Life as a freelancer has so many perks. However, there are some downsides- the biggest one being, a tighter budget. Having previously worked full-time on an Australian wage, my hours and income have significantly reduced now I’m self-employed; albeit it’s a small price to pay for the increased freedom. Anyway life is too short and Melbourne has too much going on to scale down my lifestyle. So, rather than cut back on my social life, I’ve just cut down on expenditure and luckily Melbourne has plenty of great things that you can do for free (or close enough.) Here are my favourite cheap things to do in Melbourne.
Lentil as anything
For lunch (or dinner) out on a budget- head to Lentil As Anything. This not for profit restaurant is fully volunteer run and diners are asked to simply pay what they can. The food is all vegetarian and home made daily- plus it’s absolutely delicious. It’s a fantastic initiative, helping people gain work experience and find meaning while providing free meals to those who need it- no questions asked.
Community classes at Gertrude Street Yoga
Gertrude Street Yoga is a gorgeous Yoga studio that’s located on one of Melbourne’s most picturesque streets. The best thing about the studio is that on Sunday morning it runs a free community class. This is a class run by the studio’s recent teacher graduates and it’s entirely donation based (and really professionally run.) There are usually plenty of spots just remember to bring your own mat as it costs a little bit to rent one.
Eventbrite gallery exhibiton openings ( Free Booze)
If you want a cultured night out in Melbourne then head on to Eventbrite and look for exhibition openings. With so many galleries in Melbourne, there’s usually at least one event a week. Simply buy the free tickets online and turn up to the opening. There you can admire the artwork and enjoy (usually free) alcohol.
The cheapest and the best sushi rolls in Melbourne can be bought at Tokui Sushi. It’s located on Lonsdale Street in Melbourne CBD- take away only.
BYO in China Town
Not quite sure whether you want drinks or dinner? Do both at a Bring Your Own (BYO) in Chinatown. Simply grab a bottle of your favourite fancy (or not so fancy) wine and head to one of the many Chinatown restaurants for dumplings. A plate of dumplings doesn’t need to set you back any more than $10 and you’ll just have to pay a small corkage fee for your BYO drinks.
Free tram in the CBD
Becasue sometimes we forget that the tram in melbourne’s CBD is complelty free- how great is that?
Second-hand shopping at the Fitzroy Market
Vintage shopping is notoriously expensive but that’s not the case at the Fitzroy Market. Held every Saturday morning in Fitzroy’s picturesque Rose Street, you can shop for second-hand clothes, jewellery, locally made goods and fresh produce. Racks are labelled by price and you can usually negotiate the price down even lower.
Monday is Discount day at Melbourne’s iconic, art deco cinema Nova in Lygon Street. It’s the cheapest cinema night in Melbourne with movie tickets costing just $7 before 4pm and $10 after. If you head out for drinks at Johnny’s Green Room or grab pizza at DOC after, well, that’s on you.
Picnic in the park
One of everyone’s favourite things to do in Melbourne is a picnic- and it doesn’t need to be expensive. Head to the Queen Vic Market, grab some fresh veggies, bread, cheese ( 3 for $10 from many stalls) and a bottle of wine, and sit in one of Melbourne’s many parks with some friends. We love the Botanical Gardens, Carlton Gardens or Edinburgh Gardens (in which case you should grab Just Falafs for only $7.)
The Capital City Trail
Cycle it, run it, walk it (but maybe not all of it- it’s 29k.) Anyway, you should do the Capital City Trail. This iconic trail circles around the city centre and some Eastern and Northern Suburbs. I love the section that runs along the Yarra River from the CBD and past Richmond to Collingwood.
Another Melbourne food institution. Look no further for a hearty curry or rice dish in the city. Meals here cost as little as $7. It’s a worker favourite, student favourite and an ‘I can’t be bothered to cook dinner’ favourite.
Once of the best things about summer in Melbourne is the sheer number of free events. Some of these include St Kilda Festival, Melbourne Pride (which was a month long event this year), The Queen Vic Night Market and Moomba Festival. You can check out the full list of events in 2022 here.