Doing Melbourne on a budget

Most people who love to travel will know how important it is to stick to your budget, and how often that budget goes out the window and you spend your money whenever and wherever you want. The truth is that sticking to a budget whilst you’re travelling different countries is hard – until you get there, you will have no idea how much food and accommodation costs in different countries, and you will not always be able to plan a budget for certain activities such a snorkelling, scuba diving and other day trips/events.

However, when you are settled in one place for a while, you get used to how much everything costs and how much you should and shouldn’t be spending on things. That’s what happened when we moved to Melbourne. At first, we had no idea how much things would cost here – although we knew it would be expensive because let’s face it, it’s Australia. And of course living in the world’s most liveable city comes with a price tag.

So after the initial shock of how much things cost compared to Asia, we started to form a budget for our money. We still wanted to be able to see Melbourne as travellers, as well as people who live here. Often when you live in a country/city/town you can take your surroundings for granted as you see them every day, and that is not what we wanted to happen whilst we lived in Melbourne. So here’s a few tips for being able to tour Melbourne as a traveller on a budget.

1.      Get a Myki Card for travel

The first thing you will notice about Melbourne compared to other Aussie cities is that the public transport is mainly trams. These are super convenient as they come very frequently and go in all different directions across the city. The trams in the CBD (central business district) are free, but for everywhere else you need a Myki Card. You can buy these from any train stations and 7/11 shops for $6 and then you top it up so you can use it on the trams, trains and buses. We recommend topping up with a weekly pass for $39 which allows you to use the public transport for an unlimited amount during that week, allowing you to travel around Melbourne on a budget.

2.      Use Scoop On

Like GroupOn in the UK, ScoopOn is a website and app that provides discounts and vouchers for certain attractions, events, beauty treatments, accommodation, fitness classes and restaurants around Melbourne. We recommend having a look on here to see what you can do on a budget. Prices for activities vary but at least you know you’re getting the best deal possible.

3.      Visit the beach

If you’ve read our diary blog posts about Melbourne, you will know that the beaches close to the city aren’t particularly amazing – especially compared to the east coast of Australia. But a beach is a beach and on those hot summer days (from November to March) you will be glad to be lying on the beach and cooling off in the sea. You could also look at hiring a car with a group of friends from your hostel to reduce the cost and drive down to Mornington Peninsula for those more beautiful beaches like we did here. We recommend Budget Car as a reasonably priced car rental company.

4.      Explore the city on foot

Don’t be afraid to simply wander around the city on foot and explore all the graffiti alleyways (we recommend Hosier Lane), do a spot of window shopping and generally get your bearings with regards to where everything is in Melbourne. Walking along Southbank is still one of our favourite things to do in the city – we never get tired of seeing that amazing skyline. There are also several gardens and parks to have a wander round in the sunshine.

5.      Picnic in Botanical Gardens

We did this on Christmas Day and it was lovely to relax in the sun (or shade in our case as it was too hot!) with a glass of wine or beer and enjoy yummy cheese, cured meats and pate with bread and olives. This is one of our favourite meals and although the food can often be pricey in supermarkets, we still feel as though we are doing something enjoyable for free by sitting in the sunshine with friends.

6.      Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance is situated near the Botanical Gardens in Kings Domain and provides amazing views of the city when you walk up to the top of the building. Your eyes could get lost looking over every building and skyscraper and you could definitely waste some time taking pictures up there. And then of course we suggest you check out the museum underneath the Shrine. It’s free to have a wander around the museum and you could honestly spend hours soaking up the history of WWI and WWII.  

7.      Go for Cheap Eats

We’ve recently written a few blogs about the food in Melbourne here, so you can get an idea of where to go for breakfast/lunch/dinner. But to do Melbourne on a budget, you really need to know where to go for some tasty but cheap eats. We recommend sticking around Chinatown as there are some incredibly good restaurants, such as Oppa Korean, that do amazing food at even better prices. Most cheap restaurants in Chinatown require you to pay in cash so make sure you’ve got plenty when you go. Some places even allow you to bring your own alcohol to keep things even cheaper. Oh and the Asian Beer Café in Melbourne Central shopping centre is good for cheap drinks.

We’ve got plenty more tips on what to do in Melbourne, so if you’ve got any questions about what you should do here please get in touch on