head up to Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (the quirkiest street ever by the way), and after enjoying soaking up the hipster vibes seek out The Provincial Hotel. They have daily food deals, my favourite being $5 steak, chips and salad every Monday night. Visit during happy hour if you want to wash down your meal with a $6 beer, wine or spirit mixer. If you’re a pizza lover (who isn’t??) walk over to Bimbo Deluxe – easily recognisable by the huge baby on the roof. They have $4 pizzas during happy hour, or download their app for $4 pizzas any time plus $10 free to spend there. Even better, the pizzas are delicious and there’s plenty of choice. Be sure to download the app ‘Happiest Hour’ to discover the best food and drinks deals happening near to you right now.
If you’re in the mood for Oriental food look no further than Little Bourke Street’s distinctive China Town. The street is packed full of authentic restaurant’s with delicious food at great prices, and many allow you to bring your own wine for a small corkage fee.
I hope you find this guide useful if you’re a thrifty traveller, looking to make the most of Melbourne whilst saving some pennies for the rest of your travels. Melbourne is a huge, amazing city with plenty of suburbs for you to explore and enjoy, each with their own personality. This guide should help you to make the most of your time here whilst soaking up some culture and not being distracted by worrying about your bank account. Happy travelling!