It’s no secret that Australia is expensive,
but there are ways to saving money while visiting Melbourne.
As a frugal traveller I always try to find ways to spend our travel money wisely.
Melbourne is a comfortable city to walk
and the trams and trains make it super easy to get from point A to point B.
It is Melbourne’s charm that will have me returning.
Everyone was happy to offer free advice or alternative, cheaper options for their services. I loved that those helping were happy to help us save a few pennies. I am sure Melbourne gets their share of wealthy visitors, but I am always happy to find some free and cheap options.
Here is how we saved money while visiting Melbourne for 3 days:
1. FREE TRAMS
The City Circle tram – the best free service the city of Melbourne provides its visitors. You can get a free map of the City Circle tram route from your hotel or from the Information Centre at Federation Square.
The City Circle tram is an older-style red tram. It’s an easy hop on/off option for various points around the city’s perimeter. All tram stops are close to the major tourist attractions.
The stops are clearly marked and while on board, there is a recording offering information about the attractions at each stop. For example, did you know that a Melbourne tram weighs the same as 30 rhinoceros? That’s a scary thought if you have one barreling down on you while trying to cross the tracks!
Because the City Circle tram is free, it can tend to get busy, so it can sometimes be a squeeze. Even during the school holiday season we were able to get a seat every time we boarded.
The City Circle tram is a great way to learn to get around the city when first arriving and it’s a great way to rest the weary feet at the end of the day.
While Melbourne is arguably the foodie capital of Australia, eating out can get pricey. The way we worked with this was two ways:
We hit the Queen Victoria Markets for some fresh and delicious picnic fare;
When we did eat out, we split meals between the two of us.
For our picnic items, we visited The Queen Victoria Markets. It offers an array of delicious options for picnics.
We bought some beautiful Tarago River Gippsland Brie, which is quite possibly the best Brie I have ever had. We picked up some fresh salami, apples and carrots along with some water crackers. We also bought a pesto/sundried tomato/mascapone dip, which was marketed to be ‘The Best Dip In Australia”. I’m not sure I agree but it was good. This little feast lasted us for three meals and cost $20.
Given Melbourne’s vast Greek population, I made sure Natalie experienced authentic Greek. By ordering a small sharing plate of dips and pita, we could share a small plate of souvlaki. Natalie gushed all through dinner of how delicious everything was, to the point of researching what the word ‘delicious’ was in Greek to tell our waiter. This meal cost us $30 for two but was worth every penny.
While some of our meals were a splurge, like the Greek dinner, we made sure we ate a large breakfast. With healthy snacks to get us through to a late lunch/early dinner, we were able to save on one meal less per day so we could indulge in a coffee or ice cream instead.
One of the breakfasts we had was worth the splurge. We went to a hole-in-the-wall place in North Melbourne called Seven Seeds. I kid you not, it was the best breakfast I have ever had. Check out my review on TripAdvisor for more.
Accommodation is where you can spend a lot in Melbourne, as with most cities, but you don’t have to. We booked in at the YHA Metro in North Melbourne, a mere 10 blocks from the river and Flinders Street.
While there is another YHA closer to everything, the City Circle tram and our trusty feet took us to the various places we wanted to go. The YHA Metro was the perfect location.
I know, the YHA tends to conjure up the image of singles and grungy backpackers, but we found this to be a myth, at least at this hostel. The YHA Metro hosted families just like us, with young and older travelers alike. The place was clean, well run and everyone was polite and considerate.
Since Natalie is under 17, we’re required (by law) to book a private room, which I would have done anyway.
While the room was basic, but it suited our every need: Two single beds; a private bathroom with sink, shower and toilet; linens for everything we needed and the bonus of a television in our room. (We don’t have one at home.)
We had tea and coffee making supplies as well as a table and chair, so we could sit and play cards or eat our picnic at night. Given we were visiting in winter, I was grateful of the heater in our room too, which kept our room comfortable. (In summer, there is a ceiling fan).
While we didn’t have river views, we had everything we needed, as we were only there to rest and sleep. If we wanted the city views, all we had to do was go to the rooftop, where there was a grill and tables/chairs to enjoy the scenery in comfort. We paid $110 a night for the YHA (non-membership rates).
I would recommend the YHA Metro in Melbourne for a budget-friendly stay to anyone. Singles, couples, families…all catered for here.
When we were researching our adventure before leaving Sydney, we took a good look at what we wanted to do.
Natalie wasn’t interested in museums for this trip. We were happy to just head outside and see what we could find.
The things we wanted to discover were mostly free: The Queen Victoria Markets (free if you aren’t buying picnic items. It’s a fun place to simply browse). Federation Square, shops on Little Collins/Bourke street areas, the riverfront area etc…
The one thing we did invest in was going to Scienceworks. Natalie is a true nerd. She loves anything math and science related. So we took the train to Spotswood (using a daily myki card) and discovered Scienceworks..
Even though Scienceworks focuses on the 7-12 year old set, we had a great time discovering it. This adventure cost us about $30. That includes $12 for Scienceworks (children are free) and $21 for the Myki card. That cost includes the Myki card itself which will be used later on our next visit).
Melbourne does public parks well. They were abundant around the city and a great reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city madness.
Our entire Melbourne adventure totalled approximately $600 for the two of us.
Three nights accommodation
Food, including picnic items, treats and our eating out splurges.
Flights from Sydney (Jetstar) and the Countrylink train return to Sydney
Local transport to Scienceworks
Activities, including Scienceworks entry fee.
Yep, Melbourne IS possible on a budget. While this still seems a lot, Melbourne is a major city in Australia and sadly anywhere in Australia is not cheap. We did splurge here and there, but it was doable.