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Melbourne is one of the best places to visit in Australia and one of our favorite cities in the world…but a vacation here can be expensive! The high cost of Melbourne accommodations, pricey meals and big-ticket attractions add up quickly. However, Melbourne sightseeing doesn’t have to cost a dime. During our trip we sought out free tours in Melbourne – and now we’re sharing our best tips and top experiences with you!
Best Free Tours in Melbourne, Australia
When traveling, we typically shy away from organized tours. Guided tours tend to eat up a chunk of our travel budget and we are generally averse to being paraded around by a paddle-wielding guide. Instead, we prefer doing our own sightseeing research, finding our tour route and moving at our own pace.
However, in some cases, joining a tour provides deeper insight, personal accounts and even the ticket of entry. Best of all, not all tours in Melbourne come with a price tag.
On our trips, we discovered an abundance of free things to do in Melbourne, including 5 Free Melbourne Tours that were engaging and entertaining!
Save, Pin or Bookmark our Free Tours of Melbourne for your vacation to Australia!
#1 Free Melbourne Parliament House Tour
Melbourne’s Parliament House was constructed between 1856 and 1930 and is still where the Victoria Parliament meets today. When Parliament is in session, visitors can view the proceedings from the public galleries. When they aren’t in session, Parliament House tours are offered that put visitors in the seats of the politicians in the Legislative Assembly Chamber, the Legislative Council Chamber and the central reading room of the library.
On tours of Melbourne Parliament House, the guide gives a concise history of Melbourne’s government and the Parliament House. Our guide not only expounded on the building’s history, but he also explained the politician’s terms, positions and seating arrangements, all of which was fascinating.
Viewing Parliament in action is open to the public whenever they are in session. Parliament Tours are offered Monday through Friday on non-sitting, non-holidays – and there are multiple tours throughout the day. Find the most current info on the official website.
#2 Free Tour Melbourne State Library of Victoria
Many people visit the State Library of Victoria to see the beautiful domed La Trobe Reading Room. However, we think the galleries above the Reading Room are equally impressive. Featuring displays from the city’s past, each exhibit (which changes twice yearly) helps visitors to better understand the history of Melbourne and Australia.
During our visit, artifacts of Bushranger Ned Kelly – the most famous outlaw in Melbourne – were being featured. The Ned Kelly displays at the State Library allowed us to get a more accurate picture of his legend and shed light on the many myths.
The State Library of Victoria not only has artifacts, but they offer a free tour that helps to give more background on the displays. Our friendly and knowledgeable guide gave us a brief history of the library itself before moving into the exhibition on Ned Kelly.
#3 Free Walking Tour Melbourne
City sightseeing on your own two feet is the best way to get acquainted with Melbourne – and a Free Walking Tour is a great way to do it! Fellow travelers can use our easy-to-follow Self-Guided Free Melbourne Walking Tour that includes 18+ sights.
On a self-guided tour of Melbourne, visitors are able to walk at their own pace, skip sights that are of no interest or enter attractions along the route that pique their curiosity. Highlights of our Free Walking Melbourne Tour include iconic buildings, classic architecture, street art and much, much more!
We include step-by-step directions and two maps of Melbourne so that even first-time visitors will have no problem routing their way through the city.
#4 Free City Circle Tram Melbourne
Honestly, we wish riding the Melbourne Free City Circle Tram was the first thing we did when we arrived, as it provides an excellent orientation to Melbourne. The old, wooden Melbourne 35 Tram cars rattle in a loop around the Central Business District, as well as to the Melbourne Docklands.
During the ride on the Free Melbourne Tram, a pre-recorded commentary provides quick facts and details about nearby sights and public transportation connections. The Free Melbourne Tram comes by about every 15 minutes, making it easy to hop on and off, but it’s also great to give the feet a rest and ride the complete loop, which takes about an hour.
Check the Official Website for current information about the free tram in Melbourne.
#5 Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne Free Tour
Built in 1934 to honor the Victorians who served in World War I, the Shrine of Remembrance has evolved and expanded to include an intriguing museum featuring artifacts from all Australian conflicts.
Visitors are invited to tour the building on their own for free tours. Guided Tours (which used to be free) are also available throughout the day. Our guide, a World War II veteran, shared personal stories that enhanced our understanding of the Shrine of Remembrance exhibits.
More Free Stuff in Melbourne
We have highlighted our favorite free tours in Melbourne, Australia – but there is more free stuff to do in Melbourne!
Free Museums Melbourne
Patrons of the arts will be pleased to find that there are many free museums in Melbourne. Some of the top Melbourne museums with free collections include the National Gallery NGV International, the Ian Potter Centre and the Australian Center for Contemporary Art (ACCA).
Free Events Melbourne
Melbourne stages many events and festivals throughout the year – and several of them are completely free! From free concerts at the beach to weekend Melbourne markets to the Australian Open Festival there are free events in Melbourne to entertain visitors all year long. Go to one of the official Visit Melbourne Information Centers for a line up of upcoming free Melbourne festivals.
Free Activities Melbourne
Activities – like a day on the beach in St. Kilda or a stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens – are absolutely free of charge! Exploring the famous Melbourne Laneways and neighborhoods – from Chinatown to Fitzroy to Williamstown – are also fun free activities in Melbourne.
What To Pack For Your Melbourne, Australia Trip
City Walking Shoes
With so many fun things to do in Melbourne, Australia, you will be spending quite a bit of time on your feet! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable travel shoes. I (Sarah) travel with these shoes by Columbia and Kris prefers wearing trail shoes by Merrell for sightseeing.
We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip to Melbourne. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, make the upgrade to an actual travel camera for higher quality photos. We always travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos!). It is a fantastic DSLR camera for beginners – as it comes bundled with loads of accessories – making it an excellent Budget Camera as well!
Melbourne Map, Guidebook & Day Pack
We have provided our top tips for the best things to do in Melbourne – including tons of links for more information. However, we still think it is useful to have a guidebook and map for your vacation to Australia. In addition to your suitcase or backpack, you will also want a great day bag to organize all of your everyday travel essentials.
Australia Travel Insurance
If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, consider traveling protected with World Nomads.
We Want To Know: What are your favorite Free Tours in Melbourne? Do you have any other suggestions for free attractions in Melbourne? Give us your best tips in the comments below!
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