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How to experience Melbourne on a budget

What to do and where to go in Melbourne without spending loads of cash.

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Melbourne is a destination every visitor to Australia wants to tick off their bucket list, and it’s well worth making the trip to the southern bayside city if you can—and you can even do it if you’re running on a tight budget!

Here are some tips to help you experience the best of what Melbourne has to offer without costing a fortune.

Getting to and from the airport

Most visitors to Melbourne arrive by flying into Melbourne International Airport in Tullamarine, around 20kms (12 miles) north of the CBD. While plans for a train line from the airport to CBD are underway, your options are still quite limited when making your way to the city.

While it’s easy to jump in a taxi, it’s likely to cost around $60. The more affordable option is to catch the SkyBus, which departs from the airport every 15 minutes and only costs around $20 per person and will drop you off in the heart of the city at Southern Cross Station.

Getting around while in Melbourne

Melbourne has a decent public transport network which includes trains, trams and buses.

It’s free to travel on trams anywhere in the CBD, however, if you want to venture further out, you’ll need to get yourself a myki card which you can pick up from a 7-eleven store or from most train stations for $6. It’ll cost around $9 for a daily ticket which will take you anywhere in metropolitan Melbourne.

There’s also a good regional train network which tends to be the most affordable way to explore some of Melbourne’s surrounds. The Public Transport Victoria website also includes a useful tool which will show you the best transport options to get you where you want to go.

Activities

Melbourne is a big city, and there’s plenty to do and experience even if you don’t want to spend a lot. Here are some great (and free) local attractions in and around Melbourne that are well worth checking out:

  • Wander through Melbourne’s famous CBD laneways and arcades.

  • Take in the sights of Southbank.

  • Explore its many parks and gardens like the Royal Botanical Gardens, Birrarung Mar, Fitzroy Gardens and Carlton Gardens.

  • Relax at the St Kilda beach and foreshore (head to St Kilda Breakwater at sunset to meet the local colony of fairy penguins).

  • Stroll through the Queen Victoria Markets or Camberwell Sunday Markets.

  • Go for a walk or jog around the Tan.

  • Visit the State Library.

  • View the permanent collection of impressive artworks at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

Accommodation

Accommodation is by-far the biggest expense most travellers to Melbourne need to fork out for, but there are plenty of budget backpacker accommodation options around the CBD.

However, if you’re not a fan of backpacker accommodation, another great option is to hire a winnebago. It’s easy to organise winnebago hire melbourne, and it’ll simplify logistics for your entire trip—you can collect it from Melbourne airport as soon as you arrive, then you’ll have everything you need to sleep and prepare meals in tow no matter where you decide to head.

Filed under: Travel Guide

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3632 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York

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