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.
While dining is a delectable experience, especially in Melbourne with so many great options to chose from, there are ways to enjoy what’s on offer and save money!
Accommodation will stick you every time, but bargains are to be had in Melbourne if you know where to find them! We’ve found some great bargains!
Lastly, there’s so much to do and see in Melbourne and thankfully a lot of it is free or cheap. We give you just a taste of what you can do.
So, read on and see how you can save some money visiting Australia’s best city! (And I say that sincerely, even though I’m from Sydney!)
City Circle Tram
The City Circle tram is the best free service the city of Melbourne provides its visitors to get to all of the tourist attractions within the city. 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! This tram is a great way to get your bearings of the city when first arriving and it’s a great way to rest the weary feet at the end of the day.
Free Tram Zone
When first arriving, the last thing you want to deal with is buying a MyKi card to get to your hotel. A MyKi card is needed for taking public transportation outside of the city CBD, but to get within that zone, the trams are free. Best idea the city has ever had, I would say! (If only Sydney would adopt the same strategy!)
If you’re to get from Point A to Point B, all the trams within the CBD are free. You will see signs that say “Free Tram Zone” so you can easily jump on and off trams to make your way around the city. For a map on which tram to catch and which direction they head in, click here.
No need for a MyKi card UNLESS you go out of the free tram zone.
It is Melbourne’s charm that will have you returning.
While Melbourne is arguably the foodie capital of Australia, eating out can get pricey. There are ways to eat on the cheap:
Visit the Queen Victoria Markets and pick up some fresh, delicious picnic fare!
We do this ever time we visit Melbourne. Every time, I stop in at the delicatessen called Curds and Whey, where they stock the most beautiful Tarago River (Gippsland) Brie that is quite possibly the best brie I have ever had.
We’ve bought some pesto/sundried tomato/mascapone dip, which was marketed to be ‘The Best Dip In Australia” from another deli before. I’m not sure I agree but it was good.
Pick up some fresh salami and other nibbles in the deli area, some apples and pear from any one of the fresh fruit venders and some delicious pastries from the bakery area and you’ve got yourself a cracking picnic!
Given Melbourne’s vast Greek population, authentic Greek is a must. We recommend Stalactites on Lonsdale Street, which is open 24/7. By ordering a dips and pita along with a plate of souvlaki, you can have a feast to share. It costs around $27 for two but given the cost of a main plate averages around $25, I’d say that’s a bargain!
Eat a large breakfast.
One of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had was in Melbourne. It’s a hole-in-the-wall place in North Melbourne called Seven Seeds. The ambiance is a bit hipster, but don’t be deterred. They roast their own coffee beans, which you smell as soon as you walk in the door. The food is amazing and it will fill you up for the day. Perfect for the budget when you can eat a brekky that lasts until dinner time!
Another recommendation is Café Segovia in Block Place in the heart of the shopping district. With friendly attentive service, the meals are large, hearty and delicious. Amazing coffee is available in large mugs, just what you need to kick start your day and we recommend the bacon and eggs. They always have a brekky special here so you’ll start your day off right too. They also have great music playing every time I’ve been in. Gotta love that!
Accommodation is where you can spend a lot in Melbourne, as with most cities, but you don’t have to. In fact, Melbourne has some great bargains!
I know, the YHA tends to conjure up the image of singles and grungy backpackers, but the YHA Metro hosts families as well as young and older travelers. The place is clean, well run and everyone is polite and considerate of each other.
This YHA is a mere 10 blocks from the river and Flinders Street and with the free tram zone, it’s easy to get to. While there is another YHA closer to the city, the YHA Metro is, I think, in the perfect location. It’s quiet.
Private rooms are available and when you have kids under 17, it’s required by law that you book a private room (I would have done that anyway).
While the room is basic, but has everything you need: Comfortable beds, a private bathroom with sink, shower and toilet; linens for everything and the bonus of a television in our room. (We didn’t have one at home when we stayed, so it is a bonus!)
There is tea and coffee making supplies in the room, a table and chair, so you can sit and play cards or eat your picnic at night. There’s a heater in our room, which keeps the room comfortable. (In summer, there is a ceiling fan).
While there aren’t river views,city views are available from the rooftop, along with 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.
The Space Hotel.
While the Space Hotel (which is actually a hostel) is in a convenient location, I’m going to be honest and say it’s not a place I would recommend. I found it dirty, not well run and crowded with young, single backpackers looking for a place to crash after a night on the booze. While I get the need for that crowd (been there, done that), it’s not a place I would recommend for our readers who look for value. Even as a young, single backpacker, I wouldn’t stay there. Here’s why:
The beds are on slab bases, outfitted with rough sheets and thin, scratchy blankets. When you move, so does the mattress on the base.
There’s a desk and a flat screen television in the room which was great, but bathrooms are shared. Private rooms are available but so far out of what should be the hostel price range, if you ask me.
There are 5 individual bathrooms for each floor which are constantly busy and overrun by what I can only describe as rebellious teenagers. There is a movie room that is filled after 10pm by the same rebellious teenagers.
With the hostel located above a bar, be prepared to fall asleep to the thump thump thump of a deep base.
The cost for the hostel for a private twin room (no bathroom or sink) was $AU 100 for one night.
Like all hostels, WiFi is available for a price, but free on communal computers.
The hotel we recommend in Melbourne is he Vibe Savoy on Spencer Street.
The Vibe Savoy is convenient, with trams available outside the hotel and around the corner. The Southern Cross station is literally across the road.
Restaurants are plentiful in the area, but easily accessible via tram in the city center too, if preferred.
There are views of the Star Observation Wheel and the majority of the hotel overlooks the top of the Southern Cross Station.
The hotel is a great history (used to be known as the Jazz Hotel), is very clean and looks to be decorated in the art deco style. Simply elegant is what I’d use to describe this hotel.
Most importantly, it has very comfortable beds with down comforters, free WiFI, a private bathroom and upon check-in, you’re given two free drinks at the bar.
The cost for the hotel for a king twin room was $AU 111 for one night.
Ibis Styles Victoria Hotel on Little Collins Street.
The Victoria Hotel is in a great location, within walking distance to most of the main tourist sites. Alternatively, trams are half a block away, if you wanted to venture further.
The rooms are quiet. perfect for a solo traveller or a couple travelling on a budget. The rooms themselves are large with private bathroom providing plenty of amenities. The beds are comfortable although positioned on wheels, which I don’t quite understand.
There hotel itself is older, vintage even, so the floors can be sloped and there are no views from the room. But this hotel is priced to be a place to rest so you can spend your time exploring and it provides the basics to do that comfortably.
WiFi was not included but is offered.
The cost for the hotel for a queen room was $AU 104 for one night.
Upon research, AirBnb options are widely available in the CBD area.
With Airbnb, you can have a private residence completely to yourself, where it’s convenient to the tourist areas, have free Wifi, a kitchen, washer/dryer etc, all for around $AU 118.
And, of course, the more you share your experience with Airbnb, you gain a credit when others sign up and use the service for the first time, so it can be essential be free if you have enough credits (We stayed in one place on Australia’s Great Ocean Road for $18 because of these Airbnb credits!)
There is so much to do in Melbourne! It is a city where it’s easy to simply head outside and see what you can find.
Free (if you aren’t buying picnic items) and a fun place to browse. There’s everything here from souvenir stalls to feng shui shops, from fresh fish to french pastries. Check and see if the night markets are happening when you’re in Melbourne. They are worth the visit!
On the corner of Swanson and Flinders Street, is always crazy busy but there’s always something going on. With funky looking buildings, housing the Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI) it’s an art mecca. With free WiFi available, it’s a great place to check in, or simply people watch.
There’s a great Information Centre located on the corner that can help you get your bearings or provide information about what’s in in Melbourne.
With the Yarra river on one side, there are plenty of great places to eat or walk around.
Shops on Little Collins and Bourke street areas.
Plenty of places to wander and window shop. The alley ways in Melbourne are amazing for street art and have some great, funky restaurants and shops. This area is worth getting lost in for sure! Be sure to pick up a flat white in one of the little coffee shops while you’re here. Melbourne is famous for it’s coffee!
Melbourne does public parks really well.
The Royal Botanic Gardens are amazing in spring. The parklands are abundant around the city and a great reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city madness but the Royal Botanic Gardens are worth a specific visit.
Well worth a stop. Not only is it a quiet place to be for a while, there is always a great art exhibition on the top floors. It’s one of the most beautiful and peaceful libraries I’ve ever visited (and I’ve visited a lot!)
If you’re planning a trip to Melbourne, but not sure where to start, check out our post:
Of course, there’s a lot to do around Melbourne too. See our posts here for more:
Why You Must Visit Penguin Parade on Phillip Island! – within an hour of Melbourne
Is Wilsons Promontory on your Australian Itinerary? – within 3 hours of Melbourne
Victoria’s Hidden Secret – within 3.5 hours from Melbourne