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Melbourne, Australia is one of the best places to visit and one of our favorite cities…but a holiday here can be expensive (especially for budget travelers, like us!). 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 experiences with you!
Best Free Tours In Melbourne, Australia
When traveling, we generally shy away from organized tours. Guided tours tend to eat up a chunk of our budget and we are averse to being paraded through an area by a paddle-wielding guide. Instead, we prefer doing our own sightseeing research, defining 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 trip, we discovered an abundance of free things to do in Melbourne, including 5 Free Melbourne Tours that were engaging and entertaining!
#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 tour guide gives a brief, but 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 more info at 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 even more 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. The displays in the room allowed us to get a more accurate picture of the legend and shed light on the many myths.
The State Library of Victoria not only has artifacts, but they offer a tour that helps to give more background on the displays. Our guide gave us a brief history of the library itself (of which a free tour is also available) before moving into the exhibition.
The Level 5 Dome Galleries are open daily 10 am to 5 pm. The free tours of Melbourne Library and Galleries are offered throughout the week. Consult the Library Schedule for more information.
#3 Free Walking Tour Melbourne
City sightseeing is the best way to get acquainted with Melbourne – and a Free Walking Tour is the 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, 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. We include step-by-step directions and two maps so that even first-time visitors will have no problem routing their way through the city.
Use this link for our Free Walking Tour of Melbourne!
#4 Free City Circle Tram Melbourne
Honestly, we wish riding the Melbourne Free City Circle Tram was the first thing we did when we got into the city, as it provides an excellent orientation to Melbourne. The old, wooden Melbourne 35 Tram cars rattle in a loop around the Central Business District, detouring to the Docklands.
During the ride on the Free Melbourne Tram, a brief, pre-recorded commentary provides quick facts and details about nearby sights and public transportation connections. The Free Melbourne Tram comes by about every 12 minutes, making it easy to hop on and off, but it’s also nice to give the feet a rest and ride the complete loop, which takes about an hour.
Free Tram Melbourne Details: The City Circle Tram Melbourne operates about every 12 minutes every day of the week from 9:30am until 9:45pm (until 6:45pm on Sundays). Go to the Website for more 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 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, but we were glad we joined one of the two daily free tours. Our guide, a World War II veteran, shared personal stories that enhanced our understanding of the exhibits.
Open daily 10 am to 5 pm. Tours daily 11am and 12:45pm. NOTE: The tour may no longer be free (although the museum is still free)! I have found conflicting information and will update when I can confirm.
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 Visitor 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) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia and Kris prefers wearing trail shoes by Merrell for city sightseeing.
We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos). We 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.
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 trip! You will also want a great day bag to organize all of your everyday travel essentials.
We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel 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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